Monday Conversation III: Team USA's MX3 rider, Timmy Ferry

Timmy Ferry went into the 2008 Motocross des Nations as the guy that most people felt was the one who could lose the whole deal for America. His teammates, Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart, were expected to go 1-1, and whatever Ferry could contribute would be enough. Well, this is why they hold the races, because neither Ryan nor James went 1-1 and after James fell late in the last moto, the USA needed Red Dog to secure the win. And like a good closer in baseball, he went in and locked the win up with his 37th-to-fifth second-moto ride. We cornered him after the press conference to get his thoughts.

Racer X: Timmy, you saved America. At least that’s what I think. Talk about your day.
Timmy Ferry: You know, I almost don’t know how to describe it. I got here Wednesday morning after flying all night, went riding Thursday and it’s been cold, rainy and dreary this weekend. I didn’t ride very good yesterday in my qualifier. I just wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t get my rhythm on the track at all and to come away with this as the winner is pretty amazing. My first moto, I got so much mud on my clutch perch that it would just fall down. It was one of those breakaway ones. It would fall down every time I landed and I’d have to knock it back again. It made me nervous, actually, then I pumped up and it was downhill from there. I’d catch [Michael] Byrne and then have to slow up and fix my clutch and lose three or four seconds. My goggles were weird for me also, because it was raining a bit and we had double-pane lenses with dots in them and roll-offs. I just wasn’t used to it. There was no sun, it was dark, and I had everything going on that I didn’t like. Usually, in the mud, I’ll wear tear-offs, but because this was a team event, I didn’t want anything to go wrong and wore the roll-offs. No excuses; I didn’t ride that well at all.

In the second moto, I told James that he could have the inside gate. I knew that we just needed one more good result and we’d probably win and I thought if he got the start, he would win by 20 or 30 seconds and I can just do whatever I can do coming from the back. I’m used to that anyways! I was bummed when I saw James fall, though, man. I was like, “You have to be kidding me.” I didn’t know where we were at and said to myself, “I’d better pull this together or we’re going to lose this thing.” I probably haven’t felt that much pressure in my entire life as when I came by James, saw that number one pointing right at me and waving me on to help him out.

In that second moto, you were catching De Dycker at the end. Did you think you might need him for the overall? What was going through your head?
My team never told me anything about if we were winning or not. I came around and they gave me P-5, “Smooth,” and I took that to mean, “Don’t crash!” If we needed some spots, they probably would’ve said, “Keep pushing,” or something like that. I just took what they said as, “Tim Ferry, do not crash.” I kind of put it in cruise control, but at the same time, there were guys behind me. I couldn’t take it too easy. I could hear the fans. They might’ve been cheering for [Shaun] Simpson, but they were going nuts. I had to keep pushing. I think he [De Dycker] might’ve been getting tired, but he kept it up.

What did you think of the track?
I thought the track could’ve been really, really good, but at the same time, I thought it was terrible. The 2007 GP I watched on DVD looked like so much fun. I just think that they wanted this race to be so special that they overdid it. By them not grooming anything, it makes it really tough to ride and get a flow going, y’know? Some of the ruts were so deep that I was getting ripped off my bike. I didn’t really enjoy myself until I got back by the podium and everybody was cheering and then I knew I did my job.

Your starts were not very good today. What were the reasons?
To tell you the truth, in the first moto I came into the turn in first but I went wide, and in the second turn some guy went off the track and forced me off. We went through the green banners and into the infield and had to come back onto the track. In the second moto, when I gave my gate to James, I really thought that I could do it from out there. I thought I could get the jump out but gassed it too much and spun. It was horrible.

Before the race, you said that you didn’t think anything could top Budds Creek, but just now on the podium here, you made mention of the fact that this was better. Why is that?
It really was better. I said coming in that we weren’t going to do what we did last year – there was no way. I also didn’t think we would do as bad as we did today, either. This one was so difficult, everything was stacked against us. We’re in England, its cold out, we’re not pitted in our normal trucks and everything else that we had to deal with. I felt it was sweet for me because the reason that they picked me to go in the first place was the reason that we won. I think they knew they could depend on me to put in two good results, that you can give me the 21st gate pick and I’ll make something out of it. I can get at least one good finish and salvage the deal. I felt like I did my job, and that’s satisfying.

To tell you the truth, I thought I rode like crap today. I’m not happy with it and not sure how I won my class, but it got the job done. In the first moto, I was embarrassed out there. At least in the second moto I got my rhythm going a bit at the end – if that was possible on this track. The tricky thing, I think, is that our bikes are not set up to ride on this type of track. We’re not used to this soil. It’s slick, really deep ruts and we’re used to sweeping across the track in softer soil. This track really threw me off. I’m happy, though, to pull it off in Europe because the last time I was here at a MXDN, it was a disaster. [Zolder, 2003.]

Were there any riders that impressed you today?
Yeah, for sure, that [David] Phillipaerts guy was good, Sebastien Pourcel was very good today... I’ve seen Sebastien ride a supercross track in California and look like a novice. Obviously, today he was so much better. To see what confidence can do to somebody is amazing. He’s confident here and rode really awesome. Maybe [he rode] a little dirty but, hey, he was going for it. We do the same thing in the States – we’re the most aggressive country out there. I guess he stuck it in a few times on Ryan and James. There were some guys that beat me in the qualifier that I’ve never heard of. The biggest thing I took from today was that anyone of these guys, in their element, can beat almost anyone. We were in our element last year, and look what happened.