By John Basher


    I have a lot of respect for Jamie Moyer, the journeyman baseball player in MLB, a 46-year-old that has been pitching professionally since 1986. That’s a loooooong career. No disrespect to Jamie, but I think what John Dowd and Mike Brown are doing is much more dramatic. Dowd (46 years old) and Brown (40) are still risking their lives, all these years later, and competing at the highest level. Moyer probably has to ice his arm after an outing, but Dowd and Brown must have downed a bottle of Advil and slept in ice chests after Millville…and that was just so they could get up and go to the airport the next day! Keep on trucking, “Junkyard” and “Brownie!” You’re both true inspirations. Photo by Scott Mallonee.  


    Here’s some of the latest gossip regarding the silly season. Dean Wilson has signed with Jeff Ward Racing for next season. Supposedly Mike Kranyak, part owner of JWR, ponied up the money. The team will again be on Kawasaki’s, and the rumor is that the team will get more support from factory Kawasaki. Also, Christophe Pourcel has signed a letter of intent, but there are stipulations. It’s not a done deal until Pourcel’s demands have been met. And, in more Kawasaki news, the factory team isn’t doing anything until they get a deal signed with Ryan Villopoto.



MXA: Let’s get right down to it. Who’s on your short list of names that might represent Team USA at the Motocross des Nations?
Roger: Soon we will have to decide, but based on what’s going on right now we definitely need to look at Blake Baggett, Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac. I’d pick two of those three, and then Ryan Dungey.

What about a more experienced 450 guy for the MX3 spot?
Like who?

There’s a lot of talk about Mike Alessi. He’d be dying to go. What are your thoughts on him?
There are two problems there. I’m not so sure about what kind of support, equipment-wise, he’d get in Europe. Also, looking at lap times from the Nationals, there are 250 guys going almost as fast as Dungey, and Dungey is going a lot faster than anybody else that he’s racing right now. If Ryan Villopoto came back and won the last few races then we’d have to consider him. The same goes with James Stewart. However, that’s a scary proposition, because James has been so up and down. The 250 guys have been impressive this year. I definitely want to consider one of them to ride the 450. Justin Barcia rides the 450 really good, and he can ride sand. I need to talk with Mitch Payton and the AMA, but this is my opinion right now.


Did you think before the Nationals began that Dungey would be dominating at this point in the season?
I knew that Ryan would be in the hunt, but with Villopoto’s injury it changed things. Villopoto is the only rider that I thought would give Ryan a run for his money on a regular basis outdoors.

KTM had a long history of trying to succeed in U.S. racing, but they couldn’t make much headway. Then you come on board as team manager, and then Dungey makes the switch a year later. Now KTM has won the last five 450 Nationals and KTM looks well on its way to the title. Do you ever take a step back and look at what you’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time?
It feels good, but it’s the result of a lot of people putting in a big effort. It comes from the factory side in Europe, and the people that put the bike in production, and for them to let us what we need to do. We have a really good crew in the U.S., and we’re all giving it 100 percent. It has been fun to see everything come together the way that we wanted it to.

What rider has surprised you the most outdoors?
With Ryan I expected a lot from him. For me, Blake Baggett has made the biggest improvement this season for the outdoors.

Ken Roczen is so focused on winning, but he looks a bit dejected on the podium sometimes. What advice do you offer Roczen?
It’s not easy! It’s not just trying on race day, but the whole week. Both of my guys have a ways to go on preparation. It’s the first time that they have raced a full season of the Nationals. When you tell them how hot it’s going to be at some of the races they tell me that it’s also hot in Europe. Well, it’s a little bit different here. Also, the level of competition is higher.

Weimer (21) Alessi (800) and Dungey (5). Photo: Scott Mallonee

The KTM 450SXF is probably extremely far along in terms of setup. I know that Ryan is very particular about suspension settings, especially his shock, but are you making any leaps forward in terms of development at this point in the year?
No. We’re not making big changes. There’s no reason right now to make big changes. We fine tune things a little bit, mostly with suspension. We have plenty of power, but the suspension can always get better. That’s what we focus on.

Years ago you met Ryan Dungey at Millville, and you ended up signing him to factory Suzuki. This year at Millville did you walk around the pits hoping to find another diamond in the rough?
[Laughter] That would have been nice! Guys like Dungey don’t come around very often.


    Are you looking to torture yourself? Maybe you’re a bit masochistic? Then ride solo at the 24-Hours of Glen Helen race on September 1-2. Or, if you’re up for a good time and enjoy the team atmosphere, get five of your buddies and race the team event. You’ll need a headlight, a pit strategy, lots of gas, and a spare bike wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. And the folks at Glen Helen moved the date of the race up a month, meaning that it’s going to be hotter and drier than usual. Good luck!


The pizza man cometh.

    If you know MXA test rider Dennis Stapleton, or know of him, then you remember that he travels around the world racing motocross for MXA. A few weeks ago he was in the Philippines racing with Daniel Blair, Sean Kranyak and Tiger Lacey. Then he came back to the U.S., landed in San Francisco, and drove down to my house, where he slept on my floor and harassed my wife (I really should charge Dennis rent). Then, like the 31-year-old kid that he is, I dropped him off at the airport so that he could go on another adventure. This time he flew to the Netherlands, where he’ll race the famed Zwarte Cross with Josh Hansen, Jason Thomas, Austin Politelli and others.
    As you can see from the photo above, Dennis has a unique sponsor for the race. Yes, he’s sponsored by a pizza shop. Always the joker, Stapleton had this to say, “This is a photo of my Zwarte Cross bike sponsored by Wagner Pizza. I’m going to be the fastest Pizza delivery guy in the world!” That’s a very cool sponsor to attain; however, he better not put his lips to a single piece of pizza. Why? When he comes back home next week he will be riding 2013 250 four-strokes! Keep that weight off, Dennis.

    Here’s a shot of the International youth weekend in Boekel 14-15 of July (South of Holland)    



Blake (12). Photo: Scott Mallonee

MXA: I was very impressed that you had the forethought to run up and get the flagger’s attention before trying to start your bike and get going.
Blake: I knew that I was in a bad spot [laughter]. I instantly crawled out of the way and as I turned around I saw that the flagger was chilling and looking in the other direction. I ran up there to get some attention, and once the flags started waving I ran back down to my bike. I tried to move my bike out of the way, and fortunately after a few kicks she started up.

What was the reason for the crash?
I came in a little hot. Coming up the face of the jump there were a few little ruts and it was rough. I lost some traction and wasn’t expecting it. I slid out all of the way up the face of the single, and then I lost the rear end. I stayed on the gas, but I wasn’t able to save it.

Those sand whoops are gnarly. What’s it like to blast through those things for two long motos?
It’s an area on the track where you can either gain or lose a lot of time. I tried to get a fast entry into the whoops and keep up as much speed as I could. Sometimes I would get a clean run through them and I could go pretty fast, and other times I would bounce through and lose speed. It was definitely challenging. I just tried to keep the momentum forward and put the wheels on the ground.

You were definitely pushing to get into the lead, more so at Millville than at the previous Nationals. That pass you made on Justin Barcia towards the end of the first whoop section was close to being really ugly. Why were you more assertive at Millville?
I was trying to get up there and get out front as soon as possible. The track was kind of one-lined, and so when I would see an opportunity I would try to take advantage of it right away. I didn’t want to wait. The track was more difficult than most tracks to pass on. Everyone took the same line. When I saw a spot to pass I wanted to take it right away.

There wasn’t much of a break between the first and second moto. Was it difficult for you to recover after the moto and prepare for the next?
No, it was fine. I went back to the truck, cooled off, and hung out for about 10 or 15 minutes. Then I had to start getting dressed again, and once the signal to get to the gate went off I got back down to the line. It wasn’t a big deal to me.

How are you approaching the championship?
I’m just trying to go out and get as many points as I can each moto. Of course I’m trying to win every moto so that I can get the maximum number of points. The goal is to win, but also keep the wheels on the ground. Sometimes you can’t control things that happen, but it’s important to recover when something bad does happen.

There’s a lot of discussion about the Motocross des Nations team. What are your thoughts on the team?
It’s all talk right now. There’s nothing to really say as of right now. When it comes time to announce the team at Unadilla they are going to pick who they want. It would be awesome if I could go again and represent the USA. I have one year under my belt and I know what it takes to do well in that type of situation. It’s definitely a lot different. I’ll take it as it comes. I’m going to do the best that I can right now to try and get a championship, and then I imagine that getting a spot on the team would be a realistic thing.

What do you think would be the strongest U.S. team?
Oh man, I don’t know! There are a lot of good guys right now and a lot of riders that are probably capable of getting it done for the U.S. It kind of depends on who is on their A-game at the time that Roger [DeCoster] and others decide to pick the team.



Mike in front of Ryan. Photo: Scott Mallonee

MXA: After the second moto at Millville you wore your emotions on your sleeve, so to speak.
Mike: I’m just saying it the way that it is. I want to win. At this point I want to win more than anyone else on the track. I’m showing that in my riding. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. If you were to ask me that 12 months ago I wouldn’t have been willing to do it. The fire wasn’t lit. I didn’t have the drive and the dedication. Now I feel like I have that spark back. I’m really motivated.

What changed between last year and now that got you motivated?
My results have been really good this year. I’m happy with my program and with Moto Concepts. Everyone has been so supportive. That has given me the push to put in all my effort to go out and win. When you do that the results come, and so does the happiness. I’m looking forward to going to the races again.

What’s it like to continue working with your Dad, but now in a more official capacity?
As of right now my Dad is overlooking the 450 program, but I think for next year he’s going to be the team manager. He’s doing a great job for the whole team. Having my Dad at the races, and also my wife, is a great thing for me. Racing is what we love to do. It’s a family sport, so we stick together and do the best that we can.

This is a question that I could have asked you a long time ago, but why return to Suzuki?
I was given the option of riding whatever bike I wanted to, and I felt like the yellow bike was the best choice for me. I had really good success on Suzuki in 2008 and 2009. I knew the transition would be fairly easy, since I was happy on the Suzuki. The hardest thing has been trying to develop the best suspension settings. It’s hard to compete with factory suspension. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Factory suspension is obviously the best stuff. We are doing the best with what we have, and MB1 is one of the of the best suspension tuners around. We’re showing that we can be on the podium with aftermarket suspension. Maybe I don’t need factory suspension, but it would be nice to test with it and see the difference. Right now we don’t have that capability.

You’re second in the point standings. Obviously you’re consistently on the podium, and you’ve been getting a lot of exposure. Does it eat you up that you’re not getting factory support?
It’s difficult to deal with. I don’t really know how to answer that question. It’s, just…I don’t know. I’m at a loss for words.

What’s it going to take to win?
[Laughter] A miracle, for sure! In order to win I have to beat Ryan Dungey straight up. At this point it’s really hard. He’s riding exceptionally well and he’s not making any mistakes. He also tends to get really good starts. Last week at Red Bud he started in tenth, but by the second lap he was already up to third. He needs to get a 20th place start and have trouble working his way through the pack. Then maybe by the time he gets to second I could hopefully be far enough ahead that I could win. At the end of the day I need to worry about myself and try to win.

Any way that you could up your game and stick with Dungey?
At this point I’m riding within my limits, and Dungey is just riding faster than I am. There’s no other way to put it. He’s riding better than anyone else on the track.

There’s a lot of talk about team selection for the USA at MXDN. I’d like to hear your pitch on why you should be on the team; that is, if you think you deserve to be on Team USA.
I think that I should be on the team. I know that Moto Concepts would help out as much as they could and support me. However, the first thing is that I need to get selected. The team would be willing to go over to Europe. We all want to go represent our country and bring home another MXDN win. That’s the goal. We’ll see what happens in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I get picked. That’s all that I can really say.


    It doesn’t take a degree in statistics to realize that, sooner or later, if you scrub (the way that you’re supposed to) you’re going down. Yes, I understand that sounds like a contradicting statement, but think about it. How many guys that actually scrub end up on the ground? Need evidence? Look no further than Trey Canard (Washougal, 2011). Or Tony Cairoli from the Latvia GP this weekend (below).

    One can claim that Blake Baggett crashed as a result of a scrub gone wrong in the second moto at Millville this past weekend. In truth his front end washed out, but from this camera angle it looks like Baggett was doing the scrub (below).

    What does all of this mean? If you’re a rider, beware of the scrub gone wrong. And if you troll You Tube looking for crash clips of motocross racers, there will be more to come.  


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