Racer X: What was it like to have all the orange bikes up on the podium today?
Marvin Musquin: I was just telling Jeffrey [Herlings] that’s awesome. Actually I thought about it after the first moto and even second moto. All three KTM, it’s pretty cool. Makes me think back in Austria where everybody’s working so hard for us. I’m sure Pit Beirer and everybody are really happy right now.
Blake, you guys came into it, you and Marvin, very close in points for the championship. Take us through a little bit of your day today.
Blake Baggett: Yeah. Just tried to get good starts. I know Marv’s been on a roll lately and he’s going to be there. I knew that that was the case and I needed to ride my best and try to just be there. Came up a little bit short, but definitely I gave it my all this season. I just wasn’t able to get it done. I’m proud of myself that I was able to grind through the injury and keep pushing and also take it to the last moto. Me and Marv, we didn’t get the title but at least we made it come down to the last moto before Eli [Tomac] got it. It came down to the last moto for both of us to finish who was going to get second or third. Definitely he deserves it. I thought it was a good season.
Jeffrey, how long ago did you make the decision to come here and race this event?
Jeffrey Herlings: Two days.
Two days ago? Hopped on a plane, hopped on the bike and went at it. Did you put a couple weeks into it, a month, or even before the season, or did it kind of come late?
Herlings: No, we were in Sweden last weekend for our World Championship. Obviously, I broke my hand the beginning of the season so the first four rounds in Europe were terrible because I had so much pain I just barely could ride. So, I was so much points back and like 20th in the championship. I fought my way all the way back to second. And actually I was on a winning roll and I won two and I was going for my third win in a row. Then I had a DNF. Like I was saying, I was closing so hard in on the points and then I was winning the GP most likely and then I DNF’d. At that point, I was like with three rounds to go the championship will be over. I spoke to Pit Beirer from KTM in Austria, one of the big bosses, and I said, “Hey, man, I’m flying to U.S. anyway on Tuesday to go to Aldon Baker’s place and get used to the heat for the GP. What would you think about racing that race?” He was like, “Yeah, let me think about it.” We started making some plans and some phone calls. Obviously, the U.S. bike is different. We came in on Tuesday in Florida. We went to ride for the first time on Wednesday at Aldon’s place. It was a completely different bike. We were like, okay, we have a couple of hours to set up. If we want to go, we want to ride press day because it’s a brand new track and we want to get used to the track at least. That’s what we did. We rode on Wednesday. Actually, I was super happy with the bike straight away.
We know that the GP bikes have basically a works bike rules and our components are a little tighter. How much different is your bike over in Europe, which you’ll be riding next week, compared to the one you rode here today? What are the big differences?
Herlings: You have to set your bike up different. The track here was absolutely amazing. How they make the tracks here, it’s so good. Back home, the tracks—those guys have also been riding in Europe. The tracks are small, narrow, pretty tough to pass. I’m not saying it’s bad, but in Europe for example if you crash like I did now second moto at the start, you’re almost unable to come from last to first. The tracks just don’t allow you to go that fast and to have that many lines to pass. It’s just two different worlds. I’m going to say I like the American style.
Was there any chance that you have a goal to come over here and race?
Herlings: Well, not really. this was just like a one-time thing. I have a contract for Europe for three more years. I’m pretty happy at home in Europe. I like it there. But still, the racing here is on a different level maybe.
Blake, just tell us the status of where your thumb finally is after doing this for seven races. How bad it is?
Baggett: I just have no strength in it. I get surgery on Tuesday to try to get it fixed. Be out for two months they think and then ease back into it. But there’s no ligament. It’s ripped off the bone. Just been running it and try to do the best I can. Evidently I need to go to Europe and do some riding because this guy took us to school. I’m going to get my pad of paper and my pen and take notes because he definitely served us justice today.
I don’t think we ever had a chance to ask you about RedBud because you didn’t finish on the podium that day. Can you take us through your perspective of that moment that really ended your hopes? You stayed in it, but it changed your season. What happened there from your perspective?
Baggett: Just got caught off-guard. A racing mistake. I got caught off-guard and was in the rut and was committed and just couldn’t get to the brakes and ended up getting into the back of the guy and going down. Just put my hand out, what everybody does. When you’re falling, reflex is just to put your hand down. Put it out wrong place, wrong time and it just wasn’t my year this year. Try to do the best I could and keep Marv and Eli honest and run it all the way until the end. Came away with third, so definitely happy on the whole season. Just progress. My supercross has improved a lot and then to come into outdoors and get some outdoor wins in the 450 Class and to be able to get good starts and battle with the front guys is a goal that you always want to do. I’ve had fun doing it, too.
How many times have you replayed RedBud in your head throughout these last three months?
Baggett: I mean, it’s just the past. You watch it and just try not to let that happen again. There’s many mistakes that we make throughout all of our careers that I’m sure if we could rewind time we would, but it don’t work like that. The other guys gain on your mistakes, and that’s what motorcycle racing is about.
Jeffrey, could you talk a little bit, what expectations did you think you might have, or where did you think you might be? It was pretty impressive. Right away you set the fastest qualifying time. Did you believe you could be the overall winner today?
Herlings: It’s hard to say. Everything was new, so that’s why I rode the press day to at least get used to the track. Back home we have all Saturday. We have warm up, timed practice, qualifying heat. Then again on Sunday you have a warm up then you have the two motos. So, by the time it’s race time you already spent one and a half hours or two hours on the bike or something. Here you have this morning 10 minutes practice and then like 15, so it’s completely different. At home everything is pretty chill. You just enter the track like when the practice is already going and here they’re just like a race. It’s pretty insane. But it’s different, just two different worlds. My expectations, I don't know. When we came here we didn’t know what to expect. I thought Eli would be fast, Marvin would be fast, Blake … also guys like [Justin] Barcia, [Justin] Bogle, all those guys. I didn’t know what to expect. It was like I’m on their track. I thought anything within top five I would be happy with. But then I went out and put a fast lap time in the first practice, fastest in the second practice. I was like, okay, maybe if I can get some decent starts we can come out on top. First moto I got a decent start with second and worked my way up to the lead in the first lap. Then had a good battle with Marvin and managed to win the moto. Second moto made it a bit tough. They watered the first and the second turn a little bit and my front end washed away and I had to come from dead last. Obviously, I was a bit lucky with Marvin making a small mistake. He actually gave the win to me, but it’s racing. I crashed, so did he. It’s a part of racing.
I’m trying to recall if you and Marvin were teammates back in the GPs. If you were, was it nice to kind of catch up with somebody you used to race with?
Herlings: Yeah, it was actually pretty awesome because we were on the same flight here. We were like, “Oh, you remember in 2010 this and that? You remember in Europe that guy?” So, it was pretty amazing. We could still talk about the past. He knows how it is back home, so we had a lot to talk about. I think Marv is a great athlete and a great ambassador for the sport. It was nice to battle with him and all those guys here. I have respect for everybody. It was a pleasure to come here, and to go home with a 1-1 is pretty amazing.
Jeffrey, in the second moto when you passed Eli, it was like for ninth, you kind of looked over at him and pulled a tear-off. Was that just kind of like a “Hey, what’s up?” or a little aggression there? Just kind of walk us through that a little bit.
Herlings: No, not really. When I went there it was like, he’s the guy to beat. We were like fighting for 10th spot like you said, or ninth spot. I was like, all right, cool. Let’s battle. But I know he was racing for a championship. So he didn’t really care if he would finish I think first or fifth or 10th, as long as he got the championship that was enough for him. I totally understand. He had a little aggression the first moto when he was behind me, so I understand. He will be on his A-game next weekend I think. I understand he wasn’t going 100 percent because he had a championship to win or to lose.
Marvin, the last few weeks it’s kind of progressed where it seems like you hung it out more and just kind of all-out went for it. Today it seemed like you had some moments where you were just a sense of urgency and just all-out sending it. Did you feel like a sense of panic today where you were just like, I got to go, I got to go, I got to go?
Musquin: No, I was just trying my best. The last few rounds it’s been, obviously since the middle of the championship I just had nothing to lose. All I had to do was try to win races. So, today it was just the same. Obviously, to win the championship today would have been very, very lucky on my side and very bad luck for Eli Tomac. I just wanted to do my best, try to win the race and try to get second in the championship and just win the last round. But riding-wise, the first moto I felt really good. I knew Jeffrey was really fast is practice. but we made it happen in the first moto and I was feeling more comfortable. I was able to put some good lap times and close on Jeffrey, so that was pretty cool. But he was really consistent. In the second moto, I just made a little mistake at two laps to go, but other than that I was really consistent. I felt great today. I don’t think I was riding over my head or anything. It’s good to see that the riding has been good.
Jeffrey, when you went down in the start of the second moto, what’s going through your head? Do you think, there goes my chance of the overall, or just put your head down and go?
Herlings: I was like, yeah, just put my head down and go. The first two laps I couldn’t make all the jumps. I don’t want to be disrespectful, but between place 25 and 40, not all the guys make those big jumps and I didn’t want to jump on somebody’s neck. You lose so much ground and so much time, so by the time I got up to 20th I was like, 15 or 20 seconds down and I still had to pass all those guys. But like I said, the tracks are so good here, you have so many lines. You can just literally pass anywhere. That’s what I really like about America and actually about this track and probably all the outdoors tracks, that they have so many lines and they’re so good organized.
That’s funny because we come to the press conference every week and these guys tell us it’s one line.
Herlings: Then they should not go race Motocross World Championship.
Musquin: I never say that. Maybe last weekend, but other than that it’s been good tracks this season.
Baggett: There definitely are some that are one lined. There’s some guys that you could pass without even thinking about it and you’re stuck behind them for six laps. So, definitely there are some that are one-lined.
You’re going to ride at [Aldon] Baker’s for the next week, right? But are you going to be there, Marvin? Or is he on his own? Are you finished? What’s your plans, Marvin? He’s going to be there, but are you done?
Musquin: Well, I’ve been there since last November, so no I’m not going to be there. [Laughs]
Time for a break?
Musquin: Yeah, it’s time for a break. Right now September is the only time I can have it off, so I’m going to enjoy it.
Herlings: He’s just scared I’m going to pass him again. [Laughs]
Did you get to learn anything from the Baker Factory program or anything yet, for the one day you had? Or is there more to learn next week?
Herlings: He’s pretty famous in Europe and everybody’s speaking about him. He brought a lot of championships with a lot of good riders. So, I just want to learn what they are doing and how they train. But when I come here I see they can train different. We can’t race the way you race here at home because the tracks don’t allow you. They don’t have so many grips, so many lines. You can’t just open the throttle and go. And also with the weather in the winter. It’s freezing, it’s cold, it’s rainy … that program is absolutely amazing for the U.S., but I think it won’t work in Europe just because the situation is way different. We have to fly to the races sometimes on Thursday or Friday. Be there, race Saturday, Sunday. Fly back Monday. Here it’s just one day. Always good weather when you’re in Florida or California. So, it’s two different worlds, like I said.
Could you guys just take me through the first moto? You battled for a bit. You caught up. You ended up getting back away. Just take me through that, both of you how that first moto turned out.
Musquin: Just like I said, in practice I was a couple seconds down on Jeffrey, so we got better for the first moto and it was good to see that I was not too far from Jeffrey. It’s good to see that because Jeffrey is a great rider and he’s riding good on the 450. So, it was just good to have him in front of me and not 30 seconds ahead of me. I think that was good. I knew he would have been super, super hard to pass because he had great momentum and good lines. I just wanted to keep him honest and be behind him.
Herlings: For me, I didn’t know what to expect. I seen Marvin riding on Thursday and he was looking good and fast. When Eli crashed I had like a three or four second lead on Marvin. I made some mistakes, and then Marvin came really close. At one point, we were like within a second, I think. Then I managed to pull away again. I think I maybe had some luck with the lappers, but it’s good. We haven’t raced each other for a long, long time so it was pretty good. Also, it was nice to race different guys. At home, we always race the same guys so everything was new, but it was pretty amazing.
You mentioned earlier the way the races over here are organized and run. What are the big differences? I know the days are different, but what would you really put the big difference between racing in America and racing in Europe?
Herlings: I don't know. It’s just so much different. The guys who have been to Europe, they know what we’re talking about. Blake’s been there and Marvin’s bene there, so they know about what I’m talking. It’s just completely two different worlds. I can’t just describe how much different it is. There’s many more positive things, but also there’s some negative things. They do things way better here, and they do some things better at home. It’s just plusses, plusses, plusses, and some minus. But like I said, the tracks here I think also because they have a lot of places—America is a big country and the tracks are all pretty big and huge. At home, many tracks are small and then you just can’t get the tracks to be like it was today.