Features 4 Feb 2022

Matthes Answers: Supercross tones

You ask, PulpMX's Steve Matthes answers in monthly column.

For 2022 we welcome back PulpMX’s Steve Matthes as a regular contributor at MotoOnline with this fresh new ‘Matthes Answers’ feature, which invites our readers to ask the questions and we’ll also add in a mix ourselves. As one of the rare few that attend the majority of Monster Energy Supercross rounds, Matthes has the intel that many don’t and you just know his take is going to be worth paying attention to. And, if you want to send him a question, simply get in touch via the @motoonline socials and we’ll pass on the most timely questions each month.

Image: Octopi Media.

Hey everyone, stoked to be doing a column for AG and everyone at MotoOnline.com. To keep it fresh and original, we thought a listener question column would be best… I talk and write enough about the sport as it is, but maybe there’s something that you wish I would talk or write about and this is the spot to do just that. Let’s get started with edition number one!

Does the aggression of riders need to be more measured or is what we’ve seen fine?

I think what we’ve seen is fine. There’s always going to be a move or a ‘pick up pass’ that goes too far, but in my opinion, I’d rather penalize the moves that go too far than fine/penalize everyone and have the riders tip-toeing around the track. I’ve been a fan of this sport for 40 years now and, to me, SX is a contact sport! Of course, there are always guys that take things too far, but the track is tight, the bowl turns are perfect for a passing opportunity and sometimes, shit happens. I think what we’ve seen this year (outside of Ryan Breece on Adam Enticknap at Oakland and Alex Ray on Freddie Noren in San Diego) are all fine and a part of racing. There will a time and a place for the riders to even the score down the road and as long as there’s not a T-bone involved, I’m all good. Keep the rough passing in SX!

Are Eli Tomac, Jason Anderson and Chase Sexton the true benchmarks at this point? 

Yeah, they’re 1-2-3 in the points and also 1-2-3 in the ‘eye test’ as well. Eli Tomac’s got the red plate, Jason Anderson’s ridden amazing and passed just about every top guy this year, plus Sexton is a heat race hero/main event winner now. I think we’ll see more of the top guys like Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb – to name a couple – grab wins and podiums, so I’m not by any means claiming the three guys above as the only three guys, but I’ve been around the sport a while and soon, the series will start finding its level and we’ll see more guys with a little less hope each week. That will allow the guys that have a chance at a title to continue to press forward. Yes, the three guys above are, I believe, the guys with the best shots at the championship.

Results aside, how is the new KTM/Husky looking according to the ‘eye test’?

Pre-season I had heard great things about the bike. They had lengthened it a bit, stiffened it up in certain places and I heard that the whoops were where the changes were real evident. Well, we’re four races in and I’ve yet to see much improvement out there. Heck, even Malcolm Stewart looks just ‘good’ in the whoops and not ‘GREAT’, you know? If they did lengthen the bike, they possibly took away one of the best things about the old chassis, which was the ability to cut inside of a turn. Often times when a new model comes out, it takes an OEM a year to really figure it out and that’s with a normal off-season, which the KTM guys didn’t have. Parts were scarce for the new model, so I imagine they’re behind a bit. I don’t think we need to panic just yet over the new bike, but yeah, so far I’d give it a C grade.

Image: Octopi Media.

Christian Craig has said a number of times he’s going 450SX next year. Has he done a deal already or where do you see him landing?

You know, CC keeps telling me that he’ll be on a 450 next year no matter what and the way he’s emphatic makes me think he has a deal already… I just don’t know with whom. I guess if he’s got a deal done, it would be with his current Star Yamaha team, because I cannot see him having a deal done with anyone else this early. The Star Yamaha team has Dylan Ferrandis up for next year and then, of course, Eli Tomac. Would they re-sign the #14 and add Craig? I guess, but that seems weird. Maybe Christian doesn’t have a deal and is ready to move up, but I don’t see many spots up – maybe at Honda if Roczen retires? I’m not sure, other than that it would be the MotoConcepts team, RMATVMC KTM and those sort of teams. And if that’s the case, CC would be wise to stay down in 250SX, most likely defend that championship and make more money. Stay tuned!

Do you like the tracks that we’ve seen early on? Difficulty seems up, especially the whoops…

Yeah, they’ve definitely made them tougher to start the year than usual, right? The whoops have been tough at every round, even Oakland was probably the tamest set and those weren’t easy. So, yeah, there’s been some stuff in the rhythms that, while fairly easy to do, provide some difficulty because of the way the jumps have been built. San Diego had basic rhythms that everyone could do and made passing tougher, but that’s about it. ‘Deathcross’ has hit us hard to start 2022!