ADAM CIANCIARULO INTERVIEW: BACK-TO-BACK PODIUMS HEADING INTO 2020 RED BUD NATIONAL 1 & 2
After just three rounds in the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, Adam Cianciarulo is making headway in his rookie 450 season. At the first Loretta Lynn National, Adam led the opening lap two laps of 450 Moto 2 until he crashed out of the race. However, he turned things around at Round two and finished on the podium in second with 3-5 moto scores. Round three, the 2020 Ironman National, was an even better showing for Adam as he scored the fastest qualifying time and led more laps in Moto 2 before ultimately finishing 3-4 for third overall. We pulled the Monster Energy Kawasaki factory rider aside to ask him about his viewpoint on being a frontrunner in the 450 class. If not for a second moto DNF at the series opener, it is likely that Adam would be higher up in the championship points than his current fifth place standing shows.
By Jim Kimball
LOOKING AT PREVIOUS 450 ROOKIES LIKE COOPER WEBB, ZACH OSBORNE, AND AARON PLESSINGER, THEY ALL SEEMED TO STRUGGLE WHEN THEY FIRST MOVED UP FROM THE 250 CLASS. YOU SEEM TO BE AN IMMEDIATE CONTENDER. I feel I have grown a lot the past few seasons on the 250. And moving up to the 450, it helps when you come into a great team like Kawasaki that has been winning races and championships for a really, really long time. Everybody around me is super knowledgeable, and I am able to lean on them for the experience, and lack of experience I have. They have all been there and done that. I know I have the talent to be one of the best guys in the world, and obviously now I am working out the kinks. I have not won yet, but I am going to just keep trying, waking up and doing my best every day during the week and at the races. I know that I will get there eventually. I am really encouraged so far.
Adam said in his post race recap:“The day started off really good, especially with qualifying fastest. I had a lot of comfort on the bike from the start thanks to the great communication with the team; they really had my KX450 dialed. I kind of blew it off the start in the first moto but I was able to pass what felt like 15 guys in the first lap and finished third. I got a great start in the second moto, which was awesome, and it felt really good to lead some laps. Obviously, the goal is to win each time we get out on the track, but I’m proud of the effort we put out there today. I can’t be too frustrated because I had the speed and I gave it everything I had. I’m so stoked for the entire Kawasaki team. We’ll work to improve on some of those minor things and just keep proving I belong up front and on the podium.”
WHAT IS TRULY THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE FROM RACING THE 250 CLASS TO THE 450 CLASS? Your mistakes are more obvious in the 450 class. You have to be super disciplined with how you ride the bike. Being a bigger guy on the 250, I was able to manhandle it and get away with a lot. As you can see so far this year for me, when technically I screw up, it goes really bad on a 450-really quick. You just need to be super locked in mentally, and the way you ride the bike. And of course, the competition is definitely harder. Pretty much everybody up there in the top five has been a champion at one point or another, so competition is gnarly.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOURSELF SO FAR IN 450 OUTDOORS? I am really encouraged. I really did not know what to expect coming into my first year. I have shown flashes. I have shown that I can do it, and I am capable of being one of the best guys, so I think I will get there sooner rather than later.
YOU HAVE THE SPEED TO RUN UP FRONT; WHAT ELSE ARE YOU LEARNING WHILE RACING THE 450? It is always a growing and learning process. Like today, I definitely had the speed to win, but I just used a little too much energy in the first moto coming through. I was not strong enough to last through those final ten minutes or so in the second moto and that made a difference for me. But mentally, I stayed in it and kept doing my best. You take a race like this and keep building on it until all of a sudden you do not get passed.
IS THERE A PARTICULAR CHAMPIONSHIP FINISH THAT YOU HAVE IN MIND? DO YOU HAVE A SET GOAL? No, I try to stay away from the goal thing because in Supercross I got into a mental rut of, “I have to win this week; I have to win this week.” I don’t think that is the right way to go about it. I think focusing in on doing the absolute best you can, whether it is sixth or first, or whatever it is, is the way to approach it. So that is my focus every day; just do my best and get the most out of each day. If that is fifth every weekend, then it is fifth every weekend.
I THINK YOU HAD THE BIGGEST CHEERS TODAY OUT OF EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PODIUM; WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THAT? It is awesome. For me, coming into the Pros, I maybe was not so liked as I am now. I think people can get behind an underdog story, and that is somewhat of how my career has turned out. I hit some severe lows, and now I am coming back and racing with the best guys in the world. It is so encouraging to get cheers from the fans like that and it is why we do it. You know, I think if I could not connect with people like that, I would not be as happy as am, so it is definitely one of my favorite parts of getting to do this.