Open Mic: Seattle

Open Mic: Seattle

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By Steve Matthes, Aaron Hansel and Jordan Roberts

Ryan Villopoto, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 2nd in 450SX

You caught up to [Justin] Barcia a couple of times, but it was mistakes. It was a gnarly track.
Yeah, it was tough. I felt like I had a line after the mechanics area, I was doing it in the qualifier. That was really good. Then they fixed the first turn for our main event and it seemed like they took down maybe a little bit of the takeoff on that thing. I was able to get it a few times but I kind of had to go too far wide and then shoot back. I kind of was figuring on making a run down the straightaway there, that rhythm section, and then passing him in the whoops section, getting next to him. Wasn’t able to do it, but it was good. The track, I think the cards we were dealt today with the rain earlier and then the way the track turned out for the main event, and the rain holding off, was really good. Bummer it rained because when we went out for practice, the first one, it was actually really good. It would have turned out to be an awesome night, but it ended up raining. – Steve Matthes

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"I was able to get it a few times but I kind of had to go too far wide and then shoot back." - Ryan Villopoto
Simon Cudby photo

Davi Millsaps, Rockstar Energy Racing, 3rd in 450SX

How’d it go?
It was actually not that bad of a night. I made a decision before the main event to switch tires and I shouldn’t have done it.

Front or rear?
Front.

What’d you do; harder or go more aggressive?
More aggressive. And being the front-end rider that I am, it wasn’t a good idea. Because it started raining so I’m like oh, it’s going to keep raining; it’ll be great. But it stopped.

Then it got slick.
Well, it was slick and my tire was great but then it got tacky and sticky and it went to pieces. But all in all, back in second, not worried about that as far as in my mind. I’m just trying to stay on the podium.

I guess it wasn’t really bad news; a lot of guys would be happy with third. But you had a good gap on everybody else. So you didn’t have anything for those two guys but you were better than everybody else.
I did in the beginning. But like I said as soon as it started tacking up and stuff I really couldn’t ride. I was struggling. I was doing everything I could just to stay off the ground. So there’s always next weekend and I led 19 out of 20 laps there [last year], so hopefully I can do 20. – Steve Matthes

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"But like I said as soon as it started tacking up and stuff I really couldn’t ride. I was struggling." - Davi Millsaps
Cudby photo

Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 4th in 450SX

Guys came in pretty hot in the first turn and Josh Hill went down in front of me and I had nowhere to go. I ended up hitting him and going down. Tried to get up and get through the pack as quick as we could, and we got into fourth. By that time Millsaps had a good ten seconds on me. I tried to close that down, but I kept making mistakes and was unable to do it. So I just tried to ride a clean smooth race and not make any big mistakes and cost us any more positions. The bike felt good. We battled a few things tonight, but I think everyone did. All in all it wasn’t too bad. It was good damage control.

Was it tough to come through the pack on a track that didn’t lend itself to making passes?
Yeah, that was a tough part with it being so rutted and having just that one good line. There were a lot of lines to choose from, for that matter. I was just trying to stay out of more trouble, with guys crossing every which way in front of you and everything like that. That was a tough part, cutting through the pack and avoiding the other guys who were making mistakes. It was tough, the track was tough and it was just one of those nights that challenges and tests you as a rider. Both on the track and your bike setup. – Aaron Hansel

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"Guys came in pretty hot in the first turn and Josh Hill went down in front of me and I had nowhere to go. I ended up hitting him and going down." - Ryan Dungey
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Mike Alessi, MotoConcepts, 6th in 450SX

So it seemed like a pretty crazy night with how the track was.
I thought the track was technical, for sure. You had to pick good lines and be up front from the start, and that’s what I did. I was running second there for a few laps and got into third. I was trying to ride a smart race and ended up sixth, which is good for me. This has been an up-and-down season for me—more downs than up—so it feels good to finally get back up there close to the top five. It’s a bummer that with two laps to go I got the blue flag and saw a green bike, so I thought the leaders were coming. I thought it was RV, but it ended up being [Jake] Weimer. When I looked over I saw the number 12 and was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Yeah, I’m just bummed out, but stuff happens.

A lot of people don’t know, but I rode with [Justin] Barcia this week. I think that was good for of us—to ride together. It upped our game and elevated our speed. He won and I got sixth place, so it’s good. We were pushing hard this week to get faster and better. We both came in this weekend and did pretty good. I’m looking forward to Salt Lake. – Jordan Roberts

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"A lot of people don’t know, but I rode with [Justin] Barcia this week. I think that was good for of us—to ride together." - Mike Alessi
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Justin Brayton, JGR Toyota Yamaha, 8th in 450SX

It was okay, it wasn’t bad. The result isn’t great, but I was battling for fifth with I believe two laps to go and ended up crashing. It’s just a bummer. It’d be awesome to be able to sit here and say I rode decent and got a fifth, which is where I should have been. It’s frustrating, but we’ll keeping plugging away. That’s the only thing I can do. It’s kind of getting old saying that, but like I said, it’s the only thing I can do.

In the heat and main, it seemed like you were riding well, but you just didn’t get good starts.
That’s what’s frustrating. I was riding awesome in the heat, and the first half of the main wasn’t great. I was riding my heat race lines, and none of them worked. I got passed by a few guys and got shuffled back to like, I think tenth at one point. Worked my way back up. Me and Weimer went back and forth like three times and he got into fifth. Two laps to go I ran into the back of Alessi in a turn and fell over, which was a bummer. It could have been a decent night with either fifth for sure, or sixth.

So was it one-lined?
When it gets that rutty it’s hard to make up a ton of time. People will take one line that’s really good and it’ll get bad, so they’ll move over a little bit until that line gets bad. But I actually really enjoyed the track. I thought it was really good and fun. Bummer about the result, but it’s all good. – Aaron Hansel

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"When it gets that rutty it’s hard to make up a ton of time. People will take one line that’s really good and it’ll get bad..." - Justin Brayton
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Zach Osborne, GEICO Honda, 3rd in 250SX

Good job tonight. First podium on the year. First half of the year wasn’t going good but you started the second half of the West series with a bang.
Yeah, I worked really hard on the break and just tried to come out swinging tonight. Even before the rain came I was going fast and my times in the practices were good. I felt confident with the way everything was going. Definitely the hard work I’ve been doing lately has paid off for me, and just going to build from here hopefully.

Almost like hitting the reset button, getting those eight weeks off really helped you.
Yeah, just being healthy and not really nursing anything and being able to be aggressive on the track instead of kind of just riding it. I was more or less going through the motions to get through. As bad as my results were in the beginning of the season and with the injury and everything, I’m still fourth in the championship so it’s still salvageable. I’m only 11 out of third and it’s still possible. – Steve Matthes

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"As bad as my results were in the beginning of the season and with the injury and everything, I’m still fourth in the championship so it’s still salvageable." - Zach Osborne
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Cole Seely, Troy Lee Designs Honda, 4th in 250SX

So where did you end up starting in the main event?
[Going] around the first turn I think I was fifteenth.

You must’ve been doing work in the first half of the race.
I think by the first lap I was eleventh, and then I only passed two or three guys before the halfway mark. Things were just kind of falling apart; it was pretty hectic out there. Guys were going down, lines were changing, just everything… I kind of had to settle in, and then I found some pretty creative lines out there. I was able to drop my laps times and put my head down and charge. I passed [Martin] Davalos and [Tyla] Rattray on the same lap, and then I passed [Ryan] Sipes. I made my way into fourth. That last lap I almost had enough time to pass [Zach] Osborne, but I couldn’t make it happen.

In what lap did you first see him?
I think I first saw him with five laps to go. I was going over the triple and I could see him going over the finish line. It was a pretty big gap. I didn’t think I’d be able to catch him. I inched and inched up to him until I finally caught up to him, but I couldn’t make it happen.

So are you pretty happy with that ride?
Yeah, very happy. I wanted to do a little better than fourth, but I’m very happy with the way I rode. The bike felt good, we did a little testing over the break and I stepped up my training program a little bit, so I felt good all 15 laps. – Jordan Roberts

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"I wanted to do a little better than fourth, but I’m very happy with the way I rode." - Cole Seely
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Jake Canada, MotoConcepts, 14th in 250SX

What have you been doing for the 8 weeks, laying by the beach?
I would like to be, but no. Just been doing a lot of outdoor testing. Getting ready for the outdoor season. I came back and rode supercross for the last two weeks coming up to this. Just planned on coming out and changing up the tempo a little bit. I had a little bit of a bad run. I got a fifth, but other than that it was bad, bad, bad. My luck didn’t really change tonight. I got a third place start in the heat; that was good, and then I got red flagged, and then got like a 15th place start.

Tomac was way back and got the holeshot and you were the guy that got screwed.
Yeah, so I got screwed; he made out. But ended up with an all right start in the main and for being on the outside, 14th pick, I think I was in the top ten somewhere, then got a rock lodged in my peg, a big rock. I was looking down, I didn’t know what it was. My foot kept slipping off the peg. I thought it was a bolt coming out, because I’ve had that happen before. And so I had to pull it in and he got it out. By the time we got it out it was early in the race so I was far in the back. Just tried to stay out there, got blue flagged, felt like a goon and didn’t really like it. But we’ll regroup. – Steve Matthes

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"I think I was in the top ten somewhere, then got a rock lodged in my peg, a big rock." - Jake Canada
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Phil Nicoletti, N-Fab/TiLube Yamaha, 10th in 450SX

You finally did it! Top ten in 450SX.
It was good. It felt like it’s been a long time coming. Houston could’ve possibly been a top ten last weekend. I’m happy. I didn’t ride very good, though. I had a couple good guys in front of me. They kind of gapped me and I got into a rhythm I didn’t want to with some other guys and got in a slump. Other than that it was okay. I’m just glad I made it out of the heat race with that first-lap crash. I didn’t want to go to the LCQ tonight.

You seem kind of calm right now. Is this, just, whatever?
Well, yeah. I expected this out of myself a while ago, to be honest. Maybe other people didn’t, but I did. I just need to keep plugging away; there’s only two rounds left. These ruts kind of made me think about outdoors even more, so I’m looking forward to that.

With the way the track was, it was probably more about minimizing mistakes.
Oh yeah, 100 percent. I was making mistakes left and right. I don’t care who you were tonight—nobody was perfect. I made a couple bobbles here and there, but switched up my lines. I got a little tunnel vision for a few laps and did some dumb stuff, but other than that I was happy. – Jordan Roberts

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"It was good. It felt like it’s been a long time coming." - Phil Nicoletti
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Ryan Sipes, Rockstar Energy Racing, 7th 250SX

It was an okay weekend, but a tough one to come back because the track was so technical. I just felt like I was fighting it, and I couldn’t really find a flow. Luckily my starts were really good and in the main I got out past Christian [Craig] to get into third. For about seven or eight laps I felt pretty good. The leader was getting away a little bit, but I was just kind of riding my pace and then I got tight. I got to where I couldn’t really charge stuff because I was afraid my hands were going to fall off! I don’t ever really get arm pump, but for some reason I did tonight. I think it was a combination of the track, and it being my first race back. I gave it my all and fought to the end. Seventh isn’t where I want to be, but there were some good parts to the weekend.

Was not racing in so long the main reason you tightened up?
It was that, and just the track. I was fighting it the whole time. It wasn’t a fitness issue, my fitness is great, it’s just my arms. You try to do one thing and make a little mistake, and instantly your arms tighten up a little bit. I haven’t race since January 18 or something; it’s been a long time. But like I said, I gave it my all. I’ll keep working and we’ll get back to where we want to be.

How slippery was the track?
It wasn’t slippery, it was just soft. It would grab your front end and just take it. You couldn’t just ride through the ruts and pretend they weren’t there, they’d grab you. You had to be spot on and have good balance. I was trying to attack, but at the same time I was tight, so it was really hard. – Aaron Hansel

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"I got to where I couldn’t really charge stuff because I was afraid my hands were going to fall off! I don’t ever really get arm pump, but for some reason I did tonight." - Ryan Sipes
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Cody Gilmore, Yankton Motorsports, Race Tech, 15th in 450SX

First main event.
It’s been a long year! I’ve been trying super hard and wondering if it was ever going to happen. I’ve been really close-I got two tenths in the last two heats and last weekend I was third in the LCQ. It’s been so close and so tough, and it’s awesome to finally make one. I got a decent start and snuck to the inside. I couldn’t see my pit board, the mechanics’ area was right where we were turning and it was really muddy there. I didn’t know what place I was in, but I knew I was up there. You know where you are by the guys you’re running with. And my buddy [Mike] Horban was behind me, so I knew I didn’t have to worry about him doing anything dirty. It was cool that he got to make one too. I’ve ridden better in heat races, but I did what I needed to do. Now I know what I need to do and hopefully I can keep carrying this on.

How was the track?
It was slippery at the beginning, but it was really tacky in the main event. A lot of spots were tacky, and it was soft and rutted. The straightaway was really slippery, but everything else was soft. The dirt wasn’t too bad. Some spots rutted up worse than others, but I’ve seen worse out here.

With conditions being so different in each practice, as well as the night program, how do you even get the bike set up right?
I didn’t even go out for the second practice. The first practice was good, and I put in the best time I have all year-I was sitting in eighteenth. It started raining when our second practice was getting ready to go out, and my friend who was here helping me out had to leave so I was by myself out here, and I wasn’t sure I could get the bike ready for the night program after being in the mud. After the race all my buddies were asking me if I was going to go out and celebrate, but I’m here washing my bike getting it ready for Salt Lake City! But hey, I’d rather do this any day! – Aaron Hansel

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"The track was definitely ruttier than hell. It was probably the ruttiest track this year." - Weston Peick
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Weston Peick, Hyper X, R2MX, ProRide.com, Fly, Utopia, 16th in 450SX

Practice started off okay. I had a bad crash earlier this week and screwed up my shoulder, so I really didn’t get much riding in this week. I was struggling with arm pump some because I kind of screwed up the nerves in my shoulder. I got a good start, but I was also having some bike issues today. The bike was cutting out real bad when I would land and get on the gas. Something’s wrong with it. I was running up front, like six or seventh in the main, and the bike just kept getting worse and worse and started hiccupping on me. I landed in between a jump and a rut, hooked a quick right, went off the track and crashed. I got back going but had some more mistakes. The bike wasn’t really helping out either. It was good in a sense, but I had another bad weekend.

How much did the track itself play into that?
The track was definitely ruttier than hell. It was probably the ruttiest track this year. There was no time for breaks or anything. You had to be on your game the entire time. I felt like I was riding it really good and smooth, and I was running in the top ten for about half the race, but I had some bike issues. We’ll get back home, figure it out, head to Salt Lake and get back on it. – Aaron Hansel

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