MXA INTERVIEWS THE FLYING ECUADORIAN: MARTIN DAVALOS
Martin will be one of the favorites to win the 250 East Supercross opener in Dallas.
By Eric Johnson
Mitch Payton. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Race Shop. Corona, California. Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 7:00 P.M.
“I think Martin is ready. I was behind him last year when he won five heat races and almost won two main events. He could have won the Phoenix and Dallas mains but he didn’t finish it off. It was close, but not quite enough. I still really believe in him. I’ve believed in him for a long time because the way he rides supercross is so awesome and he gets good starts and his style is so good.
“And Martin has really taken steps to improve everything he does in the sport. He hired a trainer and he’s in the best physical condition he’s ever been in. By far. Mentally, he’s also stronger and much more confident this year. He’s fund happiness and that goes a long way. I really think he wants to win races. When he gets the first one done and out of the way, if he does a ?Wow! That was easier than I thought!’ He’ll win a bunch of them.
“Yep, I can see him winning at Dallas on Saturday night. For sure. I know what I’ve seen and what I’ve seen Martin doing isn’t for just one day. He’s consistently awesome. He’s made improvements to himself and we’ve made improvements to the bike in the off-season. Yes, I can see Martin winning on Saturday night.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship Contender Martin Davalos. AT&T Stadium. Dallas, Texas. Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 2:00 P.M.
MXA: Hey Martin. So you made it to Dallas?
Martin: Yes. I’m in Dallas. Like I told you, I was traveling yesterday, and we got in last night. I took a little later flight because I wanted to do some starts in the morning. I got in the hotel at about 11:30. It was a pretty rough because I had to be up at 4 A.M. to do press and to do a morning show for the team.
So you were able to ride a bit at AT&T Stadium today?
Yeah, we rode at the stadium really early. We needed to be there at 5:20 A.M. to do the live show. And then we did the press conference at noon. We rode some more after that.
What did you think of that stadium? That place is something else, isn’t it?
Let me tell you, this stadium is something else. This is my second time that I’ve been here. You can’t even explain in words how amazing this facility is, you know? We were just joking with my dad. We were just talking about the weather and he was worried about being so cold. The thing is, though, inside they have the heaters going and it’s so comfortable for a spectator to come and watch.
Well, going back to practicing starts yesterday. The start is going to pretty damn important in this deal, isn’t it? Especially with the short 15-lap 250SX main events?
Oh yeah. We all know this. We all know its key to put yourself in a great position in the race with a great start. Especially now that the teams are developing better bikes and the guys are working hard so the difference between everyone racing is not like it was back in the day. You’ve got to put yourself in good position because it’s not as easy now. It’s such a stacked field with so many good riders now that if you don’t get a good start it’s tough to come through the pack because you have to pass so many good guys. Obviously getting a good start will make life a lot easier.
If you go back to last year, I looked at your results as well as some race footage. Your start to the season – with the trouble you experienced at both Anaheim 1, Phoenix and Anaheim 2 – was pretty wild, wasn’t it? I mean if you would have gotten off to a better start, you very well could have contended for the title?
Yeah, definitely. You know a lot of people can be negative and say stuff about me being a veteran and stuff like that but people really don’t know the story about me; they don’t know how I started and how short of a time I’ve been racing. Overall, for me it wasn’t really a motocross career until I was 16. When I came here to the U.S. from Ecuador my amateur career was so short and I turned pro right away, so I really didn’t have too much experience. I obviously have experience as a professional because I was a professional very shortly after being an amateur. Last year started off at Anaheim 1 with Joey Savatgy kind of crashing in the first turn. I put myself in great position because I was up front and he endoed and that kind of ruined my whole event because the crash broke my radiator and other stuff. A DNF at the first round, mentally, that’s pretty tough. But more than anything I was okay. I was positive I was okay and nothing was wrong with me and I was just ready to close the page and turn a new page for Phoenix. I crashed, but the got a podium at Phoenix and that was definitely a great way to finish the second round. But yeah, basically I had almost two DNFs last year and even so I was really close to third place last year. Like you said, if I would have had those first few rounds in control I think I would have been a lot closer in the championship. I’m really looking forward to this year. Like everybody says, you can win it in Dallas or you can lose it, but for me I’m just going to take it race by race. I put a lot of work in this off-season and everybody knows I’m experienced and whatever and I am just ready for my work to show, you know? It’s never been that I never work hard, but I just need to put stuff together and I’m ready to do this. I want to be the guy to be. That’s my mentality for this year: I want to be that guy. I am going to ride with confidence and I’m going to do everything I can to show to be that guy.
I was at the Pro Circuit shop recently and “Bones” Bacon was commenting on how serious you were taking this 2014 season. He mentioned that he can tell you’ve gotten to another level as far as your training and riding and how serious you are about winning. It was high praise. He knows you can win.
Yes, I’ve seen a few people over the off-season to just kind of help me out. The mentality I have this year, you know the attitude that Bones is talking about and the positivity I have going on is really going to help me. And the team I have behind me is so good. My trainer that is helping me off the bike, we’ve had such a great pre-season. Everyone has helped me. I feel like we’ve covered every piece of the puzzle. We were ready for A1, but by riding the East it gave us a little extra time to kind of polish a couple of other things. Overall, I’ve been digging deep and just kind of really realizing what I’m capable of doing, you know? I’s aware of all the years I’ve worked hard. I know I can be the guy. I want to be that guy. I want to be positive every weekend and I want to make the best of it every weekend. I want to ride my own race. I don’t want to worry about anybody and I’m not worried about anybody. I know that whether I ride the East Coast or West Coast, I’m going to have competition. Everybody is going to have competition. There is no coast that is going to be easy. For me this year, I just want to ride for myself. I don’t want to go there worrying about who is in front of me or who is behind me. I want to go there and know that I rode like I know how to ride. I’m going to be happy with that.
And the team is really behind you and supporting you 100%, correct?
The team is awesome. People say, “Oh, you’re at Pro Circuit. You must have all the pressure in the world.” You do, you know, because it’s the best team in the world, but just to be around Bones and to be around Mitch and how positive they’ve been towards me and how much they’re willing to help me, it’s been an honor to ride that motorcycle. And our bike is very, very good this year. They always want to keep developing better stuff. They’re always there to help you out to make you feel like that whatever problems you have they can help you fix it.
You’re about to begin your ninth season in the 250SX class. Going back to your rookie year you’ve always managed to finish, approximately, ninth in the final season standings. However, you won heat races, grabbed podium finishes and almost won a few main events in 2013. In finishing off the ’13 season fifth in points, do you feel like you took a big step as far as your riding and racing?
Yeah, definitely. And like I said, and I’m going to keep bringing it up, people always see the negative. They’re always going to see the negative. They always want to find a way to say negative stuff about you. I’ve thought about it after last season. There’s always going to be the guys who are not there for you and I’m past that. Last year, to me, was a great year. I was on the podium four times last year and besides Roczen and Tomac I hit the podium the most. Besides two DNFs, I was fifth and only 14 points away from Cole Seely who was in third. I came back at the end. Could I have won races? Yeah. But I was on the podium four times and it was a good year. I was always there. I battled with Ken Roczen at Anaheim 3 up to the last lap.
Well, everybody believes you can win one of these things. Can you win one of these things?
Yeah, I definitely want it. I want it more than anybody in the world. I accomplished a lot of dreams in my career, but I haven’t accomplished the dream I dream of every day.
What is your dream?
To win races, man. With the work I put in during the week, a podium is great, but I can’t imagine what the taste of winning will be like. I’m confident this year. I’m ready to go and I’m in great shape. I’m going to take it one race at a time. I’m not going to worry about anybody else but myself. We had a plan in the off-season and we have a plan going into the season. I’m excited. I’m excited to give it 100% I just want to be Martin Davalos. I want to be the Martine who knows how to ride every day at the test track. I just want to be that guy. Wherever that puts me this year, trust me, I will close the book and I’ll be very happy with how everything went.
Okay Martin, so off to the starting gate at AT&T Stadium. Anything you want to toss into this piece?
I just want to thank Monster Energy/Pro Circuit. I also want to just thank Mitch and Bones and Zach and my mechanic Dave for being so positive towards me. We had such a great off-season and I just can’t wait to pay it off this season.