Main event winners Musquin and Hampshire recall 13th round.
The final Triple Crown of the 2022 Monster Energy Supercross Championship saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Marvin Musquin claim his first 450SX victory of the season, as RJ Hampshire broke through to secure the first 250SX East victory of his career. Both riders were available to the media following the race for this Debrief feature.
Great night. You mentioned on the podium press day, I was watching yesterday, too, throwing whips,kind of just had that mood. What’s that from? Is it comfort with the bike? Just the week off? What kind of led into yesterday, just the way you’re feeling and carried it into tonight?
It’s been like this pretty much all year. Different program, training with David Vuillemin, staying in California, doing my thing. It’s a lot different than what I’ve done for the past seven years. That’s exactly what I wanted, something a lot different. You never know if it’s going to work out but I trusted David Vuillemin and always wanted to have him in my corner. So, it’s been an up and down year, but like you mentioned, just yesterday, press day, I like doing press day. It’s just fun. There’s no lap times, no nothing. Just so much fun. I really wanted to carry that to race day. Triple Crowns are pretty tough. You’ve got to be on it. When I was sitting on the line for the third moto, it reminded me of the Monster Cup in ’17 where like, I can’t screw up that start if I want to win. So, that’s exactly what happened, I had a good start and overall a great day.
You talked about the track and you said you liked how technical it was and it was a little bit busier. Just your thoughts overall on the soil and the track? Is this the direction that you like more when it’s a little slower, more technical?
Yeah, of course, I do try to talk to the guys that build the track. I know they don’t want to do too steep of jumps and stuff. Today this weekend just that off-camber, sand section, double off-camber, double, double, inside, this is tough. You have to be so precise. If you mess up, then you’ve got to roll basically. We need to see more of these sections, rhythm sections were nice, too. Amazing dirt here in St. Louis. Overall, an amazing track. I really enjoyed it. You can’t let off, you have to be on it the whole time if you want to be consistent.
It’s really nothing different? It kind of fell into place, it’s not like you made huge changes say over the last four or five weeks. The results keep getting better, but it’s nothing significant on your end?
No, not at all. We did have a weekend off, I did take a few days off, which I’m not used to. So, it’s just been feeling good and going into race day feeling just relaxed and just ready to race. The bike has been the same as the last few weekends. No changes.
Roger [De Coster] said that this weekend you were leading the charge and it was up to you to defend the brand, with Cooper [Webb] being gone. You’ve had a lot of responsibility this year though just in testing the bike. How do you feel about that responsibility and that role you have within this group?
I can definitely put more pressure on myself, but I know what I have to do and I know why I’m here. I’ve been by myself in the Red Bull KTM team a few times in my career, especially outdoors. So, it wasn’t so new. Unfortunately, for the brand, Cooper wasn’t here. So, definitely happy for the team and the brand to get on the top step of the podium. That’s huge.
You’re fifth in points. You have four podiums and a win. Is there any chance at all that you postpone your retirement and come back next year for one more year?
Yeah, like I said, changing my program big time this year was a test. To change my program, to do different things to see if it helps to keep going racing, for sure. At the same time, it’s important to show myself, to prove myself that I’m still capable of doing great things.
So, you’re saying there’s a chance you could come back in 2023 in supercross?
Yeah. I’d need a contract for that.
Chad Reed was in the box tonight for that final race kind of said that your role within that KTM team has always been that Mr. Consistent guy. The two guys that were expected to win races are out, and you’re the one still there and getting a race win. How does that sit with you knowing that each year you’re kind of relied on at the back end of these seasons, to be that guy that is still there?
Yeah, I’ve been racing for a long time. There’s a few seasons where a lot of guys were getting hurt. It’s part of it. It shows that you have to be consistent, you have to be careful sometimes, too. You can’t just send it or whatever. In my position, to be honest, there were some races where I can’t go more, if not, it would be too dangerous. It’s important to see where your limits are. This season, a few podiums were really, really nice, to be on the podium this year for a couple times, that was my goal. Now I got a win, but to be honest, it was not expected. Maybe the people around me they would be kind of mad at me, because I need to expect more of myself and believe more in myself, but those guys are really fast, they’re really fit, they are working really hard with their team. Everybody is working really hard. It’s just amazing to be back and winning another one. Last year, I only won one main event but it looks like this year another one. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, be consistent and see where we end up on the championship.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your work with David Vuillemin?
Yeah, I mean, I’m really glad this worked out. I knew he was training another rider and really involved with him. When I asked him, I didn’t know if it was going to happen, and it did. When DV is involved in something, he’s committed 100 percent. It’s going good. We work hard, but we have good times at the same time. So, yeah, I’m happy. I’m happy to see where it’s going to lead and see how far we can go and how far we can progress.
Normally you’re a jumper through the whoops and tonight you were blitzing them really well. Can you tell us what made you feel so comfortable doing that and what you like about riding on such a technical track?
Just because there was no way I could jump those whoops, so, I had no choice and I had to skim the whoops. It’s funny because this week with DV, we worked on jumping whoops and it was amazing, but at the practice track and on the racetrack it’s so different. We tried to work on it, and skimming and jumping at the same time, I know I’m pretty good at jumping but on race day, it’s hard. It’s really hard. That dirt, there’s so much traction and the way they build that hook in the whoops, it’s basically impossible to jump. I wish sometimes we could jump more, but I had no choice. I went for it and I tried to be consistent. Usually that’s a section where I’m losing sometimes, which I did again today but I was pretty consistent. A guy like [Jason] Anderson was not able to pass me in that second moto. I know he was putting pressure on me and I actually put a gap on him and I was able to ride my own race and win that second moto. So, that was just amazing and I really enjoyed the track.
With the talk of one more year, retirement, supercross only, if you were to look back over your career, do you have any regrets, anything you would change, something you would tell the younger guys who watch this, and would love to hear what you have to say looking back over your career?
It feels like I still have a long way to go when I see Justin Brayton doing supercross only for many years. This year it’s kind of like a test as well. My contract is only supercross, so we’ll see how it goes for the future. I’m going to say it again, but changing my program is a huge thing this year. So hopefully it’s going to help me for the future if I want to keep racing. Also, it’s important to have a good result, to keep having a good contract and good team behind you, and a good bike to keep racing.
RJ, emotional, the podium. It was good to talk to you up there. Just kind of take me through it now that you’ve had a chance to settle down and talk to the family a little bit. Great night for you.
Yeah, it was huge. The first five rounds were so mentally draining. There wasn’t much positive. It didn’t matter. There really wasn’t one practice. We didn’t really have a positive. From the beginning of the day, just felt right. The team, dude they’ve been crushing it. The talk, I kind of shoot straight on what’s going on, but these guys went to work for me. You could tell today was a different bike than what I’ve been on. We made a lot of progress. Like I said, from the beginning, I was P1 in free practice, which I haven’t been at all. P1 first time also. I knew I had my comfort back, just kind of trusting the bike a little bit. My starts were unreal all night. I think I holeshotted every single main, even the red flag one. The mistake that first main event, I’m very lucky to even get back up, that could have been a big one. Before that, I felt good, really good on my bike. I haven’t had that – I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that on the bike. It just kind of grabbed me weird. I didn’t even cross rut. Just kind of shot me right a little bit. Like I said, thankful I was able to pick it up. Just my starts tonight were solid. I think that’s why we were able to get some help from Jett in that last one, but still a huge night for my whole team and my family.
When you’re working through a new model like that, obviously you looked a lot different and you’re saying that, is it suspension, chassis? In detail, what was it that you were searching for that dramatically affected everything from the last time we saw you?
We just got the bike so late and didn’t really have much tests to do. We were still low on parts and stuff, so you don’t really have the options. We were cycling through a lot of things, outside of what we were looking at. Then we found an issue, and we had to revisit it all again because that was a big issue that we were struggling with the whole package. But, we figured it out before Indy. I just didn’t have the time to ride with it. So literally I showed up at Indy and it was just like, all right, let’s see what we’ve got here, and then those two weekends off helped out huge. You could tell I was a lot more comfortable, kind of knew what my bike was going to do a little bit. Just super stoked for this whole team.
You have been super honest, as you said, in these press conferences. What’s the atmosphere at the truck when they hear you say those things? Do they take that in stride? Do they get bummed? Do they tell you not to be frank?
No one has really said anything to me about it. I’m going to be honest, sometimes it might go a little bit too far. We all work way too hard to be out here and not be able to perform at the level we should. Yeah, I was frustrated, but the team was frustrated also, so it’s not just all on me. We all wanted to be better and we all knew we could be. Like I said, tonight was a big win for me but also a big win for this team, a big win for Austria. That was cool we were both able to get an overall tonight, even with Marv [Marvin Musquin]. Stoked for the whole Austrian brand, and especially Husqvarna.
Some of us are old enough to have covered your entire career through amateurs all the way up into the pros. We’ve seen how close you’ve come. We’ve seen the different rides, points and forks in your career. You’ve worked so hard for this point to get your first [supercross] win. How does reality match up to the dream?
Man, it’s huge. You almost start believing that you’re never going to win one. It’s been that long. It’s like, okay, maybe supercross just isn’t meant for me. Like I said, Jett definitely helped me there with that third one. I’ve been in the situation to win a couple of these now and threw them away. I thought I was going to throw it away tonight with that big one. So, just putting yourself in the right situations and being able to be there. I came into this weekend just hoping to have a shot at battling with Jett. I want to be able to at least see him and be able to ride how we should be. Last race [Indianapolis] we got a third, but I was so far back we were in our own race. I didn’t come here wanting to win. Of course you want to win, but just kind of a different goal. Be in the fight, and tonight we were there.
How aware are you of the expectations that are thrust upon you as a likely champion rider in either supercross or motocross? Does a win like tonight get you ready for the motocross season?
We’re all expected to win whenever we have these factory rides. It’s kind of been my whole career. A lot is expected from me and I mean, I work as hard as I can. You can tell I want to win every time I’m out there, and sometimes I try almost too hard and it does bite me. So, it’s not a lack of effort or anything like that. Just like I said, putting myself in the right situations and being able to capitalize on mistakes that other people have, and people capitalize on my mistakes quite a bit. It was nice to get one tonight. For outdoors, I honestly haven’t even rode outdoors yet on this new bike, but we have a lot of positives already, so, I’m looking forward to it. We’re on outdoors this week, I’m excited.
Can you just take us through that crash and how you were able to just jump up so fast in race one? How are you feeling after that?
Let’s go back to practice. I think it was the last qualifier. I was right behind Jordon Smith and he literally did the same exact thing. You don’t even cross-rut. It’s just one line that I think they kind of filled in a little bit and it happened to shoot you right. I was three and on, off. I literally don’t even understand how it happened. It just kind of went right. There’s so many things going through your mind whenever you see tuff blocks and you know you’re going to be landing on them. All this is going in my mind, and then I think about Deano [Dean Wilson]. I think it was Arlington or whatever. He landed directly on a tuff block and just kind of rolled out of it. So, I kind of had an option to either go right and land halfway on it or just stick to where I was and just hope for the best. I was like, this isn’t going to be pretty either way, so let’s just land on the softest thing possible. Then I kind of slid on the concrete into the wall. I was like, all right, I’m good, let’s hop up. Then there was a banner stuck in there, and I had already gone through the whole banner situation last year where at Millville I completely DNF’d because I got on it too early. So then I had to be kind of calm. My front end was all tweaked up. I thought I threw my whole night away right there. So, I was very lucky to escape that pretty good. Luckily I had a pretty good lead already, so I didn’t lose too much time. That second main, I just kind of was like, this is a last-ditch effort here at the end. I knew we had a pretty big lead for third. You guys can probably tell already that I’m not just going to kind of lay over. So, gave it all I had and that was it. Like I said, just got lucky there in the third one with Jett having his issues. Glad to have it finally kind of fall in my hands on one night.
You talked a little bit tonight about the crashes tonight. You’ve talked in the past about trying to clean up those little mistakes, where you hit the deck at inopportune times. In that third race, is that in the back of your head, ‘I cannot crash?’ Especially when you’ve got Phil Nicoletti ready to blast you if you make a mistake?
Honestly, I took a glance at the leaderboard and I didn’t see Jett in the top five. So, I was like, okay. Just chill out. At that point, I had Pierce [Brown] all over me. I was like, man I don’t know what he’s thinking right now. I know he was probably going to run it in on me. I almost just kind of checked up and was like, here, dude, have it. I’m pretty good right now. I’m going to follow behind you. If I need to make the pass here at the end, I can. It was more just like, making sure I was in the position to have a shot still at this overall. I think my mile per hour dropped to probably 20 in the whoops by the end of that last lap! I don’t sit here and think about crashes or think about the negativity or whatever. I’m just a positive guy and I want to be the best I can be. You get the best every time. A lot of the time, I end up on my head or whatever, but like I said, we’re out here, we all want to win. We have a family. We have a team, a lot of guys behind you. So, yeah, there’s pressure, but you want to be the best you can. A lot of the times it hasn’t worked out too well for me, but tonight it did. So, we’re going to take that positive and try to build on it, get another good week on this bike, and hopefully have some more comfort coming into Atlanta next weekend.