By Aaron Hansel, Jason Weigandt and Steve Matthes
Ken Roczen | Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/ RCH Suzuki | 1-2 for second overall in 450MX
I’m actually pretty happy. This isn’t my favorite place to go to for some reason. I liked the first moto, obviously you could tell, but this is the driest I’ve ever seen this track and it made it pretty sketchy with the sun and shadows late in the day. But Eli [Tomac] was just riding really well in that second moto so I just stayed in second and didn’t lose any points. I’m glad we have another one done, and I grabbed two good starts today so overall I’m leaving happy. We’re going to go into a few weeks break, which I think will come in handy for everybody. It’s all good!
Was the track different than normal today?
Not in the first moto, but in the second moto, like I said, that was the driest I’ve ever seen this track. Usually we’re racing when it’s pretty wet or muddy. It was pretty sketchy, but no excuses, it was another race and Eli was going really good and I was just by myself there in second.
We’ve got a break coming up in a long year. What are you up to for that?
My family is actually coming in. My mom, sister, and little niece, they’re coming in and we’re going to go to Utah on Thursday to hang out a little bit. We’ll do some hiking, some mountain biking, and all that kind of fun stuff. We’ll do that, go back to Florida, and get back to work. It’ll be good to take a little bit of a breather. I think it’s really just the travelling. It’ll nice to just be home.
Were you struggling a little bit in that second moto? I hate to use the word struggling when you got second place, but was it that or was Tomac just a lot faster in the second moto than he was in the first?
I think we didn’t do the right changes in the second moto. I feel like we should have just gone a little softer with the overall package, especially with the front end. At the same time he was going really good so I checked up a little bit and let him by just to see where he was going. I tried to stay with him and he was pulling away.
Obviously you’re having a great year. Do you get tired of people using words like struggling and asking what’s wrong when you don’t win?
No, not really, because I want to win. I don’t really care what any other people think about me, I want to win. Today was one of the days where I got second. It didn’t bother me. Obviously I tried, but it didn’t bother me. I’m just glad this day was done and second is not necessarily a bad thing.
Does it surprise you how quickly the standard of winning has become your expected standard this season?
I mean, no matter what, you can be crushing it all year and you don’t win one weekend and all of a sudden you’ve lost your game and everything. It’s just the usual, and it doesn’t really bother me.
Next up is Unadilla. They call it a Euro track, what do you think about that place?
I like Unadilla. I feel like I’ve done well the past few years and I’m looking forward to it. All of the last tracks are pretty fun and I’m looking forward to all of them.
It’s coming around that time to pick Team USA. Can we borrow you for the team? Are you doing the Motocross of Nations for Germany?
I’m not planning on it right now. I would like to every year, but I think we don’t… Back in the day it was [Marcus] Schiffer, [Max] Nagl, and me and we were killing it. But everyone is so competitive, and take Team USA, they have so many riders who are good and even if one gets injured another one pops in and they’re all good. For us, Schiffer isn’t racing anymore. I’m not saying there isn’t another good rider out there, but as of now I’m not planning on it. –Aaron Hansel
Marvin Musquin | Red Bull KTM | 3-3 for third overall in 450MX
Washougal has been really good to me the past two years. On a 250 I got a win and a second place so I was really excited to come here. I like the track, I just think this weekend… I was excited. We got rain yesterday, I think it just wasn’t enough for the track. This morning it was really sweet and first moto was not too bad, but that second moto was tough. We made some changes, and unfortunately it was not as good as I expected, especially for the conditions. That first moto, I didn’t get a good start but was pretty happy about the passes I made. I got up to fourth place and I could see Eli in front of me and he wasn’t getting away. I was quicker. [Christophe] Pourcel was second, [having a] good ride, and I was trying to push and I felt like I was able to pass Eli, and I made a mistake and hit some braking bumps in the mechanics area. I went down and got up really quick and tried again to come back. I was not too far from those guys and I went down unfortunately and got third place. Second moto I got a good start, got the holeshot, really happy about it and unfortunately once again, Roczen was really quick and Tomac as well. They were a lot faster than me this time, definitely a completely different second moto. It’s a little frustrating right now. I still got third, it’s good, but a lot of guys are injured right now in the 450 Class. Some big names are missing. So that’s why. Yeah, I am satisfied with third, but at the same time I feel like it’s normal for me right now. That’s good, but I wish I could have battled with those guys more in the second moto.
When you crashed in moto one did the bike stop running, or was it running when you picked it up?
I jumped on the clutch really quick and got up super quick. I was actually pumped about it a little! I was pretty happy about how fast I got up. The clutch was a little bit down, it moved a little bit, but it wasn’t too bad.
What do you attribute them [Tomac and Roczen] being so much faster than you in moto two?
I was definitely not comfortable in that second moto. The track was a little bit different. It got really dry and really hard, and we made some changes. I think it would have been better for that first moto, but not that second moto. But we tried, you know, and the team is working hard and trying things. That second moto, man, Roczen and Tomac, they were a lot faster.
We’re nine rounds into the season now. How would you rate your season so far?
I’m pretty happy right now. I’m more confident on the bike, and practicing during the week I feel stronger and stronger. Kind of like supercross, it was really tough in the beginning, and outdoors a little bit the same. We tried things on the bike and now it’s getting better. It’s really good for a rookie year, but like I said earlier, there are a lot of big names missing. It would have been tough to be third in the championship [if others were not injured], but anyway I feel like I’m getting better and stronger, and that’s the goal right now.
What are you going to do during the break?
Same thing. Same routine during the week. It’s just on the weekend no racing. More relaxed and no riding on the weekend, but during the week it’ll be the same routine. -Hansel
Austin Forkner | Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki | 10-1 for second overall in 250MX
It was pretty good. First moto I lit the tire up off the gate and knew I was spinning right out of the gate. Was way back, probably in the thirties going through the first turn. Came back and I rode really good; I came back to tenth. I knew my speed was there, I just needed to get the start. I adjusted a few things on the start and the second one was better. I think I came around the first turn in third, or got into third real quick, and I almost passed [Joey] Savatgy at the top of the hill. Coming down the hill, I think it was Cooper [Webb], he and Savatgy got together and I saw an opening so I just took it. Next thing I know I go through the S-turn and I don’t hear anybody! That was pretty good for me, I just wanted to lead a couple laps. I was like ten minutes in, and I saw [Martin] Davalos behind me and some guys who I knew I could beat, guys that I came through the first moto and passed, just guys I knew I could beat, and didn’t really see the Coopers or the Joeys or any of those guys [that had been winning motos this year] behind me and I knew I had an actual shot to win this.
What are some of the thoughts that were going through your head that moto?
I was waiting for the two-lap board to come out for so long! From the twenty minute mark my mechanic put 10-plus 2 to go, and I don’t know if we got to the timer at the worst time, if we had to go three laps instead of two, but it felt like it was cutting it pretty close. I came around and it was like, ‘Okay, it’s gotta be time.’ I’m almost positive I did five laps after he put 10-plus 2. I come around and the two-lap board still wasn’t out. Some of the sections in the track I could see guys going by, and I saw Alex [Martin] coming and I was like, ‘Man!’ I just kept riding and doing my own thing. My mechanic put plus 9, and the next lap it was plus 8, and I was pretty confident at that point. The next lap we were getting the two board, and it was like plus 6 or 7. He caught me a little bit, but it wasn’t like a big difference. It was good, and he put bring it home on the board so that’s what I did!
On the last lap, would you characterize yourself as normal, tight, or loose?
The first part of the last lap was okay. After about the S-turns, which is about halfway, I wasn’t really tight, I just kind of slowed down and made sure I did everything right. Then basically after coming back down and back toward the finish I knew I had it. I was so pumped at that point, I was screaming in my helmet. I wanted to do a fist pump over every single jump in the whoop section, but I didn’t have enough time to do that so I just did a fist pump over the finish line. My mechanic said that if I won the second moto I could blow my bike up, so I just held it wide open. The first moto he said don’t do that.
Didn’t Mitch [Payton] put up $500 today for fastest qualifier?
Yeah, I really wanted to get that. I had some lappers in my way on the last lap, and I don’t know if I would have been able to beat Cooper’s time. It didn’t really bother me, I knew I was fifth going in, and top five is where I need to be. I knew my speed was there, I just needed starts and that’s what I did.
How amazed were you to find out your 10-1 was good for second overall?
That was like, when I won the moto I didn’t really care where I was overall. After getting tenth in the first moto I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m getting inside the top five today.’ I was looking at probably seventh or eighth if I get another top ten. At the podium I was about to walk off and they were like, ‘No, you got second.’ I didn’t believe them. I was like, ‘They didn’t do their math right. There’s no way I got second overall with 10-1!’ I didn’t even believe it. That’s my best overall finish to the season, and I think it was really good to turn around that first moto and get a good finish in the second, especially before the break. I got my best finish of the season. I got kind of a gift with those guys getting tangled up, it definitely would have been harder to win with those guys all right there, but it happens and I won so it’s all good.
Have you ever been here before?
It was pretty good, I rode press day so I kind of got the layout dialed and stuff. It was definitely different than all the tracks I’ve ridden this season, they’ve all been deep and loamy or straight sand, like Southwick. This track was actually pretty similar to Hangtown, but Hangtown was the first round. I haven’t ridden a track like that since Hangtown. I had to adjust to it, but I feel like the other guys did, too. Since I got to ride it on press day, and it was tore up from the amateurs, I feel like I knew what the track was going to be like and I knew how it was going to get, and the second moto was definitely like that. It was pretty hard. There were some ruts, but at the end they just led into hard pack. To go fast through the ruts you just had to go easy on the way out so you didn’t get wheel spin. That was definitely key. I just had to calm down and ride it smooth.
Did you indeed blow the engine up after the second moto?
I did not blow the engine up. I held it for a good five or six seconds, but I was talking to my mechanic Olly [Oliver Stone] earlier and I was like, ‘How long could I hold it wide open before it blew up?’ He said, ‘Honestly, it would probably overheat before it actually blows up, so, two or three minutes.’ Well I wasn’t going to stand there with it wide open for two or three minutes!
What are your plans for the break?
Next week we’ll probably have the same schedule with riding. Actually I get to go drive some Ferraris on Monday, which I’m pretty pumped about. This kid I know, his parents have three Ferraris and a Porsche, so me and some of the guys at Robbie’s [Reyanrd], we’re going to go down there and drive some of his cars and have a fun day on Monday. I’ll ride Tuesday and get a good amount of riding in that week. The next week after that I have to go to Loretta’s midweek, so that’ll mess up the program a little bit. I’ll probably take that week as my recovery week, going to Loretta’s. I probably won’t get to ride much, but the week after that it’s back on the normal schedule.
After this win right now, how are you feeling? Pumped to have the break, or do you just want to get back on the bike and go racing?
I’m glad we have the break. I haven’t been home since way before the season started because I’ve been training. I want to go home and see my dogs and go to the skate park and just kind of hang out. I’m going to do that this weekend and maybe a little bit into next week before we have to go to Loretta’s. We’ll have fun and relax a little bit. -Hansel
Cooper Webb | Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha | 6-3 for third overall in 250MX
I didn’t put myself in a good position in that first moto, but I came back to third, which I was stoked on. Joey [Savatgy] and Alex [Martin] were riding really good that first moto so I was happy with that. Second moto I got a holeshot, then we got all tangled up and all three of us went down. It was a mad dash to get up and go for it and see how many positions we could get. I put my head down. The track was pretty sketchy, so it was tough to really push with the shadows and all that. I was pretty stoked to be able to come back up.
Can you go into a little more detail on the incident out there, from your perspective?
From my perspective I got a holeshot, which was sick, I don’t ever do that. We came down that hill and I felt like I had a pretty tight inside line and Joey came in pretty aggressive. I basically went off the track and he went way outside. Austin [Forkner] got around us and I was kind of… Whatever you want to call it. Whatever. It’s racing. Next corner he went to the middle in that left and I went inside and our lines met in that chicane and we hit. I got sketchy, and I don’t know what happened to him. I was just holding on trying not to fall and I felt a bump and I crashed. All I saw was bikes and people, and I was trying to get up. It was a mad dash. There were a couple guys down, I didn’t know who. All I knew was to get my bike and get going and do what we could do.
What were you guys saying to each other after the race?
He came up all mad, I don’t know why. I tried to keep my cool, I’ve had some run-ins before. I feel like I’ve matured a little bit and didn’t say what I really wanted to say, but you know, it is what it is. Just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I like that stuff, it fires me up.
You guys both ended up in the AMA truck after that. What was said?
They were just trying to calm us down. I feel like I was pretty calm about it, and he was definitely fired up. What for I don’t really know. Like I said, I see where he’s coming from, but at the same time I felt like his move was a bit unnecessary and it cost him and I the lead. I thought as crazy as it all was, it was pretty fun. To see all three of us down, it’s like, ‘Holy cow, let’s get going!’ I knew it was going to be a battle, and this track is hard to pass on so I knew we were going to be making some moves. Definitely a strange turn of events, but I think it definitely spiced up the race.
You’ve got a pretty big points lead. How do you find the balance between going for the championship and going for the win?
I feel like that’s what’s gotten me to where I am now so I’m just going to keep it up. I want to win every time I’m on the track, and whatever happens points wise is what happens. I haven’t really been thinking about that. Every time I race I want to get a moto win. I think I’ve matured a lot this year. Last year I wasn’t in the title hunt so I would just go for it every time no matter what and I crashed. This year I think I know my limits and I’m sure now probably if everything’s not right I might not go for it like that. But at the same time I have a good gap, it’s not like it’s a one or two point thing where you’re walking on eggs. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and try to win a few more races.
Do you feel like you dodged a bullet today with a 3-6 and you increased your lead?
I wouldn’t say dodged a bullet because those results aren’t that good. I’m on the podium, but after going one and two the past whatever, five races, that’s not what we want to do. With the circumstances that happened, I’d say it’s a good, solid recovery. I would have loved to have gone 1-1, but at the same time I could have done a lot worse. We’ll take it and use it as motivation.
If someone told you at the beginning of the year when you came in injured you’d have 51 points going into the break, what would you have said?
You’re crazy. -Hansel
Jeremy Martin| Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha | 4-17 for eleventh in 250MX
Racer X: First of all, are you okay? Looked like you got tagged in the back pretty badly.
Jeremy Martin: Yeah, I’ll be okay. I don’t know who it was or what even happened, it just felt like a big brute force, and I knew right away.
That it hurt?
Okay, let’s start at the beginning of the day. First moto.
First moto was okay. Obviously I would have liked to have won it, but considering how I felt coming into this weekend I was happy with the result. We were fighting, but I didn’t have it in me today to get to that next level. I felt like I did at Hangtown, low on energy. I had that feeling today and it was just a struggle. No excuses, this was the sixth race in a row, so I expected it. When you’re fighting an uphill battle to rebuild your health six in a row is going to be tough.
So last week you had what it took but did that drain you?
Yeah, that took a lot out of me. I cut everything in half this week to try to recover, but it wasn’t enough.
So after that big incident in moto two, it looked like you were hurt, did you get right back into the race or did you think you were going to be out?
No. I think there was a little bit too much testosterone at the front, and those guys were doing their thing. Unfortunately, I was just trying to do my own thing, I was on the outside of them trying to take an outside line, and I ended up getting caught up in it. I’d say I got the worst end of the stick, so at the end of the day those two can be frustrated with each other, but I’m the one that got the worst end of the stick. At the end of the day, it’s racing. I’m glad we have a break so we can heal up the body and recover. – Jason Weigandt
Weston Peick | Autotrader.com/Monster Energy/JGR Yamaha | 7-5 for fourth overall in 450MX
Racer X: You came in with an injured hand. Bad crash last week at Millville. We were talking before the day and you were like, I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes. So you’ve got to be happy with the day.
Weston Peick: It was definitely a good day. I didn’t know what to expect. Obviously last weekend was tough on me, really banged up and stuff. I came into this weekend pretty much having no goal for a position. Obviously there’s always a goal of top five but it was one of those things where we’ll see how it goes, how you feel, endurance…
Were you able to ride at all during the week?
No, I didn’t ride all week. I had trained two days on my road bike and stuff but it was more one of those things where you just got to run it and see how you feel. I’ve been training for a while so I didn’t lose my endurance. It was a good day. First moto was decent. I got a little slow off from the start and ended up picking up and got seventh. Second moto, tenth place start, worked my way up. Passed [Justin] Barcia for fourth.
Did he fall or did you just get him?
No, we had a battle. He passed [Dean] Wilson. I passed Wilson, then I passed Barcia.
Then you made up a pretty good gap to get him. That’s a good job.
Yeah, I had to get back up on him and made a good pass. Once I got on him he lit a fire under his ass and we started pushing, pushing as hard as we could. We got the two lap board, almost one lap around I stalled it in the damn turn. He got me, and then by that time I stalled it and there was no catching him.
Both of you were probably so angry.
Yeah, we were both angry. It is what it is. Good day. Fourth overall. It’s good to come out and get two weeks off and just kind of recoup.
How was the hand today? Did it hurt? Did you get a shot or something? It didn’t seem like it bothered you at all.
I didn’t get any shots. It’s more skin. It’s just sensitive versus anything. Nothing that you can’t manage, but I was thankful that it wasn’t worse than it was.
Even going back to your privateer days you were pretty good here. Good track for you. You’re obviously a SoCal guy but this isn’t a SoCal track, but you’ve always been good here.
It’s one of those tracks where it’s a fun environment, good people, good crowd. It’s a track I’ve always liked.
Phil got the holeshot first moto. Did you see that?
Yeah, I saw that. But he always gets the holeshot. I’m jealous. –Steve Matthes
Andrew Short | BTOSports.com-KTM-WPS | 6-7 for fifth overall in 450MX
Racer X: You went 6-7, 5th overall. Moser gave you a silly string farewell for him. I don’t know what you want to talk about first: the great riding or that farewell.
Andrew Short: Washougal was good to me this year. I feel like I’m definitely riding better but there’s an obvious void in the talent out there because of injuries.
Oh, stop it. There is, but you’re getting fifths now. You used to get twelfths. There’s only three guys missing.
Anyway, I had fun. The track was different this year. Not that rutted, really dry, not a lot of traction like usual. But it was fun. I always like coming here because my buddy Moser comes to this one. The scenery is one of the best tracks. Pookie’s here [Matthes’ wife]. Good day.
You’ve always done pretty well here, haven’t you? Even going back to 250 days. Always something that you’ve done well here.
Yeah, 2006 I went 1-1. I beat RV [Ryan Villopoto] that day and it was like his hometown race. So that was a big day for me. I don’t know if he crashed or if he had issues or whatever, but I don’t care. I’ve had some good memories here. Been on the podium a lot on the 450. Today that was my best ride of the year, so I’m pretty stoked.
Your starts are back more than anything. I don’t know if it’s a confidence thing. They’re so much better than they were.
Just confidence all around. My starts, on the track, battling. I think my fitness is at an all-time low right now. My diet hasn’t been too clean. I’ve just been enjoying life and having fun. But it’s clicking right now, so that’s cool.
Taking a moment to look around a little bit or no?
Yeah, for sure. I don’t want to stop racing but at the same time it’s time. Plus everyone always asks for stuff. It’s just obvious. So it’s just different. It’s a different mentality. But it is what it is. -Matthes
Benny Bloss | BTOSports.com-KTM-WPS | 5-9 for seventh overall in 450MX
Racer X: You’re really on a roll right now. You’re like good and stuff! Congrats.
Benny Bloss: Thank you. It was definitely, definitely a fun weekend. I had a little bit of struggles in the second moto crashing in the second corner but came back to ninth and just felt solid all day. I really, really like this track. My fitness I feel like played a good part in it. Very happy.
Have you been here before?
I have never been here before.
So another stellar rookie performance. Did Phil take you out?
Yeah, it’s debatable on how “take out” it was.
It was on purpose.
He just got a little sketchy and hit me.
But Phil’s the reason you crashed?
Phil is the reason I crashed, yes.
What’d you think of the track overall? Between the first and second moto quite a bit different, huh?
It definitely got pretty bad with shadows and stuff. I honestly thought it would be rougher and ruttier but I’d say it was more mentally beating than physically, but I really, really liked it. I felt like it was my style track and I liked it.
First moto was very good for you. Worked your way up again, setting fast lap times. About three-quarters of the way through the moto you were one of the faster guys on the track. Like you said about your fitness, it is coming around. It was impressive.
Yeah, definitely. I felt really, really strong, like I said. Just really working hard lately. It seems to be working out. Getting better starts. Everything seems to be coming together a little bit better.
Gonna get you on a 450 next year?
I don’t really care. 450, 250, I’m up for anything. –Matthes
Phil Nicoletti | Autotrader.com/Monster Energy/JGR Yamaha | 4-11 for eighth in 450MX
Racer X: Great day, but Roczen wouldn’t let you lead a lap, really?
Phil Nicoletti: What a prick, huh? I told him he’s making me look like a C rider out there. It was okay. It was awesome to get a holeshot and lead for a little bit. I focused so much on the start I forgot what was coming after the start, so that was good. It took me a little while to get into a rhythm, ended up fourth. Got a little gift. [Christophe] Pourcel weeded his brains out. But second moto got another good start, was about fourth. I think I hit [Marvin] Musquin or Barcia or somebody…
Did you start the crash?
No. I don’t know. Everyone was in a power slide and then someone just hit my front wheel and then I came across on a bunch of other guys and knocked them down too. So I came from dead last.
The first count I had of you was 29th through the first whoops.
I thought I was further back than that. It’s hard. This track sucked, it did. Just no place to pass. Just follow the leader, shadows. It was really, really hard on that part. 4-11, I don’t know what I’ll end up overall because the other guys were still pretty consistent that were up front. But it was good.
The track was so different from the first moto to second moto, wasn’t it? So much harder packed, drier, dusty almost.
Yeah, it’s totally different. We struggled a little bit with some setup stuff but Johnny [Oler, suspension man] went the right way. I think we went a little stiffer and slower on the forks trying to make it follow the bumps a little bit better. But it was good, just totally different. Blue groove, powder, the ruts weren’t really ruts. It sucked, honestly. -Matthes