Ryan Villopoto's back? Cooper Webb on a 450? Justin Brayton is the new Australian SX Champ? Yeah, lots of stories there, but that just makes it fitting to see Chad Reed come out and rip it, going 1-1 on two nights at the AUS-X Open to capture the weekend overall. Reed just thrives the moment the spotlight shines elsewhere, or whenever he's counted out. This one resulted in huge cheers from the Australian faithful. What's more, we can expect to keep talking about Reed's age for quite some time, because he mentioned that he'd like to keep on riding possibly all the way through 2019.
He spoke with Alex Gobert of MotoOnline.com.au after his triumph.
Racer X: Chad Reed, 2016 AUS-X Open, you got the double this weekend—must be absolutely pumped with that.
Chad Reed: Yeah, stoked on that. I fell short last year and they added a little flavour this year, they did the AUS vs USA race, and the sand in the tunnel. It’s kind of a combination of more races and important races that you want to win, you don’t want the USA to beat you when you’re in your hometown. For me, there was a lot of pressure this weekend, but I felt like I was really prepared to do battle. [Justin] Brayton rode awesome, I think he’s a very deserving Aussie supercross champ. It’s funny, around a week ago when they announced the gambling odds and I saw him down the list, I was like, man, these people don’t understand how good he is. The fact that he’s been racing the last four weekends, or whatever it is, he’s got his bike pretty much tweaked to Aussie-style tracks. I was expecting to come here and him be a huge part of the show and I think that proved to be true. But overall, really happy with the weekend and the double, tonight was difficult in the fact that the track was tough. We had a technical issue with a set of pants and that was really distracting, but I was able to try and shut it out as best I could and pull it off.
It looked like the difference this year was that for 2017 you have a job, whereas last year you were sort of in limbo. It seemed like you had that added element of focus this weekend, and obviously Goose [Mike Gosselaar] is here and, as good of fun this is, it’s all about working towards Anaheim as well.
Yeah I mean, if people only knew how off the couch we were last year when I came here. I feel when I come here, whether you’re prepared 100 percent or less than prepared, you come here to put on a show. Last year I felt that I was probably a good 20 to 30 pounds heavier than what I am now and not even close to being in the shape I’m at today. And you know, the result really wasn’t drastically different [last year Reed went 1-2 and was just edged for the overall by Cooper Webb's 2-1], I think my riding was better and my bike and preparation. But like you said, having a job and knowing that I was coming here months and months ago, it just allowed me to kind of set out my off-season and use this race as a tool and roll out. Bringing Goose and sending out complete race bike from the States and all of those little things, that’s what adds up. I want to be good at Anaheim and this is the best that I could do to prepare for Anaheim.
Aside from the main events and the heat races, there was obviously the Australia vs USA and the Superpole as well. It looked like you were really working on improving yourself, making yourself better, during those parts of the show. That was a really good race with Brayton as well, especially the Aussie fans loved it.
Yeah, I think if I’m leaving here and finding things that I feel like I need to work on, one thing I really need to work on is that one-lap, all out, balls to the wall speed. I think that Superpole last night and tonight was a complete disaster for me, I just didn’t get the most out of my lap. Even in the practices, I want to say the first practice, which was a free practice, I was fast this morning, but you know, I was second in the next one, so it wasn’t like I was at the top of the board for those one-lap sprints. That is something that I haven’t been working on, my focus is not there, my focus is about going fast and being able to sustain that speed—that’s where we’re at in the program right now. So there’s some things to work on because you have to qualify good, there’s the addition of the semis back in the States now and you never want to go to a semi. You want to be in the top four and transfer directly out of the heat to give you a good top-eight pick of the main event.
What were your thoughts on the track this year? Night one versus today, it was actually quite a bit different, and a little bit of a different layout to last year.
The layout and the track were really challenging. It’s hard to say if it’s better or worse, I think racing wise, it was maybe better last year. I think if I were to criticize anything—and I would use it as constructive criticism—I think that they should leave the sand manly [laughs] and just have a normal situation out there and allow that to happen. The finish line maybe has a better place where it was last year, so maybe we can implement that if there’s a third event, but who knows, you never know these things. But I think that the second time around is always so difficult, things pop up that never popped up in year one and the expectation is there, so you have to achieve a certain goal otherwise you feel like you’re falling short. So yeah, I think overall, I’m really proud of what AUS-X Open achieved over the weekend and I’m just proud to be a part of it.
Something you mentioned a couple of times across the weekend, which will make headlines, is that during 2017 you would like to extend [your Yamaha contract] for another two years. Is that obviously the goal?
That’s the goal. There’s no discussion happening within my circle of trustees and with Ellie and I. It’s not about saying "Hey, this is when I’m going to retire", the focus is trying to live in the now and achieve the goals early on in 2017 that will put me in the position to go on and hopefully extend my relationship with Yamaha two more years as a rider. But yeah, I mean I’m sure that it’s not going to be easy, but I’m up for the challenge.
Having Ryan Villopoto here, a new element to the show this year, how did you find that?
Yeah I mean, obviously you know, the Ryan that we got [this weekend] was not four-consecutive supercross championships Ryan, but watching Ryan, riding around Ryan, it brings back good memories. The guy’s only 28 years old and for me in some cases it’s really sad to see a guy with so much talent and ability on a motorcycle so willing to be just okay with not doing anything. That’s something that I can’t comprehend, but obviously everybody and each individual is different and you have to respect that. But yeah man, massive respect for his talent and obviously the guy can still throw down. He got a holeshot tonight and lead three or four laps, you could tell he didn’t have 20 in him, but for me tonight when he was leading and I was behind him, the goal was to pounce when I could. I needed to pass him really fast, because again, kind of what I said earlier, the sand was just impossible. Coming into the sand and exiting the sand, no matter if you were first or last, anytime you were following somebody it was just so hard to maintain speed.
That quad in the rhythm before the tunnel, that was pretty impressive for a retired guy [Villopoto] on his Superpole lap!
Yeah I mean, it’s probably the third thing I’m most disappointed about with myself. I knew I had that on Saturday and I’m disappointed I didn’t do it then in the main event, because through the main event I easily had it and I don’t know why I didn’t pull the trigger. Throughout the day it was kind of something that you think about, but you’ve got the big picture in mind. On my Superpole lap I had all intentions of going for it, but I didn’t get the pop that I needed out of the first three. I think that more than anything, I was just racing hard out of the turn and expected to get a little more pop than I did and yeah, I just pretty much made a mess of the lap.
Well you got the most important wins anyway and, on behalf of Australia, thanks for coming back—it was an awesome weekend.
Cheers mate, thanks I appreciate it. As always, it’s a busy and difficult weekend, but it’s so rewarding to come here and feel the energy of the Aussie fans.