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Monday Conversation: Ryan Clark

Team Solitaire’s Ryan Clark is the newest rider to add his name to the prestigous Montreal Supercross winner's list. Clark came into the event along with another five to eight riders who all had a great chance to win. But, as we’ve seen so many times inside Olympic Stadium, it’s the rider who makes the least mistakes that takes the win. This year it was Clark. We caught up with Clark this afternoon after he tucked his new baby into bed for a nap for this Monday Convo …

Racer X: Well, Ryan, you had a pretty big weekend in Montreal. Congrats on the win!
Ryan Clark: Hey, I appreciate it. For sure it was a good weekend. I was happy to get back home with the win, and I’m healthy, and can continue to get ready for the U.S. Open.

Ryan Clark used #23 to win the Montreal SX.

Now is that your first time racing the Montreal Supercross?
No, I was there in probably 2002 or 2003. I’ve done it a few times, but this was the first time in the past few years. I think the track now is more standardized, compared to normal supercrosses. The event definitely has more momentum since the last time I raced it.

You’ve raced a lot of races, Ryan, and you’ve been just about everywhere. What was it like to win in Montreal?
It was by the far the biggest venue I’ve ever won. It was cool to having those stands cheering—I’m sure they were probably cheering for JSR—but they were cheering for me when I passed for the lead. It was a cool feeling having all of those eyes watching you. It’s a race I have to do more often and hopefully I can return next year.

Who contacted you to come up to Montreal?
I’ve been emailing with Buddy Ford for a while and I let him know that I was interested. I tried to go up last year, but things didn’t work out with my schedule. He invited me up, it just worked out and the timing was great—my wife and I had our second child three weeks ago. We finally settled into a routine and I was able to break away for a few days. I shipped my bike up to New York to my friend’s house and my mechanic flew in a little earlier and got everything set up. I flew in Thursday and we drove up. It was a pretty scheduled weekend and we had a blast.

Yes, Montreal always offers a great race and pretty good social weekend.
Yeah, for sure.

So you brought your own bike to Montreal?
Yeah, I brought my own bike up. I had everything from back home. Back when I first started traveling in the off-season, I always borrowed equipment and I just didn’t feel like I was very prepared. I always try to give myself the best opportunity to succeed. I don’t want to be flying around, wasting my time, not doing well and not making the trips successful financially. Bringing my own equipment is one of the best advantages I can have.

Oh, I agree. I always spot a few racers at Montreal each year that borrow a stock bike from a dealership with their suspension bolted on, but that’s it. At any race, especially a supercross, I think familiar equipment always helps out.
That’s why I try to put as much into being prepared. Going into a race not prepared is a good recipe for injury or not doing well.

In the MX1 main, there were so many battles going on and things to watch, I’m having a hard time remembering where you started, somewhere around fourth or fifth?
I think I was around sixth through the first corner, but made a few passes and moved into fourth on the first lap.

Clark savors being on the top tier of the podium.

And it wasn’t until late in the race when you passed Bryan Johnson for the lead.
Yeah, once I moved into second I passed Dostal and then Northrop. Johnson had broke away in the first few laps with a clear track. At that point, I felt like I was in control of the race. I wanted to stay as close as I could to Bryan, and not try to make the pass right away but keep myself into position for the win. I think guys were starting to get tired and feeling the 15 laps. I think I got into too much of a pace, which was a bit worrisome, but I smoothed things out in the last five laps. I passed Bryan and broke away in the final laps for the win. I didn’t feel like I rode the best that I could, but it lets me know I have some work to do before the Open. I need to work on going out faster and not settling into other rider's pace.

After watching practice, it looked like there were a handful of riders who had the speed to win. Do you feel that you were a contender heading into the main event?
Well, I mean, I always go into race like this expecting that I can be on the top of the podium. A lot plays into here; you have to get out front early, not get caught up with crashes that are commonplace at races with a fast group of guys up front. I knew that Sorby would be fast and Jason Thomas, and Bryan Johnson has shown he has the speed to be top 10 in AMA Supercross. There were a solid group of guys, but I felt that I had a shot to win. I felt comfortable right from the first practice and I set the fastest time in the fourth practice. I knew I would be up there, that I was the fastest guy there and I had a chance at winning. Fortunately, things worked out and there were no crashes or altercations. I guess you could say it was an easy race for me. I was real pleased with the outcome, obviously.

For riders that haven’t been to Montreal, how does it compare to an AMA Supercross or other indoor events you’ve raced?
Well, the track this year was very comparable to the events we race in the U.S., obviously the dirt is similar to the tracks on the East Coast. Dirt Wurx did a good job on the track, it was pretty standard as far as supercross goes. It was a good warm up for the Open and the U.S. Supercross Series. The only real difference is that you don’t have guys like Stewart or Carmichael who are heads and shoulders above everyone else. It’s more low-key; it’s a one-race deal and I think a lot of the guys are there to have fun more than anything. I tried to take it as seriously I could. It’s just a good opportunity to make some money, have fun and race in front of a huge crowd in a big venue—and race against the best guys in Canada, which is cool.

Will we see some notes about Montreal in your next column in Racer X?
I’m sure it will come up. I write about things going on in my life and that was the highlight of the year for me. It was the biggest win I’ve had in a while and I’m really, really glad I went up and could perform. Wins are few and far between these days, so anytime I can get a victory I’m extremely happy. Like I said, you’re only missing the top tier guys from the U.S. You have all of the best riders in Canada some really good riders from the U.S.

That’s good to hear. So who would you like to thank for your win in the Big O?
Sure, but prepared—it’s a long one! I would like to thank Team Solitaire/Kingdom/FLY Racing Honda, they are an independently owned and operated professional Supercross and Motocross race team based in Phoenix, Arizona. Our 2007 marketing partners include: FLY Racing, Kingdom Clothing, American Honda, MB1 Suspension, Dragon Optical, WPS, Dubach Racing Exhaust, RideNow.com, HoyFox.com, Michelin, Vortex, Team Hawg Racing, ASV, Coachseiji.com, Dirt Pro, Polisport Plastics, Enjoy Mfg., Ride Engineering, Boyesen, Pivot Works, Ready Filter, Sano Systems, Twenty20, Pro Honda Oils & Chemicals, RK Chain, Excel, Group D, DC Auto Wraps, Champion Tool Storage, Motion Pro, OGIO, Ron Davis Radiators, Crank Works, Hot Rods, CP Pistons, Barnett Clutches, Sidi Boots, NGK Spark Plugs, QTM/Brembo, Pro Grip, Hammerhead, IMS Products, USA Sport, Cytosport, Cometic and Lakai.

 

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