Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen (1-2 for first overall), Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac (4-1 for second overall), and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson (2-5 for third overall) spoke to the media following the first round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at the Hangtown Motocross Classic. Here’s what they had to say following the race.
Ken, how does it feel to pick up another overall win to kick off the year?
Roczen: Crazy. It’s been a very, very long time. Just overall the whole day was good. I just went out there, and it’s really difficult at the first race what to expect and where everybody’s at. Every time I went out there I just did the best I could. It got us an overall, so I’m very happy, especially with how muddy and how sloppy it was. It could go the other way too…
Eli, today you had two kind of completely different motos. Take us through them both, please.
Tomac: That’s the way they were. The first one was disappointing. I was just kind of off the pace and made a good charge up to the halfway point there. Then kind of shot off the back in that first moto. Made a few changes but at the same time it was obviously with the track conditions in moto two, it took a little while to get going. Side-saddled the bike once or twice. Got a little wild, but overall it was a fun ride in that second moto.
Jason, you had the supercross title, a couple of injuries, been sidelined. You come back on a day when Mother Nature throws everything in her playbook at you. How did you take your return to outdoor motocross racing?
Anderson: The first moto was pretty good. I was up front, but I was kind of just getting my race legs under me. I was able to make a charge at the end which was really good. The second moto I was so sketchy out there, almost crashing. All in all it was a good day and I’m just pumped to be back at the races.
Eli, talk about that pass in the second moto. That may have been the slowest pass for the lead I think everyone’s seen. That was a nasty, rutty section.
Tomac: Yeah. That side of the track was the toughest part. It was easy to lose a lot of time there. I got jacked up there too. It was that spot and the off-camber, there were a couple spots that you had to really pay attention.
Kenny, the first lap of the first moto, and early second moto too but especially the first moto, you were really going quick trying to get to the front. Did you just feel that was your natural pace, or were you really desperate to just get to the number one spot quickly?
Roczen: I don’t want to [lose] my position and the roost hurting, but kind of similar to 2016 just racing instinct when you’re comfortable. It came natural to me, which was good. Being somewhat up front and making a pass for the lead and having a clear track, that’s what makes racing kind of fun. Just going out there and having fun. After the race I don’t remember it really exactly until you actually watch it or people talk about it or whatever. Everything happens so quickly when you’re on the bike.
You said after the first moto that you did feel like you actually could get more comfortable if you had more in the tank. So did you almost surprise yourself with the result considering you’re maybe not exactly where you want to be yet early in the season?
Roczen: Yeah, a little bit for sure. It’s the first race and it’s always a little bit of, I wouldn’t say gamble, but you come here and you practice, whatever you think you’re going to come here and everything goes, I wouldn’t say sideways, but things are just not like the way you want to. So you can always improve, but at the same time you don’t want to go too crazy and flip things upside-down so much.
Jason, just take us through the whole supercross and coming back from injury and what you’ve had to go through the last couple months, how the injury recovery has gone.
Anderson: Obviously I got hurt but the biggest thing I’ve been waiting on is my arm. I broke my arm and then I ended up having to get another surgery a month and a half after, so it took me a good two and a half months to even start riding. So that was the longest thing, and then obviously getting back into riding. I took two months off. Just blisters, getting sore, everything. Riding is just insane. For about two and a half months I was chilling, and then ended up being able to get some time in on the bike. I felt pretty good today, not bad. At the same time I feel like we still have room to make improvements and I think we can get it.
You obviously have a supercross title in your career. You haven’t even gotten the overall win that you want in motocross yet. Since supercross was a washout this year, is there extra motivation to try to make something happen since you didn’t get supercross to do it this year, to try to make it happen in motocross?
Anderson: I’ve always wanted to do good in motocross. I just honestly got hurt every time I would make it through a couple races or halfway through the season. For the most part in the last three years I’ve been on the podium a lot in the races that I have done in outdoors. So I don’t think there’s a reason why I can’t get a win this year. I’m really working towards that and working towards the battle for the championship. Today in the first moto I felt really good towards the end of it. I feel like if we can keep improving and putting two solid motos together and we ride good start to finish, I think we can be in the battle.
Eli, just talk about the competition you’re going to face here, Kenny and Jason obviously riding well. You battled with Zach Osborne a little bit. A lot of good guys are up there. You got to see a lot of battles throughout the day. What did it seem like competition-wise today?
Tomac: That’s the way it was. There were five of us, right? It’s going to be tough this year, as usual. It’s like there’s an extra guy or two up there. It’s the first race. You never really know when it’s going to shuffle out. It’s feeling like it’s going to be a good year.
For all three of you, I’m assuming you’ve probably done laps at the next race track, at Pala. Does that help, or is it going to be different for the national? What do you think? That is a track that you guys would generally ride in the pre-season. What are your thoughts on that track and how it might change for the national?
Roczen: I don’t think any of us—obviously Eli lives in Colorado and we’re in Florida most of the time, so I don’t think we have really gotten that much time. I was there a couple of times a week or two ago and then we’re racing next weekend. I don’t think any of us, we haven’t really spent that much time riding it.
Anderson: For me, honestly I feel like whatever the track is, on national day it’s completely different. Glen Helen, we would race there and on practice day it’s slick and dry, but on race day honestly it was pretty loamy. So I think it’s just a completely different track. I don’t think anyone’s going to have a real advantage. I think it’s going to be a cool event. I always liked Pala as a track. I raced the national in 2011 and it was fun. I think it’ll be a good race. I’m excited.
I asked Adam. You guys are his buddies. You’ve been through the ups and downs. Kenny, what was it like that he and you both won together on the same day? That had to be cool.
Roczen: Absolutely. Obviously, I have a couple of guys in the 250 class that we’re friends and whatever, but for Adam I was super stoked. Obviously he was getting good starts and racing super good, so I’m very happy for him that he could pull this off, absolutely.
For all three of you guys, I know it’s fairly challenging to go from supercross to outdoors. On a one to ten scale, what are you on happiness with your setup for the first race?
Tomac: I don’t know. I think if you win you’re like, “Yeah, everything’s good,” but if you’re not winning, you’re like, “Man, we can improve.”
Roczen: I agree. It’s not to say a number. I think we all probably, for me and I think we can all improve, or I can improve. We have some things in mind. But at the same time you can really just go into a rabbit hole there and try too much. You got to just keep it cool and find a happy medium.
Anderson: For me honestly, I’m lacking laps so I haven’t changed anything since Glen Helen or the last race last year. I’ve been riding the same bike. I’m just going to keep doing laps and maybe start working on my bike a little bit and see what’s going on.
The transition from supercross to motocross, do you take any time off or is it immediately back on the track or on the bike or training and testing? Is there any time off when you’re just off the bike and doing nothing for a few days before motocross?
Roczen: There is no such thing. It’s true—we got one off-weekend. I don’t see how we could take a few days and just do nothing.
Tomac: No, most of the time it’s like Tuesday after Vegas we’re right back at it.
Jason, for you, you’ve been away from it. How did you come in so well today? You’ve been off the bike and off of racing for a long time. What’s the secret? Or are you just so naturally athletic? How do you maintain endurance that you’ve been away from this for so long?
Anderson: I was able to ride three or four weeks before, but I don’t know. I think I just raced really well today. Towards the end of the mottos and stuff like that I was obviously a little tired, but I was able to push through it. Obviously we have a base from working out and riding out. I’m in my ninth year, so it’s not like we are lacking base. I stay on my road bike and stuff like that whenever I’m off the bike. I think it’s just the racing that I’m going to have to work into, but I felt pretty good today and pretty excited.
Kenny, with such different conditions in moto one and moto two, do you make radical suspension changes or setup changes? Do you have anything that you kind of planned out for that?
Roczen: No, I don’t recommend it. I don’t think anybody is going to feel amazing out there. You can’t always expect that when you do make a change that you’re hitting it right on the target. I just kind of left it as it is. You might do a clicker here and there. Also there’s not that much time in-between the motos anyway.