Open Mic: RedBud Interviews

Open Mic RedBud Interviews

July 6, 2015 3:30pm

By Steve Matthes, Jason Weigandt and Chase Stallo

Ryan Dungey, Red Bull KTM, 1-2 for second in 450MX

Obviously your results were good, going 1-2 this weekend. In your mind what was the lowest part of your weekend, what was the difference between close second and the win?
Nothing really particular. I think I came around second in both starts. So if I had to pick one area it would just be a little bit more in the starts to help us in that one position ahead and take the lead on the lead lap. But overall that was good. Overall everything was good. Nothing really sticks out.

The second half of the track over by LaRocco’s Leap, that area of the track, it seemed like you were gaining time there, then on the other part of the track you were losing a little time. Were you struggling with something in one part of what did you have right in the other part?
Honestly I felt pretty good on the front part, everything was nice. The bumps today got really sharp in the edges so they were really abrupt on your suspension. But we were all fighting that. The last part of the track, right before LaRocco’s Leap, that was probably the most confusing. I felt like I was searching for a while to find a good line and trying and trying and I’d lose a little bit of time on Justin [Barcia]. Then I just went inside, caught a couple inside ruts, new lines, and that was it—it was much better. The track got rough, really, really choppy. Like I said, the bumps were really faced, really straight up and down, so you really had to set the bike at the beginning of the turns in a lot of areas. Pretty challenging. I don’t know why they developed like that, but they did.

Last week you had the get-off second moto. How are you feeling? Did it affect you at all through the week or this weekend by chance?
No, thankfully everything was okay. I came up to Justin on the main part of that jump and we both slammed the face. My spot was a little softer so it sucked my suspension up and loaded me off to the next area. So it was a nasty crash. I kind of had to bail off. But I definitely don’t want to be doing those too many times. But I’m just thankful I was able to walk away really and salvage some points. The bike could have been busted up or myself, so very fortunate things worked out. I was able to salvage what I could. And on the day we didn’t lose anything. But physically I’m fine. Nothing affected me from that.

I know everybody’s like, Dungey’s so consistent in points, but we could see in that second moto it wasn’t a points race; you were trying to win it and go in as hard as you could.
Oh, yeah. I try to win every race. Can’t play it safe. You’ve got be smart and definitely make the right choices but when it comes down to each race I want to win and I try to do everything in my control to do that. But in those areas where things are sketchy… you need to know. I think as a rider you know what you can and can’t do and we’re pushing the pace and you’ve got to know where to push and where not to. Big picture, made ground today. But I wanted the one-one for the overall. I feel like I’ve been winning the first moto, that’s been great and I want to continue to do that without a doubt, but I also want that second moto win as well. Not to be greedy by any means. I give it my all and 1-2 is pretty respectable too. You can’t be down about that by any means at all.

Did you have a strategy towards the end of that second moto?
I think when it comes down to two laps like that and Barcia was right there… It seemed like he was the same distance the whole time. I’d get up on him, and I’d lose a little bit. Kind of cat and mouse the last two laps. The second to last lap I lost my rear somewhere. I screwed it up right after the finish and lost a lot of time. Then I dug down deep and got close to him. And then that last lap we were right on him in a few spots. There was one rut, you come around a right-hander, come up over a little rise and then it was a rut like from here to the end of the tent away and he was in front of me so I’m trying to see this thing, [couldn’t quite see the rut with Barcia in front of me]. I kind of got a little off balance and lost a little time there. But none taken; Justin rode really good today and we gave it our all. That’s all I could have asked for. – Jason Weigandt and Chase Stallo

Ken Roczen, Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/RCH Suzuki, 3-3 for third overall in 450MX

Second moto, looked liked two battles going on, Barcia and Dungey just ahead and you and Pourcel right behind them.
I needed to get by him as quick as possible. He’s definitely hard to pass but I made it happen. I wish I could have done it a bit earlier. It just seemed like the starts, I always get a good jump but as soon as I shift then I get swallowed up. I think it would be a lot easier if I would be at the very front of the start and just don’t get blasted with roost and just have a clear track. Other than that it’s good. After last weekend to be back on the podium obviously it’s not ideal. I want to win but we’ve been putting in the work. I’ve basically ridden a complete different bike than lately. We’ve gotten some help from the Yoshimura team. That’s just basically been the biggest thing. We’re going to keep working hard and figuring some things out.

Visually it looked like it took maybe three laps for you to get into the flow of the race. Did you feel that way?
Yeah, obviously it’s tough. Especially with a track like that. It gets really rutty and there’s usually one of the best ruts and sometimes you choose a rut and the guy in front of you just chose a better one and then he’s gone again, so all that work is for nothing. It’s definitely a tough track if you’re not at the very front from the beginning on. It’s tough, especially with the leap. There was plenty of times where there was a lapper or sometimes I didn’t get enough traction and couldn't jump it and that bites you big time. Every time in the middle of the race I feel like I started gaining a little bit on the guys up front but then I couldn’t jump the leap and stuff like that. That would just set me back big time. But also the lappers, like Justin [Barcia] said, were really bad today. I almost crashed both motos with one. In the second one I went down the back section down to that off-camber and I clipped somebody’s handlebar and they just seemed like they wanted to race me all the time. I was kind of bummed about that.

Last weekend you had an illness or something like that. Did you feel okay today? What happened there at Budds Creek?
Yeah, I went to the doctor the week before Budds Creek because I was feeling really bad. I haven’t been sick for like a year or so, I don’t remember the last time I was sick. So usually when I get sick it hits me pretty good. I went to the doctor and he just said it’s a virus but don’t take anything yet until the Sunday after Budds Creek or something, if it’s not better then to start antibiotics. I wish I would have started that earlier because the Sunday after it was just not going away. I still struggled with it the whole week. I finally started clearing up a lot more now, but it’s just a major setback. Two weeks with something like that, you just have to be a little careful. You can’t overdo it with an illness. Sometimes it gets worse and stuff. A little bit of a tough couple of weeks. I feel like in general this year it’s been really tough with injuries and just always setbacks. I haven’t had that in a long time. Actually today I dabbed my foot again, the good old ankle. It was healing up pretty good right now so for how bad I dabbed it it’s actually okay but it’s definitely a little bit tender. But it should be good.

I heard you’re with a new trainer named Clint. Could you just explain his background? I think it was a Red Bull thing or something that? Talk about your new guy you’re working with a little bit.
Yeah, I met him through Red Bull. I’ve been going to [Red Bull HQ] in Santa Monica when I was in California and did a bunch of tests and stuff. I’ve been really happy. He’s from Jacksonville so he’s in Florida a lot. We have a good schedule and I’m really happy with it. I think that’s a big part of an athlete. You’ve got to be happy with the program and stuff. On that part I actually have been really happy. We have another weekend off so that will give us some time to put in some work again and work on some things. -- Weigandt

Broc Tickle, Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/RCH Suzuki, 4-7 for fourth overall in 450MX

I thought you were going to have the fastest qualifying today here at Red Bud, you had it in the first session and it almost held up in the second one. You just about did it. You shredded first practice session. People forget that you’re actually from Michigan, kind of.
Yeah, kind of. My wife’s family is from here so I have my all my stuff based out of here, my business and whatnot. But this morning was awesome. The track was awesome today. It got really gnarly there towards the end of the second moto, but all in all a solid weekend. I felt like it could have been a lot better second moto, and first moto in certain parts of it. In the middle of the first moto I kind of slouched a little bit and then picked it back up. But all in all it was a solid day. My bike was good. We made some minor changes for the second moto. It was better but struggled a little bit with finding some good lines out there.

Yeah, you said the track changed quite a bit from your first moto to second moto?
Yeah, it got obviously a lot rougher but I just kind of stuck with the lines that I was taking the first moto, which probably wasn’t the best thing. But on the sight lap I tried to look for some stuff but all across the track it was pretty messed up. So it was kind of tough to chance it to go somewhere different than a place you already knew. So I was stuck with the place I knew and it might have hurt me there at the end.

Your starts haven’t been great, generally speaking, but this weekend it seemed like they were much better. Did you change anything?
No, I’ve just been working on little stuff that I’m just trying to be consistent practicing what I’m practicing and try to keep it the same no matter what I’m doing. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing and it is kind of helping me out a little bit. I felt like last weekend I was better but I just didn’t hang it in there around the outside. – Steve Matthes

Christophe Pourcel, Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna, 10-4 for sixth overall in 450MX

How did it go? First moto the start was I’m sure not what you wanted, I’m going to guess on that one.
I got a bad gate. After the gate it was so deep. Me and Jason [Anderson], we were next to each other and we just… Bad start. So we were in the back and then I had some struggling with the suspension a little bit because it was so rough.

A lot of guys were telling me it was rough in a different way. Dungey kept saying it was much more square and choppy than he expected it to be. Was it like a different rough than you kind of expected?
Yeah, it was just a real roughness. Sometimes it’s slippery and then they put some sand on top so it was just weird. I believe they put too much water on the track. Some corners were rutty like crazy. That doesn’t make sense. We can’t go anywhere. It’s deep everywhere we go. So it doesn’t make racing very good. Too deep. The roughness is not a problem for us but once it’s too rough then there’s no line. We all go in the smooth stuff wherever we can find it and we kind of follow each other. Like second moto, top four, I was following Dungey. Kenny was following me. That’s pretty much it. We can’t race. We’re trying to but it’s just so rough.

Other lines are so deep you can’t use them at that point? They’re like gone?
Yeah. So it doesn’t make stuff good for you guys, on TV wanting to see passes.

I feel like fans always think the answer is always leave it alone, but if you leave it alone some lines becomes unusable. You can’t go there anymore and then it’s just done.
Yeah, we can see it today. For the 250 they fixed a couple things and the track was still way too deep. On TV it doesn’t look bad but when you’re on the bike, when the top five are struggling sometimes with how deep it is, you know it’s deep. For us it doesn’t bother me. I’m sure it doesn’t really bother the other guys riding on it but for TV and for the fans and passing I think we can make it better I think.

You feel you rode okay? Just the start and all that, otherwise you felt all right?
Yeah. I just stalled first moto, stalled second moto. Then we made some adjustments on the bike. We’re improving on some stuff. I don’t think we are 100 percent yet so that’s good.

Still more to give?
Yeah, on the bike for sure. Fitness-wise for me it’s only been a couple races that I’m back in the top five. So it’s just getting better. Getting back in shape. One or two more rounds and then its good. I’m trying to fight with those guys and I enjoy it a lot more. Second moto is just the top guys in front. You can see the win close ahead of you. If you really feel good you can maybe get it, you never know. -- Weigandt

Blake Baggett, Yoshimura Suzuki, 6-9 for eighth overall in 450MX

Every time I looked up you were in an intense battle and eating a lot of roost coming from the back today. Probably not the day you wanted but what are you going to do?
Just keep building on it, keep learning. Just didn’t have the greatest day today and just keep plugging away. Still got a weekend off to regroup and just still figuring it out. These super rough tracks have the gnarly downhills, I’m not gelling with my bike yet. I’m making it harder for my bike and then I think we just got to test a little bit to make it easier. But I think being small like I am the bigger the bumps are it makes it a little bit tough. So I did the best I could today. It wasn’t the greatest finish and just going to go back and try to work on a few things and figure out what I can do to make the situation easier. I was trying to force some of the issue and when you force it into a big breaking bump it’s just going to buck, it’s just going to kick.

You’ve had some great races here on the smaller bike so you probably like this place.
Yeah, it’s pretty good. I won here in I think 2011 and ’12 and just haven’t really done much since. But just keep plugging away and we’ll come back next year and see what we can do. But as of right now just work towards Millville and go from there. --Matthes

Zach Osborne, Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna, 3-2 for second overall in 250MX

Tell me about your day.
Yeah, the day was good. I felt good in the practice session. I was fourth fastest and I actually felt like I could have been a little faster but I missed a couple of jumps on my fast lap and I wasn’t jumping the leap all day. I actually came up really, really short on it on press day and blew out a wheel and kind of wounded my pride a little bit. So I decided not to jump it. We knew that that was going to hurt me a little bit but in the end it was okay.

From the start of the season you seem to have climbed up past the plateau you were on. What do you attribute the success of a couple rounds into the season?
Mainly bike setup at this point. John’s [Tomac] helped me a lot with my bike setup. We got it headed in the right direction now. I think it’s really good and my whole team has been super supportive of my needs. Also just being there and gaining confidence each week and having those guys as my support system is awesome.

Being with the Tomacs is it more of a physical change or mental change on how to focus on things or how to approach situations?
A little bit of both I would say. I feel like I’m more fit. The altitude, it’s not as hot there as say Florida or somewhere like that. It’s sort of 90, 95, but no humidity. It’s just dry heat. But the altitude kind of makes up for that. I feel like I come to the races each weekend more fresh than I did when I lived in the humidity because I’m not losing water all week and just running my body to the ground. So I feel like that’s been a huge benefit for me and feel like in the second moto I have really good fitness.

That first moto you actually passed Jeremy Martin and you had a good battle with him, and you were gaining on those leaders. Do you feel that’s like another level as now you’re going fast enough to catch the guys who are winning the motos? That’s got to be a good feeling.
Yeah, it’s good. I’m on the brink of big success I think. I actually got hit by a rock like right on my arm right here on the first lap and it caused me to pump up a little bit towards the end and I lost the tow a little bit, those guys got away. I felt like I let myself down a little bit. And then the second moto I killed the start, like awesome, and then as soon as I sat back, I was running the MX11 Dunlop all day, the full sand tire, and as soon as I sat back it hooked up huge and I almost looped out. I was sort of 15th probably going into the first turn. Made some passes on the first lap. I actually thought that I had blown the podium totally out of the water and then it just sort of happened that I kept picking guys off, picking guys off, picking guys off. To come from fifteenth in a Lites moto and get second place in a moto is a pretty good result.

This is still a fairly new bike for you. You mentioned setup. What’s been different from Glen Helen to now?
We’ve done a lot of suspension changes, mainly just softened my rear shock a lot to get my fork to hold up better. I maybe made some mistakes in the beginning of the season testing a little bit more in California than I should have. I should have been somewhere else maybe. But it is what it is. The season started really rough but now we’ve guided the ship and it’s headed in the right direction. I feel like as long as we continue on this trend then I’m going to win before the end of the season.

Back to the second moto again, awesome ride coming from 15th to 2nd. Where were you able to make up so much time on everybody? Was there a section that was working for you?
No, not really anything in particular. It was crazy because I think halfway through I was maybe seventh or eighth and I just passed [Matt] Bisceglia. I could see those guys but I felt really distanced from them because I knew Jeremy [Martin] and Marvin [Musquin] were battling but I felt like I still had to make three passes to even get in the ballpark. And then I made those three passes and I was there. I saw Christian [Craig] fading a little bit and I was just like, keep hammering and that’s what I did. There was no one section, it was just like I had better overall speed around the than everybody but Jeremy. – Weigandt and Stallo

Jessy Nelson, Lucas Oil/Troy Lee KTM, 7-11 for ninth overall in 250MX

How was it?
RedBud’s cool. I didn’t ride very well.

What happened?
I don’t know. First moto I rode pretty good. I came back and fought until the end and got a couple riders the last lap. Second moto hit a little wall for four or five laps where I just struggled then snapped out of it and started charging back to the end, but a little too late. Just rode like an amateur rider.

I talked to a couple guys that told me the track changed a lot from their first motos. Did you find that too?
Yeah, I was struggling a little bit with it. I started to find a flow and started picking off some people, but, like I said, just a little too late.

Your last few races haven’t been as good as your first few races. I think you’re well aware of that. What’s been going on? What’s happening? Is everything all right? How’s that going?
Mud race, bad starts, lost goggles, first moto had no coolant in the bike. Weekend before that was High Point, never done well at High Point. I was happy just to get out of that place. Weekend before that Muddy Creek landed on the podium, that was good. So and then RedBud, just not so well. Got to get out of the rut. -- Matthes

Shane McElrath, Lucas Oil/Troy Lee KTM, 19-13 for sixteenth overall in 250MX

Tough track today. Guys were talking about eating a lot of roost. I didn’t see you at the start so that’s probably the number one reason why it wasn’t great for you.
Yeah. Today was the first day I’ve been here since 2012 and it was just for a regional then, so just like four lap sprints. Just struggled a little bit today but the main thing is just learning a lot and that’s kind of what I’m holding onto moving forward. Just go for the weekend off and do it to it and hopefully come back at Millville ready to go. I rode okay but today was better than my days have been so we’re getting there.

You’ve been consistent if nothing else. Maybe you don’t have that blazing speed or breakout ride that you’d like to have but it’s hard to be consistent in the 250 class too and that’s something you’ve been. Between 7 and 11 a lot, so that’s a good thing.
Yeah, I’m not very happy with that just because I’ve got more in me. Just been trying different stuff. Just still trying new stuff and learning. This is still my first year of outdoors, my first full year and so a lot of these tracks are new. But we’re just learning along the way and just trying to stay as close to the front as we can. – Matthes