Open Mic: Interviews from PhoenixMonday, January 14, 2013 | 1:40 PM
By Steve Matthes, Jason Weigandt and Jordan Roberts
Ryan Villopoto, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 2nd in 450 SX Class
Racer X: Second place is probably not where you wanted to go, and a fall in the main event. Little bit of a catch-up here going on.
Yeah, it’s not exactly what I wanted obviously but it’s a lot better than last weekend by far. What is it, the first loser? It’s better. We’re working toward obviously collecting those points. There’s 25 to grab every weekend and we got 22. We’re learning every weekend with obviously Showa and things like that. We’re making changes. We’re making changes during the week that are better every time we ride and every time we go out. It’s just going to take time. It’s new, and we’re riding new conditions on the new stuff. So little things are popping up here and there. But tonight, it was all my fault. Just washed the front end out.
Yeah, I might be a little concerned with these crashes, and obviously you are, too. But it’s a little unlike you.
Well, I wouldn’t say that. Just Google it, YouTube it. There’s a few online already. And it was just a rough night in general. And last year I think I washed the front end out here.
You did, with Stew.
Yeah, off that sand section. I wouldn’t say it’s out of the ordinary. That’s a little one. It just was a little mistake and I had to rebound from that.
How’s the track? It’s typical Phoenix; dry and slippery for the main and decent in practice?
It was actually ... I wouldn’t say typical just because there were some deep ruts in the turns. So it made it tough to pass because the ruts were so fast and slot-car that to come underneath somebody and stick your front wheel in there and as he’s coming around he’s railing the turn. It’d just be basically like we would hit each other and blow each other off the bike. So it was tough to get your nose in there without getting it ripped off. There was one turn on the track that I was able to do that on which was after the whoops. I think I got next to Stew there, I got next to Chad [Reed] there. I passed Jake [Weimer]. I was capable of doing it there, just the other turns had all the ruts in it and it was harder. Tonight you really had to set up your passes.
I don’t even want to bring this up but I have to as a journalist. Inside gate for the main event didn’t work for you again.
I’ll tell you right now it would have worked. Just a little bit of a wheelie but I was able to sneak around the inside. Phoenix always is…
You hit somebody’s back tire too a little bit in the first turn, I think.
I don’t know, but Phoenix, a lot of the gates have blue groove marks in it. So you go to a decent gate on the inside or you go somewhere that’s in the middle, and that’s like starting on concrete. So, it’s give or take. -- Steve Matthes
"Yeah, it’s not exactly what I wanted obviously but it’s a lot better than last weekend by far. What is it, the first loser? It’s better." - Ryan Villopoto
Simon Cudby photo
Davi Millsaps, Rockstar Energy Racing, 3rd in 450SX Class
How did the race go?
Well, the race went good compared to how my day was going. It didn’t start off that great. I was just struggling all day and stuff, but I tried to do the best I could and ride the best I could. But taking third isn’t a bad day. No complaints there, I just wish I could have ridden a little better. Those guys were going pretty fast.
Anything you could put a finger on all day of what was different?
I don’t know. It just didn’t feel the same. I felt just a little bit tight, struggling a little bit. I just wasn’t that comfortable. But I tried to relax in the main event and just ride my lines and ride smooth and not make too many mistakes. If they were passing me, they passed me and we’re going to go from there.
Talk about your starts.
Starts are great. I’ve always been a decent starter, and this bike’s just pretty easy to start. Just let it light up and go. Almost got the holeshot, just almost. I tried!
What was the track like?
Slick, loose, rutted. Did I mention slick? All of the above.
How many more friends did you have this week than last week?
I gained about 5,000 followers. Does that count? -- Jason Weigandt
Trey Canard, Muscle Milk Honda, 4th in 450SX ClassLeaving Phoenix you could have been, should have been points leader. Last lap, bad mistake, but still man, you’re riding good. Knowing you you’re going to take the bright side of this.
I am disappointed. I wanted to be up there. But I look at the whole race and I think it was a good race. I can’t be bummed on that. And again I look back not even a year ago and I’m so grateful to be riding a motorcycle right now that I’m just happy with the outcome.
Describe your crash. Just lost the front end I guess?
Yeah, it’s the same thing as last week. I just saw the white flag and was like, oh my goodness, I’m going to get second.
I’m going to lead points!
Yeah, I’m just like, don’t mess up, don’t mess up. And everyone knows how that goes in our sport. You think that way and it goes downhill. That’s exactly what happened. I just didn’t give it enough on that last triple and came up short and rode the front end, almost saved it and then dumped it over. Got excited, grabbed a handful and the thing just shot out. Probably could have saved a third, but I don’t know. It’s a long series and I’m just thankful to be here, dude.
That battle was intense there. Yourself and Millsaps and Villopoto and Chad … That was gnarly for a few laps.
Oh yeah, the whole race seemed pretty wild with RV being back there the whole time. I don’t know; it’s crazy to battle with Chad Reed and Davi Millsaps and those guys. It was fun. I remember thinking lap 17 like, oh my gosh, this is so cool!
It’s not a huge surprise but your fitness looks really on point. And even last week too there were a couple mistakes made but as far as your fitness you’ve got to be feeling pretty good.
I am stoked on that. And that was an interesting thing with my injury that it gave me a huge opportunity to really make big gains that way. The work that we put in during that time, hopefully that carries and hopefully we do the right things to help that continue to grow and to maintain that. I was excited about it. Getting to like 18, 19 I’m thinking I got more in the tank.
Any changes to your bike from last week for this week, for this track? It’s dry and slippery for the night show.
I actually made a fork change. Not the way that we would change for this track in general. I went firmer actually. Just watching it last week it needed that. I was happy with the bike tonight. I am completely stoked with it. I think we got some little areas, but I just don’t want to mess it up. Just make baby steps and hopefully make gains.
How’s the new or replacement team manager Dan Bentley working out? I don’t know what’s going on with that, and maybe you don’t either, but how’s Dan and that little change for you?
Dan’s awesome. I mean, we all miss Kehoe, just because we feel like this is his work. The last five years of his time here he assembled this whole crew. So it’s a bummer for him not to be here and to be able to be a part of it. But Danny’s doing a great job. He’s the right temperament for it I think. He’s never ... maybe in past years he was a little hot-headed. But right now he’s so level-headed that he never gets too excited. He speaks when he needs to and he’s quiet when he needs to be quiet. I think he’s doing a great job. -- Steve Matthes
"I just didn’t give it enough on that last triple and came up short and rode the front end, almost saved it and then dumped it over. Got excited, grabbed a handful and the thing just shot out." - Trey Canard
Simon Cudby photo
Jake Weimer, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 6th in 450 SX Class
How’d it go?
I mean, kind of frustrating. My week was a lot better this week and I felt like I made some progress.
Not even the race, just during the week?
Yeah, during the week I felt like I made some progress. Well, I actually didn’t feel like I made progress; I did make progress. And practice today was a lot better than the week before. The main, started toward the front. It was like I told myself in my head, you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Latch on to them. And I just rode like a Barney and was just making mistakes and I just couldn’t stop.
I felt like you stayed close to that group. You didn’t feel like you were riding well, but it looked like you were just riding that group.
No. I was for a little bit and I just ... I didn’t do much. We got a lot of races left and I just need to continue to make progress during the week and show up at the races better than I did the week before. So that’s the plan for now. Physically I’m good. My bike is really good. It’s just ... I don’t know. I think I had kind of gotten in a little bit of a weird slump and I’m just getting out of it. And it’s tough to get out of but you’ve just got to break through the layers. Those guys are so good and it’s a lot of big name guys. A lot of people would say, you shouldn’t be bummed, those guys are all race winners that beat you, blah, blah, blah. But I’m at the point now where that’s not good enough. I don’t care. I want to be better. I don’t want to get sixth. So I’m working on that and speed is part of it. And I’m working on it during the week, and like I said, this week I made progress and that’s the plan for next week. I’ll show up at Anaheim 2 and try again. The good thing is that obviously Bercy was a long time ago, but with Bercy and then the first two rounds now my starts have been consistent. So maybe not rocketing to the front but so far I’ve consistently put myself in a position to race with the leaders. So if I keep doing that and making progress during the week eventually I’ll get it. It’s just tough. -- Jason Weigandt
"A lot of people would say, you shouldn’t be bummed, those guys are all race winners that beat you, blah, blah, blah. But I’m at the point now where that’s not good enough. I don’t care. I want to be better. I don’t want to get sixth." - Jake Weimer
Simon Cudby photo
James Stewart, Yoshimura Suzuki, 7th in 450 SX Class
First of all, how you feeling?
I’m better than I was last week. I didn’t hurt my leg anymore, so we’re good. I think we’ll probably get a couple of days in riding this week.
You didn’t get to ride this week? I wouldn’t think so.
No. I didn’t get any chance to go riding. But I got better all day and even in the main event I actually felt better, but I just froze. It was freaking cold in that stadium.
Froze like cold?
Like frozen, yeah.
Really? You don’t mean riding tight, you mean, like cold?
Frozen. Yeah. It was kind of stupid. But it is what it is.
So that really affected you quite a bit? It wasn’t just the knee injury? The weather was a factor?
Yeah, even indoors. There’s no excuses but we got a couple things we need to work on. But it was just … I don’t know. The same thing happened in the heat race -- after three laps I was frozen again. So it’s just unfortunate. No big deal. We need to work on a couple things. To me honestly, as bad as I am riding at this point, considering all things, we’re still right there and we’ll get better.
Was there almost a sense of relief that you’re still in it? You could have been done for the season after one little incident in a practice. Was there a sense of relief like, okay, we can handle this and still race?
Yeah, it was. To find out where we were last week and then to be here this weekend, I think, like I said, I didn’t re-injure it any more this week. I’ll be sore tomorrow but it’ll be all good. I think this time, we got through the first couple races, we find out kind of where we are. The motorcycle is great. The off-season was good, it’s just time to start racing. The points, I feel like we saved a lot of points, but also at the same time I feel like we could be in a little bit better position in the points. But considering all where it was I think we’ll be a lot better next week.
So you’re starting to get back into race mode?
Yeah, it’s time to start racing. -- Jason Weigandt
"I’m better than I was last week. I didn’t hurt my leg anymore, so we’re good. I think we’ll probably get a couple of days in riding this week." - James Stewart
Simon Cudby photo
Justin Brayton, JGR Toyota Yamaha, 15th Place in 450SX Class
The thumb is okay, pretty bad sprain. I got to do a little riding on Thursday just to make sure I can still do it, and it was okay, but I still had to cut my grip this week so I could hang on. I felt like I was riding good for what I was dealing with, not being able to hang on on the left side. But the main event, crashed in the first turn, and I felt like I was down for awhile—it was kind of unfortunate, but it was kind of out of my control, too. I caught the pack of Windham and those guys with two laps to go, I was way, way back early. -- Jason Weigandt
Tyla Rattray, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 12th in 250SX Class
What’s going on with Tyla Rattray?
You tell me, dude.
After three rounds last year you were leading the points, looking great. You haven’t been the same guy. Hope you’re not pissed at me saying that, but what’s going on, man? You’re a better rider than that.
I don’t know really what’s going on. I’m just going to go have a fun week this week. Not going to stress about anything. I think that’s what I’ve done. Try to come into the season … obviously this time last year I was leading the championship and coming into the season I expected to be a heavy hitter. Obviously things didn’t go ... I mean, they went all right at Anaheim. I thought my speed was pretty good. Obviously I lost two places on the last lap.
Which is unlike you.
Yeah, I know. Just got to have fun again.
Was your pre-season stuff as good as always?
No, everything was on track. My fitness, my riding. I had no injuries. I think obviously now with Supercross everyone’s seen the start is so important. You need to be out front. If I was third out of the gates I would have been racing for that position. Everything’s in the start. I had a bad start here and me and Kenny kind of got together just before the whoops and my hand shot off and I lost all my places there. Went back to last and then I had to try and come through. But a lot of these guys are riding so fast. There’s so many good guys on the West Coast and it also shows in the 450 class. There’s so many good guys out there. I’m putting the work in during the week but then also getting good starts when you get to races is important because the start's 80 percent of the race.
So, two races in, let’s not panic, right?
Right. Mitch and everyone at Pro Circuit work really hard. We’ve got a great bike this year. Obviously Martin [Davalos] proved that with the start he got from the far outside gate. So it’s just about getting a good start, getting a good gate pick, just getting out the gate and just racing. -- Steve Matthes
"I don’t know really what’s going on. I’m just going to go have a fun week this week. Not going to stress about anything." - Tyla Rattray
Simon Cudby photo
Jessy Nelson, Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda, 5th place in 250SX
This round went a lot better for you.
Yeah, I didn’t crash! I hit false neutral last weekend and that kind of sucked. It put me on the ground for a while and I ended up being a lap down. This weekend went a lot better, which was expected for me. I’m looking forward to next weekend and hopefully [I’ll] get better. I don’t want any more bad races like that. I didn’t have any in outdoors—except one—and hopefully that’s the last of the season.
Were you more reserved this race, or did you go out there with the same mentality as Anaheim?
I was a lot more reserved this race, yeah. At Anaheim, my plan was just to get a good start and start sprinting. Here, I got out front, just rode, got the feel of the dirt and how my bike was working with the track. The top guys were getting on me and they’ve been racing supercross for a couple years now. I felt like I was kind of out of place so I let them do their thing. I kept racing and never gave up until the finish line. -- Jordan Roberts
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Ryan Villopoto may have locked up his 450SX title a week early, but the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross Championship finale still had drama and excitement to spare. Page 124.