Monday Conversation: Dungey, Musquin, Seely

Monday Conversation: Dungey, Musquin, Seely

January 23, 2017 9:20am

There was a notable pall over the Anaheim 2 post-race press conference for Monster Energy Supercross, as Ken Roczen’s huge crash seemed to hit home even for three riders that had good races and landed on the podium. Race winner Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM), runner-up Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM), and third place Cole Seely (Honda HRC) all know that when you push as hard as they do, bad things could potentially happen.

Here’s what they had to say.

Racer X: Cole, something about Anaheim agrees with you. You seem to always ride good here. Tell us about your main event.
Cole Seely: Yeah, it’s always good to walk away with a podium. Unfortunately I had that little hiccup there in the middle [Seely stalled while running second, and Musquin went around him] but I was still able to come away with third. I really wanted to push towards the front and set my sights more on Dungey than settling for a third place, but definitely made some huge pushes forward this week. Really happy with my whole team and everybody behind me that’s been helping me.

Marvin, you had a little bit of trouble in your heat race. You had to come through the semi. How did that work into your main event? Did the extra laps help you for lines? How was that?
Marvin Musquin: I don’t know. All I can say you got to do what you can do and make it happen. We had some issue, even Ryan here, he had a crash. So both of us went to the semifinal, but there was still quite a fight to the main event. We still proved that we can still be on the podium going to the semi. It was a good main event. Once again, the beginning of the race I was not as good at the end. I tried to stay calm. I was trying a little too hard trying to keep up with those guys and Roczen went around me. He had a big crash and after that I was trying to change my line through that rhythm. It was really rough. Then obviously Cole stalled his bike so it kind of gave me that second place. It would have been a good battle I think towards the end with him but that’s racing. We were able to be second. Not too far from Ryan but he was already gone. It was really tough to catch him, but good for Red Bull KTM.

Musquin had to go through the semi, but he matched his career best with a second in the main event.
Musquin had to go through the semi, but he matched his career best with a second in the main event. Rich Shepherd

Ryan, similar story to your teammate. You had trouble in the heat race and had 13th gate pick for the main event, yet you pulled the holeshot. What was your focus like going up there to the starting line for that main event?
Ryan Dungey: I think the first thing was just if I could get a good gate. Pretty much behind and ahead of the gate, if you weren’t in that top five there really wasn’t any good ones. But I was able to find one right on the inside. It was super tacky. Not very deep, but just a lot of grip and not so rough after the gate. I was able to get off when the gate dropped. I drove really well and found myself right in the first turn first with, I think it was Cooper Webb. From there I just tried to get the triple out the rhythm and kind of start to break away. It was tough. All day I searched a little bit, I will say that. Then I had the heat race deal and everything that happened there, but got off to a good start [in the main event]. But even the main event was tricky. I felt good but my second half of the race definitely wasn’t as good as I like it, but with what happened and then seeing Ken’s incident, I knew the track could reach out and bite you. I had multiple close calls so I was like, “Man, do we keep going after it or do we be smart and tame it down a little bit?” So I decided to just kind of, let’s chill out. We’ve got plenty of room. I saw where Marvin was, I was gauging things. But overall with all the adversity and stuff that we had to face, I’m glad that we were able to come away with a win today—a hard-earned one.

Ryan, talk about the heat race. What was the problem with the bike? It looked like maybe throttle?
Dungey: Yeah, I honestly really don’t know what happened. I didn’t hit anything metal on metal. Just the throttle housing, the way I hit it or it hit the ground it busted so the lines were hanging out. The throttle would stick wide open. I had to pull off. I couldn’t salvage any of it. It wasn’t rideable at that point.

Even your start in the semi was bad. Did you feel like momentum wasn’t on your side? How did you get that fixed? Because then all of a sudden you actually got a really good start when it counted.
Dungey: Yeah. We had a change we made going in from practice to the heat. Nothing to do with the change I guess, thinking about it. But I got off to a decent start. [Blake] Baggett was on the outside of me and he had the jump on me. He came over and started locking up the brakes. Well, it’s him and the bale. I’m like, man, I really put on the binders. Somebody coming from the inside of me, and that wasn’t pretty. I made a change going into the semi and that wasn’t good. So we went the opposite way for the main event and hoped she works. It actually felt pretty good. I don’t think there was a perfect setup on this track today. But what helped with the benefit of that change though in the main I got off the gate good and it followed the ground.

Cole, obviously with the weather being the way it has been in California lately, scheduling has been an issue as far as training goes. How have you dealt with it and how do you maximize those days?
Seely: I think every single rider in Southern California right now is kind of trying to find the answer to that question. We took a trip out to Phoenix and did some riding out there last week. This week we just tried to get it in before the rain came. I mentioned this on the TV broadcast—I think we all owe the Dirt Wurx guys a huge thank you. The tracks have been absolutely raceable every single weekend. With the weather every time they say it’s going to be muddy, it’s going to be muddy, and I’m always like, no. I have total confidence in those guys. They’re really busting their butts getting this track dialed in and raceable for us.

Seely was in a tight battle with Ken Roczen when Roczen went down in the rhythm section.
Seely was in a tight battle with Ken Roczen when Roczen went down in the rhythm section. Rich Shepherd

Ryan, your start. You didn’t get the best jump but your line into the first turn was pretty sneaky. Was that something you saw before where you could sneak underneath like that?
Dungey: That was my only choice. I’d rather be on the inside and try to get the jump and come over on the guys than be on the outside where everybody’s going to start pushing. So it worked out good. I think it was Cooper [Webb] that was on the right side of me. I thought I had him and then here comes Cooper, he actually got the holeshot. But I’d rather be second than buried in the pack. But I got a good jump, that’s all.

It’s a pretty unforgiving sport. How hard is it to find that fine line of pushing but being able to be there for 17 rounds?
Dungey: That’s a tough one to answer. I think where I was at with outdoors you’re trying your best, you’re giving it your all, you make a mistake and sometimes it costs you. But then again you can’t ride scared out there, either. You’ve got to enjoy it a little bit. The pace is only getting faster. The riders are only getting better. The equipment … we’re going faster. Dirt Wurx did a great job and it’s not their fault, but the rain’s got to go somewhere in those transitions, so it creates a little bit of a soft spot. We saw it last week at San Diego. It’s nobody’s fault—it’s just Mother Nature. It’s just what happens. You just make a mistake. I don’t know. I try to do the best I can. When things at the end of the race were getting sketchy it’s like, I got to know that and try to adjust. But then in the scheme of things, like I was at Lakewood, Colorado, you’re going for it and you just make a mistake. You’re going that fast. Sometimes you save it and sometimes you don’t, but you hope and pray for health and safety for all the riders. It’s a tough question. You hate to see stuff like that happen tonight. I don’t sit here like, wow …[now I’m the points leader], I’m more like, I just hope Ken’s okay. I don’t wish that upon nobody. Especially the sport, we need him. We need a guy like that. So it’s unfortunate at times, but let’s hope he’s okay too. It’s not like he’s down and out. Hopefully he’s okay too.

Seely: I think Ryan’s really the most qualified to touch on that question. He’s the most consistent and even he struggles with that. So it’s tough. You can walk the track right now and it’s absolutely amazing that our bikes can make it through that kind of stuff. I don’t know. It’s a gamble for sure. Even the last two laps for me out there, I kind of backed it down and rode it in just because it was hectic. It’s tough. It’s part of the sport though.

Musquin: I knew what happened to Kenny on that triple. I got a bad kicker too for two laps in a row and then I switched my line. I did a different rhythm through there to avoid that specific takeoff. But yeah, we were rolling the section and going by Kenny for a couple laps and it’s hard. It’s hard to see because you see him laying down and not moving. It gets in your head. The rest of the lap you think about it. I was looking over the finish line and saw he was getting up. Also you never know—I thought we were going to get red flagged at one point. It’s tough to see anybody when he goes down. Track was really challenging. Like Ryan said, the bikes are better and we are practicing and training really hard trying to be better. Everybody wants to win and we are pushing so hard. Sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes we get lucky and we don’t crash, and sometimes we do crash. Like I said, I tried to play it a little bit safer but still going fast and doing a different rhythm section. Hopefully Kenny is okay. Like Ryan said, we need a guy like that out here. It’s good for the sport, good racing.

Even Dungey has struggled with finding the balance between consistency and speed.
Even Dungey has struggled with finding the balance between consistency and speed. Jeff Kardas

Marvin and Cole, both of you each week have been getting a little closer and a little closer and a little closer. What have you been doing specifically to try and narrow the gap to Ryan and Roczen compared to last week?
Musquin: Like I said, everybody’s training really hard during the week, during the off-season and trying to be more comfortable on the bikes and with the setup, physically too and strength. Everybody has a trainer now and everybody has a solid program. I train with Ryan a lot and we’re getting closer, which is good. Last year was really tough for my first rookie year in the 450 but now I feel like I’m doing better. We’ll keep trying. But it’s a lot of fun. It’s a good challenge. There are also so many good guys behind. If you get a bad start it’s difficult to pass those guys. You can see in practice there’s like a couple tenths difference between all of us. Everybody’s good now and doing better and better. That’s what makes the sport so interesting and exciting.

Seely: Pretty much what Marvin said. I think it’s just a comfort thing for me. We’ve been working on fine-tuning the bike. Just little things here and there with suspension, chassis, and engine. Just small tweaks to get me a little bit more comfortable. It’s always so easy to go out and lay down 100 fast laps at the test track, but once you get out here it’s a totally different thing. Learning that each race and learning to deal with the nerves, really. That’s pretty much it. I’ve been pretty nervous these last two rounds. Just trying to come back and shake those off.

Marvin, can you take us through that crazy heat race situation? You ended up down in the [Jason] Anderson and [Vince] Friese situation, Mookie [Malcolm Stewart] was battling in there too. It was nuts. What was going on there? What did you see?
Musquin: It was pretty crazy. It makes me so mad. I don’t want to get in those situations but this is racing. I just need better starts. Vince Friese is a good rider, a good starter. He gets ahead of us sometimes and it’s really hard to get around him. I should have passed him sooner, but I was too shy. I was thinking of the guys behind too. They were coming in hard. Chad [Reed] was really close and then it was Malcolm Stewart getting close and then he got around me. You ride so tense in those conditions. You’re not yourself. You try to stay calm but then you got Jason coming in hot behind. I think he was behind me and he went in inside and he tried to block pass actually two riders at the same time. Unfortunately racing incident and we all went down. And then you go to the semifinal which you don’t want to do that, but that’s part of the racing. Try to stay calm. Good thing I’ve got Frankie [mechanic] trying to calm me down. We try our best. Last year in Detroit I went to the semifinal and I got third in the main. Tonight I got second. So you get so mad at the time but when it’s over you think about it and I’m happy to be here right now.