Thomas Ramsbacher on 15-year-old Ken Roczen

Thomas Ramsbacher now works with Fox Europe but if we rewind the clock he used to be the team manager of the Rockstar Suzuki team in the GP paddock. It was Ramsbacher who signed up Ken Roczen when he was nine years old because he saw the talent the young German had. Ramsbacher says it wasn’t just Roczen’s speed that was impressive when he burst onto the GP scene in 2009 at fifteen years old but the intelligence he showed was also impressive.

Even though Roczen was incredibly fast at that age, Ramsbacher says Valentin Teillet was the fastest rider he ever saw on a bike – if only he had what Roczen had mentally.

“Nobody really remembers, I signed Ken together with Hans Weber the CEO of INOTEC, as Suzuki did not want to sign a 9-year-old rider. Ken never had a contract with SUZUKI in Europe directly. To your question, I don’t know if faster at 15 – but from the natural speed, Valentin Teillet was the fastest rider on a bike I ever saw and worked with. But mentally and physically at that time also one of the weakest, I know he understands it now and works hard with his team riders. Ken was amazing fast, but even more intelligent for his age and super smart in racing – this made him to the best 15-year-old racer ever”, Ramsbacher told

Roczen in action at the British GP at Mallory Park in 2009. Pic: Nigel McKinstry

After bursting on the GP scene at fifteen years old and winning GP’s, Roczen would go on to win the MX2 World Championship in 2011 beating Jeffrey Herlings to the title. Unfortunately for Ramsbacher, Roczen moved to the Factory KTM team but looking back he says it was the right decision.

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“Of course it was one of the hardest moments, we had such a great time, but couldn’t enjoy the champagne together, looking back with some distance now – I have to say it was the best decision, as KTM was the best package for Ken and the family that time”, concluded Ramsbacher. 

Article: Andy McKinstry

Pic: Nigel McKinstry