Interview: Steven Frossard on his career – turning down Factory KTM and more

Steven Frossard had a great Motocross career having won three overall GP’s in his career. In 2010, Frossard finished third in the MX2 World Championship and a year later in the MXGP class he finished second in the championship losing out to Antonio Cairoli.

The French talent rode with a number of strong teams as well during his career – CLS Kawasaki, Factory Kawasaki and Factory Yamaha to name just a few. Unfortunately, after his crash at Mantova in 2015 it’s ended his racing career but after being told he’d never walked again he went onto make a full recovery.

We recently caught up with Frossard to discuss his career and much more in this exclusive interview.

Gatedrop: Steven, how did you get into the sport and what age were you when you first got on the bike and then had your first race?

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Frossard: I started riding when I was 9 years old, my dad never rode before like how most riders get into the sport. I have a brother who’s 8 years older than me, he saw Motocross on the TV and decided to buy a bike for riding in the woods. I was so jealous about it that my dad decided to buy a bike for me as well. I started in the woods for fun then rode at some Motocross tracks and then after some races.

Gatedrop: 2008 was your break out season let’s say finishing tenth in the MX2 World Championship. Where you happy with that season and what races stand out from that  year?

Frossard: Actually 2008 is too long ago, it’s already been 12 years so I don’t really remember the season. I just remember that the first GP’s were heavy because my team wasn’t the best team, the materials were almost standard.

Gatedrop: I’ll never forget the 2009 season in MX2 with Roczen entering the scene, the likes of Musquin and Paulin, it was fast at the front! How was it battling with those guys and how would you describe that season on a personal level?

Frossard: 2009 was a good season for me, I did some podiums that year. I remember Roczen entering the GP scene in Portugal, he was so small and young, in the second moto I was around the top 5 and he was already behind me. At this time it was difficult to predict the future but now when you look at the races here in Europe and USA, you can see that all those riders that were fighting with me 12 years ago are still at the front all around the world in 2020.

Gatedrop: You won your one and only MX2 World Championship overall at Sweden in 2010. What’s your memories from that race? It must have been emotional.

Frossard: Yes, it was a very good moment and during both moto’s I was fighting with Roczen for the overall, he broke his bike during the second moto and I won the second moto, it was my first win.

Gatedrop: 2011 was a great year for you as you finished second in the world. I remember being at Valkenswaard that year and you were incredibly fast but made quite a lot of mistakes. How would you say Cairoli beat you that year – possibly by being more consistent?

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Frossard: 2011 was my best result, for sure I was very fast but not the fastest of my career. I did a lot of mistakes, the problem was the Saturday (qualifying), for me I don’t know why but it always seemed a bad day and sometimes I finished 10-15 during the qualification. Because of this I was very bad on the gate and Cairoli was all the time at front after the first corner and whereas I was between 10-15 so I needed to push really hard. Sometimes I was good and sometimes I’d crash, it was like that all year.

Gatedrop: You won your first MXGP overall at France that year and there was no better way to do it – in front of your home fans. Can you talk me through that day and how it felt to finally win?

Frossard: This was the best moment of my career to win in front of the French fans. When you jump in front of the public at Saint Jean d’Angely and you hear the fans but not your bike, it’s so intense. You don’t feel the tiredness and you feel like Superman. Being on top of the podium at the end was unbelievable with the fans, my parents and family.

Gatedrop: In 2014, you were part of the French team that won the Motocross Des Nations – just how special was that? It was the start of something special.

Frossard: 2014 was a good season but had a difficult ending for me, I finished 5th but with 8 DNF’s. I had a one year contract with Kawasaki and during the season Red Bull KTM were interested in me as well as other teams but I said no because Kawasaki told me they wanted to keep me for the next season. Then the story of Ryan Villopoto who arrived in the team. The deal was that Villopoto would be the team’s number one rider and I’d be the second rider but he said he wanted Tyla Rattray as the second rider (that’s how it worked out). At the end of the year with team France we won the MXoN and for sure it was a big moment but in my head I still hadn’t got a ride for the following season.

Gatedrop: You moved to the STR KTM team in 2015. How was it being on a privateer team after so many years on a Factory team, frustrating?

Frossard: I decided to sign with a private team in the STR KTM team. For sure it was a difficult thing to do because all the factory teams were interested in me the season before. The team wasn’t bad but it was difficult to get what I needed and that’s why we stopped the cooperation. At that moment I had the opportunity to go to USA to race the AMA Nationals with factory Kawasaki but Villopoto got injured in Europe too and Kawasaki offered me a deal to end the season in the World Championship.

Frossard on the STR KTM Pic: Nigel McKinstry

Gatedrop: At Mantova in 2015, you had your serious crash which was awful to see – such a shame because you were getting back to your best level after signing with Factory Kawasaki. How big of a blow was that injury and mentally how tough was it to deal with that you knew your career was over?

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Frossard: After 2 races with Factory Kawasaki,  I crashed at Mantova which was really very bad. I had no feelings in both my legs, the T12 vertebra was broken with 1.5 cm moved. The doctor said to my family that I’ll never walk again but today I can say that they were wrong. I didn’t know at this the moment if it was the end of my Motocross career but the most important thing were my legs.

Gatedrop: I believe you had signed a deal with Factory Suzuki for 2016 – you must have been looking forward to that and to work with Stefan Everts!

Frossard: The Saturday before my crash at Mantova, I signed a pre-contract with Suzuki and Stefan Everts but I crashed the next day, Stefan called me every week and he visited me in the hospital once to see how the recovery was going. After 4 months he told me that he took other rider (Ben Townley) for the season but if I can come back that a bike would be there for me. 6 months after my crash, I met him at a race – the Valence International and just the day before I saw my doctor to check my back. I told Stefan that it wasn’t possible to come back on the bike because my back wasn’t strong enough and I needed to have another operation. After this meeting with the team and Stefan he never called me again, no news or nothing. But this is the world which we live in, it’s normal.

Gatedrop: Looking back on your career, what races stand out and have you got any funny stories?

Frossard: Just one small story, In 2011 before my race at Glen Helen, I tried to find my boots but I couldn’t find them – just 45″ boots but I was 42″. My team mate was out on the track with my boots in the MX2 class, I was behind the gate with my Nike trainers waiting for the MX2 race to finish to get my boots back.

Gatedrop: What’s your plans for the future – I believe you do some coaching?

Frossard: Yes, I follow some riders here in France. I had the opportunity to work for some others as a manager or trainer but I said no, maybe later I will, we will see. For the moment I work with the younger riders, it’s a good thing, they listen to you and you can build a complete rider, it’s a different job than with the MXGP riders. I’ve two riders at home, one won the French championship last year in France, finished 3rd at the European championship and 4th in the World (85cc). That rider is Quentin Prugnieres  and rides the 125cc this year, the first race he wasn’t himself but we’ll see how he does later in the year, it should be better.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: Nigel McKinstry