5 Minutes with...PJ Larsen

It’s always interesting to see which dark horse is going to turn the most heads at the start of a new season, and while much of the attention in the Lites class has been focused on Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Chris Blose, and rightfully so, this past weekend in Phoenix we saw the sudden emergence of Canidae/Motosport Kawasaki’s PJ Larsen. After not qualifying at Anaheim I, Larsen rebounded nicely at Phoenix and ran up front the entire main event, finishing sixth. Not too bad for his first-ever Supercross Lites main event. We gave PJ a call today and interrupted his Anaheim II preparation for this 5 Minutes with...

Racer X: PJ, you kind of had me worried after Anaheim 1...
PJ Larsen: Why did I kind of worry you after Anaheim 1, because I didn’t qualify?

  • In his first-ever Lites main event in Phoenix, PJ Larsen finished an impressive sixth-place.
  • PJ Larsen
  • Larsen was the co-winner of the AMA Horizon Award in 2008.
That was just a malfunction on my part. That was just a dumb race for me.

How nervous were you at AI?
I wasn’t really all that nervous; I just went into it looking at it like it was just another dirt bike race. That’s all it ever is, and that’s what it was. I was definitely nervous, but I wasn’t too bad off. That’s definitely a big deal to be showing up at Anaheim I.

So, what happened to you?
I had a little brain fart, I guess, and ran up into the turn a little too hard, and Jeff Alessi took a line and cut back and I just ran into him and jacked myself up.

Unfortunately, they didn’t show it on Speed. I did see that you were lined up next to Ryan Dungey, though.
Yeah, that was in the qualifier. I had a good gate pick and I was lined up next to Dungey. I had a pretty good jump and somebody came up inside of the haybales and fell and knocked a Tuff Block into me and I almost went down in the first turn. So that put me back a little farther than I should’ve been.

What happened in the LCQ?
When I wrecked in the qualifier, I bent my thumb backwards and it was hurting pretty bad when I lined up for the LCQ. I tried to ride it out but I couldn’t really hang on. I wasn’t up front to try and worry about it, so I just played it smart and pulled off instead of injuring myself more.

What a rookie mistake...
[Laughs] Rookie mistake? Come on, my thumb was really hurting...

It didn’t look like it was hurting this past weekend in Phoenix.
Yeah, I went to Steve Navarro’s office and he hooked me up and did a lot of therapy on it last Monday. Thanks to him it didn’t bother me at all when I was riding and training last week. If it wasn’t for him, I’d have to say that I’d probably been a little worse off at Phoenix, but luckily we got it all taken care of and I’m all good.

Was it tough on your confidence not making the main in your supercross debut?
No, it wasn’t that bad. I knew I had the speed and that I could be up front, I just had to make better decisions on the track.

What did you do differently at Phoenix, if anything?
Between Anaheim and Phoenix, we went back and looked at everything and analyzed it all. I saw what I did wrong and I just made better decisions when I was on the track. That’s basically what A1 came down to; it was a bad decision on my part. And it was only one bad decision. If you look at it, Phoenix started out just like A1. I was eleventh fastest in practice times and I was the fastest in my practice group and everything was going good. I just went out in the qualifier and got a good start. I got pushed around a little bit and got pushed back, but I fought myself back up into a qualifying spot and didn’t do anything stupid to take myself out of the main.

At Phoenix, you got sixth in the heat, sixth in the main and had the sixth fastest lap time.
Yeah, I think I showed some good potential at Phoenix. I just need to keep getting those good starts. Being up front with those guys definitely made me realize where I need to improve. Actually, we already noticed this week that I improved on my speed. I think it was good for me to get up front to follow guys like Dungey, Weimer and Morais for a lap or two to learn what I need to do better.

Take us through the main there.
Well, in the main, I got a really good start. I came out in second and Dungey kind of got around the outside of me going into the next section. The same with Brayton, but I ended up getting Brayton back in the first rhythm section and held him off for a few laps. I stayed up in third for like three laps and just kind of learned the pace up there. I then tensed up a little bit because it’s a little different being up front in a pro supercross.

Where do those guys gain on you the most?
I think the main places they were gaining on me is the turns; my corner speed just wasn’t quite there last weekend, but hopefully we improved it and I could go to A2 and get another good start and learn some more from them.

  • PJ got a second place start in Phoenix and ran up front for most of the main event.
What do you feel your strength is out there?
I think one of my strengths is definitely the whoops. I seem to be really strong in the whoops and putting together rhythm combinations.

How’s everything with the Canidae/Motosport Kawasaki team?
The whole team is really good. It’s good to have an outside sponsor like that. All the Canidae guys are real supportive and are at the races, so it’s working out really well.

Is your dog eating Canidae now?
Oh, yeah! They hook us up with dog food and our dog is hooked on it now and she’s gobbling it down like there’s no tomorrow.

Have you tried it?
I haven’t tried it. I try to stay off of dog food, but it’s all natural, so it’s like a salad for a dog.

Your team is also outfitted pretty much head to toe in Scott gear. We know they make good goggles, but how’s their gear?
The Scott gear is something that I really didn’t know about until a few months ago, and it’s really good. I really like the guys over at Scott and they help us out a lot. The product has come a long way in the boot department with us working with them, and they’re a lot better off than they were before and I couldn’t be happier with what we got. Scott gear looks really good and everything, so it’s a good combination. It’s really comfortable. I was actually really surprised with how well it fit and how comfortable it was.

What’s up with your teammate, Kyle Cunningham?
Kyle just had a little bad luck these past two weeks. He qualified at A1 but got ran into, and this past weekend he just had a few little bobbles in the first turns and got knocked down. Just a little bad luck for him, but I’m sure he’ll be back in the main at A2.

How are Branden Jesseman and Hunter Hewitt looking for the east coast?
They look really good. I think we should be up front out east with those guys.

I didn’t check where you’re at in points, but what is your goal for the season?
Right now, I’m sitting eleventh, and my end-of-the-year goal is just to be really consistent and hopefully be in the top five in points at the end of the year. I want to start finishing in the top five. I was almost there last week.

Who do you want to thank, PJ?
I definitely want to thank everyone over at Canidae/Motosport/Xtreme Kawasaki, Pro Circuit, Scott gear, my trainer Jed Nelson and Steve Navarro, and all the other sponsors that are behind our team, thanks a lot.