Ryder Difrancesco (2-1 for first overall), Chance Hymas (1-2 for second overall), & Daxton Bennick (4-3 for third overall) rounded out the overall podium from the two 25-minute-plus-two motos at the inaugural East Region Scouting Combine at Ironman Raceway last week. The trio were a part of the more than 15 riders selected to compete in the MX Sports Pro Racing Scouting Moto Combine where amateur riders had the opportunity to see what a day in the pro scene is like. First, a timed qualifying session let the riders preview the track. Then, classroom sessions took place with motocross legends Damon Bradshaw, Chad Reed, and Broc Glover; trainers Gareth Swanepoel, Ryan Fedorow, and John Wessling; and media experts Rub Buydos, Jason Weigandt, Sam Nicolini, and Brandon Short helped provide insight on everything from lines on the track and riding form to nutrition and post-race recovery, and how to make a positive impact on social media. Each rider was paired up with a coach, but somehow, it was the trio of DiFrancesco, Hymas, and Bennick who were all matched with Reed. Here is what the top finishers had to say about their day. Note: all three from the overall podium will be back in action at the West Region Scouting Combine that will take place September 3 at Fox Raceway at Pala.
1st overall | #23 Ryder Difrancesco | Kawasaki KX250 | 2-1
Racer X: Take us through your day as a whole and what you thought about the combine today.
Ryder Difrancesco: Today was good. I surprised myself with going 2-1 getting the overall. I think having a big track like this and doing 25-plus-two it ended up 31 minuets, which is not far off the pros. So, knowing where I’m at and knowing what I need to work on—there’s always takeaways from a weekend like this. Celebrate today and tomorrow and get back to work Monday morning. We’ll have this again next weekend and these guys put on a great event so I’m excited for next weekend.
Obviously, you missed Loretta’s with the leg injury and you’re not fighting for a championship here, but did today give you confidence, being your first real big event like this since before the injury. Like you said, get the experience and you can see, “Hey I’m not too far off the pace now as I’m getting back into it,” it had to be a big confidence boost.
Yeah, like I said I surprised myself going 2-1 and I had a little tip over earlier today, I think that’s just from not racing. They raced two weeks ago, they’re still warm from Loretta’s. But yeah, I look at this as almost bigger than Loretta’s. Just being in front of all the manufacturers and doing actually 31 minutes and actually showing what you got it something cool. So yeah, I’m pumped. I couldn’t be any happier.
What was your biggest takeaway off the bike? anything you can point to that you’ll focus on?
Yeah, I took it all in as like a sponge. Obviously, I haven’t been doing it for that long—I’ve been doing it a while—but these guys have been doing it for more than 22, 25 years, like Chad [Reed] said. So just listening to those guys and all the history that they have is something cool. I looked up to Chad Reed and he was my coach today. Just listening to him one on one is cool to talk to a guy like that.
I’m sure being able to interact with these guys and have them break down your riding had to help a lot as a whole.
Yeah, they’ve been through it all—the ups and downs, the good motos and the bad motos—so they’ve seen it all. And today was probably a little percentage of us impressing them, but I’m sure we did the job. Yeah, today was a good day.
What’s next for you after this?
Since I haven’t raced all year, I got hurt in May, so there’s a couple of races like Ponca, there’s one of these next week at Pala...just trying to race as much as I can, I’ll do Mini O’s...just to get my racing back. Now that I’ve got on a big bike, our focus is, obviously, going pro and doing that next step. So yeah, I’m working towards the big step, and today was a step towards the big step. So, I’m excited.
Do you have a plan for next year? Or is it too far out to tell?
It depends. Like I said, we can race all those coming races in the next few months and then at the beginning of next year see how I do. It just all depends. Stay healthy and not do what we did this year.
Is there anything you’d like to see different with the combine program and schedule?
Honestly, not one thing. They did a great job with motos and trying to put as much stuff as they did into our head, and us listening to it. Today was a great day, and I don’t think they could do anything different at all.
Are you excited for next week’s event with it being a hometown event, all the manufacturers literally being based there, some more industry people, and all that.
Yeah, I’m super excited. Pala’s good. It’s in California, not too far from my house. Yup, all the manufacturers and some more people just because the industry is out there. But yeah, Pala next weekend.
2nd overall |#832 Chance Hymas | Kawasaki KX250 | 1-2
Racer X: Talk about your day as a whole and what you thought about everything today.
Chance Hymas: This combine was honestly a great experience for everybody. With the start of timed qualifying, we had the two motos, two 25-plus-2s, which were 30-minute motos, so those were pretty gnarly. Started out with qualifying first, won the first moto and then in the second moto, first lap I ended up going down. Came from last to second and charged the whole 30 minutes, it was gnarly. But I’m stoked to be get the opportunity to do this.
You’re right on that edge of making the next step from amateurs to pros. Did this racing length and everything that took place do a good job of preparing you for that next step?
Yeah, I think so. This is the as close to replicating it as you can get. Even at Loretta’s, you have one day of practice then you have one or two motos a day, but even if you have two motos a day it’s super spread out. So, it’s like...none of us have every done anything like this, which is pretty awesome.
What was your takeaway from the racing? Obviously having the good first moto with the race win and then having the crash early in the second moto. But what are your takeaways from racing those motos in that format?
I mean, my off the bike fitness needs to improve for sure, just so I can be super dialed in for these 30-minute motos. But honestly, just saving your energy at the beginning. We’re so used to doing these six-lap motos where you’re just on the gas right from the get-go. I mean, obviously, you still have to do it but there’s a lot to learn about being conservative about yourself and being conservative about your bike. A lot of lines were changed throughout the moto, which was also good to learn. I felt like I was pretty good at changing my lines and stuff. But overall, I feel like my fitness needs to get more dialed in, that’s mostly what I learned here.
What was your biggest takeaway off the bike? Anything from the coaches that you were thinking to yourself, “Okay, I can really focus on this in the future.” Anything you can pinpoint that you’ll focus on moving forward?
I work with John Wessling, which was one of the coaches. And he does all my off-the-bike stuff, so he’s helped me a long way.
So, you’re already pretty dialed in with that kinda stuff, for the most part.
Yeah. So, what I was super interested in was Ryan [Fedorow] with the nutrition stuff, just learning about when you need to eat, especially with how long these motos are, and just how you refuel your body and just take care of it. So that’s what I was mostly intrigued about.
Anything you’d like to see different with the program?
I mean, as a racer, I feel like I would have liked to do both the motos first before we did all the media stuff. I think a lot of us, between qualifying and the motos, were kinda cooked sitting around. Honestly, I think it was just a good experience to have, especially with the media training and especially what we’re doing right now. But I think I would have rather preferred to have qualifying and then the two motos before [the classroom sessions].
Anything else you’d like to add? What’s your next couple of weeks looking like when you start to get ready for 2022?
I’ll do the Pala combine next weekend and then kinda just keep training from there. I don’t know what the next [amateur] national is, I think it’s Ponca, so basically just get ready for Ponca.
3rd overall | #241 Daxton Bennick | KTM 250 SX-F | 4-3
Racer X: Take us through your day as a whole and what you thought about the combine today and your takeaways.
Daxton Bennick: Timed practice wasn’t the best. Kinda had a hard time adapting to the track and knew what I had to do in the first moto. Got off to a pretty bad start, worked my way back to fourth, so not bad on that one. But second moto was way better. I pulled the holeshot and led probably four or five laps and then Ryder ended up getting by me and Chance. So maintained third, kinda latched onto those guys for a little bit, but pulled off a third so third overall, pretty happy.
What was your biggest takeaway off the bike from the classroom sessions today?
Yeah, well so, [Jason] Weigandt, has actually done the Orange Brigade camp before, so I hear him a lot. And it’s cool because you understand it more and take a lot away from it. You’ve gotta find something that the fans like, that’s kinda the main part, that’s kinda what I learned.
If you go to the event next week or one in the future or if they do more of these, what is something you’d like to see change with the moto combine?
I think everything was good. I liked it. I think the breaks were good, everything was good. You had to be back at the tent pretty quick, but other than that, everything was good. I liked it.
How did the track end up shaping up for the motos? What were your thoughts on the track and the long motos?
I liked it. I liked how the second moto was a little different than the first moto. It was a little rougher and had more ruts, but I think it was good. It helped sperate us a little bit. I was happy they didn’t do a full track prep. The lines got pretty tricky. It was good.
You’re not fighting for a Loretta’s title here or championship points or anything like that here but what was it like to have an opportunity like this to be able to lineup and race with some other fast guys. Do you leave here with confidence knowing you led some laps and battled with these guys on a day like today?
Yeah, definitely. The second moto was much better. Being up front with those guys—I was probably riding probably for five or six laps really good and then they just kinda broke away a little bit. Just need to build a little right there, a little more speed there in the middle. But it was fun, I had a lot of fun. The track was good.
Images by Mitch Kendra