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2021 Thunder Valley Motocross | Post-Race Interviews


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Want to know what riders had to say about the 2021 Thunder Valley Motocross without watching a “How Was Your Weekend” video? We’ve transcribed the post-race chats from round two of the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship with riders in the 250 and 450 Class and added some photos of the riders in action. We’ll continue to do these going forward, with plans to get them on-site earlier in the week. 

Justin Barcia
450 Class | 7-3 | 4th Overall

How was it out there today? A bit different track than what we normally get at Thunder Valley?

I haven’t got to watch on TV yet, but I heard the racing up front was really good. I wasn’t in front in the first Moto [Laughs]. I think, all in all, there were lots of passing lines and stuff like that. It could have been a little wetter, but it’s motocross; you just take what you get. It was a good day.

I have been really excited to see you on this bike outdoors, especially after Supercross, because it’s such a different style for you. How is it? How do you feel? Your top-five speed right now has been big.

Yeah, I feel super good. The whole Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing team has done an awesome job, and the bike feels really good. We have just been making little changes here and there, just for my style, but I’ve been adapting to the bike more and more, getting used to it.

Michael Mosiman: Did you hear me at the top of the hill, of the start hill? I got everyone in the area cheering.

Barcia: [Laughs] He was cheering me on hard, thank you. Then I got passed and that wasn’t cool. Then I heard boo [Laughs]! I’ve been enjoying it and it’s been fun. I’m in a really good spot right now, and I have a lot to move forward on. Pala is not my favorite track and Thunder Valley is probably not my favorite track either, but all in all, I’m happy where I’m at and just going to keep plugging away and stay the points.

Michael Mosiman
250 Class | 34-11 | 16th Overall

How was it today?

Oh gosh, there were highs and lows in very short succession. I felt good all day and was really jelling with the track, it’s one of my favorite tracks, and yeah, it felt good. The restart kind of messed me up in the first one, and then I had major bike issues. The goal between my mechanic and I was, “Hey, we want to score points in every single race. And if we do that, we can be in the mix for the championship, at least the top five or something.” So, a bummer on the day to have a mechanical and miss points. I started way outside in the second Moto, and uh, man, I was absolutely terrified for the first couple of laps with being in the back. I was wet and slippery and squirrelly. Three or four laps in, I kind of got into my groove, found some good lines, started putting my head down, and it turns out I can go really fast when I want to do that. So that’s exciting and positive on the day, with negatives being more bike issues struck after I made my way into fourth. So, yeah, mixed emotions and I kind of don’t know how to feel. I’m proud of myself and where I’m at. I’m proud of my team because making a motor swap in the middle is not easy, and we still ended up scoring some points. I’m gaining the confidence, so it’s not all lost, but it’s really tough for the championship.

Hunter Lawrence
250 Class | 5-3 | 3rd Overall

How did the day go?

It was alright, it was alright. First Moto, not such a great start, and then kind of found myself behind Jett and RJ. And we just got smoked, straight up. We just didn’t have the speed. It was kind of like scratching our heads like, “So, I thought we were riding pretty good?” Even Jett was pretty frustrated, and he was like, “How can I go faster?” We put our heads together and rebounded for the second Moto with a lot better start and got into third. I actually had a crash at the halfway mark, which wasn’t ideal, just a stupid crash from taking a different line. I went into the turn, and it dropped down so deep, I just went straight over the bars, and I did a front flip in the turn. So, yeah, salvaged third and ended up third overall. So I think it was 5-3 for third overall, I can’t complain with that.

How is it to be back on the podium? It’s been a lot of hurry up, wait, stop, go. You’re there now, and it seems like they’re clicking off. Are they getting easier now that you know where you stand and it’s not so much a guessing game?

I don’t ever think it gets easier, because you always work in for it. So maybe it gets easier on the weekends, but it’s harder during the week, you know, or, or vice versa. So, I wouldn’t say it gets easier, but you just get more used to, you get stronger and stuff like that.

Jett Lawrence
250 Class | 4-1 | 2nd Overall

How did today go for you?

It was good. It was up and down in the first one, the boys gapped me out, fair and square. I got nothing else to say about that. I was giving it my all, and RJ, Justin and JMart gapped me out. I was going, “Fair play to them.” I was struggling that first time, but in the second one, I had to make sure I got a better start and just make sure I gave it to them. I’m ended up getting a really good start and was second behind Cooper. And I had a fun Moto with him. It was fun in the first few laps, how we were kind of battling and the going back and forwards. And it was good because dude, he was cooking. He was going fast, and I had to make sure I stayed on him. This is his track, so congrats to him for going back-to-back wins in Colorado. It was a good second Moto, and I was able to kind of get some points back. Bummer with Jeremy. I was talking to before; it sucks to hear that because you never want someone to go out injured, so hopefully, a speedy recovery for him. All around, a pretty good day to get second overall after that first motor. But are we going to go into High Point and hopefully we can do something similar like the first round and go 2-1 or 1-1 [Laughs]. But we have to wait and see. The second round was all good, and I was able to keep the red plate, which is always nice.

I have to ask you this because I’ve been watching the last two weeks. Where does your head go when you’re just clicking off laps late in the second Moto, when the track is so beat, and you’re just cruising. It doesn’t sound like the bike revved out, like you’re in the ideal gear and just in the zone, right?

Yeah. I think it’s you’re saying, like tunnel vision. You’re just so focused. In that second one, I just got such a better flow than the first one, and I could ride at like 80-percrent. I kind of was thinking if I could maybe break Justin a little bit in that second one. I knew he would play it safe and go, “Okay, I still got the win here. I’m going to just ride it home safe.” So, I just kept going and tried clicking off my laps. I was just in that zone and had a really good flow. If you tried overriding the track, I felt like it could bite you really quickly. So I just had a really good flow plus around the track and it was able to keep it every lap.

Chase Sexton
450 Class | 4-5 | 6th Overall

How did it go today?

Uh, I kind of sucked today. I didn’t start off good and practice wasn’t great. In the first Moto, I got a good start and then just kind of lost the lead group. I wasn’t really jelling with the track all day. And then in the second Moto I started last and rode the best I did all day. I needed a better start in the second Moto, so I got to do a lot of those going back to Florida. I’m looking forward to High Point, and we have a lot of racing left, but I have to get better.

How is this bike? Last year Tim Gajser and Mitch Evans showed what it has in MXGP and now you and Kenny are doing the same here.

Yeah, I really like it. Compared to last year, I feel way more comfortable and feel overall a lot better. I don’t know if that’s because it’s my second year on the 450. But if we fix the starts, I could be on the top step, I think.

Like you said, this is your second year on the 450, and you’re dicing it up with a lot of guys that have been there. Does it feel different than you? Did you find yourself being like, “Oh man, how am I going to pass this guy?” Or is it like, “Time to pick another guy off?”

You can’t, especially racing the 450, you can’t really look at their names. If you looked from the top 12 guys, they’ve all been championships. You have to go out there, and if you catch up on them, you have got to pass them, no matter who it is. So you have to just kind of shut it off. If it’s Eli or one of those guys, obviously it’s kind of weird, but you just have to go through them and keep going forward.

Aaron Plessinger
450 Class | 5-4 | 5th Overall

How did the day go?

Today was pretty good, and I can’t complain here. I’ve never felt the greatest here, so to pull off a fifth overall, which is my best finish out of any finished here, I’m pretty sure, I can’t complain. I’ve been keeping it consistent. The track was gnarly today. As dry as it started out, I didn’t think it was going to rut up that gnarly, but it got really, really rough and rutted. Hats off to the top three, because they were killing it. Kenny was way out in that second Moto and then Dylan just blew by me late. Hats off to them because they’re on really, really good and I got my work cut out for me, but all I need is a start, and we’ll get up there.

When we talked before Dallas, it was right when things starting to come along, and it was like, “AP is getting it.” You’ve got it now. How does it feel to finally be at this level, exactly where you’ve wanted to be after two pretty shitty years?

It feels great. To have those two years, it really puts stuff into perspective and makes me appreciate what I’m doing a lot more. It always could be worse, but to be back battling with the top guys, and that it’s starting to be every weekend now, I can’t be more thankful. The team has worked their asses off to get me here, and I can’t thank them enough. We’ve really turned this Yamaha team around. I mean, we’re all almost all in the top-five this weekend. I’m very appreciative and I can’t wait for the rest of them this season.

Christian Craig
450 Class | 6-7 | 7th Overall

How did it go?

It was good. The track was better; it was not as deep and crazy as Pala was. Obviously, look at the times everything was so close together and everyone was close in times. Just out there battling with freaking legends, literally I’m battling with Tomac and Webb, and it kind of like startles me for a second when I’m passing them. I’m just like, “This is crazy.” But I belong there, with those guys. So, 6-7 for seventh overall is a step in the right direction moving forward. And I’m jelling with the bike a lot more this weekend too. It’s just making little changes here and there. We’ve got a week off to keep improving.

About the bike, because guys like you and Dylan would have different opinions, but AP said just how much this thing has come around for you. How comfortable do you feel on it?

I mean, obviously, it’s winning, so there’s nothing to complain about it. It’s crazy how far they came from last year, even just a year. The stuff that they’ve come up with, testing-wise, and I’ve done a lot of the testing tool, it’s cool. It’s cool to see the progress of this team, and it’s still growing and getting better each week. It’s awesome that we got all three of us doing well.

Dylan Ferrandis
450 Class | 2-2 | 2nd Overall

How was the day for you?

That was a good one. I never expect to be second in the championship points behind Ken Roczen in my rookie season, so that’s really good. But a little feeling of disappointment for my brake issue in the first Moto when I took the lead. That was really bad luck and something that we need to look at with the team. I felt like the first Moto was really one of the best of my career, being patient behind the two great riders and passing both with really clean and good moves. I was really stoked on that. And then, yeah, my brake issue just killed me, and I’m glad that I didn’t finish worse than second. In the second Moto, I got a bad start and gave everything to come back. It’s cool, because in the second Moto I never expected to finish that good. When I saw that I was really back in the pack, I gave everything. The team and I worked really hard, the bike is great, and we made it a little better for Moto Two. We are on a really good pace right now, and I hope to keep going. We are really happy, there is room to improve, and we’ll take it.

You’ve never been a guy that gets intimidated by other riders. You know your talent and how good you are. So how does it feel to dice it up with guys in the 450 class? Like you said with Ken Roczen or Eli Tomac, they are guys that have been around forever and that you’ve watched for so long.

Yeah, it may look like this, but I’m intimidated by all these guys. Before I was riding the GPs, Roczen was the guy who was winning there and was the guy to watch, and Tomac when I was in 250s was the best guy. I’m like a fan, I love all these guys, but when it comes to racing, I put the guards on my eyes and try not to look at who is in front of me, and I give everything. In Supercross, it was more difficult for me. It took me time to be with the group of strong riders, and it was hard. I felt really intimidated, but now with two races in a row, I feel like I belong with this group. It’s really cool.

Eli Tomac
450 Class | 11-10 | 10th Overall

How was today?

It was kind of similar results as last week, so right now I’m just kind of searching and asking questions. So I don’t know. I’m really glad to be healthy right now, but 10th place is something I’m definitely scratching my head about. We’ve got a week off. I don’t know, maybe we need to do a little rebuild or something to try to figure it out.

Does everything feel okay, like it’s something substantially different?

Uh, no. No. It’s just like… I don’t know. I’m not sure what’s going on. In the first Moto, I was in a decent position that time, was maybe around fourth or fifth at one point, and then went backward. So that’s stuff when I’m kind of like, “What the heck right now?” Yeah.

The one thing that’s been said online, by some people that don’t matter, by media people, whatever, there’s a lot of questioning about like your competitiveness. We all know that the reason you’re doing what you’re doing in your career right now is because of your competitiveness. The fire is still there. You keep saying that over and over.

I would have already been done, especially after this year, if I didn’t want to go longer. There’s no reason to roll out, roll around out here, you know, that’s how I always look at it. It’s too dangerous. There’s a lot of money on the line for us to go get. So, there’s no point to be rolling around if, if you’re going to be rolling around.

Garrett Marchbanks
250 Class | 7-7 | 6th Overall

How was it?

it was cool to be back kind of in the hometown, I guess, and my home track. Qualifying was a little rough, had a rough one in the first one, just bike issues here and there. I shouldn’t say bike issues, just running a different tire. Second practice was pretty good, and I qualified seventh. In the motos, just rough starts. I don’t even know if I was in the top-15, but came through the pack, and in the first one I took seventh. In the second one it was the same thing; just came from the 24th, I think the team said, to seventh. The track was sweet, but the altitude kind of got to be a little bit today. The team’s been working great, the bike has been awesome, I had a great weekend on it, and I think it was my career-best finish.

You’ve been doing really well. These last two weeks have been very impressive for you, for the team, for everyone. How does it feel for you? Are you looking at it like a massive success right now, or is it more like, “Well, I got more left in the tank?”

It’s for sure a big step in the right direction. The team has helped me a lot with endurance on and off the bike, and the fitness. I mean, I don’t think my fitness has ever been this good. Back in my first and second years, I’ve struggled in the second Motos, and now my best finishes have come from the second Motos. The bike has been amazing, and I think everything’s going in the right direction. I definitely want more, I want to be in the top-five overall, but I’ll just take one step at a time.

RJ Hampshire
250 Class | 3-19 | 10th Overall

How was today? Good first Moto, rough second Moto.

It’s a tough pill to swallow. I felt great again and had a solid first Moto. In the second Moto, I just made a slight mistake the third lap in and had a big one, bent my bars terribly and smoked my clutch. I saw J-Mart down and knew I had to try to score something, ended up coming from way back to 19th. I’m just stoked to be leaving here somewhat healthy and to be headed back East. I feel like these few races kind of suit a little better. Honestly, pretty stoked on having the speed at these first two rounds, usually, I’m not the greatest at them. Not much else to say. I had a big crash today, nothing new. I just need to limit those and claw our way back into this thing.

Your speed has been good, and in the first Moto, it was impressive. To have that after so much time off and everything, how does it feel? Because it’s a to build on.

Yeah, but I feel like I haven’t struggled with speed in the last two years. I mean, it’s just that kind of crazy things happen. This one was 100-percent on me, and the first round, I won’t take full blame for that, wrong place at the wrong time. But that’s been my career. We’re trying to get better at this and being more consistent and calmer. I feel like I’m the calmest I’ve ever ridden right now and just happened to have a massive crash again. We’ll be alright. I feel like we’re in a good spot with our bike, had good starts today, which I didn’t have at round one, and I’m excited to head East. I think I can knock off some podiums and try to get back into this thing.

Jalek Swoll
250 Class | 10-6 | 7th Overall

How was it today?

I’ll take you through the day. So qualifying was like usual, like P20, pretty shitty. And then I felt like I came around a little bit in the first Moto, but still struggle a little bit. I’ve never really had to deal with the altitude, also the bikes feeling as slow as they were. So, it took me a minute to get adjusted, but in the first Moto was P10. Then the second one, I really felt like I came around and had a good start, ran around fifth for a while and finished it in sixth, so that was pretty good. Nothing to complain about. We still got some work to do, but for what it’s worth, we’re at the second round in and we’re getting better and better. I’m content, but not happy, and I think the more the rounds go on and the more races I get under my belt, I think we’ll be good. I’m just going to keep on plugging away.

A lot of good results at a time when you need them. You’ve needed to get some stuff together, but now in this contract year, this was really your maturity year. And here you are. It’s right on time with progress, right?

Yeah. My first year, my rookie year in Supercross, was really up and down and I didn’t really feel like I got to my full potential, just not riding well. And then I had an injury during last year’s outdoor, so I’ve never really got to do anything. I really feel like I’ve always been pretty good. I feel like I’ve had good speed, enough to get the results that I’ve been getting this year. But it’s just putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I think everybody’s different on how they click and put stuff together in the pros and how fast they do it. For me, I really just had to embrace the struggle the first year and put my mind to it. I feel like I’ve put in the work, and what you’re seeing now is more so where I was, should have been last year.

But contract year, I never really put the stress on myself. I always took it as just having fun and stuff like that. And honestly in Supercross, it really paid off for me. I went to every round to have fun and just be myself. And if I did get re-signed, I didn’t get re-signed. I was just going to take all the memories and the positives and everything from what I did over the years. But yeah, I landed myself another two years on the team. So it’s nothing to complain about, and we’re going to get better and better. I really think next year will be a good year for me and kind of like that the breakout season.

Dean Wilson
450 Class | 16-12 | 14th Overall

How was it today?

Yeah, today was a rough day for sure. I’m just struggling with a few things personally. I’m working on those things, and I’ll explain those later on, but yeah, it wasn’t a great day. Second Moto was better, got 12th and ride a little bit better, but nowhere where I should be. I just want to get better at each Moto from here on out and be more in the mix. You know, it’s a tough, tough class, I have Tomac two spots ahead of me. It’s crazy. I’m going to do my best, and that’s all I could do.

On the bike, everything feels good?

The bike is awesome, it’s really good. It’s just me physically. We’re working a few kinks and trying to get it figured out. It’s tough not being 100-percent out there, but we’re doing our best.

It seems like you’re having fun, I mean for the situation…

[Laughs] I don’t know. I mean, I’m having as much fun as I possibly can, but outdoors is a different breed, man. After, you know, this is year 12 for me, it wears on you, for sure. Outdoors is nasty. It’s for the men, for sure.

Michael Antonovich

Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.

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