On Wednesday night, the 14th round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship took place as the 450SX riders were joined by the 250SX West Region riders.
In the 250SX main event, title contenders Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner and Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha’s Justin Cooper and Dylan Ferrandis all started within the top six positions through the first few turns. Forkner would pull out to an early lead and wouldn’t be contested as he took the win. Behind him, Cooper faded, and Ferrandis moved to second, with Cameron Mcadoo third. All three spoke with the media in a Zoom press conference call after the race, hosted by NBC Sports’ Daniel Blair.
Daniel Blair: Cameron, during the break riders took off some time and eased their way back in, but you seemed to be on it the whole way through, and even documenting it. Putting it on Instagram, putting up full laps. You don’t see that a lot from riders. Just go through that process and how important it was for you to make the gains that you needed.
Cameron Mcadoo: It’s just kind of the way I have to work. It’s pretty hard for me to take an extended amount of time off. I just feel my best when I stay pretty consistent. I feel like I want to be transparent with my fans and everyone else out there. We’re not hiding anything. We’re all doing laps.
Dylan, after the main event I saw you ride up to Austin and bang knuckles, high five. A lot of respect there. You even kind of mentioned that on the podium. You said you worked really hard during this race. You fought it and you gave him the respect that he deserves. With two rounds to go and a tight championship, are you two ready to battle it out?
Dylan Ferrandis: Yeah. I said that because this main was really hard physically. I feel that was one of the most difficult mains I did in supercross, and he won. So he deserved a congrats, I feel. I pushed really hard. I gave everything I had and he still won. So that means he probably worked really hard during the break, and that’s good. That’s good for the sport. He just deserves a nice congrats.
Austin, congratulations on the win. During the break I had a chance to talk to you at one point. I know you had switched over to some outdoors stuff and then went back into supercross. Once you’ve been able to get back on supercross full-time, were you able to find some of that 2019 speed that you had? I know you were coming back from the injury earlier in the year.
Austin Forkner: It feels good. It was more so just I feel like a little bit of my trust in my knee and stuff. This break has only helped it get stronger. It feels good. Obviously I was pumped to come out here and start the whole three-race season ender like I did today. Like Dylan said, it was really tough. I was giving it all that I had. You have to really play out there. You can’t really just go out and give it… You’ll blow up. Especially this being our first race, everybody has told me your body will adapt the longer you’re here, or it will get better, but they said the first race is pretty tough. It was just altitude. The bike was slower, but it was mainly just the breathing. I felt solid. I think that the four-month break we’ve had, or three months of however long it’s been, the work that I’ve done, I think it shows.
Dylan, you’re always having to come through the pack. Is it the starts or is it the early laps? Which one would you like to work on more?
Ferrandis: I think tonight the start was pretty good. It’s just that in the heat race I crashed with Cameron. I just had a bad gate pick for the main. I was tenth, so I had to go on the outside and that was not ideal. We managed to be the two Yamahas kind of almost first in the first corner, but just a little bit too outside. So it was not that bad. All day I just felt not perfect. We had to make some changes on the bike and to adapt the bike with the altitude and stuff. So I just had not enough laps to feel the bike and feel good on it. So I think I was a little bit off today. But by the end of the main I was feeling more myself. We’re going to work during the rest of the week with the team and improve for sure.
Austin, I’m curious what the heck was going on in practice out there [with Hunter Lawrence]. Was there something that prompted that? What was happening?
Forkner: [Laughs] Yeah that little mess. Just a little frustration. He kind of got in my way a little bit on a fast lap that I had going. I just rode by really close to him. Then he cleaned me in the next turn. Now I can look back and laugh on it, but at the time I was a little frustrated. I wasn’t really worried about it. It’s fine.
On the racing side, what was the vision like out there? Pretty late in the afternoon it looked like you guys would come out of that rhythm section and make that corner for the triple. How blind was that for everybody?
Forkner: For me, the triple wasn’t that bad. In my heat race though, I missed the next rhythm section with that big double over the start straight. I missed it two or three times before. Whenever our heat race was, the shadow was halfway through the turn. Where it was still shadowed it was slick. So we would go to good dirt, slide, and then hit it. My eyes were adjusting right before I hit that, so I missed it a couple laps just because I didn’t want to jump into the tuff blocks not being able to see where I was going. So that was the only part that was a little iffy for me. By the time the main rolled around, everything was pretty solid. I didn’t really have as much trouble over the triple. The sun was in your eyes, but I was pretty solid there all day. I didn’t really have any trouble with that.
Austin, you’re now ten down. Did you kind of come into this race in a do or die situation because you lose more points today and it’s going to be a big upset?
I’m kind of in the position right now where I just have to win out. Then that still might not be enough, depending on how Dylan finishes. There’s only two races left now, so I’m kind of do or die. I have to go out there and try to win. I can’t control anything that happens around me. All I can control is myself, so that’s all I can do is just go out there and win and not make any big mistakes. I just need to win. Pretty simple.
Cameron, you had a lot of speed today. That heat race, chased down Dylan, caught him. Got in a little mix with him there. How surprised were you that you had the speed you had today? Was it just more time on the bike, or just you were just feeling comfortable today?
McAdoo: To be honest, I wasn’t really surprised. That’s kind of what I expected. I was feeling really good coming into the season and even early on in St. Louis I felt really good. Obviously I had a pretty bad crash and that kind of messed the rest of that part of the season up. So in this time off like I said I’ve worked pretty hard and I’ve been feeling really good on the bike. So that’s what I wanted. The deal in the heat race, I knew I had to make a pass somewhere and kind of with the way the track was it was going to have to be pretty aggressive. Obviously the track for it to be what it ended up being was pretty much worst-case scenario. We had to do what we had to do. So I actually got it back in the heat race, because [Michael] Mosiman got under me a little bit. So it was good. I was pretty happy with where we’re at.
Cameron, Dylan talked about this being the most difficult race of the year so far. You got a couple more to go. How do you prepare for that? Obviously it’s difficult at that elevation, but something different you got to deal with.
It was tough for all of us I think tonight. I feel like I’m in a really good position fitness-wise for sure. It’s a lot of laps for me. These tracks are short like this. It was kind of what I expected seeing the first few races. It’s a little bit tougher with the elevation and stuff, but we’re all racing at the same elevation so it’s kind of see who can suffer more. Excited to keep going.
Cameron, you got a great ride this year on a team I know you wanted to be on. Since you got hurt at the beginning of the year, did you feel pressure to finally deliver some results, get it on the podium here? Was that eating at you during this entire break to finally show what you have?
I wouldn't say it was eating at me, but I was very motivated. Even when there were times of a lot of uncertainty with everything in the world, I was like, “I need to show what I’ve worked for.” The whole off-season went so good and it seemed so seamless. For what happened to me early on was a really tough pill to swallow. I was just really motivated to show what I’ve been working for. I still feel like I want to win. I was happy with third tonight. I haven’t podiumed this year. In four days I’ve got to get two more spots. So it was good.
For the 250SX West Coast guys, you guys watched all this stuff happen. Has this lived up to your expectations the way you thought it would, racing with no crowd, an earlier schedule, things like that? The altitude? Or was it maybe a little bit easier than you might have expected after watching those first three races?
Ferrandis: I feel like when the gate drops there’s no difference, fans or not. I don’t feel any difference. The elevation, I didn’t expect it would be this hard. I don’t know if it’s because I’m only here two or three days now, but I never had a problem before. That was hard today. Really hard on the breathing. Kind of more difficult than what I expected.
McAdoo: For me, like Dylan said, once the gate drops until the 30-board is up, no, but it feels way different throughout the day not having fans, not having singings, it not being packed. It almost felt like a press day vibe a little bit in the pits. But once you get going racing it’s the same. It’s super intense. Obviously the fans are helpful. We miss having them. It’s kind of a weird vibe, wearing face masks and stuff like that. I’m just really grateful that everyone at Feld and everything got it back going. We were one of the first sports back, so that was good. The elevation is different but like I said earlier, we’re all racing in it.
Forkner: For me, I felt like it was almost maybe less stressful. It’s awesome to have fans. Fans are awesome. When you come off the track and there’s a bunch of people, “Hey, sign this, sign this, sign this.” There’s people around you all day. It was just so mellow today. I love the fanfare and I love everything, but when the gate drops, you don’t notice anything. Whenever you’re on the track, nothing is different. So it’s mainly just everything leading up to the racing that’s a little bit different. It’s just mellow. It doesn’t really feel like a race day. It’s almost like you have to hype yourself up a lot. Usually I have Olly [Stone, my mechanic] screaming in my ear on the starting gate, like “Let’s go.” The fans are doing the wave. The flames are going off everywhere. There’s pyro. That all just gets you hyped for the night, and that’s not really the case. Kind of just have to do that for yourself, but once the gate drops, the only difference I guess is when somebody gets passed or somebody crashes you hear it.
This is for Dylan. The points lead that you had was not that big, was there some pressure over the break to make sure you came in at the exact same form? You had won two in a row and then you didn’t race for four months. So what was that experience like to try to stay at the same level and have a slim points lead the whole time?
Ferrandis: It was not really different. I always train hard even if there is break or if there is a championship on the line or not. I just do whatever my trainer asks me to do. We came here not really thinking about taking care of the championship. I just want to ride the best I can and try to win more races. Also I’m at the point now where I’m more riding to show myself to the 450 teams because next year I will be in [the] 450 [class] and I need to have the best bike. So I really want to show what I’m capable of and find a good deal for next year. For sure the championship is really important, but if I ride like I know how to ride, it’s possible. Last year was so crazy what happened that I just don’t really look at the championship points. For sure it’s important but I try to take it race by race and I do the best I can every time.
If you prefer to watch the press conference, watch the archive below: