The Matthes Report: High Point

Matthes on Cianciarulo.

Matthes on Cianciarulo.

Run for the hills, the sport’s top motocross stars are dropping like flies! Seriously though, our sport is so awesome but one of the downsides is just how dangerous it is. This 450MX class has been, through four rounds, a Kenny Roczen runaway and the class has been slowly fading away like a summer sun.

First up, as you should all know, was Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, who crashed at round three and is out for the summer with a neck injury. Then a HRC press release came out before round four that revealed that Trey Canard has a bulging disk and is out on a week-to-week basis. Now it seems that Rockstar Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson broke his collarbone and will be out for a while. Dungey, Canard and Anderson are three very capable riders that could challenge for wins and podiums. Now they’re out and Roczen’s got more than forty-point lead with eight races left.

Roczen wasn’t challenged to the end in really any of his wins, but things just got a lot easier for #94 with those three guys we just mentioned on the sidelines. Losing Dungey, Canard and Anderson is a heavy blow for their respective teams and the series itself.

Speaking of stopping Roczen, Monster Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and his team worked hard on improving his starts on the break before High Point. They changed some things on his clutch as well as with the motor (in an attempt to get Tomac to ride lower in the RPM’s) and it worked at High Point as the #3’s starts were better.

He fell in the first moto and ended up fifth, but in the second moto he was clearly the second best rider (and top American). It was a good sign for the team and Eli. There’s no doubt that, with the injuries we just spoke about, the Roczen and Tomac battles are going to become a lot more frequent.

Ken Roczen has, quite simply, been unstoppable thus far (Suzuki Racing)

Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo hasn’t started as quickly as a lot of us, including me, thought. AC’s been through a lot with injuries and although he’s gotten a couple of holeshots and led some laps, he’s also got a nagging shoulder injury and isn’t one hundred percent there yet with his fitness. The one-time wonder kid is still working hard, grinding away and trying to get back to being a rider that can run at the front. At High Point I caught up with him after his day to talk about his four laps led, his fade, his season so far and much more.

MX Vice: Tweet of the year so far: “Please return my parachute to the Pro Circuit truck" after that second moto. Holeshot and lead to I think about tenth or twelfth.

Adam Cianciarulo: No, let’s go with ten. I like ten. It sounds better.

MX Vice: At one point I saw you look over at McElrath and just be like, ‘yeah, go on’…

Adam Cianciarulo: I totally did. Even when I was leading for a few laps. For one I thought it was because I saw a blue fender off the start so I thought it was Martin, but obviously Joey was able to get around him before he got around me. Then when Joey passed me I was like, ‘okay, that’s cool’. Even when I was leading I was trying to ride at like eighty percent or so, because I only got to do two motos in these two weeks from that crash I had in Lakewood. I wasn’t feeling too hot. Especially because I had a little crash in the first moto too that just kind of zapped some energy, but that’s obviously on me.

MX Vice: So maybe the worst thing to do is get a holeshot and lead, because you kind of blow yourself up? But, then again, it feels good to lead…

Adam Cianciarulo: Oh absolutely. It’s a good confidence booster for me. Coming into the season it’s like, ‘okay, you’ve been pro since 2013’. Well, yes, I have, but I have the experience of a sophomore pretty much. That’s hard for me because I want to win. I’ve won professional races before, obviously not a lot, but I’ve won them before. That’s always kind of my mentality is to try to win. Especially these first few races when I have guys that pass me that don’t normally do that and I’m going backwards.

I want to just pin it; I end up pinning it and crashing right away. But today I said to myself, especially with my back that I’m dealing with right now, ‘okay, I’m just going to ride my race’ basically. Not to sound like an a-hole or anything, but I was like ‘F what everybody thinks.’ Even that first moto after I was leading some laps, Joey passed me. I knew it. I knew I wasn’t going fast enough. I knew I was going to get freight-trained by some guys, but I wasn’t going to pin it and crash or blow myself up and get eighteenth.

MX Vice: You held eighth place for a long time and I thought that was where you were going to finish.

Adam Cianciarulo: Mentally it was good for me, but I think people kind of have that confused with me. I think they think I go home and stare at a wall and I’m like, ‘oh man, am I never going to be what I once was?’ I’m not like that at all. I believe in myself no matter what. Even if I’m not the next Ricky Carmichael or whatever people said at one point, I do my best every time I’m on the track and I do the best that I can in any situation I’m dealt with. That’s all that I can ask for. I can sleep pretty well at night.

"Even if I’m not the next Ricky Carmichael…"" captionposition="left" (Spencer Owens)

MX Vice: So you kind of hit a wall with this injury at Lakewood and you did two motos in two weeks. Now you’ve got to build again, get back up, stay injury-free, then you get on a roll. It’s kind of one of those things once it starts you’ll be alright, but it’s hard to get it started.

Adam Cianciarulo: Absolutely. This off-season I had some things go on that kind of affected me and then I had the wrist injury. When I got the wrist injury I wasn’t in shape. Then I was obviously off for that, then I had five weeks on the bike before the race. I was even more kind of under the gun than I was even last year coming off of a shoulder injury. No excuses. These guys, we’ve got our rookies, we’ve got Austin coming in and we’ve got a few other guys. Everybody’s fast. Not going to take anything away from that, but I believe I am one of those guys.

With the way I felt in Lakewood actually, in that first moto obviously kind of coming from far back and passing some guys, I was really, really looking forward to getting back to Florida and kind of putting in some time. But, unfortunately, that’s not the hand we were dealt, but I’ve certainly been through worse.

MX Vice: Not a bad day. When you can holeshot and lead laps it’s always a fun day.

Adam Cianciarulo: Especially when you were an asshole and you said that I was never going to get a holeshot again, because I was too big. One hundred and sixty-five pounds, bro.

MX Vice: After the Lakewood holeshot I wrote and said, ‘okay, we’re done with the starts. He can do it. We’re good’.

Adam Cianciarulo: I was pissed actually because that first moto here today my gate, everybody’s was kind of like that, but my gate in particular, I watched it fall when they dropped it for the sight lap and I was like, ‘that’s not right’. It like notched on me. So I’ve been getting a lot of crap from Mitch and my dad for not getting starts. I think they think I’m trying to use my size as an excuse. They’re like, ‘you’re a good starter, get the start, you’re fine’. So that second moto I was pretty pissed off and I just wanted to do a good start. I swear, one of these days I’m going to stop crashing. I crashed again in that first moto and I was like, ‘you’ve got to be sh*tting me’.

MX Vice: You might have crashed in just about every moto.

Adam Cianciarulo: Pretty much. It’s nothing crazy. Obviously the Colorado one was pretty big, but other than that. I told my dad, I’m not focused on something else. I’m not really focused on other people. It’s just one of those things to where I think I’ve been groomed to win races and when I’m not, my head is not in eighth place where I am. I just need to train my brain to do that. I’m going to keep getting up until it stops happening.

Words: Steve Matthes | Image: Spencer Owens

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