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The Motocross of Nations fired into life with a pre-race press conference on Friday afternoon, as it always does, and plenty of interesting comments emerged from the media event. The comments that a couple of the most popular teams made can be viewed below and enjoyed, then after go in-depth with four riders elsewhere on MX Vice.
Roger DeCoster (Team Manager): "Well, we did a national here in July and these guys did really good. I expect that they are going to be just as good this weekend. For sure it is good to know the track that you race on and to have experience on it. We also do not underestimate our competition. I think Team France, Team The Netherlands and then there are some other really good riders here… They are all the best in the world. It should be a good day for the race fans.
"This level of riders all have experience in wet conditions. The Europeans are really good in the mud and rain, we know that, but I think overall it is not going to change the balance of the chances of winning. I think that will stay pretty much the same. I don't know [if this will be my last Motocross of Nations as team manager], it depends if these guys still want me. We will let them decide. I am just thinking about this weekend, this event and getting back on the winning side. It has been six years. We should have won in Italy, I feel, if it was not for the accident with Jason [Anderson] after the first race. We will let someone else decide that. I am just focussed on this weekend, getting through it and back to winning more."
Eli Tomac: "I think it is all good. It has just been fun being here for the day we have been here now. We are just excited to be here at RedBud; it is a great facility for the USA. Probably the best one for us to have here. If it was not for the weather, it would be a perfect weekend so far. We are just excited to get it going. Absolutely it is easier when you can stay inside the country and come to an event at a track that we have ridden in the past. I am feeling good right now. It is what I expected. The people are starting to get out and about and everyone is having a good time."
Aaron Plessinger: "I am feeling great and super excited that I got picked for this one, with it being in RedBud in the USA. It could not be any better, I think. We have got one of the best teams that you could have. I think we could do some damage and I am really looking forward to seeing the fans and getting out there to race. I am pretty confident at this track. I am just excited for the gate drop and to hear all of the fans, more of the chainsaws and airhorns and to get this thing going. I am more excited than nervous and I am ready to get the job done. I think they did not change too much. The dirt is still the same, so I am going to gel with the track and flow with it. Last time I was here I won and I am hoping to do it again, but I have to race 450s now."
Justin Barcia: "Yeah, definitely. The American fans are behind us a little more than ever, with it being on American soil. I always come to this race and it is very enjoyable for me. Some people look at it as an extra race, but I think the team here now is really motivated to get the win. That is the goal every year that we come but this year everything seems to be gelling really well. We had enough time after the season to have a little testing, fine tune the bike a little bit more and have a little break as well. All in all we have a fantastic team. The track is sick, I love coming here. It is probably one of my favourite tracks. I have always had really good results here. It has been an awesome year and to be here is the icing on the cake.
"Yeah. It is awesome to travel a few hours and be here, not far away from home. Don't get me wrong I love going to Europe and racing. I like the challenge and to ride new tracks, but this just feels good. I haven't had this feeling in a long time, like the nerves and being excited. Being here today, it is just amping me up and I just want to get on my bike and go racing. The American fans here are already gnarly so it's going to be a sick weekend."
Pascal Finot (Team Manager): "It is always tough to make the selection, but the biggest problem for us was the injury of Romain [Febvre]. It is always tough to make the selection, but we are lucky in France to have many top GP riders and all of the guys here on the stage have at least one world championship title. For me I am fully confident in this team and for sure we never give up during this weekend."
Gautier Paulin: "I am happy to be here. You said in the question that last year was a comfortable win… I would not say that. Every win is tough to get and nothing comes for free. Last year we were strong again and won the Motocross of Nations again, but the title is back on the table and we have to redo everything again. We are here in America. There are a few strong teams, but we are a really strong team. Nice [is what I think of the track]. Nice dirt. Big land. Big jumps. The weather is not with us right now, but anyway we are ready and we are motocross race. I am really happy to be here and the track looks really good."
Dylan Ferrandis: "Definitely it is an honour for me. I think the Motocross of Nations for a rider is the best feeling you can have. It is the best feeling ever to be selected for the country. Now, living in America, it is such an exciting event and to share it with all of the people I grew up with and rode with a few years ago… I am definitely excited and feel good about this weekend. It is a little bit like a home track for me; I rode here last year and two months ago for the national. I felt good.
"I have my bike here that I rode all season, it is exactly the same, and I think we have the best 250 in the world. That will help me a lot on Saturday and Sunday. We will see. We are definitely excited and motivated for this weekend. For sure it is going to be interesting. The 250 race tomorrow will be really interesting, because I have never raced with the world champ [Jorge] Prado and I am curious to see what speed he has got. My teammate, Aaron [Plessinger], is the champion in America and man to beat. We are going to have some good battles tomorrow and Sunday for sure is going to be crazy."
Jordi Tixier: "If you want me to be honest, I am just super motivated and one hundred percent fit actually. Like you said, my season was quite difficult. I did only three GPs this year. I got a little injury at the beginning of the year and it has been a tough time. I actually feel really good. I found a team for next year and mentally I feel really good. Being in this selection with my teammates and all of the French team is just awesome.
"I think our motivation is pretty high actually and just being here in the USA, riding against so many strong teams, I am really happy and motivated. Let's do it. I did not have any bikes to ride, because I did not sign with any team, so it was quite difficult. We signed with VHR KTM for 2019 and with this selection we already decided to ride with this team for the end of 2018. Really thanks to them, for making me the bikes to ride. They are really good bikes to ride with good suspension. I am ready to rock."
|Team The Netherlands|
Patrice Assendelft (Team Manager): "We have a great atmosphere. First of all, I would like to thank Youthstream for the great organisation and our friends from the AMA for the reception. Very good. It is a great facility here. We are looking good. We're at the end of the season. Everybody is looking forward to this event, the last event of the season. I have great feelings about it."
Jeffrey Herlings: "Yeah, it will be beautiful, but it is going to be a gamble with the weather prediction as it is right now. It's a shame. We didn't really have one GP in the mud all year long and then now we're coming here to the US and it's most likely going to be rain tomorrow then Sunday too. With that it is like a gamble, but again it could fall into your hands but also into the other one's. We are going to wait and see. Like I said, it is a shame if it is not going to be dry because then it is really man to man and it is normal results. Now it could be like a gamble, but we'll see. It's hard to put a number onto it. I think as a team we are looking strong. We have a good team. Individually, I will do my best as well as be a team player.
"That would be dream come true to show up in Assen next year with numbers one, two and three on our bikes. First this weekend needs to be done. I think it's really hard to beat the US team. They are very strong, as well as many other teams, but we'll try to play it smart and to put in our best possible results. We'll see where it will take us."
Calvin Vlaanderen: "Yeah, first time here at the Motocross of Nations. First time actually just spectating also. It's going to be interesting. I'm happy to be here. It's a nice vibe. I'm looking forward to getting it underway. I had a pretty good season, I'd say. I think I made a big step from last season. Like you said, five podiums and an overall win. I did expect it coming into the season. I was ready and I was expecting that. But, like you said, it's an honour to be selected to ride here for the ‘Nations. I'm at I'd say my peak form. I'm feeling really good physically and mentally. It should be a good show Saturday and also Sunday.
"Yeah, sure. Brian [Bogers] unfortunately is injured. I'm taking over his number this weekend, number five. Hopefully it will bring me some good luck. I know he has done well in the past for the The Netherlands in the ‘Nations. Two years in a row he's been second with the team, so that's also a lot of pressure on me. I need to perform this weekend. I think it's good. I’m feeling comfortable. Also with the team we have a good vibe and everything is going well. I'm looking forward to it."
Glenn Coldenhoff: "Last year we were far off the win. It was a lot of points, but the year before we were very close. Then we came in without expectations and then we were even happy with a second place. For now I think the goal is to win. We all want to go for that. We're all motivated. We all feel good. It's a great atmosphere in the team and also nice having our boss on the federation here as team manager. I think it's kind of cool. We had a few days of practice together and we all feel good. We are having a great time. Looking to do well here this weekend. We came in yesterday evening, so we all didn't even watch the track yet. We're going to do that later I think. We just arrived."
|Team Great Britain|
Mark Chamberlain (Team Manager): "It has been good. We had a little bit of a wayward parcel, but it's all good. Tommy [Searle] got out on his bike, which was built here, yesterday and then the other guys had their bikes shipped. I think it's a strong team. We have got to be realistic. There are some really strong teams this year. It's the strongest ‘Nations for a long time, but I believe in the three guys who I've chosen. They are capable of getting on the box. We do need them to perform at their highest and maybe a little bit of luck, but I'm really confident in the boys. Yeah, they are relaxed. They are happy. That's the main thing.
"Yeah, sometimes there is a little bit of resistance for my ideas but to be fair as soon as they get together they are used to riding as individuals, as you know, all through the year and then to be put in that situation… But they get on so good. It clicks. The girlfriends have been great. That makes a big difference as well. It's been a good week. They are happy.
Tommy Searle: "I think for us just to all do our best and obviously we have to perform well because there are strong teams, but I think everyone of us on our day has the potential to be up front and be on the podium. I don't see any reason why not. Me and Max have both raced here before a while ago. The track also suits us with the wet conditions. It's been technical, especially Max [Anstie] and Ben [Watson] in those conditions. They really shine. I think we just have to do our thing, believe in ourselves and try and get it up on the box.
"In 2009 I raced here obviously as part of the AMA championship. I got second place here, which was my best of the season. It was a long time ago. I can't even really remember it to be honest. From looking at the track just a little bit and walking around, it looks great. I can't wait to get out there. Hopefully the rain doesn't put a damper on it too much, but either way I feel good and I feel confident. I'm looking forward to racing."
Ben Watson: "It's incredible. Of course, I have had a solid season and kind of exceeded a few expectations from my side and my team's side. This was not something I was really thinking about. I was concentrating on having a solid season and I wanted to end it strong. I didn't have a great weekend last weekend, but it was a few things a little bit out of my hands. Maybe wanted it a little bit too much. To have this opportunity and to come to represent my country, it's an incredible feeling and one that I'll take with both hands and really give it my everything. I've got both my brothers and my mum and dad here, and a couple of friends have come with them, so they have come to support me.
"I haven't actually had a proper look around the track yet, but from what I've seen it looks really good. Actually much deeper sand than what I expected. I watched the AMA national here and it looked really technical and there were some big ruts. Actually my favourite conditions, so I hope even with the sand and the little bit of rain that it's going to get even more technical. I feel that with me, Max [Anstie] and Tommy [Searle], I think we are pretty strong in those conditions. I'm excited."
Max Anstie: "I still got three podiums against the best riders in the world and top ten in the world championship. You don't want to talk about the bad races. You want to talk about the good ones. I think it's an achievement to do that in itself against these guys. I'm really looking forward to being back here in America and racing the Motocross of Nations. We've got a great team. It's just a great experience. I cannot outdo last year. I can't do better than that. It depends what happens with the starts. It depends on a lot of things. Obviously it would be good to put Ben [Watson] down the inside on the gates. We'll see what happens. We'll see how the scores are going, see how it is and just do my best for the team and focus on myself and that's it. If the other guys do the same, then we’ll be good."
|Team Puerto Rico|
Rick Johnson (Team Manager): "Mentoring these athletes, that's kind of the role, but there's also the ringleader of the Nitro Circus and that's actually Travis' [Pastrana] job. This started six months ago and was the best-kept secret in motocross. Travis [Pastrana] actually sent me a text and said, ‘I have a crazy idea and I need you to talk me out of it.' What happened two months before that is he wanted me to do a two hundred-foot car jump with him strapped to the roof. I denied on that because I don't want to be the one that gets Travis, so I'm like, ‘I can't wait to hear what he's got to say.'
"He came up with this concept of racing in the Motocross of Nations for Team Puerto Rico. Obviously, the world has seen how much damage happened to Puerto Rico and how much really people haven't helped them get back on their feet. When he told me about the crew that he was putting together… We tried to get Kevin on a 125 at first and, like he said, he's a full-grown man now so he didn't really want to do that.
"Anyhow, that's what it started as. So for me to be a part of the team, as you know, I haven't been involved that much with the motocross racing, because I've been doing truck racing and other things. It was a great way for me to come back. I've always loved this event as a racer. I've loved this event as a fan. It's the opportunity to get everybody together, but when you get a crew like this… You have got Ryan Sipes who can race anything. He's won TT races, GNCC, supercross, Straight Rhythm.
You have got Travis [Pastrana] who rides everything under the sun and who I feel is the most stylish rider to ever throw a leg over a motorcycle. I don't care what kind of shape they are in. I know what kind of effort they are going to put forth as soon as the gate drops. If I can help them with anything along the way with my past experiences, and also raise money and awareness for Puerto Rico, I'm in."
Kevin Windham: I have had flashbacks. I actually had good ‘Nations for us and bad ‘Nations. Of course the Ernee trip was incredible to be able to win for Team USA. I've been to Brazil. In my entire career of twenty years I had the opportunity to be invited to the ‘Nations four times. One time it was spoiled for a broken collarbone. One time we didn't go then the other two times were in Brazil and Ernee. When I got the opportunity for a fifth call for Puerto Rico, it was an interesting endeavour. We talked about it, Travis [Pastrana] and I, for quite some time. Probably all the way back to January of this year.
"For some reason I didn't accept until six weeks before this race, which has left me in a little bit of a bind. I've been retired now for five years. I would say I'm a plus-size man, at least in the motorcycle world. I'm full-figured. We had six weeks to go. I can tell you all that I take a lot of pride in this event. I'm stoked to be here. I'm glad to see the participation of the fans and the things we have been able to do to raise some money. It's an honour not only for that cause, but just to be a part of this race. This is truly a unique opportunity for us. All ‘Nations are unique, but I think this situation is a little bit more unique than normal.
"If this question is for me, absolutely none of it. I have not enjoyed one step of preparing. Six weeks is not a lot of time. I've wanted to kill Travis [Pastrana] on a daily basis. I would send him very ugly text messages just telling him how much I didn't like him. I think that we all have a sense of what this could mean for Puerto Rico. We're taking pride in it. Everyday I hurt I was reminded of that and hopefully it shows on the track Sunday."
Ryan Sipes: "Yeah, I always wanted to be that. Obviously for Team USA would have been both my dream, but that's why I couldn't turn it down when they called me up and said, ‘Hey, do you want to race for Team Puerto Rico?' I'll race for whoever. I get to race Motocross of Nations, so I'm all for it. This has been a good time with this crew here. Just good times and having a lot of fun getting ready for this thing and raising money and trying to do some good with it. Our camaraderie is text messages and text chains about how bad they are hurting when they are doing their thirty-minute motos, plus me trying to get a bike together. It has been fun."
Travis Pastrana: "About a year ago, Ronnie Mac actually called me up and he started this whole process. He said, ‘Look, I want you to race the Motocross of Nations.' I laughed. I was like, ‘It's got to be a joke. Are you drunk?' He was like, ‘No, I talked to Gabby.' He said, ‘Look, there is an awesome opportunity that we could get together. We are going to train. We are going to ride. We are going to get back to our roots. We are going to have some fun, but at the end of the day we get to do something that not a lot of people get to do and that's actually raise some money and go down to a place that needs some help.'
"Gabby was like, ‘We have got many riders down here. We have got a great facility, but let's see if we can get down there. Let's see if we can fix up these tracks. Let's raise a little money to send some of the Puerto Rican riders to some different events and to be able to do something good.' I said, ‘Okay.' That is when I called Rick Johnson. I said, ‘Please. This is a horrible idea. I'm way too old for this. I looked up to you… You were the best before I was born.' He is like older than dirt. I was like, ‘Just talk me out of it.' He was like, ‘I’m in.' [Ryan] Sipes was in and then Ronnie Mac got thrown off. We got the caveman to come out of retirement and he has been pretty deep in retirement. The fact that Kevin Windham agreed to do this was… It's not the dream team, but this is my dream team.
"You have the greatest team that ever graced Motocross of Nations. Team Captain Ricky Johnson right there. The dream team of Motocross of Nations. For me, the greatest moment of my entire life was kicking France's butt for the USA in St. Jean d'Angely at the Motocross of Nations. Even though we are here as a territory of the United States, supporting the US and hoping the US kick butt, we have a chance to get back on dirt bikes and to ride. Kevin Windham wanted to ride in 2014 and he didn't show up to Anaheim, because he goes, ‘You know what? I'm just a little too tired and too beat up.' No one threw him a retirement party. We know RedBud is the best place of all of motocross to be and his retirement party is going to be Sunday night."
Interviews: Press Conference | Lead Image: ConwayMX