Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy picked up his first win of 2018 last night at round three of Monster Energy Supercross in Anaheim. Behind 1-3-1 finishes in the new Triple Crown format, Savatgy finished ahead of TLD/Red Bull KTM’s Shane McElrath and GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig. With his win, Savatgy is the new points leader, as he holds the tie-breaker over McElrath.
McElrath, who won the season opener at Anaheim, took second with 5-1-4 finishes. Despite an ankle injury sustained prior to round two in Houston, Craig was strong all night, going 2-3-5 to take third overall.
All three riders spoke with the media after the race.
Racer X: Christian, you had a very consistent night. Probably the best you’ve looked so far this season. In your interview on the podium, you didn’t seem that happy. Can you elaborate on that?
Christian Craig: Yeah, I’m not happy. The past two weekends have been… I’m not going to complain about fifth, but with the off-season that I had, I was just so confident coming into this season, and to get fifth, I was pretty bummed. Third is good and something to build on, but obviously I want to be where Joey is and winning. I still have a lot to go. I need to make something click here.
Shane, congratulations on the night. In main event one, got pretty aggressive in that first corner. Tried to make a move and ultimately went down. Was that a case of pushing it too hard, or just a simple washout?
Shane McElrath: Just a little bit of both. The three-race format is ultimately three sprints. It was a lot of fun today, but everybody was also going really fast. You really had to be aggressive. I just got a little impatient there and it cost me.
Joey, congratulations. Tonight, a lot of the topic of conversation was how important the start would be, even more than a normal event. You seemed to have that figured out tonight. What was it about your starts tonight, being able to click off three good ones?
Joey Savatgy: We struggled a little bit at the first round with starts, then last weekend we got the holeshot in the main event. Obviously, we had three good starts tonight. Obviously, coming in, you want to get a good start every weekend, but when the races are shorter… Six minutes plus one is normally a heat race for us, and yeah, it’s cool to win the heat race for a good gate pick, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. That’s where I think tonight everything had a little bit more weight to it, just because, number one, it’s new, and number two, it’s shorter than the normal distance. So, those good starts helped us out a lot tonight. For the most part, we had clean air. That’s always helpful.
Speak to the intensity of a three-main event format and just kind of the fatigue factor that kind of rolls through that. Did you find that that was mounting towards the end of the night as far as just the fact that every lap counted for quite a bit?
McElrath: Like Joey said, there was a lot of pressure, even on the first six minutes plus one. Everybody’s fast, and I thought the track was a really good racetrack this weekend. I thought the track crew did a good job this weekend. I felt like everything was in control. I would rather see an easier section than people crash. I thought the track was a good racetrack. It was really intense. Everybody was going fast. The shorter distances, I think a lot of people got a lot of confidence from it. It was really intense. Everybody was pushing until the very end. It’s really hard to make passes, and Joey did it the best way he could. Like I said, it was a blast racing today. That’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a race. I think that will be something to look forward to in the future.
Savatgy: I think we’re all in good shape. I don’t think the fatigue necessarily played a factor in anything. The only thing that I struggled with was they were fixing parts of the track and they weren’t fixing other parts. So, we’d come around and there’s nothing there, then we’d fall into a rut that’s pretty choppy and has been there for the night. That was the only thing that I really struggled with, was just they were fixing certain areas of the track. It’s that heat race slippery. It’s hard to explain, but just got that loose soil on top. Then we come around other parts where there’s ruts and it’s choppy. So, it’s a little bit of both. But for me the fatigue wasn’t really… I don’t think that played a factor into it.
Craig: To start off, the track, the sections were pretty basic. I saw some pictures last night and the whoops look big, and then we go on track walk and they were cut in half. I think a lot of people know that my strong part is whoops. It’s fine. I made it work. It’s just little stuff like that to separate. I feel like the times were so close, which that’s good racing. I feel like just needs to be little things to separate and stuff like that. As far as the three main events, it was fun. I didn’t feel like it was a main event until that last race. The first one felt just like a heat race. The second one, just whatever. Then the third one, that’s when it all kind of set in. It felt like a main event. Even the battles, like with Shane on the last lap, when he ran it in on me, it was like a full just brawl out there. It was fun, though. Just to go out there three times and battle with these guys.
Christian, they kept showing your heart rate up on the big screen and it was 208. Is that something you normally hit in practice? Can you train at 208? That seems really high.
Craig: When they asked me about this I told them, I was like, “Hey, heads up, you’re probably going to be like, are you okay? Is your heart rate okay?” I’m like, “Hey, just a heads up, it’s going to be over 200 probably most of the day.” I don’t know what it is. I’m in shape. I’m strong. I’m confident. It’s just always high. When I train with Chase, he’s at like 140 and I’m sitting at 200. We’re both in the same thing. Everybody’s different. It’s whatever. I thought it was cool for them to bring it up. They were obviously pretty excited about it because they kept bringing it up. It shows that you’re pushing out there. To be over 200 is tough. I’m right at my max the whole time. It’s cool.
Joey, this is your first supercross win, and as you mentioned on the podium, since Vegas, which was a disappointment. Just talk about getting all the way back to the top like this, and really now being in championship contention again.
Savatgy: Yeah, it was good. We haven't actually won a main event since the first round last year. So, it’s definitely been a while, but at the end of the day, it’s been a long road, absolutely. Things didn’t end ideally, but not everything always goes according to plan. We fought back, and we’ve been digging deep and had a good off-season and put in a lot of work. So, for me it’s almost like a little bit of a monkey off my back. It’s just been so long. We won some outdoors, but it’s different. To get it out of the way is nice. It definitely was a big relief.
Christian, what’s the status on the ankle? Is it a higher ankle sprain or a low ankle sprain? Was it kind of a basketball sprain, or was it more severe?
Craig: It was more dirt bike sprain. I wasn’t playing basketball. I over-jumped a triple and literally my ankle just folded. I don’t even know what happened. I didn’t crash. It’s out of the way. That was last week. It’s a little sore here and there, but nothing to get in the way. I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. We’re good.
Joey, Shane, going into next week, you guys are tied equally in points. I don’t think either of you have had that exact situation, so how does that feel for you to be neck-and-neck this early in the season?
Savatgy: I had it with Cooper, Arizona maybe. I don’t remember. It’s always I guess exciting. It’s not often that there’s two red plates, but for me, I treat it the same. Come in and have an open mind. Try to learn the track and find a flow. I think that’s the biggest thing. If you can find a flow early on in the night, I think it puts you in a good position.
McElrath: Just like Joey said, we’ve learned a lot over the last year. We’re ready to battle till Vegas and the championship. I’m excited for it. Like I said, we learned a lot over last year, having the red plate. We’ve had a good off-season. We’re learning every race. We’re feeling good on the bike. I think that’s the most important thing, because when you feel good, there’s really nothing that can beat you down. Even tonight with a second, I don’t think I’ve ever been so pumped on a second. I just had so much fun on the bike today and doing three races and battling with everybody, I just had a blast. That’s the goal every weekend, to race my heart out and to race these guys hard.
Three races and three winners so far. Talk about the competitiveness of this class. What’s it going to take to jump out front here?
Savatgy: It sounds dumb but being consistent. You got to be there every weekend. I think today, with the exception of Shane, the top six I think were within three-tenths, four-tenths. It’s very competitive. It’s going to take being there night-in and night-out. On a bad night, still being on the podium is going to be crucial. That’s really what we got to work towards.
McElrath: I agree with Joey. Just like tonight, Joey was consistent throughout the night. He won by six points, I believe. It’s going to be fun and we all like to win, but I’m pretty sure we all hate to lose more. It’s going to be a deep fight, and to be consistent is the most important thing, because just one slip up can lose you ten points, and that’s hard to make up over just a short West Coast series. I think it’s going to be a blast.
Craig: These two got a win, so I think it’s my turn next week. We’re going to Glendale, which I got my first win there. I’m excited. The class is wide open. Obviously, there’s a bunch of dudes that are flying right now. A lot of them, obviously, are on the podium. But you just never know. The class is wide open. You literally have to bring it every Saturday night and just hang it out and hope for the best.
For all three of you, do you prefer this new format to the traditional format? Or is it just kind of nice shaking it up and doing something new?
McElrath: I thought it was a good test run. I thought that it was cool just coming in. You come to race Anaheim and you don’t really know how the day is going to go. You’re just kind of up in the air about everything, which in my eyes is perfectly fine. You’re not really overthinking anything because you have no idea. Like I said, I thought it was fun. You line up for three different races and you’re racing the same guys. It is tough because consistency is key in that, but at the same time, we’re still racing everybody out there every single time. It’s just quick sprints, but I thought it was a good trial run for kind of being in the middle of these first six rounds.
Savatgy: For me personally, I didn’t mind it. It’s definitely chaotic. I think as one of these guys mentioned earlier, everyone’s going for it, especially in those first two. It’s a short enough distance where you can pretty much hang it out the whole time. But for me, I struggled in that second main quite a bit and Shane got away. It’s nice to be able to come back and reevaluate and see where you were slow or where you were struggling and fix that. So, to me, that was cool. There’s always those nights where at the end of the race, you watch the race and you’re like, “Man, I wish I would have changed that.” The fact that we get that opportunity to kind of go over out rundown real quick and figure that out and go back out and fix it is cool. But like Shane said, the track was a good racetrack. It kept everyone tight and the racing was in one word chaotic.
Craig: I didn’t mind the three mains. I think everybody that podiumed tonight is going to be okay with it. But then you’re going to get some guys that didn’t like it either, but that’s with everything. I think it was pretty cool. It felt like the Monster Cup to me, even if the times were different, the mains and all that. After racing Monster Cup a couple of times, it felt similar to that. So, it didn’t feel out of place or anything for me. Every time I line up, I’m there to race.