Open Mic: Salt Lake City

Open Mic: Salt Lake City

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By Jason Weigandt, Jordan Roberts and Steve Matthes

Davi Millsaps, Rockstar Energy Racing, 2nd in 450SX

Heck of a race. Was it like, I’ve got to give it everything I’ve got?
I gave it everything I had. I seriously had nothing left in me when I crossed that finish line. I was so happy that it was checkers. He [Villopoto] ran a good last half of the season and I ran a bad one. But it was a great run. It was really fun racing against those guys. Definitely congratulations to him. He rode like a champion. But it was a learning year for me. I’ve never been in the front, never led the points, let alone had this many podiums and been in the front as much as I have. All in all it’s been a good season so far and I’m definitely looking forward to next year.

The whoops obviously were a big factor.
The whoops were part of my strong point tonight. I struggled in a lot of places that were just a little bit tight for me. I always struggle in tight sections. Other than that the track was pretty gnarly, altitude was gnarly. My throat still burns. I rode the best I could and now it’s a battle for second.

Obviously you worked super hard coming into this year, when you see how it’s paid off with the results, you got…
It just makes you want to work harder. It’s a stepping-stone towards next year. I only had a couple months on the new bike with trying to develop it and getting used to it and stuff. Coming out as good as I did this year really wasn’t expected, so hopefully we’ll get it good for the supercross next year. I’ll have a lot more time to prepare and be on the bike and get dialed in and have hopefully a solid off-season like I did this year. Hopefully come out swinging again next year. – Jason Weigandt

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"He [Villopoto] ran a good last half of the season and I ran a bad one. But it was a great run. It was really fun racing against those guys." - Davi Millsaps
Simon Cudby photo

Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 3rd in 450SX

That was intense.
Yeah, it was. Things have definitely gone up throughout the year, and we were able to make some good bike changes this year and the whole thing has been working really well, especially since Indianapolis, mid-season. I’m a lot more comfortable hanging with that pace, and fighting for these wins. You learn a lot in these championship battles, but obviously we came up short. Second still means a lot to us, and we’ll be digging for that in Vegas.

You were close during the race.
Yeah, we were close, but that intensity is high, and I think we were all feeling it at that point. I was trying to get Davi to get to Ryan, but he was tough—and he’s been tough all season. It’s been great racing with those guys. It’s tough, we all want to win a title, but we have a lot to be thankful for. We have Vegas coming up, we’ll try to put in a nice end to our season, and then we have outdoors coming up. It’s a lot, it’s disappointing, but at the same time we have a lot to be thankful for. The field is more stacked than ever, and everyone is pushing the pace harder than ever, and it’s good to fight for it like that. Hopefully we’ll get a championship next year. – Jason Weigandt

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"Yeah, we were close, but that intensity is high, and I think we were all feeling it at that point. I was trying to get Davi to get to Ryan, but he was tough..." - Ryan Dungey
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Trey Canard, Honda Muscle Milk, 4th in 450SX

Seemed like a good ride. You happy with it?
Yeah, obviously you always want to do better. I was happy. I think I got through the whoops good, which was a plus because they were really difficult. A smooth 20 laps, good starts, so that was all positive. I got tired tonight. I think the altitude affected me a little more than I anticipated. So that was a downfall. We had a short week this week; I had press this week. So it wasn’t ideal for prepping. But I thought it was a great building night for me and hopefully I continue to have those, this last race and then outdoors.

Do you know that riders are not supposed to admit that you’re tired? You’re supposed to pretend or lie or say you got tight maybe?
Everyone got tired, I think.

I’m not saying nobody was tired; nobody says it.
Just judging by looking at everyone, everyone was huffing and puffing. I think it was just a tough track and the whoops made it very difficult. Still trying to find that lead pace for that time. I think tonight was a good night.

I’m just giving you credit for honesty. Somebody’s got to say it! We know they’re all tired.
I don’t know. I used to be like that. What can I say; it’s time to get tired. – Jason Weigandt

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"Just judging by looking at everyone, everyone was huffing and puffing. I think it was just a tough track and the whoops made it very difficult." - Trey Canard
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Cole Seely, Lucas Oil Troy/Lee Designs Honda, 2nd in 250SX

All I know is [Zach] Osborne was fourth in points after last weekend, and that’s who I was hoping to beat tonight. When he was leading in the main, that’s who I had my sights set on. I knew I needed to pass him.

Yeah, and he obviously didn’t have the best night tonight.
Yeah, unfortunately for him, he didn’t have the best night tonight. That happens to the best of us. It happened to Ken [Roczen] tonight. I’m bummed for him. I’ve struggled with bad luck for two rounds—Anaheim 3 and San Diego—but that’s racing. I’m pumped to still be in third, and really pumped to get out of this night. Last year was really rough for me. I ended up in the hospital for five days after this race last year. I was nervous coming in tonight, and I’m really exited to leave with a podium.

The first turn of the heat race didn’t go so well though.
Yeah, I don’t know. I started third, but [Joey] Savatgy decided he didn’t want to race very clean. He took my front wheel out. Whatever. It’s racing and I’ll get him back. It put a little fire beneath me, so I’d like to thank him for lighting that fire and help me do good tonight.

So you just signed and extension with TLD to do 250SX next year.
This year is my fourth year on the team. I found a home and really couldn’t ask for a better team to be on. I’m really good friends with Troy [Lee], Tyler [Keefe] and my mechanic. It really seems to work here, so I decided to sign for another year. I really wanted to win the championship this, and I want to even more next year. – Jordan Roberts

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"I was nervous coming in tonight, and I’m really exited to leave with a podium." - Cole Seely
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Martin Davalos, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 3rd in 250SX

It was good, I’d rather have a win than just a podium, but I had a crash in practice and I hurt my ankle, so I’ll take it. The race was good, I was coming to Cole and I feel like I could have probably passed him, but those whoops were getting really sketchy.

You won the heat race again. So I have to ask, is there anything you can point to that’s different between the heats and the mains?
Honestly, and I know this sounds weird, I’m over winning heat races! I want to win a main event. Seems like the starts in the main event are not good. It’s not mental, it’s not nothing, it just doesn’t happen. I don’t want to start tenth like I did this weekend; I try to go for it. This weekend I got wheel spin; maybe it was a bad gate pick. We still have one more race. I’m pulling for it.

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"Honestly, and I know this sounds weird, I’m over winning heat races! I want to win a main event." - Martin Davalos
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Tyla Rattray, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, 8th in 250SX

Seems to be going better since the break.
For sure. I’ve been riding outdoors and that’s my strong point, I think it helped my speed get up. I rode better, I came from last to eighth, and I think I could have gotten two more guys. I’m definitely feeling better. Most importantly I’ve left here safe and healthy and we’re heading to Vegas, should be exciting between Tomac and Roczen. – Jason Weigant

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"I rode better, I came from last to eighth, and I think I could have gotten two more guys. I’m definitely feeling better." - Tyla Rattray
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Malcolm Stewart, JDR J-Star KTM, 4th in 250SX

That heat race win—let’s start there.
That heat race win was great. It’s been awhile since I led a lap—last time was 2012 in Atlanta and it didn’t turn out so good. I’m stoked on that heat race win. It brought my confidence up going into the main event. The track got really gnarly, especially the whoops. I think the whoops were 90 percent of the race, by far. Basically, I did everything I could. When in doubt, hold it wide open and go from there!

Where the whoops cupped out, rutted out, or…
They were cupped out and really dry. To be honest with you, they were the hardest whoops I’ve ever hit. I’m actually surprised I made it 15 laps in a row through those things. I’m really happy with my ride. I’m going to take what I had here and give ‘em hell at the shootout. I’m really looking forward to that.

Do you know what you have going on for outdoors?
Right now, I’m just going to race some selected rounds. I haven’t figured out what brand I’m going to ride. I’m going to race, but it’ll be selected rounds and it won’t be Hangtown. There are always riders getting hurt, so hopefully that’ll be a great opportunity for me. Right now, I just have to look forward to this last race. If outdoors go my way, that’s great. If not, I’ll just be there at selected rounds. – Jordan Roberts

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"That heat race win was great. It’s been awhile since I led a lap—last time was 2012 in Atlanta and it didn’t turn out so good. I’m stoked on that heat race win." - Malcolm Stewart
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Christian Craig, Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda, 5th in 250SX

Fifth place in the main—that’s pretty good, right?
Yeah, that’s my best so far this season.

It seems like making it out of the first corner was pretty tough.
Yeah, it was pretty tough for how short it was, and then it went into another 180 [degree] corner. People were definitely getting hung up everywhere. You had to be really cautious around those first two corners. I made it out of there decent and just rode my own race.

How about those whoops?
Those whoops were tough since second practice. In first practice, they were holding together good. They never really fixed them between practice and the heat races, so that’s what kind of sucked—they were pretty cupped out. Fortunately, I found a good line through them on the far right side and passed a couple people through there.

Yeah, they normally get beat down as the night progresses, but that wasn’t the case?
We were all expecting them to be a foot shorter and rolled out perfect. We went out there and they were exactly the same as the last practice [laughs]. They were tough, definitely, and you would get sketchy in them, but you just have to be strong all the way through them. – Jordan Roberts

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"They were tough [the whoops], definitely, and you would get sketchy in them, but you just have to be strong all the way through them." - Christian Craig
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Eli Tomac, GEICO Honda, 6th in 250SX

I know this isn’t the ride you really want to talk about, but are there any injuries or anything like that overlapping from last weekend?
No. My body is completely fine and I just couldn’t get through this day. I don’t know. That was it. It’s just crazy I can struggle that bad. I’m not that kind of rider. So, yeah… I can only say so much.

Fuel for next weekend, then?
Absolutely. I guess I kind of lucked out with Kenny [Roczen] not making the main because the way I was riding, it would’ve been over tonight anyways. Shoulda, coulda, woulda—I could’ve easily been in the lead, but five points is the difference between first and third, and it can easily look like that. – Jordan Roberts

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"It’s just crazy I can struggle that bad. I’m not that kind of rider. So, yeah… I can only say so much." - Eli Tomac
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Andrew Short, BTOSports.com KTM, 8th in 450SX

It wasn’t that good all day, honestly. It was kind of similar to last year. I was 8th in the main. I had a decent start and I just didn’t ride that good. I was really timid in the whoops and just wouldn’t put the whole track together. That’s about it.

The whoops. Maybe not so good? Maybe a little bit of testing needed?
No, I think a lot of it has to do with rider technique. My bike got sideways and I tightened up. I think the guys that were up front tonight, they were getting sideways as well but they kept pushing. I need to learn to ride on that edge a little bit more if I want to ride with those guys and be willing to hang it out. And tonight basically I rode like a dork through there and got timid and got tunnel vision. I moved around a little bit in the whoops but it ruined it around the rest of the track. I need to open up my turns more and carry more momentum. – Steve Matthes

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"I need to learn to ride on that edge a little bit more if I want to ride with those guys and be willing to hang it out." - Andrew Short
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Ben LaMay, Rock River Yamaha, 12th in 450SX

I don’t know if you listen to our post-race podcast that we do, but in it we said you were Mr. Invisible last week, because you’ve been placing well in qualifying and doing some good in the main events. And you’re trying to not be invisible anymore. Tonight was another good night for you.
Yeah, for sure. That’s the way to put it. I came out in practice, I qualified ninth overall. Then I got fifth in my heat race and 12th in the main. It was pretty solid the whole time. I got a pretty decent start. I knew I wanted to get a top ten, and I’m still shooting for that in Vegas. But I’m tired of being that invisible guy, so I need to get up there and get noticed.

What do you attribute to this turnaround? It’s been a month now, over a month maybe, where you’ve been a lot better than you were in the beginning of the year.
Mentally just knowing that I can do it and having the right people behind me, and training, and doing the right things. It’s really starting to come around and looking good for outdoors too so I’m excited for that.

Track tonight looked gnarly.
It was very gnarly. The rocks made it really, really slippery so it was hard to be consistent, because the bike was sliding out and stuff. And then the whoops were… they weren’t really that big but they were really sharp and steep and then they got cupped out in the main, so that was pretty sketchy. Had a couple close calls in there, but I managed to salvage a 12th. – Steve Matthes

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"Mentally just knowing that I can do it and having the right people behind me, and training, and doing the right things." - Ben LaMay
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Bobby Kiniry, N-Fab TiLUBE Yamaha, 14th in 450SX

It’s been a rough go for you lately, but I thought tonight looked pretty good. You said you’ve been battling suspension issues but I thought the whoops were good for you.
Yeah, the whoops were a little tough for me all night but I just really “meat-headed” it out, in your words.

If you think they were tough for you, you should see some other dudes. You were all right.
Ultimately just manned up and skimmed them every lap. Really hit that triple after them pretty consistently. Just kind of started where I finished, more or less. I passed a couple guys and went back a couple positions. Ultimately I felt like I rode good. I really got screwed up with the blue flag, with the leaders coming through there. I was kind of misled to who was behind me, battling with [Jake] Weimer. He was kind of yelling at me. I was getting the blue flag and they kept giving it to me, so I lost a lot of time to LaMay and him. They hit a wall and I kind of caught them at the end there. But that’s how it goes. Got a little bit better momentum going into Vegas. I needed a night like tonight. I had a lot of fun all day riding. It was a fun track. My Yamaha ran great. Dunlops worked good all day. It was just a fun day to be here. – Steve Matthes

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"Got a little bit better momentum going into Vegas. I needed a night like tonight. I had a lot of fun all day riding." - Bobby Kiniry
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Joey Savatgy, JDR J-Star KTM, 9th place in 250SX

I can’t complain; it was good. I came out in one piece. I rode a little tight in the main. The first few laps were good. I started to catch the pack that was in front of me—all the way up to fifth. That’s when I started to ride a little tight and made a few mistakes. It’s the first year; I’m learning.

There was a point in the main when you were going back and forth a little bit with [Eli] Tomac.
It is what it is. I don’t know what his deal was tonight. Obviously he was off his game, compared to what he is normally, but it was good. It would’ve been nice to ride that whole main like I did in the beginning. I could’ve gotten up there and maybe stayed behind my teammate, Malcolm [Stewart], to get a fifth. But like I said, it’s my first year and I’m learning things as I go.

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"I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say the situation or not, but I’ll be lining up at Hangtown on a KTM." - Joey Savatgy
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With one round left, how would you rate your rookie supercross season?
I can’t complain. I’ve made it through the season healthy so far. I’ve had some up and downs—some good races, some bad. I think as a rookie, that’s expected. My team has been behind me 100 percent through the good and the bad. I can’t thank them enough.

Do you know anything about the outdoor series yet?
Uh, yeah. I know I’ll be on a KTM. It’s kind of a thing we’re putting together last second. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say the situation or not, but I’ll be lining up at Hangtown on a KTM. – Jordan Roberts

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