Open Mic: Interviews  from Thunder Valley

Open Mic: Interviews from Thunder Valley

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Interviews via post-race press conference, Steve Matthes and Jason Weigandt

Jake Weimer, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 2nd overall in 450 Class

Last year was tough for me. I was putting in a lot of effort, and this had to be one of the worst races of the season for me. The ruts were deep and I must have crashed like 18 times in them. Today was good, I’m excited to get that first outdoor 450 podium. The ball seems to be rolling my direction right now, and I seem to be making progress during the week, too. As long as I keep improving and, most importantly, keep putting myself in position to see the guys who are going faster than me so I can learn from them, I’m happy.

Talk about that battle with Tickle in the second moto.
It was tough for sure. I got a pretty good start, I was like second, and Shorty and I were pretty much rubbing the entire first lap. That made it tough. It seemed like everyone I wanted to go, that’s where he [Short] was at, and that made it tough, I couldn’t find anywhere to do anything with him. I knew Broc was there the whole time, but after getting roosted by Shorty for 20 minutes, I made a mistake, and Broc was able to get by. From there there was really nothing I could do.

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"Yeah, I didn’t think after the first moto that podium would be possible, but I got another good start and I rode a lot better." - Andrew Short
Simon Cudby photo

Blake Baggett, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 2nd overall in 250 class

First moto was completely my fault. It’s the only track where we start in first gear. So I jumped out, went about five feet, went to shift into second and put ‘er in neutral. So, everybody was gone by then. I just made my way through the pack, I was able to catch Roczen with two laps to go. We battled it out. He had just tipped over, and we battled it out, I landed on the inside of some tuff blocks going up the hill, and he shut me down on the inside, took away my opportunity. Second moto, all I was concerned with was getting a good start, just for myself. I got a decent start, I think my teammate holeshotted, he started next to me and he was just gone by the time we got to the first turn! From there I just tried to put together some good lines, and just made it happen, I guess. Things went my way. But on a track like this, with those ruts, you just never know.

Did you have any clue what was happening with the overall? Last lap, you had it, then Barcia got it back.
Yeah, I was looking, because at Hangtown last year, if I had gotten second I would have lost with a 2-2, so I know a 3-1 beats a 2-2. I was watching them, and I saw Roczen in second, so I thought, 'Alright, I have this as long as I stay on two wheels.' Then I saw Roczen and Barcia getting together—I was going over a jump and looking at them right as Roczen was crashing. I was like 'Oh, man, you’ve got to be kidding me!' I knew right there I had lost it, but, it actually worked out better for me in points, and that’s the goal, to keep holding onto that red plate.

 

Andrew Short, Chaparral Honda, 3rd overall in 450 class

Racer X: Hometown Colorado race. Third overall and a great second moto.
Andrew Short: Yeah, I didn’t think after the first moto that podium would be possible, but I got another good start and I rode a lot better. I feel like my bike was set up a little bit better. I was able to turn it and was a lot more dialed. I had fun. I love this place. It’s always been special to me, the track, fans. I grew up here, so it’s really special to me. Of all the races, I want to do good here.

Talk about the first moto a little bit. You were about fourth and then what happened?
Yeah, I went through the S-turns where there’s deep ruts and I drug my rear brake. You drag everything, it’s like 3 feet deep. I went to the next turn and I didn’t have any rear brake cause I had clogged so much rocks and mud. No rear brake, so I grabbed a lot of front and anyone who rides knows what happens. Your front end just tucks. It was my mistake. I wasn’t riding that good anyway, honestly. It was pretty notchy and I wasn’t too comfortable on my bike, so I was definitely disappointed. Then it seemed like the rain definitely helped the track and the conditions. It was a little more hard pack this year, they didn’t rip it up as deep. It was a different Thunder Valley than I’ve raced in years’ past.

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"It was a weird spot, it was tight through there. I just started to take a different line, and Justin and I came together, I cross rutted and went down." - Ken Roczen
Simon Cudby photo

Ken Roczen, Red Bull KTM, 3rd overall in 250 class

Racer X: Three-straight third overalls for you, but in this class, it’s so tight, one little mistake can make the difference between first and third.
Ken Roczen: Right. Obviously the top four guys in this class are going really fast, and one little mistake can cost you big. We made some changes to the bike this week and it was a big improvement. I started using less energy, so I think I’ll have it going from here. We had great racing today and I feel like I’m improving. Hopefully I’ll have a good week. I’ve been hanging with Shorty and it’s working out, I can’t wait for next weekend’s racing.

First moto you made that one small mistake when you lost the front wheel while running behind Barcia.
I was putting on a good charge, he was like three seconds away, but the last few laps, I really wanted to win, so I put in a charge. The last few laps I closed up on him, but I lost a little bit of focus and my front wheel slid over the rut. That was basically it. Blake came up on me and he was on the gas. Once you go down it’s hard to get your rhythm back, and Blake was on the gas again today. I was happy to be able to hold him off.

I was not giving up, he had a comfortable gap, but if he makes a mistake, or gets caught in some lappers, you can be there. So I was riding hard to the end, but on the last lap, three or four lappers were in front of me, and they didn’t move. I was screaming and yelling but they wouldn’t move. So I changed my line—now it’s one of those things, should I have done it? You don’t know, you follow them and maybe they make a mistake and you get caught in it. So what are you going to do? So I went for the change. It was a weird spot, it was tight through there. I just started to take a different line, and Justin and I came together, I cross rutted and went down. It was just bad luck.

 

Eli Tomac, GEICO Honda, 4th overall in 250 class

Racer X: Wow, what a race. Four of you guys going at it. Unfortunately, you got fourth overall.
Eli Tomac: Yeah, it was the tail end of the stick for us. You could almost say the big four of the Lites class right now. The first moto definitely hurt me a little bit. I was a little back in the back on the start, but ended up having a crash like on the second lap or the third lap or somewhere in there. Ended up getting passed by another five guys. So that kind of did me in for catching Roczen and those guys for that first moto. So getting fourth there. Then second moto, it was pretty much a battle the whole time. I was kind of hitching along with Blake there at the start, then at about halfway, he just dropped the hammer or something. He just hit nitro. Then it just seemed like everyone just kind of settled in there, then Roczen ended up dumping it over there, I guess, on the last lap. Didn’t quite get third overall, but it was close.

You had a couple of bad laps in that second moto, I noticed. Not two in a row, but one good, one bad, one good, one bad. That really kind of hurt you. What happened? Do you remember?
Yeah, that’s where Barcia kind of got away, because I was catching him. Then one of those laps I kind of made a mistake here and there and that’s what did me in.

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"I actually twisted my knee last week in Texas a bit. Then I twisted it again at the beginning of that moto and by the end of that moto, my knee was hurting so bad." - Ivan Tedesco
Simon Cudby photo

Jessica Patterson, Rockstar Suzuki, 1st overall in WMX Class

It was pretty gnarly. First moto we had a good battle going, I passed pretty early for the lead. I didn’t get into the groove the way I wanted to, but I made it work and it was good enough for a win. Second moto, I wasn’t even sure if we were going to ride with the rain and the gnarly weather. They track crew made it work, they did a good job for what we had. I got a bad start and worked my way up, I capitalized on a few mistakes and took the lead. I got a 1-1 which I really needed.

 

Tarah Gieger, Lucas Oil Troy Lee Honda, 2nd overall in WMX Class

Couple of really fun motos today. I had good starts today, first moto I was kind of dicing with them [Patterson and Fiolek] but I made a couple of mistakes and they got a pretty good gap. I was just trying to figure out the track a bit—I struggle in big ruts, and this track was pretty much all big ruts. Second moto I was following Ashley, and she crashed pretty hard, I think she hit her head or something. Then Jessica made a big mistake trying to get around me. It gave me a little bit of a gap, and I was able to ride my own race like I do in practice. Unfortunately, I made a mistake and crashed in a rut. She was able to get by me. But all-in-all I feel like I rode really good. I just need to lead for a little bit longer I guess!

 

Ivan Tedesco, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 11th overall in 250 Class

Racer X: I know you’re probably not a mud specialist, but, first moto, it looked to be that maybe conditions got you a little bit?
Ivan Tedesco
: No, not really. I actually twisted my knee last week in Texas a bit. Then I twisted it again at the beginning of that moto and by the end of that moto, my knee was hurting so bad. I was just riding around. So then I tried to regroup, ice it, get me back out there for that second moto. I got a good start in that one and just did what I could. It was just one of those days.

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"Definitely been riding better the last two weeks. Just feel more comfortable again and just getting stronger" - Michael Byrne
Simon Cudby photo

Michael Byrne, BTOSports.com BBMX Suzuki, 8th overall in 450 Class

Racer X: Yeah! Byrner’s back! Good second moto, seventh place and coming from the back.
Michael Byrne
: Yeah, it was good. Just tried to stay out of the carnage on the first lap. There were guys going at it everywhere. I just needed to hold my position at the start, really. First moto, I had a good start, but I lost like eight positions on the first lap, so that kind of put me in a hole. Then I got back up to twelfth from eighteenth, I think. Definitely been riding better the last two weeks. Just feel more comfortable again and just getting stronger, you know? A few races underneath my belt now and getting back in the swing of it.

Tough day for you in practice, though. Bike didn’t work quite great for you in the first practice.
Yeah, we had some EFI issues in the first practice. We were just way off with the settings. So we just put all the data stuff on for the second practice and the JGR guys got it figured out and we were good for the motos.

Did you like this track? A lot of guys I talked to said it’s rutty and choppy, but maybe you found a groove somewhere.
Yeah, I had a groove both motos. Obviously, you’re at altitude, so the bike’s slower. I was just trying to kind of flow and not bury the bike in the soft stuff and try and keep the momentum going. It’s actually something I worked on this week a lot with Chad and it just paid off. It’s not really a track that I love to come to, but I always seem to do okay here, so I can’t argue with it.

Was it pretty good for the second moto? A lot of guys were saying the traction was superb.
Oh, yeah. Traction in the second moto was much better than the first. Like all the dry, slick spots, you could actually turn on them in the second moto.

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