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Monday Conversation: Thad DuVall

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David Knight took the win at yesterday’s Moose Racing Snowshoe GNCC in West Virginia, but Thad DuVall stole the show by leading most of the racing and finishing second—by just three seconds—on a 250F. That’s the highest finish ever in a GNCC for a 250F, but now that Thad’s on the verge of sewing up the GNCC XC2 Lites Championship, he’s itching to move up to a 450 and try to grab another podium finish. We called the 18-year-old GNCC talent to find out about his phenomenal ride at Snowshoe.

Racer X: Well, Thad, what the heck got into you on Snowshoe?
Thad DuVall: I don’t really know! I just felt really good all day.

  • Thad DuVall made history by finishing second overall
  • The Snowshoe tracak was fast with a few mudholes thrown in
  • DuVall actually led David Knight and the rest of the field for most of the three-hour race
  • Thad rides a WR250F, but he's looking forward to getting on a 450.
What have you been doing over the summer break? Did you expect to come out guns blazing like this, or did you surprise yourself?
I kind of surprised myself. I actually took some time off when the summer break began, and then I went back to my regular training program. I rode a lot with Kailub Russell. I would go down to his place and he would come up here. But it wasn’t anything that different. When I woke up in the morning, I just felt good. I went out early and I walked the track in the morning and helped out some of the young kids in the Youth race, and I just had a good feeling.

At Snowshoe, everyone starts in rows of five on the pavement in the middle of town. You were in the third row. How did the race come together for you?
On the second lap, I started to realize it would be a pretty crazy day. I was right with Knight, and I realized that I could just ride and keep up with him. Then I knew it was going to be something special. If it wasn’t for Knight, I wouldn’t have had to ride nearly as hard!

How was the track?
It wasn’t as bad as last year. It wasn’t as gnarly, but there were still a lot of mud holes, so it was still pretty tough.
How did you handle the mud holes?
I didn’t get stuck all day until the last lap, so I think that helped me gain some time. I would just go fast in the fast stuff and then in the technical sections I would just take my time.

You’re racing for your class win, but did your team tell you that you were leading the race overall?
I pretty much knew where I was on my own, but I had told my team not to tell me where I was in the overall. I just wanted to focus on riding my own race.

Knight even told me you were gaining time on some of the really slick corners. What do you attribute that to?
I attribute that to riding the WR250F. It has a good tractable power. We had a long, gravel, twisty road. It was like racing up Pikes Peak or something, just third and fourth gear up it, and I was just flat tracking through the corners. I don’t know what go into me!
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Did you get caught up in trying to win the race overall at any point?
I never really lost focus. I knew Knight was going to get strong at the end, and I knew he would put on a charge. It really didn’t matter. Last year I finished fourth overall here and it was cool, so I really just wanted to win my class - I wasn’t too concerned with the overall. So I just charged and kept my own pace.

  • The Snowshoe race started on pavement in the ski resort's village
  • Thad had the West Virginia fans on his side
  • Thad only needs a few points at the next race in Unadilla to clinch the XC2 championship
Then you crashed on the pavement.
Yeah, I fell on the last corner when you leave the pavement in the pits. It was pretty nasty. My mom said someone had just crashed before me, so maybe there was gas on the ground. I took out bicycle racks and stuff like that. Everyone was surprised I got up and finished. I’m all scraped up right now.

Did that take the wind out of your sails?
It was harder because I knew I had blown it. But the wind didn’t come out of my sails until I got stuck on the last lap. I just buried it clear up to the front fender, and I had to get it out mostly by myself. There were only a few people down there to help. After that, I was cruising, and then I was like, “I can’t give up now—I can’t give up.” I don’t know where the energy came from, because I had already gone through my second wind at that point. It was like my fourth and fifth wind! But everyone was cheering me on. It was like I was David Knight coming through there trying to win a championship. The fans were really cheering. The last two miles were just logging roads and ski slopes, and I had that 250F on the rev limiter in fifth gear, totally wide open. My goggles were sucked back to my eyeballs! If I had crashed, it would have been pretty bad, but I knew I was pretty close to winning the race, so I had to try it. I came up a little short, but second overall, that’s not too bad.

Well, you’re on the verge of wrapping the XC2 Title. Do you have a plan to race a 450?
Well, the plan is to race the next race, [Unadilla] New York, on a 250F and try to get top five overall and clinch the title. From there on out, I’m parking the 250F and riding the 450. I’m faster on it [and] I’m smoother on it. I can’t wait to race it.
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