Open Mic: Interviews  from New Orleans

Open Mic: Interviews from New Orleans

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Interviews by Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes

Ryan Villopoto, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 1st in SX Class
It’s great, it wasn’t easy and if the win is there, I’ll take it. The focus is on outdoors right now for me, and staying healthy, but if the opportunity is there for me to win, like I said, I’ll take it.  The track was tough, it was sketchy and you had to be on your toes. Lappers were a bit of a problem this week but I had a big enough lead that I was able to take my time in getting around them and not make any mistakes.

It’s my hometown next week and I’m looking forward to that. I hope the weather is great and I look forward to delivering a win to the fans and friends that watched me grow up.

Ken Roczen, Red Bull KTM, 5th in Lites class

Racer X: Man, I thought this would be it. I thought it would be a battle. You were on it all day.
Ken Roczen
: I know! And I felt good. I didn’t get the best start in the main, but I felt good during the first six or seven laps. I should have passed Blake Baggett right away. That would have made things so much easier. He held me up a little bit and then I started riding tight. If you force it when you have arm pump, it’s not going to be better. You just hold on and then you throw it away or something. Then [Justin] Bogle passed me and [Justin] Barcia passed me. There’s no excuse. I was riding good all day then this happened and there’s no excuse. But I can just keep on doing my thing. This is the only thing that I can do good, so I’ll just keep training for outdoors and ride the 350 next weekend. I’m excited about that. I’ll try and figure out why I get arm pump. Yeah, try to make things better.

You had a weekend off and you came out today and you were fast all day long. Was it the track? Was it a week off to refresh? What do you think it was?
Yeah, I was riding tight the whole day, but for one lap it’s not a problem. Overall, I can just keep doing my own thing and try and make things better. Maybe I need to wink more. I don’t know. [Laughs]

If it’s any consolation, I thought you were the fastest guy in the sand.
Like I’m saying, if I don’t have arm pump or anything, then there I am. I don’t know what it is this year. A pro rider shouldn’t have, well maybe at the first few races, but at the end of the season for supercross, you shouldn’t have arm pump. I don’t know what’s wrong. We’ll figure it out, I’m sure we’ll find something. It’s still cool to not have the best race all the time and still have the fans behind me.

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"Like I’m saying, if I don’t have arm pump or anything, then there I am." - Ken Roczen
Carl Stone photo

Brett Metcalfe, Yoshimura Suzuki, 4th in SX Class
Definitely good to have that weekend off, I think. Gave me some time to ride outdoors a bit. Just a weekend off after the 13 rounds, so I think that was good for everybody, especially me. So I just wanted to start this next four-round strong. Came in and tried to be positive. I just believed in myself a little more. But it turned out good and I was feeling good all day. My times in practice never really show up that great, but I was feeling good. Then going into the night show, I ripped that holeshot and that felt awesome, just to get that holeshot and get out front and run some laps. I didn’t ride the greatest those first couple of laps, but then I got into the groove and did my typical thing there. It felt good. Going into the main, I knew what I could do and, again, got another good start in the main. But I didn’t complete the first lap clean! Dropped back a couple, but after that I just clicked off consistent laps. The track was breaking down. It was technical and gnarly tonight. I like the fact that it breaks down. But you had to pay attention to wheel spin and ruts and there were all sorts of stuff. I could see people going down left and right.  I just wanted to be consistent and be patient on the track and that’s what I did. So I was happy with the performance.

With these guys injured, I was talking to your team manager, and I feel like you should be right there getting a podium and one of those guys. But you’ve crashed and had some bad races. Is it frustrating?
Uhm, it’s been a little bit frustrating, but not really. That’s just the swing of how the championship goes. The biggest thing is I’m trying to keep within myself there. I learned that last year. On these 450’s, you can’t lose sight of your limits. I think at times this year, that’s been people and it’s been me at points, but I’ve been able to get back up. I agree with you. I think the podium is in sight for me. It’s just a couple bad rounds here and there. Everyone’s making mistakes. Couple guys had mistakes tonight. Fourth was close, but not close enough.

 

Andrew Short, L&Mc Racing, 5th in Supercross class

Racer X: It was your comeback race, and you brought home a fifth. You’ve got to be happy.
Andrew Short: Yeah, I wasn’t riding like myself, so I was bummed on that. I got really tight early on and then that led to me getting tired. So that really pissed me off because I busted my balls trying to get into really good shape and then I rode like a dork, in terms of that. Had a good start, but ran into the back of [Brett] Metcalfe and [Justin] Brayton, so that was my only setback. Like, I got past a bunch of dudes the first couple of laps because of that. Other than that, I think I had a good race, good speed. Fitness is good, I’ve just got to learn to relax.

Well it’s got to be pretty tough your first time. No matter what you do at home, you can’t replicate it here.
Yeah, exactly. You have the first-race jitters and everyone else is in the full swing of things here. My expectations were maybe a little higher than they should have been, but I feel like there’s no reason I shouldn’t be up there with the people who were in front of me.

It was you and 24 all night long.
[Laughs] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was what it was.

You want to talk about Tickle?
Yeah, I cleaned him. I didn’t really mean to, obviously.

He said he’s not gonna fight you, though.
I already went over and talked to him. You live by the sword, die by the sword. But basically, I was coming in hot and I wasn’t even on the brakes and I cleaned him. So it wasn’t cool. That’s why I went over there and apologized. I just didn’t know he was going to come down so quick. I would’ve been pissed if I was him.

What about the track?
I don’t have anything to compare it to. I haven’t been racing. But I thought it was fun. I thought the dirt was going to be pretty crappy when I walked it, but I thought it offered pretty good traction and it shaped up as the night went on. So I enjoyed it.

 

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"Yeah, I wasn’t riding like myself, so I was bummed on that. I got really tight early on and then that led to me getting tired." - Andrew Short
Carl Stone photo

Wil Hahn, Honda Muscle Milk, 9th in SX Class
Well, you know, I went off the track in the first turn. Everyone shot over the Tuff Blocks and it was just kind of a crap shoot. But I just rode my race, kept my head down and passed people, and ended up ninth. That’s still my best result on the 450. I know they’re saying it’s a weak field and stuff, but I really feel like I’ve gained a lot of experience and I’m ready to get on my Lites bike and go attack next weekend.

So this is it for the 450? Talk about the experience as a whole.
I loved it, man. Erik, and Brent, and all the boys over there were so good to me. I broke a lot of stuff. I crashed a lot. My parts bill’s got to be high right now. So they treated me like I’d been riding there all year. It was a very easy transition. I’m happy to go back to my GEICO Honda team, but they were very good to me.

 

Broc Tickle, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 10th in SX Class

Racer X: You and Andrew Short going to fight?
Broc Tickle: No, he came over and apologized. It’s just racing. It was on that on-off, and I thought I had it pretty protected, but he managed to get inside of me and he just ran me to the top and kept on going. I mean, he was riding good all day today and I’m trying to improve myself, so I’m just frustrated to make little improvements and then something like that happens. With the group of guys I was riding with, and the passes I made, I don’t think I made it all the way back to where I would have been if that hadn’t happened, but I felt like it was a good night. I’m excited to go to Seattle where I got my first Lites win. I would like to get on the podium. The class is pretty thinned out now, I don’t want to say the guys that are out there right now aren’t good, but there are definitely a lot less guys than we had in January. So I’m going to go to Seattle, regroup and have a good week.

 

Bobby Kiniry, Rockstar Star/Valli Yamaha, 18th in Supercross class

Racer X: How was your night?
Bobby Kiniry: It was a little bit of a rough night. Started out good, qualified good this morning with an eighth. For me, that’s good. Just getting better each week. After that sixth last week, I really wanted to be in the top five, top three. I honestly believe that I can be up there. Got a great start in the main, got down to that first turn and [Kyle] Regal just kept going straight and caused quite a big pile up. I know a lot of good guys were in there. I had a Tuff Block stuck in my stuff. I got that thing out, got rolling and then I worked my way up to twelfth by halfway. Then layed it down on my own, hit neutral on the on and off, and I couldn’t get back on the track because of the track markers and got stuck on another tuff block. It was just one of those nights. Ended up getting eighteenth. Very frustrating, obviously. Ended up losing a spot in the points. After that sixth, I really just wanted to back that up. I was fast enough, but just couldn’t put it up there tonight.

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"It was just one of those nights. Ended up getting eighteenth. Very frustrating, obviously." - Robby Kiniry
Carl Stone photo

Weston Peick, Rockstar Star/Valli Yamaha, 7th in Supercross class

Racer X: Seventh! It’s been going good.
Weston Peick
: Yeah, definitely. Just kind of building every weekend, just kind of getting stronger. Especially on the new bike, just trying to get as much time as possible on the bike so that I can feel comfortable so I can run the pace. I was getting better last week with a ninth, and then this week a seventh. I’ve just got to keep carrying in more momentum every single weekend and keep it consistent.

You’ve been pretty consistent. A lot of guys have had nights where they’re fast, but they’ve crashed out and stuff. You’ve been pretty solid. Are you focusing on trying to do that?
I think a lot of people just go out and try to get too crazy with that stuff. But that’s why sometimes I don’t qualify good in practice, because I like to stay conservative and just kind of keep everything for the race and just race and not be stupid and crash out. So I think that’s the biggest thing is just consistency and not riding over your head. If you just ride a consistent pace, people are going to crash and you’re gonna keep moving up.

What do you think you can get now that things are going? Can you go top five?
That’s definitely my goal for this year. I set my goal for top five sometime in the season. That’s why I’m working. Tonight I was only two places away. But top five is hard. I’ve got my work cut out for me and I just need to keep testing with Yamaha and just keep going every weekend.

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"That’s definitely my goal for this year. I set my goal for top five sometime in the season." - Weston Peick
Carl Stone photo

Nico Izzi, Rockstar Star/Valli Yamaha, 19th in Supercross class

Racer X: In practice, were you just feeling it? You were on fire!
Nico Izzi: I was feeling it. I’ve been riding good. I’ve been feeling really good on the bike. Supercross on the 450 is still kinda' new to me. The 450 is pretty gnarly indoors, so I’m still getting used to it. But I felt good all day. Went down in the first lap of the heat race. I had to ride really hard just to get back into qualifying position. That was pretty tough. I had a pretty bad gate pick, but got a decent start in the main. I was in seventh, kind of gapping Davi [Millsaps] and catching [Andrew] Short a little bit. Then I had a huge swap. Obviously the whoops aren’t my favorite part of the track. Us short guys kind of struggle! But I’ve been riding good. I’m healthy, so I’ve just got to be thankful that we’re walking away after a bad get-off healthy and we can move on to the next weekend. To be honest, I’m ready for outdoors. I’m over all this tight stuff. I’m ready to let that baby eat!

Yeah, but you were not only fastest in the first practice, but a lot of the second practice you were fastest also. Did you feel like something was different here?
Nah, I mean, I really like the track here. It wasn’t too technical. My corner speed’s really good and on this track, the only place where you could make up time was on the corners, so I felt really good. My corners were good and I’m just a little frustrated right now. I’ve been riding well, I’ve been working hard and I know it’s coming. It’s just not going to be easy.

Are you back on the Lites bike next weekend?
No, I wanted to be. I just found out tonight. I think I can get a top five on the 450 if I get a good start. I’m gonna be racing 450 outdoors. So I guess I’m a full-time 450 rider. Went into this year as a Lites rider and now I’m a full-time 450 guy.

Oh, you just graduated tonight. Congratulations.
Thanks!

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"So I guess I’m a full-time 450 rider. Went into this year as a Lites rider and now I’m a full-time 450 guy." - Nico Izzi
Carl Stone photo

Mike Alessi, MotoConcepts Racing, 13th in SX class

Racer X: Bit of a bummer. How’d your race go?
Mike Alessi: It was going well. Me and a lapper just came together and it was unfortunate. It was honestly just a racing incident. I just came together with a lapper and it took me down. I got to the bike and it was off. Sat there for a lap trying to kick the damn thing.

You actually got back into the race almost exactly where you were.
Yep, I know.

Like, right in front of Justin Brayton again.
I know. It was just a tough deal. It was looking good. Just maybe had to be a little more patient with those lappers. It was tough, though, because it was Pooh Sipes and Gavin Faith and they were in a battle. It was tough because they were racing their own race inside the top ten, or right at tenth or something. It was just a tough deal. It was hard to get around them and just came together. They didn’t know I was that close, I think.

Podium’s gonna feel really good when you get it. You’ve been close.
It’s been very, very close. Just keep steady, getting better every week before motocross. I know motocross is around the corner but I’m not focused on motocross. I’m focused on supercross until the last checkered flag, the last lap, the last corner at Vegas and trying to improve and get better. I really want to end this supercross season a high note.

Get on the box.
Not even on the box, I just want to ride good and ride consistent and keep improving to the finish.

It’s not even necessarily about the results, just knowing that you’re doing the right things.
Yeah. I obviously want to congratulate Ryan [Villopoto], he was riding good tonight, and Josh Grant and Brayton. It’s good for those guys. We’ll regroup this week and have some fun and come back and go to Seattle. Hopefully it’s not raining too much.

That could work in your favor.
Yeah, we’ll see how it goes.

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"It was going well. Me and a lapper just came together and it was unfortunate. It was honestly just a racing incident." - Mike Alessi
Carl Stone photo

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