At absolutely every point in time on the trails of France the bike was a pleasure to ride and if I am honest at the end of every day I felt fresh as a daisy as the bike's balanced design and ease of ride means your body does not take the usual punishment of a normal long day in the woods and on the trails. To say this bike is easy to ride at any speed on the trails is an understatement.
Back to Blighty and it was time to get the Berg out to Marshfield for some laps of the MX track and the enduro loop as well as down to Cornwall for a thrash at the Surfing Life facility. The 390 took a few laps to get into the MX circuit but the harder I pushed it on the rough track the better it and I felt. Yes, it's way too soft for me to ride MX on and, yes, it's not as quick as an MX bike around there but it performed at absolute maximum and it does feel good to get on a bike and be able to ride it as hard as it will go. " V'The bike stays planted and firm on the track and jumps pretty well for a bike with lights on but it comes into its own on my enduro loop and at Fordy's where there's a technical mix of singletrack and cambers to sling it at. So with some tight and technical going, steps, streams, rocks, roots and grass cambers the test was complete.
The most fun about the bike is the lack of engine braking compared to a lot of the enduro four-strokes. The Husaberg 390 offers a great little crossover to a slightly two-stroke feel and it loves to be hammered. So if you're looking to switch from a stroker it my be the perfect puppy.
To sum up the FE390 after over 30 hours of hard riding - superb, strong and a whole lot of fun. |
AFTER A PRO CAREER THAT'S BROUGHT GP WINS AND BRITISH TITLES, CARL NUNN'S FINALLY DECIDED TO CALL TIME ON LIFE IN THE FAST LANE...
JWords by Jeff Perrett Photos by Ray Archer and Sutty here do we start with this one? The obvious answer is at the beginning of course but before we go back to Carl's youth and how his racing career got started let's look at what the man has become today.
In my mind Nunny is one of the best riders this country has produced since what some would argue was the golden generation of Dave Thorpe, Kurt Nicoll, Jeremy Whatley and co. Of course, the likes of Rob Herring, Paul Malin, Jamie Dobb and Mark Eastwood followed but even as they did a young kid from Mildenhall in Suffolk was already on the radar as being the next one to watch.
As much as some may argue with me about that 'golden generation' being golden, I'm sure many would also argue that Carl is one of the best riders to come out of the UK since that time and I can understand why. Although, like Whatley and Herring before him, maybe the results throughout his career don't reflect the sublime and undoubted natural talent at his disposal? Of course, it's all too easy for me sat here getting fatter behind my computer to say that and Carl reached a level as racer I could only dream about.
He may not have won a world championship but then so many don't. He maybe could have won a few more championships but then we can all say we could have achieved more. Where Carl has excelled is the way he's conducted himself throughout his career. He's always maintained a good balance between being Carl Nunn the solid, professional motocross racer and just simply being Carl Nunn, doing his own thing away from the races and keeping his personal life as personal as he can. I've always respected Carl for that and after we had a good long chat about his racing, his loves and his losses I respect him even more. So let's go back to the beginning.
"From day one dad had a shop as a Kawasaki dealer and was running the Chippenham track which the Kawasaki factory boys used a lot. So naturally I rode with them and dad had a good relationship with Alec Wright who ran Kawasaki's motocross programme back then so it naturally went from there. I got on Kawasaki's Team Green programme when I was 10 on a 65cc in 1989 I think. Pretty much since I started riding a bike it's all I've ever known. I mean, I was always going to follow in my dad's footsteps really, it was almost impossible not to with him so involved in the sport. I can remember cheering him on when I was younger - me and my sister used to hang on the fence. I had a Honda QR50 as my first bike and I just nailed the throttle and went through a fence. That put me off for about a year before I rode again!"
Maybe it was that scary moment that made Carl the rider he became? He learned to respect the bike as he mastered technique and it wasn't long before that talent really started to shine through.
"Alec and everyone at Kawasaki played such a huge, instrumental part of my life in those early years - and not just my racing. I felt at home and they gave me so much support so naturally I'll always be supportive of that. He advised dad on my career, suggesting stuff like moving me up a class earlier even if the ACU were against it. He pushed and made stuff like that happen.
"I had privileges that others didn't - like racing next year's bikes before they came out but that wasn't always the advantage at the time that people thought. He never wanted me to race a tuned bike. I was on an apprenticeship and I had to prove myself. He wanted to show that the stock bike could win too. When I went onto Jan De Groot's JHK Kawasaki team for example he wouldn't let Jan tune the bikes. Jan kept coming to me all apologetic saying 'I'd love to tune your bikes Carl but Alec won't let me do it!' and I think that shows the respect everyone at Kawasaki had for Alec Wright. He made me work hard for what I got so from there on I have always respected and appreciated what I have."
Those JHK Kawasaki years were a huge step in his education to become a pro motocrosser. At 15 years old he was racing far from home with the likes of Remy Van Rees, Davy Strjbos and Stefan Everts with a stock 125 motor on sand tracks. But it came to him naturally and I guess it always has?
"I learned to squeeze every bit of horsepower out of my bike from a very early age. It was a steep learning curve but it was a good one. I didn't learn to appreciate that until later in life. From around 12 to 13 I knew that I really wanted to be a motocross racer. I was at school and thought 'I really don't want to be here, this isn't going to help me at all'. Of course I stayed in school -that was important and I'd say that to all kids today - but I knew then that motocross was what I was going to do with my life."
Carl certainly followed that ambition and he's known nothing else but motocross ever since as he heads into his 30s with wife Naomi and children Mia, Harli and Willow.
Like virtually everyone else he has interests outside his job. Carl's hobby is building and racing radio controlled cars but, no question, his focus has been on racing for the best part of his life. That focus really started ramping up when he was offered a ride by this country's most successful rider - Dave Thorpe - racing a season in the European championship in 1995 aged 15 for the Skymasts Honda team and then the following year for the newly formed CAT Honda team.
"It was another boost of confidence when Thorpey offered me a ride. He was so instrumental and I learned so much about the sport working with him. It was difficult to adjust to the discipline and being away from home a lot but if you can't respect someone like Dave and what he achieved then you never will. He taught me >>
discipline, like getting up early and getting your training done so you have the rest of the day to yourself to relax properly. A lot of what he taught me is very true. It was a key moment in my career. I qualified for my first GP - just. Then at my second one I got a 12th and some points and a big weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was a big step forward and I felt at home then."
Nunny had a relatively successful time with Thorpe and the CAT team but his inexperience meant he started to see problems that weren't really there. He felt like he needed another change to take it to the next level so he ended up signing with the Cadbury's Boost Yamaha team run by Steve Dixon.
"I was thinking that I needed a better bike and that the ones I was racing were holding me back a little - of course, with experience and time I realised that wasn't the case. It was a case of the 'grass is greener' a little bit I guess being young and little bit arrogant in some respects. I thought the only way to progress was to go with a new team and try something new. Going with Steve made sense, [Paul] Malin was there as a GP winner and I'd learn and ride with him. I was 17 years old and thought 'here we go - I'll be on Rinaldi spec bikes'.
I went to America for month which I found hard being away from home again but I put the work in, focused and everything was shaping up well but then the day after I got back my girlfriend Catherine died in a car crash."
It stands to reason that such an incident would have a profound effect on Carl. Losing someone close to you will happen to everyone at some point but you rarely expect it and, even if you do, it's still a traumatic experience. It clearly derailed Carl as he went through the motions of life in a daze. He was there at the races but at the same time a million miles away.
"I had about a month before my first race at Foxhill to try and get my head around what had happened. I remember being at Foxhill but nothing about that weekend at all. It felt like a dream, I was just going through the motions. I needed to keep racing or I'm not sure what would've happened to me basically. It was the most difficult time of my life - so many fears, doubts and all sorts went through my head and racing was just something I was doing without thinking.
"My focus certainly wasn't on it at all. I had a lot of people at motocross doing all they could to help and my good friends and family were right there by my side all the time in those early days, probably to make sure I wasn't going to lose the plot."
Carl certainly rode the emotional rollercoaster through most of 1998 and following the terrible low of Catherine's death came the huge high of the British GP at Foxhill. It was the day that Nunny delivered what everyone in British motocross knew he was capable of when he took third overall, lead most of the first race and sent the patriotic British crowd wild. If he ever had any doubts about how popular he was and how much the UK motocross fraternity were behind him they were certainly quashed that day.
"That day was just phenomenal. It was the first time I really had loads of people come up to me in the pits and stop me asking for my autograph and stuff like that. I felt like a superstar but remember still feeling grounded by it all and everything that had gone on before that, especially that earlier meeting at Foxhill. It was crazy really. I felt dialled on race day and my mind was free, it just felt right, like it was meant to be that way. When I passed Chicco Chiodi for the lead it kind of hit home what I was doing, I thought 'I've just passed the world champion'! He then passed me straight back but I was cool
After the disappointment of narrowly missing out on the British title with Trevor Avery's Husqvarna team, Carl signed for MJ Church Kawasaki in '03
Carl won back-to-back British titles for Champ KTM but the factory were more interested in top honours in GPs
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