Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac has it rolling now in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, with his Saturday success at Southwick marking his third-straight overall win and fifth-straight moto win of the season. He also went 1-1 last year at Southwick, making this clearly one of his favorite tracks on the circuit.
Tomac’s closest competitor in points, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS KTM’s Blake Baggett, was happy to collect solid points with a 2-2, as he is dealing with a thumb injury, and Dean Wilson might have been the happiest of all, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider grabbing his first podium since his 2011 250MX Championship season.
All three spoke at the post-race press conference, hosted by Jimmy Albertson.
Racer X: Eli, what is it about this track that you just seem to gel with?
Eli Tomac: I guess it’s just the sand. We only have one really good sand track in the year and that’s here at Southwick. It’s either you kind of love it or you hate it. It’s a track that I really enjoy riding. I don't know what it is with sand. Like I said before, you’re either good in it or you’re kind of not. All around a good weekend.
Blake, with the thumb injury that occurred last weekend, how did that affect you today and what’d you do to kind of minimize the damage on it?
Blake Baggett: Yeah. I think it was the best day that we could have for coming in not 100 percent. I’m not a super fan of this place, by all means. Just salvaged it out. To me, I felt like I rode the best I could and had a solid weekend. So, I’m happy with what I was able to come away with.
Dean, first 450 podium. Awesome ride today. Cooper Webb, you guys were kind of the ones battling over that final spot in the closing stages in moto number two. How awesome does it feel to be up here, kind of where you feel like you belong?
Dean Wilson: It feels really good. It’s pretty crazy to think this is my first ever career [450MX] podium. It’s been six years since I’ve been at a press conference, so it’s a great feeling. It’s not really even a track or race that I really like, but I kind of mentally prepared myself during the week coming in that it was going to be a tough one for me. I think maybe that helped me as I just knew I had to tough it out, because it’s a very physical, demanding track, and we ended up here. So, it’s a great weekend and just really, really happy.
What’s gelled for you over the last couple weeks? Was it mistakes before or changes to the bike? What’s happening?
Wilson: I felt like I was riding pretty well at the beginning of the season and then, I don't know, I just struggled quite a few races. My starts haven’t been good. So this weekend I feel like my starts were actually pretty decent. I’ve just kind of been consistent with my training and just sticking to the script. So, it’s nice to see it finally pay off. I felt like my fitness was really good out there. I felt like my bike was handling really good, so it’s just a combination of those that helped me. I knew when Eli was behind me, he’s on a different level so I really don’t try to compete too hard. I kind of just let him have it and see if I can learn anything off of him as I’m just not at that pace yet. It’s just kind of a building process for me.
Eli, Millville is another strong track for you. That’s in two weeks’ time. With this weekend off, is that something you’re looking forward to? Does it kind of seem like you’d rather just stay in the swing of things at this point?
Tomac: I think at this point we’re in a good spot. We’re in a good spot points-wise. We’re not searching with anything on the motorcycle, so I’m content. I don’t really mind the weekend off. Everyone will rest up a little bit and come back fresh. I think we’ve got a couple more good tracks coming to us.
Speaking of resting up, I know Blake, you’re probably really thankful for the off-weekend coming up. What are your plans on trying to get your thumb better during the off-weekend?
Baggett: I’m excited for the off-weekend for sure. Monday I have an MRI and everything that we’ve done so far looks like the ligament is torn on the thumb. So, worst case scenario would have to go in and get it fixed, and then hopefully two weeks is enough to come back out swinging. I would like to get up there and put on good races and be able to battle with Eli. Today that was not going to happen. He was on a whole other level and I just didn’t feel that great.
Dean, you won the 250 championship back in 2011, I believe that was. Since then obviously a lot of injuries happening, everything like that. What is it about really this team in general that has just made you excel the past six months?
Wilson: I really have to give a big thank you to the whole team. My mechanic, Mohead [Dan Castloo], really puts a lot of time and gets my bike dialed. And Bobby Hewitt for just giving me the opportunity. He helped me when I had nothing. I was pitting out of the back of a van. I’ve kind of seen the side that you don’t really want to be in in this sport. From there on, just being on the team and we just gel really good and kind of let me be me and let me work hard and still have fun. You’ve got to have a good balance for me. I’m just having a lot of fun with my training and with my riding. There was just a time where I didn’t know if I was going to continue this because it was a really big struggle for a few years. You would work hard and then get knocked back down, and work hard and get knocked back down. Then not even getting picked up by any teams at the beginning of the season was kind of tough. So, for the team just to give me this opportunity, it’s kind of brought me back on my feet. I’m just in a really good place in my life right now. I’m really happy.
Eli, they trucked in a lot of sand this year to make the track more strenuous for the riders. Did you feel it was different this year?
Tomac: It wasn’t a whole lot different. I was expecting more, but I don't know when they brought it in. Honestly, it still had that base and it kind of was the normal, I would call it. So I would say no, it wasn’t a whole lot different.
Blake, with that thumb, did you ride at all during the week or was press day your first day on the bike?
Baggett: Yeah, press day I did a few laps on both sessions just to kind of test it out and basically test how we were going to tape it to try and basically make a fake brace. It’s hard because you got to have the moto gloves. You still got to have feeling. Just kind of gave it a few test runs on how we were going to tape it, and that was it.