Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Blake Baggett was expected to be in defense mode coming into Southwick, as his primary competitors in the class, like Justin Barcia, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin, have more sand riding experience, and with Barcia winning motos each year he's raced at the track, he was expected to make a move in the points. Instead, Barcia and Tomac had crashes cost them, and Baggett took a 3-1 overall win. After the race, he chatted at the post-race press conference and also to our own Steve Matthes.
Racer X: First moto, solid ride for third, and then you crushed it in moto two.
Blake Baggett: I wouldn't go as far as crushing it [laughs]. Kenny [Ken Roczen] was running good up front. I got two good starts today, and I'm happiest about that. That's actually four good starts in a row going back to Washougal, so I'm definitely pumped on my starts. I rode the best that I could, but I was definitely pretty flat there (low on energy) in the second moto with a few laps to go. I'm sure Kenny was, too, because we slowed down the pace a lot, and Eli kept running the same pace if not whicking it up a bit. I knew he was coming and he passed me, and he had a little mishap and fell over. So I just dug as deep as I could. Me and Kenny went back and forth a few times, but we kept it clean. I really like racing that guy. He gets creative, and that makes me get creative, as few times we were battling next to each other but we still kept it clean. I was able to get around him, and, like he said, he was pretty much toasted on the last lap, and so was I. I was pretty much done!
Baggett, with the help of a second moto win, took the overall at Southwick.
Carl Stone photo
That looked like the most tired I've seen you this year after a moto.
Yeah, I was definitely tired. For some reason my arms got really fatigued. And just mentally, I was just cooked. This track is so tight, you're just braapp, braapp, up and down, up and down all day. It just makes it hard to keep looking forward. So I was just plugging away.
Well, I talked to John Dowd, who's ridden here for 100 years, and he told me he didn't remember this track being so hard to pass on.
Yeah, well, I always thought this track was horrible for passing. Not to be really negative or anything, but it just is really difficult.
As far as rough sand tracks, where does this place rank?
You know, this place is just weird. I grew up in Southern California so I'm not really used to sand, and I've never really been to Glamis or anything like that, but, it just seems like it gets so tight. You watch some of those European races, like Kenny had said, and it seems so much more wide open and flowy. Here it's like small chatter bumps, and then the third one will be a big breaking bump. But it always funnels down tight, you have to stop or get going again, and you're all the way down to second gear. You watch the sand races in Europe and it looks like they're never dropping below third gear--they are just hanging off the back wide open. So it's just a different kind of track. Here, if you're on here, you're on, but if you're not it's difficult.
You went sand riding in Florida for a few weeks. Do you credit that?
Yeah, I think that had a lot to do with it. Jan, who was a mechanic overseas for a few years, he was down there with me during the week. He knows what to kind of do, and he's been giving me pointers here and there.
A lot of people were saying you just needed to not lose too many points to Barcia today, he always does well here. And then you come out and gain points on him.
That was definitely a worry coming in. I wouldn't say a complete worry, but there were definitely a lot of people talking about it. I just did the best I could.
Did this race help you at all as far as preparing for the des Nations in Belgium?
Well, sand is sand, but that's a totally different ball game over there. I mean, just watching the track on YouTube, you can tell it's almost nothing like this. It's sand, but it's totally different. I'm just going to try to ride some sand tracks over there before Elsinore. We'll see what we can do, that track is definitely more open and faster, and here, the sand has a hard base, where there the track just keeps getting deeper and deeper. Here you can only get so deep and then you're hitting a rock hard base.
Tomac talked about his race. He won the first moto with a pretty good gap, and he got by you briefly in that second moto. What do you think he was doing better?
I mean, hands down, he was just riding it a little better and a little faster. He was definitely on it today. I've had it happen with me before, but sometimes you crash. Fortunately, I've had it happen sometimes where you don't crash. It's motocross, anything can happen.
Going to Unadilla next week. Your thoughts?
The roost is pretty bad! Last year I had some problems there, I tipped over early in a moto there. But the track is fun. It's fast and flowy and has some big jumps. It's kind of the opposite of this track. So we'll be ready.