By: Harlen Foley
Doug Gust - Team Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory ATV MX
The Suzuki LT-R450 Quad Racer was announced to the
public this past October, and it has created plenty
of buzz around the ATV industry, and with the start
of the ATVA Motocross Nationals just around the
corner, ATVriders.com thought this would be a perfect
time to interview the four-time national champion,
Doug Gust, about what he has been doing over the
winter and his lowdown on the new Suzuki 450 QuadRacer.
So Doug, did you have any involvement in the development
of the new Suzuki LT-R450?
Doug Gust - Ten Quick Facts
||Factory Pro Racer
||1984 ATC 110
||17 Years Old
Doug Gust: I went to Japan back in March to help with
the general setup of the new LT-R450 by providing suggestions
for handlebar and footpeg locations among other things
on a prototype machine, and I also did a lot of riding
on it for testing of the chassis and fuel injection
system. After my visit to Japan, I didn’t see
a completed version of it until I went to Washougal,
Washington in September to film the television commercial.
More recently I have been involved in testing Yoshimura
exhaust systems and various fuel injection maps, and
with the Yoshimura exhaust it really rips and I mean
this thing goes!!!(laughing).
us a little about the television commercial filming,
and did you know it was on television this past weekend
during AMA Supercross Preview?
Yes, I heard it was already on television from a friend
of mine, but I haven't seen it yet. The filming itself
was really cool because I had a chance to see the
new 450 in person for the first time since my visit
to Japan, and the filming was done back in September
at the Washougal track around a month before the dealer
show. The track was in perfect shape for the filming.
We spent all day filming, and matter a fact, John
Lawson came with me to the filming because after the
commercial, I had to head down to San Francisco, CA
to have surgery on my knee, so John was along to help
out, and he was tickled to death to get a chance to
see the new Suzuki.
much riding did you do to create the commerical?
We started shooting around 8AM in the morning after
breakfast and they filmed all day until 6PM that night
with only a half hour break for lunch, so it was a full
day of fliming..
having a chance to ride the Suzuki 450 QuadRacer,
what do you think of it?
For a stock quad there isn’t any better with
the way the suspension works and how it handles. It
is already wide in stock form at over 49 inches wide,
which may not be good for the cross country riders,
but they could just install narrow offset rims to
get it ready for the woods. Besides for the woods,
guys really don’t have to spend any money on
it anymore for motocross besides nerf bars and a kill
switch, and you are ready to go.
tires, you wouldn’t even believe how good the
stock tires are on this thing because they work great
for stock tires and the rears are 18" with 20"
fronts, which is perfect for MX.. It even has a chain
guide for change, so you don’t have to buy a
chain guide to make sure your chain stays on during
a race, and it also comes with a quick adjustment
clutch perch, which shows they really did their homework
on designing this machine
were rumors that you would be racing it in stock form,
but recently several companies have announced Team
Yoshimura/Suzuki are signed on for 2006, so if it
is so great, why not run it stock?
doubt, the new 450 is capable of being raced in the
Pro Class in stock form, but with a National Championship
on the line, Yoshimura/Suzuki wants the very best
available components installed to give us the best
opportunity to win races. The stock suspension is
great and works better than any stock suspension that
I have ever run on before, but the FOX AirShoxs are
more importantly lighter than spring shocks and work
incredible, so we are going to do what it takes to
cut some weight and improve the performance with some
aftermarket components because every little bit is
important in the highly competitive pro class.
would you compare the R450 QuadRacer to the Z400 QuadRunner
you have been racing the past two years?
center of gravity is so much lower on the new R450,
and I don’t know if you seen any up close photos,
but the gas tank is now 3 inches lower even though the
frame height is the same, but from the footpegs to the
gas tank everything is squashed, so it is more like
the Honda and Yamaha, and It just corners so much better
even in stock form that I feel like I am just as fast
on a stock R450 as I was on my National Z400 last year.
Also even stock, the R450 has the same amount of power
as my National quad last year, and Yoshimura did a lot
of work to get the Z400 up to around 50HP to compete
with the other 450 machines, and this quad stock runs
right with it without doing anything to it.
Gust roosted the competition
in 2004 winning the GNC MX
am heading back out to California the beginning of
January, and they are suppose to have me a race engine
setup with a Yoshimura exhaust, and I should really
have some power.
does the Fuel Injection system compare to a carburetor?
I tested the two together, and the F.I. is just so
much more responsive. You know like when you are sitting
on a quad and stab the throttle and it just goes Haaaaa.
The F.I. won’t do that no matter what, and I
tried going through whoops and banging the throttle
and stabbing it hard, but it was always there, which
is really cool. There is just no comparison to between
the two on throttle response.
there going to be a kick start version of the LT-R450?
I am pretty sure because there is a hole in the case
for a kick start, but I don’t know when one
will be released, and I believe that the team will
be on an electric start regardless. I did find it
interesting that you don’t need the battery
even for the fuel injection system, so the battery
can be removed.
Have your heard when the LT-R450 will be going
I have been testing slightly different variations
of the LT-450R in the last month to find out what
works the best, and from what I heard, the finalized
version is set to go into production in January to
be ready for release in time for the Nationals.
sounds like you’re a pretty excited about racing
the new R450 QuadRacer in 2006?
yeah, think about it, I have been racing the Z400,
which is basically a trail quad, and it is now several
years old in technology, and it was initially designed
to be a trail quad, and I have been racing against
guys with the Honda and Yamaha machines, which were
built for racing.
am real excited, and when I go out to California now,
I am psyched because I know that I am testing this
new quad, which makes riding it even more exciting.
a personal note, how is your back and your knee after
your recent surgery?
Gust went down hard at
Birch Creek & High Point in 2005,
which Allowed John Natalie Jr to
cruise to the 2005 Championship
with Gust finishing in second
I am about 90% right now, and I feel a lot better than
I did, and I went to therapy today for my knee, and
I am just about finished with it. My knee is about 90%,
and the only time my back bothers me now is when I sneeze
hard, but other than that, it hasn’t bothered
me and things are really going good for me.
Year, after my wreck at High Point, I raced the rest
of the season at 35-40% with my knee injury and everything,
and I was getting depressed because I couldn’t
ride, but now, I am getting back to where I use to
be, and when I was out to California this last trip,
Wayne Hinson told me that I was looking like my old
self again, which was a big confidence booster, and
I knew it too because I could just feel that I was
John Lawson still going to be traveling to the races
with you this season even though he has been replaced
as the rig driver?
Yes, nothing is concrete, but I am pretty sure that
he is going to be hired to be my mechanic for working
on my Suzuki’s at home while Paul Turner will
still be my race mechanic, which is awesome. I won’t
have to worry about doing maintenance and cleaning
the machines afte practice, which will give me more
time to focus on training. Also, I am pretty sure
he will have a job at the races as well, which is
more good news.
What have you been doing over the winter to
stay in shape?
I have mainly be practicing on my snowmobile at home
because we have had several inches of snow of the
ground, and I even had Joe Byrd come up and visit.
I put him on a snowmobile, and we went out to my practice
MX track, and he did really well. He loved it so much
that he wants to get one for himself.
stayed for two days, and by the second day, he was
jumping all the big double on my track, and some are
over 50 feet long and send you easily over 10 feet
into the air.
kind of sleds do you have?
You at Glen Helen!
I have Ski-Doo for mx, which is the same ones that
Blair Morgan races, and I have two trail 600 sleds
for Cindi and I to trail ride.
Doug, it has been great talking with you, and it sounds
like this coming season is going to be an exciting
year for Team Yoshimura/Suzuki.
I can't wait for the season to start, and
I will see you at Glen Helen in February.