Features 25 Jan 2022

Debrief: 2022 Supercross Rd3 San Diego

Main event winners Sexton and Mosiman recall third round in California.

Two new winners emerged in the third round of the 2022 Monster Energy Supercross Championship, with Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton scoring a breakthrough victory in 450SX and Michael Mosiman (TLD Red Bull GasGas) claiming his first-career victory in 250SX West. Both riders were available to the media following the race for this Debrief interview feature.


Image: Octopi Media.

Chase, last year Salt Lake City, you had the lead and we know what happened there… Anaheim 1, you were second, in position to maybe make a run, we know what happened there… Were those things running through your mind, say in the last five to eight minutes at all?

I would say it was more early when I got into the lead, I’m like, ‘I’m not wasting another opportunity’ – I was pretty locked in, I felt really good with the track. For me, tonight, the whoops I was comfortable in, which was the biggest thing. I could hit those every lap with confidence and not have to worry about stepping out – I just really hit my marks, I felt like I was back at the Honda track. It’s hard to put it into words, I’ve been chasing this, it feels like forever, but it’s only been a year and a half or something like that. I’ve had lots of opportunities and tonight was the night, so it was a pretty dream come true ride for me.

Did you have any opportunity to see where anybody else was in the race and midway have a check on anybody?

Yeah, I knew where Eli [Tomac] was, I think Jason [Anderson] was in second at one point, so I saw him at one point, then I saw Eli. I was just trying to hit my marks every lap and kind of keep myself at a good distance where I felt like I was comfortable. I was looking at the pit board, looking at lap times and just riding like a practice moto. It was enjoyable – it’s addicting, I want to do it again!

Champions always learn from their mistakes or their weaknesses. Talk about the training you did this season to maybe off-set some of your weaknesses from last year that came up to bite you.

I think, for me, just learning the bike and just learning what I can get away with on the 450 and what I can’t. Obviously, last year I hit the ground a lot and it came back to haunt me, so I wasn’t very confident and when you’re not confident you seem to hit the ground more. This year obviously Anaheim 1, I crashed, and then last weekend was the first race where I didn’t crash. I stalled it, but I didn’t make the mistake that I had made prior. Last weekend wasn’t a good result, I wasn’t excited, but I was happy that I got through it without making those dumb mistakes. I just felt really good today, even in practice, I wasn’t the fastest but I felt like I had really good race-craft. I felt like I was squirting out of the corners good, I was staying low and stuff. Ultimately that’s what it comes down to, is just feeling comfortable. Horrible starts in practice and then horrible heat race start… I told myself I’ve got to get out front in the main event because the track was, I felt like more difficult to pass on this weekend than normal. I just needed to get a good start. I wouldn’t say I changed a whole bunch training-wise, I did spend a lot of time in Santa Barbara, which I felt like matured me. Overall, I just feel a lot more mature this year than last year. I’m going to keep getting that way because I’m still only 22, just want to keep improving and get better.

You mentioned on your podium interview you spent a lot of time testing the bike this week. What in particular were you testing for? Also, now that the first win is out of the way, does it feel a relief?

Yeah, this week we left the Honda test track and went to Lake Elsinore. They have a pretty good set of whoops there and we were struggling last week – me and Kenny [Roczen] both – in the whoops. I was there until around four o’clock, I left the track, so we spent two good days of testing, which I feel like it paid off tonight. I felt more comfortable from just the first practice on. I felt really good everywhere else, but when you don’t feel comfortable on a certain part of the track and you have to go around that 20-however many laps, it’s difficult to do. As far as getting the first win, it definitely feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders. Like I’ve said so many times, I was in that position a lot and it never happened. I started to question it and tonight I just had to believe, finally got it done. It’s crazy! The 450 class is gnarly this year, like it always is. There’s a lot of racing left, if I can keep getting good starts and putting myself in a good position, then I think we’ll be where we want to be.

First win, big win… What goes into the finish line celebration? Is that like a month in advance? How long have you been dreaming about this?

For me, I don’t want to throw a whip or anything because that’s the last thing I want to do is crash when I win the race [laughs]! I don’t want to slide off the face or anything, so I keep it pretty simple. The ghost ride, I had thought about that a little bit, I’ve done that before, I think just because it was my first win there was a lot of emotion, so it kind of just comes out of me.

After now you’ve achieved that first win, some momentum rolling into some more familiar territory in Anaheim. How much will it mean to you to be able to back this up with some good performances down the road?

Definitely. Like I said, it’s addicting to win races. It’s been a while since I’ve won a Supercross race, since I was on a 250. I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder – I want to go out there and back it up. Like I said, if I keep getting good starts in the main, it makes your life a lot easier, like these guys were saying. I haven’t been doing a whole bunch of start practice, but I’ve been doing other stuff with the bike and trying to fix stuff on the track. Like I said, just getting good starts and putting myself where I need to be is key and, I think if I can do that, we can keep getting good results.

What are those things that you have been changing on the bike?

This week we switched triple clamps, shock, changed stuff with being a little bit more rigid. I felt like we were getting a lot of flex with the bike, so we changed a lot of stuff this week. It was nice to see something pay off because we threw a lot of stuff at it I was there for a while testing this week. I’m not saying it’s perfect and I’m not saying that it’s going to work everywhere, but it definitely made life a lot easier in the whoops tonight.

You’ve lead races late in the 450 class already, like Alanta last year, but you had a bigger lead tonight and were trying to manage it. How much longer did this race feel trying to keep that pace up towards the end of the race when you’re just managing the gap?

It definitely felt long, but it’s one thing when you are feeling comfortable. There’s races like last year at Atlanta, I actually had Eli behind me. I wasn’t very consistent in the whoops and I was kind of just hoping and praying every lap that I was going to go through them and not crash. Tonight I felt like I was riding well, I felt really good on the bike. It was much easier for me mentally to keep the gap where I needed it, because I felt comfortable. It is a long race, I don’t know how many laps we did tonight, but it was one of our shorter tracks of the season so far. 450 mains are long in general, but tonight definitely felt a little longer.

You talked a lot about what you worked on with the bike, with the team, and certain sections of the track you work on at your practice track. Can you also talk about what you work on mentally to keep your spirits animated in light of the results that you haven’t had that you wanted in the past two races… What do you do to keep yourself mentally energised and focused aside from the physical workout, the work you do with your team and the settings that you work on? 

Especially when you don’t get the results, you’re always motivated. At least, for me it drives me more. These last couple weeks have been a little bit snappy, I’ve been kind of on edge just because I was very frustrated with how… The first race was definitely frustrating when I felt like I had a shot at winning and crashing, but I felt like I rode good. Then last weekend was really just not good. I keep getting calls and texts saying, ‘you’re so close, you’re so close, it’s coming’. I tell people I don’t want to hear it anymore, I just got to go out there and do it, so, for me, mentally I had to keep trying and doing the same thing. I don’t feel like I did too much different, just comfort on the track. I think that’s what got it done tonight. I haven’t really changed much, just keep believing – I knew I had the puzzle pieces, I just had to put them together.


Image: Octopi Media.

Michael, when you crossed the finish-line, when you celebrated, was that something you thought of weeks in advance, right in that moment…

That’s a great question [laughs]! I was just caught up in the race and then I literally went off the face and I’m like ‘frick, there’s fire going on, I’ve got to celebrate’. It was really last minute, ‘should I go for the fist-pump’? Then I’m like, do I land hand back on or one-handed… It was a moment, definitely could have planned it out a little better, but you know what, when there is fire going up behind you, you really can’t mess it up.

Talk us through your composure at the front. Obviously, Hunter [Lawrence] was right there, but you were able to hold on, stay in the lead and get there for the first win. Just talk about that and the pressure. 

I’ve been riding a lot this year with Justin Barcia and, honestly, felt a lot like what Chase said the other day at the test track with him right on me. Right at the beginning, getting the holeshot and then putting in some good burner laps, I wasn’t sure, I didn’t hear him or nothing, I thought that I had a bigger gap. Maybe five laps in a saw his board show up and I was like, ‘oh man, alright’, then I was like, ‘alright sweet we have got a race going on’. It wasn’t the perfect race, I had a couple of mistakes, but one of the things I have been working on that has been really good for this year, even in practices, is to move on, focus on the present and let those things go, and I think that paid off. The chaos that ensued, the lappers were pretty nuts, I think the dragons-back inside, like tight inside, then somehow got to fourth to just manage my way through the whoops, carnage ensued. It was kind of like, ‘I think I have got this one now’, then I was like, ‘he is not letting me by easy’, and I was like, ‘I’m fine here, don’t need to do anything too crazy’, then I was like, ‘oh frick he’s back on me’! Stoked to get the dub and felt great out front.

So you were aware Hunter went down when he did? 

Initially, I thought… I wasn’t sure, there were so many lapped riders I wasn’t sure who hit me, but I felt a bump from the back and then I didn’t see his board, didn’t hear him. He was pretty close on me, I was like I think he went down and then two laps later it was like’ oh hey, Hunter how are you?’…

What was your mindset when you came up to lap [Cole] Thompson? You went inside, like you said, before the whoops, what led to that decision of kind of making a desperation block pass on a lapper?

I think in the turn before, it was tricky, the main line was going left and I wasn’t sure how aware he was of me being there. The main line being on the left, I had passed a number of lappers there, just kind of down the middle still get to the turn, clean pass, practically my normal line. He probably saw my signboard, he started coming right, so I had no option, I was already on the inside of him and then it was like, alright here we are, make the most of it. You can’t control everything and you’ve got to execute what you can. Pretty much just working with the cards that were dealt.

Do you have a take on the start? 

It’s a tough take. I watched the replay guys and it was kind of my fault… I got a sweet start, you were right next to me [pointing at Hunter Lawrence], you’re a sweet starter, every start you do is sweet [referring to Christian Craig]. I had the nose and it’s like, ‘what am I going to do if I have the sweet start and clear start, am I just going to go outside?’ No, that’s stupid! I go to the inside because I can and I’m first one there and Hunter right next to me had nowhere to go, then you [Craig] were on the inside of him, just all bunched up. Because I was on the outside and had a good start, my only option is to close it off.