One more week over here for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series and then a much needed two-week break in the series. I know this past weekend at Millville I was talking to a few different riders and team members, who all said that this break coming up was going to mucho appreciated. The supercross series is seventeen races in eighteen weeks and, so far, the motocross series has been nine in ten, so Washougal coming up then two weeks off and three in a row to end the 2016 season. Unless you count the two USGP rounds that are right after the final national, then the Motocross of Nations, then the Red Bull Straight Rhythm, then the Monster Cup, then…
Some thoughts on Millville returns and this weekend coming up as well as some Kenny Roczen quotes coming right up!
– Anyone who thought that Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac was going to get some confidence from his Southwick win and take it to Roczen or perhaps challenge him was slightly off base, as Millville was something I imagine was straight out of General Custer’s last stand. Roczen was almost two-seconds faster in qualifying and came from the back in both motos to take commanding 1-1 scores on the day. It was a tour-de-force for the RCH Suzuki rider and one of the more impressive rides this journalist has seen in a while.
– We wondered who was going to take that third spot on the podium after Roczen and Tomac. Injuries to Ryan Dungey, Cole Seely, Jason Anderson and Trey Canard have thinned out the field and there is some serious podium bonus money up for grabs now. Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin has impressed the last few weeks and even beat Tomac in Millville. Washougal is a great track for Moving Marv, so I’d look for him to be on the box and maybe even repeat that runner-up spot.
It is a slippery and a throttle control type of track, which Marv excels at. He has captured the pole there a few times and won three out of the last four motos there (granted in the 250MX class, but still), so Musquin, who is already third in the points, is looking to separate himself even more after this weekend.
– The 450MX class was spicy this weekend with the return of some injured riders. Let’s talk about each guy’s race and give them a grade on how they did, yes?
Trey Canard came back after missing a few races with a back injury and finished sixth overall. Canard has shown an amazing ability to return from injury and immediately run the pace and, with him liking the Millville track, I thought he’d be more in contention for a podium than he was. But, still, sixth overall is fine and he’ll get better and better as he races his way back into contention. Oops, scratch that! Literally as I was typing this out a PR came in that Canard injured himself in a practice crash and will be out this weekend. That was fast! Welcome back Trey. See you soon, I guess. Still, his return was a solid B+.
Dean Wilson made his return to racing after a second ACL injury suffered at Anaheim 2. Only six months post-op, Wilson’s return was impressive and he is trying to get some rides under his belt to show perspective teams that he is good to go. Anaheim 2 was a long time ago bro, so 11-11 finishes are respectable. Wilson admitted that the track was a bit rougher than he had remembered and that no matter how good he thought his fitness was, racing is different than practicing. With Tommy Searle struggling a bit this season, Max Anstie having issues and Shaun Simpson getting hurt, maybe Wilson’s earning himself a look for Team Great Britain at the MXoN? Anyway, his return gets a B.
James Stewart came back and logged one tenth-place finish in moto one. THIS IS CLOSE TO A VICTORY FOR STEW! It has been a horrible year for James and he can’t seem to actually finish races so to get one moto finish, and a decent one at that, is something, right? He pulled off in the second moto due to blisters and he looked to be struggling with fitness, but this is SOMETHING right? It is amazing to say, but James Stewart’s got to just start building some small finishes one on top of another and he’ll get into the mix. I’d love to be inside Stewart’s head out there at Millville as he is getting passed by riders he probably didn’t even know their names. I’ll give him a C.
– So, as we said, Roczen killed it and we talked to him on Monday after the race to get his thoughts on the race and some different topics. Let’s get right to it.
On whether he thinks Millville is the best track of the series… “No, I kind of dislike it a little bit. I honestly can’t tell you why. I feel like I’ve never really done that good each year, but not even because of that. I didn’t really mind it this year. I have never thought about it. When I dislike a track, for example Glen Helen, everybody that knows me knows you can pay me to go ride there and I normally wouldn’t do it. I don’t go there with a negative mindset though. But, actually, I thought this year was pretty good at Millville. I liked it."
On his bike working better at Millville than Southwick due to some new fork settings… “Yeah, I’m just going to leave them [the settings]. Mainly the whole year what I have kind of been struggling with was just it is hard to find a perfect setting period, but I feel like mine have been a little bit harsh and then they kind of dive. Now I have a different fork that I messed around with a little bit during the week here and went with it the way I thought it was going to be good. Just went with it for the weekend and kind of just left it.
“At Southwick I was really frustrated, but even then I didn’t freak out because I know it’s the wrong thing to do. I don’t really care. I never asked for a perfect bike, just something that I could ride with. Now I’m pretty stoked on it. There is always something that can be better obviously. But I’m just going to leave it. We’ve got four races to go and it’s not like my bike is terrible by any means. I can ride with it pretty good and I’m just going to go to Washougal, throw a couple of whips and then go race."
On this weekend’s race… “Actually Washougal is the perfect German track with the dirt, the elevation and everything. I would lie if I would say I really like it. I don’t know why. Honestly it’s another one of those things. I’ve never really done good there. Have you noticed that? I’ve never really felt that good. But, again, I go to the weekend and I have fun. But the problem is just when it’s sunny. We talk about it every year with the shadows and stuff. It’s really, really tough."
On Adam Cianciarulo and his season… “The kid hasn’t really ridden a whole lot of races in the last couple of years, so I think it is awesome just to get through the whole outdoor season, get races under his belt and get comfortable. We obviously give him pointers. We always have stuff to work on to keep that intensity the entire time, so we always have a good plan. I help him wherever I can and he listens pretty good, but besides that even when it’s super hot out here and it gets tough at the same time we’re still having a blast. That’s what makes you go forward."
On racing the 2016 Motocross of Nations… “I’m unsure. I want to every year – I love the event. I’ve ridden it a bunch. I think I won four consecutive MX2 titles and then obviously in 2012 Germany won in the sand. I definitely plan to race it every year. I still am, kind of, but I just don’t know yet. It’s expensive – that’s another thing I think with the teams. For them it’s kind of like, ‘whatever’. There is a good possibility we have to take the cost on us and ship everything."
On racing this off-season… “We have done twenty-five races and only had three weekends off. I think you can ask any rider and I think we would lie if we would say, ‘no, let’s keep racing for a few more weeks.’ On the break, actually my mom, my sister and my niece are coming over. We are going to go to Utah for a little bit, hang out and look at a couple of cool places for a couple of days. It’ll be fun.
“I’m looking forward to it. I don’t have a whole lot of family time. My parents and everybody have been in Germany. It is for the better, I think, because I’ve got a great routine going and if there are a couple of off-weekends, like this right now, it will be a good time for them to come over for a little bit. Then I’m going to go back to work and get the job done."
Words: Steve Matthes | Image: Suzuki Racing