Eli Tomac | Monster Energy Kawasaki | 3-3 for third overall in 450MX
Racer X: The overall is a good result but it was definitely a struggle. Looked like you had to work really hard today. Tell us about it.
Eli Tomac: Yeah, it was a long day for sure. First moto I was a little bit of a ways back from the start. Made my way up to Marvin [Musquin] and did some good battling. Ended up getting by him and making a goofy mistake about halfway around the track and dumped it over and he got back by me. Just did a charge back to the front. Charging back to him and was able to get around him. It was a tough track. The lines and ruts were changing every lap. They were deep. It was tough to keep your feet on the pegs. It was a tough day. Just wasn’t there at the start with Justin [Barcia] and Ken [Roczen] to get out front and really be in there. So I was kind of just struggling most of the time.
How would you rate you and your team and how you guys came together, if you had to give yourself a grade? How do you think this season ended up for you overall?
I don’t know what you’d grade it. An A would be first, so we did get second but I felt we could have been at least closer in some other races and fighting for legitimate wins instead of second places. So I don’t want to grade it, but there’s definitely room for improvement.
What’s your off-season look like? I know you have the two GPs. Do you have anything after that?
Two GPs, a little bit of time off and then just back to supercross before Monster Cup. Only off-season race would be Monster Cup.
The same thing I asked Justin, is it getting too long? What are your thoughts on all these extra races that we have?
I think if I had just done our normal American series with 17 rounds of supercross and 12 rounds of motocross, I would have went to des Nations but I have to race GPs and I’m not just going to put myself through the meat grinder from January through October and not have any time off and just go right back to the supercross track. So it gets pretty long if you add in all those events.
Was that a tough decision [not racing des Nations] for you?
It was. I’ve been over there twice and I haven’t won, so it’s something I still want to check off my list. But I guess we have other priorities right now.
You mentioned you want a little bit of a break. How tough is it to have to be open to doing a couple more outdoors whenever you could possibly take that break early and maybe get an early jump on supercross testing?
There’s really not much time off. It’s not like we’re car racing or… I don’t even know what you’d compare it to. We’re riding three times during the week and then we race on the weekends and then flying home between all that. There’s only so many weekends off. So it’s a pretty long schedule. Yes, we’re fit to do it, but everyone’s giving it some time.
Last year you came into the supercross series coming of your shoulder surgery. But with you finishing off the motocross season strong and you’re healthy, it seems like you should be able to hopefully good testing and come in strong to A1.
Yeah, that will actually be good for us. Last year I didn’t get on the motorcycle until after Monster Cup. So we were behind the ball for sure. Hopefully this year it will be kind of a fresh year once we get there and be more prepared.
What’s on the to-do list to do between now and A1? What do you want to work on? What do you want to improve on?
Yeah, just improve on comfort with myself and my motorcycle. Right now I just don’t feel like I’m the guy I should be.
Aaron Plessinger | Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha | 8-1 for second overall in 250MX
Moto number one I didn’t get off to the greatest start. I just struggled from lap one and didn’t get a flow. I was not smooth in my corners, not smooth anywhere. I came to eighth and I was pretty happy considering what I was riding like. Just came into moto two with nothing to lose. I just put my head down and got the jump on the gate. I’ve never got a motocross holeshot before so it was pretty cool. It was sweet leading the first lap. I just put my head down and charged really hard and made a mistake before the finish line and he [Austin Forkner] obviously got around me. We had an awesome battle. And then he tipped over and I took the lead. I think he was battling with Cooper [Webb] for a while. I just rode my own race and kind of celebrated on the last lap.
Is ghost riding now a team thing?
[Laughs] I don’t know. I just like it. I was so pumped I just didn’t know what to do, so I just let go of my bike.
It was almost like you just forgot your bike was there for a second and just wanted to celebrate.
[Laughs] Yeah, for sure.
I think it’s three career wins all in the state of Indiana. What’s the deal? Is there something special about it?
I don’t know. I’ve always liked Indiana and I’ll continue to like it. I got my first win here last year and then I got my first supercross win in Indianapolis, then a win here. Just rode better and better and better each year.
Did you do anything special to regroup after that eighth? What made the difference between the two motos?
I just went back to the truck and just chilled out. I didn’t dwell on it too long. I just picked myself up and kind of had fun. I was just talking with people and getting in the right mindset going into the second moto.
Talk about the track a little bit. It looked way different between the first moto and the second moto. Did it help you?
The first moto they kind of scraped all the sawdust off of it. It was pretty deep. I guess they didn’t rip it in the morning so it was kind of hard underneath. It was all right the first moto. Then the second moto I kind of liked it but there was just not really many lines. It was kind of like a GNCC. Every line you would come around and the next lap it’d be blown out. I liked it in some places and I didn’t like it in others.
A little bit of an up and down season for you. Do you consider is a success? How would you say your season went?
Good, all right, great.
What does your off-season look like? Any races for you or is it just testing? Are you going to take a break?
I might go to Japan. That’s about it for racing.
On the second moto did you make any bike changes or was it just the start that really helped you out in the second moto?
I actually went back and stiffened my forks up a little bit, so that helped a lot.
I didn’t see it, but did you break out in a dance again after this one?
[Laughs] Yeah, for sure. They were playing some good music so I had to start dancing.
Whenever you guys were coming out after the finish line it looked like you kind of, I wouldn’t really call it a triple, where you were landing down the bottom. I saw you were one of the guys that kind of switched it up and came up almost like a double on it. Was that because they just get so soft down there?
Yeah, it was kind of sketchy all day. You were just landing in deep, deep wet sawdust. It was sketchy. So when you landed it would like throw you forward and you’re landing in seven different ruts. So it was kind of sketchy. Backed it off a little bit.
I think that was right where Austin crashed. After you saw that were you like, no more of this.
I definitely put it on cruise mode. He worked me pretty good. He was riding awesome. I was pretty surprised [he crashed]. I knew that that particular spot was getting pretty sketchy so we were going to change up lines a little bit and didn’t hit it as hard. That place was sketchy all day. I was definitely surprised.
Where do you think the track was tougher—last year or today?
There were definitely places that were gnarlier last year, but there were definitely places that were gnarlier on the track this year. So it kind of equaled out.
Cooper Webb | Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha | 5-2 for third overall in 250MX
Moto one was looking good. I had a good start. After the uphill double, I went inside and kind of got stuck in a rut, fell over, couldn’t get my bike out. Went back pretty far back. So that was kind of unfortunate. Made some passes, got my way up to fourth right on Alex [Martin]. Trying to get around him and crashed again. Unfortunately I had some crashes in that first one and ended up fifth. The second moto I had a pretty good start, was going good, AP and Austin were right there and it looked like it was going to be a pretty epic battle but I ended up going down. It was a little bit of an up and down day. I was stoked to be on the podium but a little bummed to be on the ground today.
Can you take us through that crash in the first moto, the second one?
Yeah, I was just tired of following. I feel like I had a better pace and the track was just one line. You couldn’t pass anybody. So just kind of got a little frustrated and tried to make a move that probably wasn’t really doable and ended up going down. So it was a bit of a bummer. Kind of just impatient move by me, but I was out of tear-offs and kind of ready to get up and get into second. I felt like my pace was better than those guys but if you’re out of the main line there was no passing. Just more of a frustrating fall.
How did the track differ between the first moto and the second moto?
It was quite a bit different. The first moto was really one-lined and tough to make passes. It did dry out quite a bit the second moto but it was just a lot different than it obviously was last year. Just a lot of weird soft spots. Overall it was pretty hard to pass today. I think everybody had pretty much the one line we were all doing all the same. The track was gnarly but at the same time we’re all doing the same thing. It was pretty hard to gain time. It was gnarly, don’t get me wrong. But it was a weird kind of track.
You already had the championship wrapped up. What motivated you today? You looked like you were still pushing. You went down I think three times, but were still going for it.
I was obviously still pushing there. It was a pressure-free race for me. I wanted to try to win. For me I wanted to try to win but unfortunately had a day full of crashes. It is what it is. I felt like I rode well all day. So like I said, just a little frustrated with all the crashes. But to be on the podium, I was only off the podium once this year so that’s obviously a really cool stat. It’s nice to be up there every weekend. It is what it is. We’ll take it going to Charlotte. At the end of the day that was our goal, the championship. Obviously we were able to wrap it up a round early which made it nice. But I had some pressure on myself just to go out there and try to end on top. But we’re still on the podium.
I know you got a busy next month or so, but between the 250 and the 450 what’s your schedule look like as far as riding the 250 and the 450 and just in general?
It’ll be a little weird. This week, that’s all I rode was the 450. I was in California all week testing. It was a little bit of a change to come back. I actually wanted to race the 450 this weekend but we couldn’t get it here and all that good stuff. I would have had to have Team Yamaha all here and all that. So logistics-wise it didn’t really make sense. I wanted to race it at Charlotte but you have to pick the class you’re racing there two weeks before the event. So it was one of those things that if everything ended up, if I were able to get it done at Budds then I wanted to be 450 full-time, but just with the way everything went, I’ll probably ride the 250 next week just to get a little bit more comfortable on it. I really, really want to do good at Charlotte. Try to get better this week and get back to the 250 and then after Charlotte completely be done [on the 250}. I’ve been riding a stock 450 here and there back home but I rode the 450 like three times this last week and I’m already really comfortable on it. So that’s why I was actually really wanting to race it. But obviously there’s next year and des Nations.
Talk about next week. Going home. You against Herlings has been built up. And then just racing a GP.
I’m really excited for it. For me it’s a home race, which is pretty sweet. I feel like the fans in the Southeast are one of a kind. To have it at Charlotte Motor Speedway is pretty legendary. Who knows how the track will be. Obviously with man-made tracks it’s really hard to tell. I think it’s hard to say. Everybody wants to see the Euros versus the Americans. Usually that only happens at des Nations. So to be able to do a race before des Nations when for me I’ll be on my 250, Jeffrey will be on his 250. We’re both going to 450s for des Nations. He’s coming back from injury and whatnot but I think it’ll be a pretty cool thing for the fans. I think it’s going to be America versus Europe, where here it’s more of an individual battle. You’re going to be battling everybody but I think as Americans we’re all going to go there and have that pride. As Americans I think we are going to want to do good.
You get to pick a permanent number now. What numbers are you looking at? What goes into the thought process on deciding on a number like that?
It’s tough. I still haven’t decided. It’s definitely a tough one. Two is a pretty legendary number, but I think those guys [Jeremy McGrath and Ryan Villopoto] are really known for that number. Eight, it doesn’t really have much meaning to me but the one thing I do like about it is [Damon] Bradshaw ran it. Nine is actually my first ever number. So there’s definitely a lot to think about. Obviously 2, if I could be anything like those guys it would be pretty special to be in that same category. And then obviously I like 17 too. It’s always been a really good number for me. There’s a lot of decisions that go into it but I’m sure I’ll make a pros and cons list and figure it out.
When you look at the 250 trophy there’s some pretty legendary riders on there. The two might not be bad.
Yeah, exactly. I think if I could have nearly as much success as they’ve had then it would be looking pretty dialed in. I think there is pressure to come with that number but I like pressure. We’ll see.