Open Mic: Team USA

Open Mic Team USA

September 28, 2015 12:20pm

Jeremy Martin, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha, second overall in MX2 class 

FIM Press Conference: Jeremy Martin, this was your second Motocross of Nations, and you got one position better than last year. How was your experience? The hillside track here proved challenging for a 250, but you got some great starts. Tell us about your two races.
Jeremy Martin: Today was a good day. I’m proud of how Cooper [Webb] rode, and I’m proud of how Justin [Barcia] rode. The team did really good. Like they said, we gave everything we had every time we were out there. France was really fast this year. When I got behind Marvin [Musquin] after he fell in the first moto, it reminded me of when we were racing in the U.S. He was on another level this weekend, and he rode really good. I just want to say congrats to him and everyone there. They rode good.

You enjoyed the experience? I know you only finished second. You guys obviously wanted to win this weekend. We’ve already talked about how close it was, but what is your feeing of how this weekend was?
The feeling was good. The Motocross des Nations is one of a kind. It’s something you want to be a part of as a racer. I never heard fans so crazy. Like Justin said, when we were on a French rider you knew. You could just hear the crowd. I never heard so many chainsaws in my life!

Cooper Webb, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha, second overall in Open class 

FIM Press Conference: Cooper Webb, what another stunning performance from you. You showed us what you could do on the 450 last week in Glen Helen, and you did the same again today. You led laps and you had some great battles with Romain Febvre once again.
Cooper Webb: Yeah, we did. It seemed like we just kept going from last week. I would get a little better start, and I knew he would be coming. It was fun to be able to race with these guys. For me, it was a whole new experience, me not really riding a 450 much. And to be in my first ever Motocross des Nations was a huge honor, but also nerves were high. It was good though. I felt like everybody said we did the best we could and we were fighting. I think, like Roger [DeCoster, team manager] said, a lot of people didn’t expect us to perform the way we did. Overall I think it was very good and these guys are gnarly riders and racers. It was nice to be able to race them. I felt like I learned quite a bit from these guys. I can apply that through myself. Happy overall. 

Have you ever ridden in an atmosphere like this? In supercross you have the crowds, but I doubt that you have anything as close as that [battling Team France in France], do you?
No, definitely not. To me, I thought Glen Helen was pretty loud and the U.S. fans were good there, but this was a whole new level. Every time, for me, I knew when Romain was on me for sure. It was definitely extreme. You had to stay calm and kind of push it aside, but it’s hard when everybody’s so loud and behind their own team. 

What happened in the first race? After the waves and the tabletop on the topside of the circuit, you were pretty close to Romain. You were still in a position where you could win that race, but then you tipped over in a corner. What happened there?
I just kind of made a mistake. It was a lapper, and the way I tried to change my line, and I just fell over. Luckily, I was able to get up quickly and not lose any positions. But it was a little nerve-racking.

Finally, the last race, Justin and you were the guys to take the first two holeshots in the first race, but both of your starts let you down in that last race. So you gave yourself a lot of work to do. What were your thoughts as you were going through the first few corners on that opening lap?
I knew we had to make moves. I had a bad jump as well [as Barcia]. There was a lot of good guys on that inside, so I got pushed pretty far back. It seemed like we had to go through all the top runners to get through. Unfortunately, I stalled it, which put me back a little bit, but we were just pretty far back from the beginning, which was going to make it harder, especially when [racers] as good as Gautier [Paulin] and Romain were riding—it made it hard for us. But that’s why we race, for a challenge. 

Roger DeCoster, Team USA manager 

Steve Matthes/Racer X: I think in past years the team hasn’t ridden that well, to their standards. This year they rode great. I guess France just rode greater. It was, I think, a good performance by your guys, and you just maybe tip your visor to the French?
Roger DeCoster: Yeah, the French were good, we knew ahead of time. They also rode here two weeks ago. They spent several days riding this track, so they could do their bike setup and so on better than us. We had to search a little bit over the weekend, starting from first practice on. But they did ride good. Marvin, I think, rode an awesome race, and Febvre, but Febvre was expected to do what he did. I’m really happy, not for finishing second, but for the way my guys rode. I don’t think a lot of people thought that they were going to do as well as they did. Barcia came back strong. If the race had been long enough, we could have won it. Cooper…I don’t think in the second half of the world championship that anyone was ever faster that Febvre, but Cooper chased him down and really battled with him, and it’s only his second 450 race. I know from the rumors I heard and from whatever some people told me that it was pretty stupid to put Cooper on there, that he would crash his brains out. So I’m really happy for how they rode. It would not have taken much. A little slip from the French and we would have had it. Our team did a lot better than what we have done the last couple years. If you look at where the next team was….

Fifty-six points to Belgium.
And even Belgium did a good job because they also came with a handicapped team somewhat with injuries and so on, but I’m really proud of these guys. I also want to say thanks to Alpinestars for taking care of the whole American contingent and feeding us the whole weekend. I’m not sure how many people have been taking care of the whole weekend, but you would need a good-sized restaurant to do what they did. They are awesome. They also stepped in at the last minute to do our uniforms for the team. Gabriel, Alpinestars—those guys are always a first class act.

And you wore Alpinestars back in the day, even.
Yeah, I was maybe the first GP rider to ride with Alpinestar boots. They always strive to make a top-class product. I have to say thank you to those guys because they spend a lot more on us for this event than what they get back, I think. 

The gate-pick selection. I’ve been a member of Team USA as a mechanic, and I’ve been to a lot of these. You have different strategy and theories. Today Justin took the outside gate both times. What were the thoughts behind that and not switching it up or whatever you did?
We did switch it up, but at first, with the qualifying yesterday, we realized that the outside was not as deep, so Jeremy had thought that he would not mind to go on the outside and take a chance there. It was just a qualifying race. It was okay to do it. And he almost got the holeshot. He played it a little bit safe going into the first turn, and Marvin passed him from the inside, but he came out second—great start. Then, today, I could see that the French guys were changing what they were thinking, and they had somebody go to the outside as well. But then, as the day moved, the middle of the track was softer and heavier, got better, from the sun being on it. So then we decided not to change it anymore and go more to the inside. It worked good on the second start also.

And then, the third start, basically Justin wanted to be as close as possible to where he was in the first one, or a little bit to the inside. He ended up, I think, at the seventeenth spot counting from the right, so he was happy with that. Cooper felt more inside would be safer. I think our gate positions were good. They couldn’t have been that bad because there was only one rider in between Justin and a French rider. And then it was the same thing on the other side—they [Webb and a French rider] were next to each other. So the positioning was fine, but the start is always a bit of a gamble, how much you spin, how aggressive you’re going to be, and all that. Then, later in the race, when Justin, he felt like he was maybe holding up Cooper, so he kind of moved out of the way for him—that was our plan. But then Cooper stalls it. 

It was one of those things, that third moto. You’d gotten starts all day, your team had them, and then when you needed them…. In the press conference, the riders said just bad reactions really. Is that what you saw?
Yeah, it was a touch late, a touch too aggressive maybe, and a little bit too much spin. The gate had this plate on it that was quite slippery. It’s hard to hit it just perfect. They did pretty perfect twice, but the third time it was not as perfect. 

I was asking JMB [Jean-Michel Bayle] about this track earlier. He told me that he thinks that you even raced here before—that’s how old it is. Have you ever been here?
No, I never raced here. I came with the team ten years ago with Ricky [Carmichael] and [Ivan] Tedesco and [Kevin] Windham, I think it was. So the track is similar. I think it’s a little bit better than then. It flows a little bit better on the left side as you’re facing the hill. The crowd is just the same. The people are living for motocross here. When you see most of the fans, they were here yesterday morning or Sunday morning. By eight, nine they were already here. They hang it out for forty-eight hours basically.

We just don’t have that in the U.S. I don’t know if it’s the lawyers or the liability. I don’t know what it is, but we just don’t get that.
Liability is probably a factor. The people that run the race, they do a really good job. They help to have the people have fun. And they do a good job if you see little things that maybe it’s not so important at first when you think about it, but they have bathrooms and all that. They keep things up during the week. They keep cleaning things and hauling the trash away. They run it very professionally. 

Are you happy then? I’ve talked to you after the last few years. You've been a little upset.
This is way better. I’m not happy to be second, but I’m happy the way that they fought because if you look before the race the French team was…. 

They were a heavy favorite.
We would not have any chance. We kept them honest until the very last lap. They were the best team today, but we did not miss by much. Basically it was 2 points, and with a little bit better start, it could have been us. 

You’ve been with Team USA forever. It’s a big burden; it’s a lot of work for you and everybody else. Are you just going to keep doing it? Do you have plans to slow it down? How much do you want to keep doing this?
Until they fire me! 

I don’t think that’s going to happen, so you’ll just do it forever.
Maybe! As long as I feel good and I can be of some help, it’s an event that I really like.