Open Mic: Anaheim 3

Open Mic Anaheim 3

February 3, 2014 1:25pm

By Jordan Roberts, Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes

Ken Roczen, Red Bull KTM, 2nd in 450SX

You had a pretty good main event. You were able to get by Villopoto on the third lap. Can you take us through that?
Yeah, I got a good start. We were battling the whole time. I finally made the pass on RV. I just rode a smart race. I kept it really tight with Chad [Reed] the whole time. It was a lot of fun up there. He kind of inched away in some spots and I had to push a little more to get behind him and really stay close. In conditions like that, you have to race smart. I was going to go for it in the last lap. I tried to push a little more; I was close to him. A lapper got in between us. I was trying to take that as my advantage, but it kind of screwed me up a little bit and that was it. Overall, it was a super fun race. I love racing with him. Everything was clean and I’m really happy with my performance.

Were there spots where you could consistently pick up on him, or was it mostly just trying to capitalize on mistakes?
You know, Chad is a guy that is really good in the whoops, but I felt like that was my strong point tonight, too. I actually did think the part right before the finish—let’s say the start turn—I was a little better, but he had his parts where he was better.

Did the door ever look open in the corner you passed Villopoto?
Kind of. I was actually next to him once, but I wasn’t really close enough to jump inside of him to make the pass. –Jordan Roberts

"A lapper got in between us. I was trying to take that as my advantage, but it kind of screwed me up a little bit and that was it." Photo: Simon Cudby

Ryan Villopoto, Monster Energy Kawasaki, 3rd in 450SX

The first couple laps I was just too timid. The first lap was the main one that I was kind of timid on and those guys were able to just stick it in on me and get around me. I think for me this is the style track or dirt that I would struggle on by far the most. You can do more damage to yourself by ending up on the ground and trying to push too hard. I kept it close up until around lap 15. If you guys are seriously walking around the track it’s probably one of the worst tracks I’ve seen. It’s almost like an outdoor track over there by home plate. For me I’m just happy to leave here on the box. Obviously we want to win and get that top spot but for me knowing what’s in front of us and [I’m] not a veteran of the sport but I know what’s ahead of us, so third is great. It’s a great finish to Anaheim.

Yeah it did look like you put a charge there right in the middle like you were going to go and then it was like, eh, that’s it.
It was tough. Not only was the track slippery, in the main line where it was slippery there were these holes and pieces and chunks of dirt falling out of the track so your tires were hitting them and either getting kicked right, getting kicked left, pulled this way, pulled that way. And then it was slippery, so it was pretty treacherous out there. – Jason Weigandt

Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 20th place in 450SX

You were riding an excellent race for the first half of the main event. Can you take us through it?
In the beginning I got a decent start. The first turn was tough to get in there, but I came around in third. Before we got to the second turn, everyone rushed to the inside and I was sixth or seventh. We got through the whole first lap and then I was sitting about fifth. Stewie was right there in front of me and, you know, we were making good ground. The leaders weren’t pulling away or anything. I tried to make a pass on Stewie that was a little immature. It was a little too early on my part and we ended up slamming. It’s not what I wanted. I just wanted to make the pass happen. I’ll know better next time. So I’ll take the blame on that. But then a lap later, I just caught the edge of a whoop wrong. I saw guys doing it multiple times all day. You know, you think they’d cut the whoops out a little bit to make them more consistent, but they were tough and gnarly, and we were all having a tough time through them. It just bit me the wrong way—enough to throw me on the ground. The bike was too mangled and twisted to go from there.

So the crash in the whoops, it wasn’t so much the steepness of the face of the whoops as it was the inconsistencies through them?
You know, I got through the whoops pretty good and the bike felt awesome, but I think I missed one. I started getting back, but I lost my balance and was leaning to the right. When it caught the edge I was already leaning and it just went. From there I just swapped. I don’t really know what happened from there; I just slammed into that berm pretty good. I tried to get the bike going, but it was just unfortunate. You never want to DNF a race. That’s just, you know, the worst feeling. We have our work cut out for us. It’ll be a good challenge from here on out for myself.

It looked like the clutch lever was hanging off. Was there anything else wrong with the bike?
Oh yeah, the whole front was like … I couldn’t have rode it even if the clutch was on it. The whole front was twisted, the clutch was off and it completely stripped the grip off. I don’t even know how it happened. The perch completely slid off, grip and everything. It was just hanging—the kill switch button too. It was a nasty crash that tore the bike up, but I’m safe and healthy so that’s nice. We’ve got some work cut for us, but I guess I’ll look forward to that challenge. –Jordan Roberts

"I think for me this is the style track or dirt that I would struggle on by far the most. You can do more damage to yourself by ending up on the ground and trying to push too hard." Photo: Simon Cudby

Cooper Webb, Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha, 3rd in 250SX

This is almost becoming a normal thing, getting on the podium.
Yeah. It was a good night for sure, my second podium of the season. It was awesome. The day started kind of rough. I didn’t get to ride this week because of my wrist. Qualified third and fifth which is the best I’ve ever done and then second in the heat was the best I’ve done, so it was setting up for a good night. Malcolm [Stewart] and Jason [Anderson] kind of handed me that gift and I took advantage of it. I felt like I rode a pretty solid race. Good weekend.

It looked like you were running your race, putting in your pace. You weren’t trying to get caught up in what everybody else was doing.
That’s kind of one of the mistakes I’ve made so far this year. I just wanted to ride my race and not worry about anybody else and just kind of get into a pace. I didn’t want to over-push. The track was tricky and pretty hard-packed. I just knew what I could do and I could kind of see them if they started catching me, I’d kind of wick it up and got a third. – Jason Weigandt

Jason Anderson, Rockstar Energy Racing KTM, 5th place in 250SX

You started the race in sixth and began moving your way up before having that run-in with Malcolm [Stewart]. Are you mad about it or are you just brushing it off as a racing incident?
You know, it happens in supercross. Everyone’s banging bars out there, so uh, shit happens.

Some people obviously thought that move you did to him on the corner before … I thought that was all right. Is that kind of what he told you why he got back at you because he was pissed at that pass?
Yeah, that’s exactly what he said. But the way I see it, I was obviously coming up on him and I may have been faster than him or whatever. But in supercross the track’s so tight, you come in on guys and as long as they don’t fall and I pull out of it I don’t see it as a dirty move. You block pass, you do whatever. I knew he wasn’t going to fall. So there may have been banging or whatever but I wanted to go by and get to the front. I don’t think it was dirty at all. It was definitely aggressive, but he didn’t fall. When he came in on me there was no plan of even staying up right.

Apart from that, how’d the rest of your night go?
Well, we came together and I fell over. I made my way back up to fifth, so I salvaged whatever. I felt like I rode good. That’s pretty much how it went.

Did the slickness of the track play a large part in tonight’s main?
Yeah, it was pretty slick tonight. It was definitely going to be key if I was up front, but I fell. I was just trying to make up time and do whatever I could.

The next round is San Diego. Do you like that venue?
Yeah, I normally do good at San Diego, so I think it’ll be a good race. Hopefully we can get some points back. – Jordan Roberts and Steve Matthes

"The track was tricky and pretty hard-packed. I just knew what I could do and I could kind of see them if they started catching me, I’d kind of wick it up and got a third." Photo: Simon Cudby

Weston Peick, Racing, 5th in 450SX

This is really good!
It’s awesome. I’m super pumped on it. There’s a stacked field this year. I think it all just comes down to playing your cards right and being in that right position at the right time. So I’m happy on it.

But you can’t be slow and just play your cards right and get fifth. We remember you three years ago playing your cards was making the main, or getting 15th, or 14th. This is an amazing step up here.
It’s definitely a major step up. That’s what we do on the off-season is prepare ourselves and bust our asses so at the races everything comes a lot easier. So I’m super happy on the top 5 and we’re working our way to that podium by the end of the season. It’s going to be hard but that’s the goal.

Is there anything on the bike you can point at? You’re running with some guys who have the best stuff in the world. Is that a difference at all or do you feel like the way you’re riding and the way this is that it’s not really anything to talk about?
There are some things. I wouldn’t know what to point them out because I don’t know what a factory bike has compared to mine. I know there are some trick, cool parts that would probably help a little bit. My suspension guy Dave Crusen and engine guy Catfish, we’ve all built a solid bike. I couldn’t ask for anything else. Our bikes are good. – Jason Weigandt

Ivan Tedesco, Rockstar Energy Racing, 10th in 450SX

Some people didn’t like that switch to the 350 and those guys are idiots. Great job though. I was watching you out there and you looked good.
Coming into the week I really didn’t know what to expect. I was faster on it during the week at our track and I don’t get as tired on it. I really didn’t know. The one big question was the starts on it. I felt like they were fine. I didn’t have the best qualifying position so my starting gates weren’t the greatest.

But to be fair your qualifying on your 450 wasn’t the strongest either.
After practice I was like maybe the 350 isn’t going to be better for me, but in a race situation they’re definitely better for me. I could ride it harder and don’t get as tired. I’m going to keep working at it. Hopefully I can keep getting better.

What about the main event itself? Kind of looked like you were by yourself a lot, kind of just riding around, riding fast but didn’t have a lot of pressure behind you and had a gap the guy in front of you.
Me and Weimer battled for a bit mid-race and Tickle was behind me. We were kind of rubber-banding back and forth. So lap 14 I just kind of said okay, let’s try to put five good laps in and you’ll be good, and that’s what I did. I’m happy with it. I still got some work to do. 10th is good but I would like to be better. That’s all we can do. Keep working at it. – Steve Matthes

Nick Wey, Moto Mafia, 13th in 450SX

You and Moss and Albertson and Friese were rubber-banding each other going back and forth.
I passed all those dudes you mentioned I think at least once, probably twice some of them. But yeah I got kind of hung up with those dudes for too many laps. I definitely have more potential than 13th. I think tonight if could have gotten five clean laps at the beginning I would have been inside the top ten. But I got 13th. But I can’t thank my guys enough, Mo Head and Big Nasty, and Nichole holding it down. Everybody’s been super helpful and we’ve been working hard to get the bike to where I’m a little more comfortable and where I can ride it harder. Today I think I qualified 14th or something which was by about 10 spots my best qualifying in practice. And then the races, I was inching up on Wil Hahn and Tickle and those guys are obviously good, so I think I’m making good progress. – Steve Matthes

"It’s definitely a major step up. That’s what we do on the off-season is prepare ourselves and bust our asses so at the races everything comes a lot easier." Photo: Simon Cudby

Jimmy Albertson, Racing, 15th in 450SX

Did you have any idea what was going on behind you during that last lap in the main?
No. I felt like I rode a really good main. The last lap me and [Vince] Friese ended up coming together. He came up on the inside of me and we both went down. Our bikes were tangled together, so it seemed like we were down on the ground for an eternity. I never got a blue flag or anything, so I had no idea how close the guys were. When I yanked my bike off the ground and took off, I thought it was Friese behind me, but I think it was [Chad] Reed. I’m like, battling Reed thinking it’s Friese and then all of a sudden Reed kind of put me up in a corner. Then I saw it was [Ken] Roczen—they ended up lapping me. I was bummed because I wanted to get 20 laps in. It is what it is. I won my semi tonight; I’m stoked on that.

From start to finish!
Yeah, from start to finish. It was fun. I’ve won LCQs before, but semis are a lot more stacked—a lot better guys. It’s cool. I don’t care what it is; it’s always fun to win.

Are you going to step it up from being LCQ winner on the reg to semi winner on the reg now?
I don’t know. I’m such a frickin’ head case. I’ll come out and say it. I feel like I can go out and run five laps with anybody. If I get the holeshot, no one’s really going to pass me. You know, it’s baby steps. I feel like I was making good improvements last year before I had my big wrist injury. We’re just building back to where I’m getting that confidence again. This weekend I felt a major boost. Hopefully it’s upwards and onwards from here. –Jordan Roberts