The 2017 Monster Energy Supercross Series has officially kicked off, and Anaheim, CA’s Angel Stadium once again played host to the opening round. Anaheim saw a bit of rain throughout the week prior to Saturday night’s race and even the morning of, but the weather managed to clear up before the first practice session of the day. After the racing was all said and done and the first winners of 2017 had been crowned, we caught up with some of the top finishers from each class to get their take on the 2017 Anaheim One SX.
1st | 450 SX
How was it?
The weekend was great. It started out a bit rough, actually I shouldn’t say rough because I won the first qualifying practice but I was hoping we were going to have a free practice because I hadn’t ridden since Tuesday because of the rain. I came into this race with no doubt in my mind. I have a lot of fun with the team and the bike is working great, so I kept my focus. We had a good heat race and a really good main event, so we’ll celebrate tonight and tomorrow and have a good time. We look forward to next weekend and will throw this one behind us. We’ll focus on next weekend and try to do the same thing.
Does it feel good to get the first one out of the way?
Absolutely it feels good. You never really know and they asked me if I expected it to be like that, and it’s really hard to expect something like that. It was more so that I had no doubt in my mind that I was going to do good so I trusted in my capabilities, my team, and the people around me.
2nd | 450 SX
How was it?
Tonight was good. With the first race of the season we got off to a decent start and was able to make some passes so I found my way into second. With Ken, he had a little bit of a lead so it was hard for me to close that so I tried to manage where I was at and gauge where he was at, as well as with Marvin. Once I made the pass on Marvin, it seemed like he found a little bit and I wasn’t able to pull away as much. It really kept me on my feet and I really tried to hit my marks. Overall I’m happy with the performance at Anaheim One and I’ll build on that. We could have been a little better in key areas, but it’s racing. I’m excited for where I was at, especially with the amount of time we had on the track. We had to adapt to the track as quick as possible, so by the time that we went racing and after the first heat race, I felt like I had it down pretty good.
3rd | 450 SX
How was it?
It was really good. To get third here in the 450 class at Anaheim One is big for me. It was the goal and I said that I would be happy with a podium tonight, and that’s what I did. I had to fight for it and I was in fourth place after a couple of laps with a second place start. Eli got around me, he was riding really well, and Ryan got around me too. I was in fourth place and kind of by myself, trying not to get gapped by Ryan in front of me, but all of a sudden I saw Eli slowing down a little bit. I thought, “I need to get around him really quick and get that third place.” It was kind of a long moto, the twenty laps was pretty long, but I was able to be strong the last five laps when Frankie showed me there were five laps to go. I got pretty good lap times and I was able to keep the same gap with fourth place behind me, which is good. We’ll have to be very consistent in every main event this year and you can’t relax. Anything can happen so we’ll move forward. I’ll need good starts like I had tonight and it’ll be the key. I’m happy with the podium tonight.
5th | 450 SX
How was it?
It was a good day in the beginning. I came out of qualifying second and went into the heat race, clicked off a win, and got a good start. I was feeling pretty good and content. I went into the main with a good mindset, came off the gate and got a good start, was riding third and got myself in a good position. I got by Marvin and got into second, then tried to push from there. I absolutely blew up on lap nine or ten, and it’s pretty disgusting really. It’s disappointing because when your arms get tight, you can’t hang on and have to ride around like someone you’re not supposed to. I got tight.
Overall, was this better than last year?
Last year I did the same thing, though. I rode around in fourth or fifth place. I have more in the tank. I just jacked up, I got tight.
Did you and Marvin make contact?
No, we got really close. I went inside on him over the finish line there and made a good block pass, but no contact just good battling.
7th | 450 SX
How was it?
Not bad, could have been better but whatever. It went better than I thought it would today, to be honest. Not being able to ride for three weeks coming to this race, it made it a little tougher because you lose a little fitness and a little speed and you get rusty. Coming to the first round, where everyone’s nerves are crazy, it makes it that much harder. I’m just pumped to walk out of here in a decent position and I can build off of this, which is cool.
What’d you think of the track?
It was different. It was easy, but it wasn’t. A lot of it was because it was too dusty and you couldn’t see, which made it more dangerous. There was so much lime in there. A lot of places we were going fast, but I don’t think it was dangerous by any means. I just think it was more mellow and some places were sketchy. It’s just how it is. I didn’t think it was too bad.
What do you do now?
I ride [Laughs]. It’s time to ride. With the plague that I had, it’s still there but for me to get rid of the lingering stuff I have to burn in out. Now that I can actually focus and see when I ride, I’ll be able to ride laps and get my fitness back. Maybe not this week, but a couple more weeks I should be good.
8th | 450 SX
How was it?
It was good. I’m just glad to finish A1 and be able to race my dirt bike. Other than that, the heat and semi were rough and not how I wanted, I wanted to qualify from the heat. It’s a stacked field and if you don’t get the start, everyone is pushing and it’s only six laps, so it’s hard to make passes. In the main event, I got a bad jump and there was a good opening in the first turn so I made it happen. I came out in fifth or sixth, and I ran up there for a while. I got passed by two or three people and then settled in a groove. I had a good race there for a minute and then Reed came up on me. We duked it out for a while and he put it in on me pretty hard once and we almost both went down. He t-boned right before the red cross flag because I slowed down and then he ended up DNFing. I think overall finishing A1 with an eighth place isn’t where I want to be, but it’s better than what it could have been.
10th | 450 SX
How was it?
It started off not the greatest. I struggled all day in practice and kind of struggled with the heat race. I felt a little better in the semi and it finally came around in the main event. From my gate pick I got a decent start and had a really good battle for about fifteen minutes with like sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth. It was good. You always want to do better but the biggest thing for me is that I wasn’t sure. I want to be out front, but it is what it is and we’ll take it. I have some motivation and I know what to work on. I can get better as the season goes on, I know that. It’s good to get a race under my belt and I made it the whole time, didn’t crash or do anything stupid. I’ll take it how it is and see how the rest of the season goes.
Was it good to get the first one out of the way?
Yeah, for sure. There was a lot of pressure and hype on it, so now I can calm down and not be expected to go out there and win, which is nice.
11th | 450 SX
From not racing earlier in the week to lining up, how was it?
Stressful. Everything went together really easily and smooth, and everyone was awesome with gear and the JGR team made it really easy, as far as all of that goes. The biggest thing was flipping the switch in my head. I was sitting on my couch which WiFi password I was going to use in the press box, texting buddies about fantasy leagues, and then I get a call. I had three days to flip the switch and go racing. That was the biggest thing. In practice I tried to get comfortable on the bike and I was over-trying. I needed to get into the race mode and that was the biggest part. All in all, I’m happy with how the day went. I could have gone without the practices [Laughs].
But you didn’t get rattled or think you were off the pace.
I saw it and wasn’t stoked on it, but I tried to be realistic. I took it for what it was and tried to get better every time I was out there. I told myself, “Well it’s not like you haven’t done this your whole life.” It worked out not too badly.
You know where you stand now and for everything that went in, you ran behind Cooper for all of those laps.
I’m happy for sure. The last couple of weeks I haven’t ridden too much, but there are no excuses. That’s on me. I rode the RCH bike on Tuesday, but I was just riding around. I wasn’t planning on racing. I didn’t know what was going to happen and knew there was a possibility of something coming up, so I wanted seat time. I rode Tuesday and got the call on Tuesday night.
16th | 450 SX
How was it?
Results wise it wasn’t that sweet, but I feel like I’m in the best place I’ve been in coming into a season. My speed is good, fitness feels really good, I’m comfortable on the bike, and the setup is good. I’m in a good place. I made a mistake in the main event and crashed, the start was horrendous, but I have some homework to do on the starts. That’s what it’s going to take this year. There are so many good guys that you can’t start basically in dead last and finish where you want.
How was the semi win?
I got a good start in that, and my heat race start was good too. The track was tough tonight, it was slippery and pretty easy, but it was tough to have the patience. You had to have patience to go fast. When I was by myself I could do that, but when I was in a battle I was trying too hard and was losing drive and speed. All in all, it was good and I’m looking forward to next weekend. I feel like I’m in a good place to have the best year that I’ve ever had.
1st | 250 SX
How was it?
I didn’t qualify (on the) pole, but everything else seemed to go pretty much perfect. That’s what we worked for and that’s where we feel we belong. I feel like that’s been a long time coming, just dealing with injuries the last few years. I won the heat race and got the holeshot in the main, and I tried to put in fifteen solid laps. The track broke down a lot which is why it was so tough, so demanding, and easy to make mistakes. I tried to focus ahead of me, to keep pushing and pushing. It’s unreal and I don’t really have the words to describe it. It doesn’t feel like anything. I’m pumped to do it here, it’s the biggest race of the year and man I needed that one.
Does it feel good to get the first one under your belt?
It does and that’s the thing. I started out second in the heat race and I was riding anxious and missing my marks. I didn’t feel very good but riding behind Jeremy I was able to find my lines, catch my breath, and play around a little and look around. I needed to calm down a little bit and it’s okay. I think that was the biggest thing for me in the main. It’s not about pinning it the whole time. The track was breaking down and it was easy to make a mistake, so sometimes you have to slow down to go faster. And that’s what’s hard, because we all are really intense riders and are aggressive. The pace of the race is so fast so as racers it’s hard to back it down just a little bit because we always feel like we have to go.
2nd Place | 250 SX
How was it?
I got off to a pretty good start, I think I was sixth or something. I had to battle my way up to second and Martin was pretty hard to pass. I was catching him each lap and I knew I had to make a move, but I did it and got into second. I was charging hard to catch Shane but there was not enough time. A second at A1 is good, it sets me up really good in the points for the whole series and hopefully we can get the win in San Diego.
Could you tell where you were gaining on Shane and the spots where you were losing him?
Yeah, for sure. I was gaining on him in a couple of places and then he would pull away from me. In those sections I tried to hit my marks and do them perfectly, and that’s what I did. There wasn’t enough time. I need to get a better start or whatever. I’m pumped on my race, I had to ride through some arm pump but it’s whatever.
Could you tell a difference in the timed races?
The only real difference I could tell was when Billy (mechanic) puts “five minutes plus one” or “three minutes plus one” on the pit board instead laps. I kind of like it. It’s a little longer racing and I think it’ll be better for the shorter tracks, so we can get more laps in. Maybe we can have a twenty-lap moto one of these nights.
3rd | 250 SX
How was it?
My weekend was pretty good. I would say to come out of the first round with a podium, I couldn’t ask for a better thing. I struggled a little bit throughout the day with myself and a little bit with bike setup. I just couldn’t find my flow. I really look forward to getting together with the team and adjusting a few things. I’ve been riding on the East Coast and the tracks are definitely a little more rutted. The track broke down a lot and there was no traction. I look forward to San Diego, so hopefully we have a good week and can challenge guys for the win.
6th Place | 250 SX
How was it?
It was good. Well, I can’t say it was good. I want to win and am expected to win. I didn’t get a good start or put myself in a good position. I think I was in sixteenth in the first and went to sixth. We’ll keep moving forward and we have San Diego next weekend.
Could you tell a difference from the East Coast tracks? Was this a challenge?
To me it’s a track. We’re all professionals and we all have to ride the same thing. It’s not quite as rutted but it’s a track.
Timed main events, did that feel any different?
No, I liked it. I think it was pretty badass not being fifteen laps, but fifteen minutes plus one. I enjoyed it.
8th | 250 SX
How was it?
I had a good heat race. I got off to a second place start and finished second. I put pressure on the leader quite a bit and got a feel for how the track was going to shape up for the night. In the main I didn’t get off to a good start and I put myself in a bad position right off the bat. I got shuffled around in the first couple of turns, made some passes and lost some passes, and got bumped around but I was running about sixth or seventh. I was starting to settle into a flow and we were starting to gap out. I think I made a little mistake or got ran wide, I don’t know, but I got caught going next to someone through the whoops. They came over on me and I got a little bit sketchy, and I braked because I thought I was going to hit his back wheel. I basically stopped and got pitched over the bars and landed on a Tuff Block. I got up and the bike started on the second kick in gear, so that was good. The brake lever was bent down and the clutch lever was bent up and I was last at that point I think. I got back up and had a few laps that weren’t that great after that, but I put my head down and started charging. I set my fastest lap time, lap times that were just as good as the leaders. I’m actually really confident right now that I have that speed and I ran a really strong lap on the fourteenth lap, so as long as I can ride relaxed like I did today, I have the fitness. It’ll be fun.
No rookie jitters?
A little bit, but not anymore. I’m good now. I know that’s what I where I need to be, on the podium, and I know that I can be there. It’ll be fine.