The Conversation: Musquin, Davalos, Seely
Racer X: Marvin, obviously a couple motos where zero points were scored in the championship season. It looks like you have now moved in within four points of taking over second from Blake Baggett—stringing them together. Obviously, I think this is what a lot of people expected to see and probably what you expected to see most of your season, having those top-10 finishes. Would I be correct? Does it feel good to be back after the knee injury and everything sorted out?
Marvin Musquin: For sure. That’s the goal right now, to try to gain points. I want to say at least try to get second in the championship, but we’ll see what happens. When you see a day like today anything can happen. It turned out to be great for me and not great for others. It could have been bad for me too, but I was able to get good starts and stay on two wheels. The goal right now is just to take as much points as I can and see what happens. When we see the championship right now, I don’t want to look back at what happened at some of the motos, honestly. But that’s racing. It’s part of it.
When you’re in third right now and you’re chasing possibly your first championship, it’s probably human nature—did you get back to the semi and look to see where Eli Tomac is and start doing some math and how many points you can maybe make on him?
Musquin: Yeah, I did. Before today it was like 54 points, so that’s a lot of points. But one crash, I don't know. One mistake, one mechanical … anything can happen. That’s racing. Just got to do my best and see what happens. It’s going to be good. Two more rounds.
Martin, you’ve come on strong the last two rounds. Mentally was it something that switched? Is something you’ve done to the bike or just more prepared, feeling more comfortable on the 450? Talk us through these two successful weekends you’ve had over the last two.
Martin Davalos: I think for me it’s just been to get adjusted to the 450. It’s literally a different animal. Everybody knows I’ve been riding the 250 Class for a while. I’ve been wanting to do this for four years now. At the beginning of the season it was just a little bit of a struggle, to hang onto the bike physically. I think I was prepared, but I wasn’t prepared to hang onto this bike for 30 minutes. One thing is to practice it in Florida, and then to come to these tracks and to try and run the pace that these guys are putting out, it’s tough to control the bike. We changed a lot in the program throughout the year just to get me a little stronger. That’s basically what we’ve been doing. Just trying to get the starts on point. I struggled at the beginning of the season to get adjusted with that. I think confidence. This sport is about confidence. I think to run up front and just to be smart … I have a lot of respect for the bike. That for me is just a learning point. Super excited that I’m here for the second weekend. I’m learning a lot. Just to be behind Marv today and watch him and try and learn as much as I can. It’s been awesome.
Let’s talk about moto number two. Obviously, 20 minutes plus one lap, not a long time. That first lap, did you know that you had to attack aggressively? You were making some big moves in that first one. Did you feel like you were over-riding for yourself or did you know that’s what you had to do?
Davalos: I think I kind of was over-riding a little bit, but none of us took a parade lap, so we were taking a lot of chances. Marv was taking some lines and I was changing it up to try and see if it was better. Obviously some of them were good, some were not. I made a couple mistakes and just got behind him and knew I had to try to stick with him. I know he’s great in these conditions. I did my best to keep him close, but I also did my best to not let the guys behind catch me. It was an awesome moto. Thirty minutes would have been gnarly out there. The track was drying up and it was getting really sticky. The bikes were getting hot. It was awesome.
Cole, let’s talk about some great shining moments. We’ve seen you on the podium before, but more importantly, you made Team USA. Now that it’s out in the general public, does it feel different than when you were keeping the secret that you were a team member?
Cole Seely: No, not really. This industry’s so small everyone already knew. It’s a huge honor to me to be named for the MX1 class. I totally understand the guys that have turned it down before me, but I have never been there, so I’ve never experienced it. So, it has a lot of excitement for me. I think that’s something that we need. I think Zach [Osborne] also is very excited to go. I think the excitement is going to work in our favor for sure. But I think the race today, it was tough. It was super muddy. Being from California I don’t get a lot of that, but I just tried to ride smart and tried to avoid getting roosted as much as I could. It’s really hard. Once you built a gap or had a gap in front of you, even the lappers made it really difficult out there. A lot of tear-offs are going to be in the dirt now. A lot of thrown goggles I think too.
It might have been in Tennessee, but there was maybe a slight injury with you. Are you at 100 percent [healthy] and that’s why we’re seeing the shining moments now here?
Seely: Actually Hangtown. Hangtown I had a big get-off in the second practice and pulled a muscle in my leg again. That’s kind of what I was struggling with. Tennessee I hit my head pretty good.. I’m 100 percent now and I think you can kind of see in a lot of our riding styles who’s kind of over it right now at the end of the season. There are only two rounds to go. You can kind of get caught off-guard by that—I’m guilty of that for sure. Obviously us three are excited to get results and we’re still pushing forward. That’s kind of what’s carrying us through these last rounds.
Cole, with the announcement about the Motocross of Nations this morning, I know it just was announced today, but will you prepare differently for that race? Will you do the USGP or do you have any other things you might change?
Seely: No. I’m not doing the USGP. I’m actually going to Mexico for vacation. I plan on doing the same thing. I know how to train. I know how to put the work in for sure. I think the work that I have put in in the last three months especially is going to really carry into that. I don’t really know what to expect. I don’t know the format. I don’t know any of that stuff. I guess I’ve got a lot of research to do when I get home. I’m very excited for it. Every day I’m going to be there—I’m probably not going to sleep every night. It’s a huge honor.
You’ve been making progress, and I know some of your goals are to try to make progress here to even be better next year, even in supercross. So does having to keep training and hammering down and then racing another race here and there, does that going to help you overall as a rider besides how cool it is to be a part of that event?
Seely: Yeah, for sure. It adds motivation too during the week. Like I said before, you kind of see everybody’s kind of getting over it, wanting the season to be done. It’s a long year with the two seasons. As soon as I got the call it definitely put a little more pep in my step. I was excited to go back to the track and train and ride. It definitely adds more motivation. Everything’s kind of working in my favor for that kind of stuff. I’ve raced a lot this year, but at the same time, like I said before, I’ve never been there before so I’m really excited to go and really excited to be on the bike.
Did you have any hesitation when they called you? Did you have to think about it or were you ready to go?
Seely: No, I just asked them when the date was. I kind of needed to know. There is a lot with the Monster [Energy] Cup and I’m doing Bercy this year. I’ve never really done this much off-season racing. I’ve never done it, so whenever I retire I don’t want to have any regrets of not going to des Nations, not going to check out Paris or anything like that.
Marvin, are you starting to exceed your own expectations at this point? You have six moto wins in a row in the 450 Class. Did you expect to do this well?
Musquin: I’ve done good here in Unadilla so I was definitely excited. Not too excited when the first practice the track was really, really fast and I was trying super hard, but it was not really the way I had to do it. The speed was good, but everybody was fast today. Definitely … like I said, the goal was to do good here. Last year I did good, so I was excited. When you have those conditions after the first moto … the first moto I was leading so I didn’t really get rain, but the second moto it started the rain and going into those puddles. So, obviously you want to go out there and do good, but you don’t know what to expect. It’s crazy. Everybody wanted to get a holeshot. Those conditions were tough. But to go 1-1 again, I feel like Millville is a tough track, rutted. Washougal was more a hard pack track, and today it was super muddy, so I’m really happy to do good in three different conditions.
The first moto for a bit, it seemed like you were building a little lead over [Justin] Bogle then all of a sudden Blake Baggett was right there. Did you make a mistake or was it putting in a charge? How did that moto go?
Musquin: No, even when Bogle was second he catch me at one point. I went off the track once right before the Screw U. I was trying to pull away to get a gap and then control the race, but it didn’t work out. Blake was definitely on the charge. He was pushing behind. After the moto, the guys on the team, they were telling me he had crazy lines and going outside and left, right, and trying a lot of different lines and he was catching me going up that hill there, going over the step up. But my goal, when it started raining the goal is just trying to stay ahead of him because of vision and goggles. I knew being in front of him it would have been more difficult for him to pass me. I just keep my head down and tried to stay ahead of him and it worked out. I did see lightning during the same lap that they stopped us. I kind of knew they were going to stop the race. You’re never 100 percent sure, but I kind of knew they were going to do something.
I was talking to Blake earlier. He said it was a little awkward how the race finished. You come around and there’s people on the track or they’re waving….
Musquin: Actually, when I saw the replay on TV they actually put the red flag after the top 10 went by the finish line. So, we were on the track and they stopped other guys. Maybe the top 10 kept going. Then after the big, big table top I saw one of the red cross flag and so I knew. Obviously, when I looked back and Blake kept going and kept charging so I kind of wanted to tell him it’s going to be red flagged. But we kind of kept going. I kind of kept it ahead of him, but then I knew I saw the red flag. He was not too happy, but there was lightning and they stopped the race. That’s the rules.
What was the most difficult part about the mud out there today? Obviously, the low stuff has a lot of wet, it’s almost ponds down there.
Musquin: The first moto, the last few laps were actually pretty tough because all the water was in the ruts. It was flooded. The track was pretty dry at the beginning and then it got slowly more wet and wet. At one point it was like flooded. You’re so used to go to the rut at a certain speed and a certain technique. At one point you’re like, now I’ve got to back it off and slow down because it’s getting really, really wet and really sloppy. Then the second moto, some of the ruts were actually forming so it’s actually better that way where you can put your wheels in the rut instead of sliding everywhere. Like Martin said, if it would have been 30 minutes the track would have got very, very rough. Some of the main lines—there was basically one or two main lines, and they started to get very, very deep and bumpy. It would have been tough. We could have kept going obviously, but it would have been tough. So, I was glad when I saw the white flag. I was pretty happy.
You talked about every moto counts. You have to worry about DNFs or crashes or anything else. Occasionally you’ll see fans asking, maybe there should be a throwaway round or you throw away your worst score. What do you guys think?
Musquin: It actually reminds me, they used to do that in France when I was racing 85s. I don't know. Rules are rules. Maybe right now I wish, but if I was in Eli’s position maybe he doesn’t have a DNF or maybe I don't know. Either him or me would have preferred those kind of rules or not, so that’s the way it is.
Can you guys just describe what you were doing going the break? Were you getting ready to ride and then you found out you had more time? Just describe that. I think it was two and a half hours overall longer than it should have been. So, what was going on for you guys during that?
Seely: I think we were all kind of just scratching our heads. I actually went over to the AMA because… luckily we didn’t take a vote, but I suggested we take a vote for maybe the top 20, top 40 guys just to see who wants to go out and risk it. Not because of the mud—I don’t think it’s definitely not a good thing to call a race because of the mud, but because of the lightning. I was sitting on the line next to Marvin and we were freaking out about the lightning. You can see it in the distance. You can hear it. You don’t know how far off it is. That kind of stuff scares me. I think being in Florida now, you kind of learn that stuff comes up on you quick. I was just worried more about the lightning, not about doing a mud moto.
Musquin: Well, it was a long day. We were definitely not used to hanging out after the first moto. We just try to get ready for the second moto as fast as we can. Today was just waiting and waiting on the dates, waiting to know when they’re going to start the 250 race and our race. More rain was coming and then it stopped, and then more again. On the starting line actually more lightning was out there and more thunder. I guess it kind of went away and it was fine for the second moto, but it was definitely a weird day, and shorter motos too. Those conditions are sometimes not very difficult because … I mean you’re trying to stay on two wheels. At the beginning of the second moto, I actually felt pretty slow because I didn’t want to crash. That’s all. And then I get more confident and then my speed was better, but definitely a different day.
Davalos: For me, our team, we joke around in our rig a lot. When I seen Zach come back I was like, what happened? You guys were loaded and ready to go. He’s like, there’s more rain coming. I didn’t know there was more rain coming. I thought all that rain that we had was it, because we had a lot. Just trying to stay warm actually. In Florida it’s been just absurd hot. It’s been so hot. This past week it was definitely challenging to stay hydrated and keep up with the 30-minute motos. Today it was so nice to come up here and think about wearing a sweatshirt. It was awesome. It was a good day, a long day, but happy to be safe.
You had two podiums in a row, but what’s this run like for you, to be doing this well right now? How good does this feel?
Davalos: I feel great. I’m just mostly proud of myself. This was a last-minute thing for us, for the team. I’ve been wanting to do it for so long. Just very blessed to be up here and just battling with the best. That’s all I’ve been dreaming of my whole career, to be on the 450 and to do my best, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m happy to be healthy. I’m happy to come every single weekend and just give my best. To see these results, during the week it’s very challenging and tough. We have long days, hot days sweating and sandy and everything else and when you have these results it’s definitely paying off. It doesn’t bother me to wake up really early to do my cycles and to train harder. I’m lucky to be here and hopefully to just keep pushing. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I just want to keep doing what I’ve been doing since round one.