Kyle Cunningham is a veteran in the sport, beginning his professional racing career with the now defunct Yamaha of Troy team. The Texas native has done well for himself, placing on the podium and finishing fourth overall in the 250 East Supercross series in 2014. Last year, Kyle rode for the Motorcycle Superstore Suzuki program. An opportunity at JGRMX for Cunningham came about a few rounds into the 2017 AMA 250 East Supercross series. The Daytona Supercross was Kyle's first race with the JGRMX team. He will be racing the remainder of the series. Read about Kyle's transition to the team, visiting JGRMX for the first time, and what his expectations are.
What stands out about the JGRMX Suzuki RM-Z250?
Coming off the Suzuki from last year, and even riding a RM-Z450 in the offseason, I knew the bike would be good. The Suzuki chassis has a really nimble feel. It’s a bike that’s easy to turn. I’m familiar with how the RM-Z250 reacts in situations, and the bike does a great job with handling. The JGRMX/Yoshimura bike is one of the coolest bikes I have ridden in my career.
Explain how the opportunity with JGRMX came together?
It was pretty much a last-minute deal. I had been riding for another team at the first couple 250 East Supercross rounds, but things didn’t work out. I decided to go a different direction and had planned on showing up at Daytona on a 450. If necessary, I was ready to chase the rest of the series out of the back of a truck. Then I got a phone call from Jeremy Albrecht [JGRMX team manager] the day before Toronto. He asked if I wanted to drive out to North Carolina, do some testing on the RM-Z250, and race the bike for the remainder of the 250 East Supercross series. My mechanic, Austin, and I loaded up the truck on Saturday, and drove all Sunday from Texas to North Carolina so that I could ride on Monday.
Having spent the past two weeks at the JGRMX headquarters, what’s your impression of the place?
The facility here is awesome. Showing up to the team’s Supercross test track the first time was an eye opener. It’s really cool what they have going on. The Supercross track is super nice and probably one of the best practice tracks I’ve ever ridden. Being able to use the track, as well as the full-blown gym, as tools for my training is a huge benefit. Last week the weather was really warm, so Jake [Weimer] and I rode a lot of laps. At that point it was more about getting familiar with the bike. I didn’t change a whole lot with the bike. Then the weather got crazy after Daytona, with Charlotte getting snow on Sunday. It has been cold all week, but I managed to get two days of riding in.
What are your expectations for the remainder of the 250 East series?
Last weekend at Daytona I finished seventh, which was good. I had some good laps, but then some bad laps in the main event. There was a string of three laps where I tightened up and didn’t ride to my potential. Regardless, I feel really good on the bike. The more I get back into the racing environment the better my results will be. I was somewhat pleased in finishing seventh at Daytona, but I want more. I want to get up front and mix it up with the top guys. I know what we’re capable of, and that’s where I’d like to be. My goal is to take advantage of the situation, work hard, and show up every round like it’s my last weekend of filling in at JGRMX. I’m going to ride the wheels off the bike and do my very best to put it up on the podium. In terms of points, the first three rounds didn’t go as planned, so I’m out of contention for a good standing at the end of the series. However, I still have five races.
Where do you go from here?
I’m heading to California from Indianapolis so that I can do some testing and riding. It will be a change from being here in North Carolina, but I think it will be good to get time with the guys at Yoshimura and Suzuki. I’m just super pumped on the opportunity. I didn’t expect it at all. I’m very fortunate things worked out this way. Being able to throw a leg over the JGRMX Suzuki RM-Z250 is an exciting feeling every time. I’m still having fun and continue to love racing. Fortunately, something worked out to where I can get to the races on the weekend and be on the JGRMX bike.