Matthes Report: MEC

Matthes on countless topics.

Matthes on countless topics.

Well, after a short break where we saw that bringing a bunch of world champions and a 450SX champion to Europe to race doesn’t exactly pack them in a stadium, we return to racing stateside with the annual Monster Energy Cup in my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.

If you’re a rider and you do well at this race then it means everything. Unless you don’t do well then it means nothing. Truthfully we’ve seen a number of surprise winners over the years at this race and, although it’s provided excitement almost every time, it doesn’t forebode what’s going to happen in the 2017 supercross season.

Remember when Trey Canard coming within a mid-race crash from winning all three main events? What about Davi Millsaps taking the win with 3-4-1 scores in 2014? James Stewart going 8-1-1 for the win in 2013 or Ryan Villopoto’s disastrous weekend at that same race where Stew won? Or the weekends where Ryan Dungey, Jason Anderson and Villopoto forgot to dip into the Joker Lane and robbed them of race wins? I always find it amazing that these riders forget to do the one simple thing that they have to do this race. The mechanics are signaling them, there are constant reminders before the race and it’s the old saying: ‘You had ONE job…'

We’ll have Honda’s Ken Roczen there on his new electric start equipped CRF450 to shake everything down. Roczen’s got no fear about showing his cards with limited time on a new bike. I like that about him and I think, with everything he’s been doing lately, pick him for the win.

Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey raced last weekend for the first time since early June at the SMX Cup and fared pretty well in winning the race although, in talking to people, it seems that he wasn’t the fastest rider there but rather took advantage of some mistakes. Full confession, I watched the GoPro video of the track and that was it. I haven’t seen one highlight of the race so I’m just going off information. Dungey probably isn’t at one hundred percent right now but he’ll be, as always, very quick.

Eli Tomac will be shooting to continue his recent run of good form (ConwayMX)

With the format being three ten lap main events, I’m not sure that’s catering to Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and his, uhhh, not-so-great starts. Last time we saw Eli he was laying the smack down at the two USGPs but supecross, well he didn’t have a great 2016. He did come on much stronger at the end of 2016 and the team thinks that they found some settings on the new Kawi 450 to help things out. So this race will be a test and a continuation that the team is on the right track to help Tomac get a better feel for his bike.

No JGR Yamaha at this race as they get ready to announce a switch to Suzuki, no RCH Suzuki at this race either as they don’t have their program quite locked in yet but I expect Broc Tickle, Justin Bogle and maybe Dean Wilson to ride there once things are situated.

As anyone who’s ever listened to me on the Pulpmx Show knows, I like pretty much everything the Feld guys do at this race. Whether it’s the three mains, the Joker Lane or even the Olympic-type scoring to determine the winner. I’ve long advocated that we need some changes in supercross. The advent of four-strokes in the sport can’t/won’t be stopped and it’s hurt the racing. Outside of 1985, we’ve had the same basic scoring of mains, length of mains for the sport’s entire forty-year history and age is showing.

Virtually every other form of motorsport has changed something in it’s time but not supercross. It’s time to remember that in 2016, you can’t roll out and call it a sport and hope that people are entertained. You have to try to entertain the people and too many nights of runaways, injuries, clinching early has hurt supercross, along with the bikes being too powerful for the tracks of course but that ain’t changing.

Bring on the Monster Cup. Let the Joker Lane grab you in and show you what’s up!

Ken Roczen will make his HRC debut in Las Vegas this weekend (Red Bull Content Pool/Garth Milan)

Kenny Roczen was the big news this off-season when he switched to Honda for the next three years. Coming off a 450MX title with the RCH Suzuki guys, it was a bit surprising that he’s switching but, as Roczen told us on the Pulpmx Show a couple of weeks ago, he had made up his mind to go with Honda a long time before gelling with this outdoor MX set-up.

Here are a few of the good quotes from Roczen about his new deal.

On why he signed with Honda… I had just kind of made up my mind and went with Honda. I feel like it’s a good fit. We have a decently long-term deal. I want to be the top rider on the team. For me it was pretty clear that this was my option to go to. I’m super happy with my decision. I know those guys are all stoked, and just the vibe in the team right now is unbelievable. That’s what makes it so much fun. I don’t care about anything else, but me and the team are absolutely great right now.

On what he likes about the Honda compared to his Suzuki… The balance of the bike is pretty amazing. I hop on it and obviously I could ride my Suzuki really, really good but I always felt like it was a little weird. I was super sensitive to the rear being high or low and it would get out of balance really quick, whereas I feel like the Honda is super balanced. It turns really nice. The whole geometry of the frame is pretty amazing. You know how I am with my comments about bikes. I’m not afraid to say when something sucks, unfortunately, but I was blown away the first time I hopped on the bike by how good it was, literally. I didn’t know what to expect, and then I hopped on it. Seriously I had a huge smile on my face, which was kind of amazing.

On making that phone call to Carey Hart and Ricky Carmichael at RCH telling them he’s leaving the team… That’s why those guys have been amazing. I’m talking to Carey still to this point. I’m going up to Santa Barbara again and I’m sure I’m going to his house and hang out and stuff. We have more than just a business relationship, and still with Ricky. We’re always bull crapping around and laughing and stuff. There’s something more than just the business part of it.

On getting his mechanic Oscar Wirdeman to come to Honda with him… Huge deal. He was the man that made a lot of things happen, and the kind of relationship that we have is unbreakable. So from my side it was absolutely clear from the beginning on that I wanted him there. I mentioned it and it seemed like they were all on board and would try their hardest to make it happen. Obviously it’s a little bit of a long ride there to really get it done. Not that I was nervous, but I feel like a lot of people say, “yeah, no problem," but does it really happen?

Obviously everything pulled through and I was really on the edge there for a minute because, I know what those guys are capable of, but we’re both Euros and we laugh more than anything else, me and Oscar. He’s super smart. Once everything was said and done I was super relieved and happy.

Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: ConwayMX

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