Ross Burridge interview - Kawasaki UK
Posted on June 29, 2020
Ross Burridge is the senior racing co-ordinator at Kawasaki Motors UK, and also works in the marketing for the Green machines, a job he has held for some time now and something that he has also invested a lot of his time.
We caught up with Ross and talked about the current situation, how he got into the sport and what is going on with Kawasaki UK in 2020.
MXlarge: Firstly, how did you get into the sport Ross?
Burridge: I have been riding bikes all my life. Had my first bike when I was five years old and rode Trials on a national level from 7 years old until I was about 17. I was always into off-road more Trials than motocross. I was a personal trainer at one period and then a job came up in the paper to work for Kawasaki, and I always wanted to work with bikes. I got a job as a marketing assistant in 2006 and from 2006 it was working shows and marketing and then in 2009 I started looking after motocross in the UK and since 2010 also road racing. So now I am responsible for all forms of racing and also working in the marketing department. We are a small team, so a bit of doing it all really. So been on the motocross side for 11 years now. I also work with Steve Guthridge on the World scene, if we have crossovers, for instance the Dixon team when they have raced in the UK. So, we worked closely on that stuff. It has been great and overall been here for 14 years.
MXlarge: How have you been in lockdown personally?
Burridge: Well, it has been a strange one really hasn’t it. Because it is a new thing for everyone it has been a little easier to handle. I always think if you are suffering something in the UK, or something personally, you might look at people living in America or Australia living life normally and it makes it more difficult. Because we are all in it together, it has kind of been different. I have been put on furlough (a scheme the British government put together by being put off work during lockdown but funded by the UK governments assistance to business plan). I have a four-year-old son, so I have been able to spend more time with him. I do a lot of travel with the racing side and the press and I didn’t always have a lot of time to spend with him, so that has been great. I am desperate to get back going though, see some racing again, and back to work. I watched my first ever MotoAmerica last week, we had it on our cable service, and it is actually really good racing.
MXlarge: I got Netflix for lockdown and watched the Last Dance documentary about Michael Jordan, and it was amazing, made me a bit of a basketball fan now. I just cancelled the netflix subscription now as I am back working more often and not really a movie watcher.
Burridge: That was brilliant, the Jordan documentary. We watched that as well.
MXlarge: The whole furlough thing, and it has happened in a lot of countries and it is great to help companies in these times. How does that work there in the UK?
Burridge: Basically they pay around 80% of somebodies salary, so you can have a member of staff at home, not working, but being looked after financially, and it has saved a lot of peoples jobs in these times I think.
MXlarge: It also gives people money and its been proven people want to spend money, because from what I am being told Worldwide, people are spending big time on bikes and bike parts.
Burridge: Yes, 100%. For every person who has lost their job, there are people sitting at home with full pay. I know you spoke to Dean from Kawasaki last week and he mentioned how well we have done, and June has been an amazing month sale wise. When June the 1st came dealerships opened and bikes were sold quickly.
MXlarge: You are on furlough, but how does this period work for teams and riders who might be racing Kawasaki machines in the UK, because there is a talk of a one round British championship and a lot of other races not happening, so do riders get pay cuts?
Burridge: Yes, it will do. It goes team by team really. People sign a contract on a deal, or it could be a ride where people bring money to it. Some teams have rich team owners and maybe the business isn’t effected by it and the riders get paid, or you might have teams that are run with passion and there isn’t a lot of money, so the riders will get paid what they compete in. We still don’t know what they will do for the British championship and as we have seen the MXGP calendar is all over the place. We had a managers meeting with the ACU little while ago, and we all said we need to do 50% of the championship to make it count. Any less than that and it is a non-event really.
MXLarge: So, you had a meeting with the ACU, and you all decided there would be four rounds?
Burridge: No, not decided, that was just the general idea that we would like to make a four round series if we can. That was a while ago and this is dragging out, so to be honest I don’t know what it will end up now. I am hearing all sorts of rumours. It will obviously be up to the ACU to decide.
MXlarge: Obviously, you are not Kawasaki US, but it must have been nice to see Eli Tomac on the Monster Energy Kawasaki team win the AMA supercross last week?
Burridge: Tomac winning was awesome and it is awesome for him as well, as it was his first supercross championship. It was nice to see the pictures with his family and it was just a pity it was won behind closed doors you could say. The new Kawasaki 450 is a great bike and for him to win possibly the biggest title on it was great for us as a brand.
MXlarge: Losing Tommy Searle must be disappointing, tell me about working with him, because he seemed to be on Kawasaki most of his career?
Burridge: He won the British championship in 2016 and then again with us last year before moving on, but he started with Team Green many years ago, and he did go to KTM, but that didn’t work out and he came back. We were gutted to lose him really, we couldn't get the deal together and he moved to Honda. We would welcome him back if it doesn’t work out with Honda.
MXlarge: When a rider like Tomac in US or Tommy in the UK wins, does that make a difference to sales?
Burridge: You know what, in motocross it does. In the 1990s in road racing we had the win on Sunday sell on Monday type of deal. People would watch a guy win and buy the bike, but that doesn’t happen anymore in road racing, but with motocross it still does. People will go and buy the bike Tomac won on, and we work with young people and they are influenced what is cool and what is cool is what is winning. Our relationship with Monster Energy also really helps. Monster Energy and Kawasaki is a cool package together and young people find that cool.