Predictions For The 2016 Supercross Season

Supercross Time Capsule - Web Edition

Photo by Shan Moore

We asked racers who would be on the gate, retired stars, some other industry insiders who, like you, are fans, for their predictions and expectations for the 2016 supercross season. Knowing our April issue would hit about five rounds into the season, we thought printing the story in the magazine would be a fun way to put their predictions in front of you.

But as we put the story together, there was too much good stuff to fit into the print story, so we thought we’d share the story with you here, in full, to get a glimpse forward of what we might see in Supercross 2016.

What's the biggest question or concern in your mind right now, mid-December, regarding the 2016 supercross season start?

Photo by Shan Moore

Will Stewart make a comeback yet again? Will it happen or not? [Do you hope he will?] I want to see Stewart come back again. He had a couple rough years and now it's like the fans are on his side again, and we're trying to get him back. —Cody Webb

We've actually switched some sponsors this year so it's getting comfortable to that. We've switched bar companies, triple clamp companies, and grip companies as well, so we've got some new stuff and the concept's quite a bit different and it seems to work a lot better, but we're just figuring that out as much as we can and try to get it as good as we can before the season gets underway… [re: What's unique?] We're using ProGrip for our grips; they make a bunch of different stuff. I've been on the same grip for about four years, you don't think of it too much until it is time to switch. And we're running Neken bars and triple clamps. They have an air chamber for a bar mount, it's supposed to allow more flexibility and take a little bit of the harshness out of the front end. Just getting used to that, and figuring what bar bend I like. But the triple clamp is the main thing, it's quite a bit different than what I'm used to so I'm just learning how it works with different tracks and stuff like that. Everything's going really well so far. And for me, I've been racing on a 450 a lot, so just getting back on the 250. And it's been an awesome transition, but still gotta remember how to ride it. —Cooper Webb

For me, honestly, it's not so much what I can do or if I can, but I need to complete a series. I haven't in a couple years. I need to race all 17 rounds. I know that I'm capable of getting results if I'm there, but without being there I'm not getting the experience, I'm not learning, and that's frustrating. —Wil Hahn

I have a couple concerns. One is I'd like to see James Stewart be on top of his game. I'm a big James Stewart fan and whether you love James or you hate James, you love to watch him race, and I think James has matured quite a bit, and he may have matured to the point where he doesn't' have quite that drive in him, that craziness in him, where he'd be the first guy to do a rhythm section maybe that no one else would consider doing, and I hope James still has that in him because that's the excitement that James brings. As far as consistency goes, you gotta go with Ryan Dungey; he's Mr. Consistency. And you may want to look at it this way: Ryan has accomplished everything that he's wanted to accomplish and I don't think that Ryan will ever, especially going into 2016, put his safety or his being in control on the line at all to win a race, because he doesn't need to. He's accomplished everything that he's wanted to accomplish and then some. So I think you'll see a smooth, steady Ryan just waiting to trounce when these guys make a mistake. Maybe Ken Roczen, he's got something to prove, he switched brands last year and didn't have a great year and I think he maybe overthinks a lot of things and I think that he's going to come out with a vengeance. That's my opinion. [re: Did you have that ability and maturity to hold back after some career success?] Absolutely, and I was a little younger that Ryan is now and I was able to make those decisions and make those calls. My dad really helped me back in the day. My dad was a professional baseball player, he knew what it was like to feel pressure from people at work, or behind you and backing you and your sponsors. He kind of gave me that insight when I was young and it helped me out quite a bit. That's really important, look at how long Ryan's been doing this and look at his injuries, he hasn't had a whole lot of injuries. He's really smart and he's definitely not going to throw it on the line this year and take the risk of getting a career or season ending injury. He's not gonna do it, he's just going to be Mr. Consistent —Marty Smith

You're putting me on the spot. I guess, if Tomac going to be as solid as he was when he was on the Honda. —Johnny Campbell

Who's healthy? To me that's the biggest thing. —Doug Henry

If Tomac can keep it off the ground for the whole season. —Bob Hannah

Photo by Shan Moore

Questions and hopes, I'd like to see Stewart get through the season, I'd like to see Chad Reed win a few more times, and [I wonder] how will Tomac do on a new bike and in new surroundings? It seems like he can be the fastest guy on a given day, and he was the fastest guy when I went to San Diego, but he fell down and blew it. It looks like there are a lot of potential good guys, and the first thing that crossed my mind was, 'Boy, there's a lot of talented guys out there.' It reminds me of when I was racing. People talk about the '80s being real good, and I even think the mid-to-late 70s were really good as an amateur watching that. But it seems like it's gotten back to that now. There's a lot of good guys who can get up there and do well besides just the usual front runners, but I want to see Trey win one, win the series. —David Bailey

Mostly I'm just excited to go racing… [2015 has] been really good for me, I haven't tried to compare myself to anyone and I feel like I've been really focused on my riding and trying not to be curious about anything but going out and doing my best. —Trey Canard

It's so hard to say about Tomac because it's been so long since he's raced. I'm sure he's done a lot of testing and a lot of riding and I'm sure he's going fast, but when you miss that much time racing I feel like it's a disadvantage for sure. Stewart, it's a craps shoot. The guy has the talent to win, I just feel like he's been out of it for so long, and I know what it's like to be out of it for six months and try to come back. —Damon Bradshaw

I don't really have any concerns. This is definitely the single best off-season I've ever had. We have a brand new bike this year and I'm more confident than I've ever been. I know that pretty cliché for going into the first round but there are not a log of questions in my mind right now. —Zach Osborne

My biggest concern regarding out team are our starts, and if my guys are going to stay healthy for the entire 17 rounds. —Dan Betley, Honda HRC Team Manager

I would say I'm more concerned about what it feels like to be racing again than being on a new motorcycle. I think me missing the gate drops is more of something I might have to deal with other than switching a different motorcycle, and that's because how comfortable I feel on my bike right now. —Eli Tomac

I've been around so long, I know what to expect. Obviously the biggest question, because I haven't raced, really raced, in 16 months, just wondering how everything is and how I react and then on top of that, how the weather's going to be – that's probably the biggest question I have… I injured my foot in Lille. My brother ended up tangling with some guy a Kawi and that pushed me back and the next thing I know I ended up taking him out. I don't know what I did, but I ended up taking him out and I got my foot smashed between my bike and his and actually had a huge dent in there. I thought my foot was definitely broken, but that was kind of a bummer, because with everything going on I felt like I needed those races. I needed to race down in Australia, I needed to race… The foot is, I just started riding. I think it's my fourth day on the bike so I've just been riding. It's a little sore but not too bad. It's like anything, as long as you don't hit it too hard it shouldn't be bad. —James Stewart

Really, 'Who's going to be in the title fight?' Basically five or six rounds in, that's when everything unravels and when everything starts to – you find out who's going fast, who's running up front, who's getting podiums all the time. I guess the biggest question right now is, 'Who's is going to be consistent?' —Cole Seely

Photo by Shan Moore

What is (was) your strategy for the first few rounds, and is it different from other years?

I've always gone out to do my best, and I'm never, regardless of what the results is, disappointed in that. But for sure I want to make sure I don't put myself on the ground. I want to be on the podium as much as I can and just be consistent. [re: Different stragety for early rounds?] No, I think you've got to really take advantage of every moment you get and I feel like this is not really a group of riders you can just ride 80% the first few rounds and then really pour it on. There are too many valuable points you need to take hold of, and I'm obviously not going to do anything stupid and throw it all away right away but you know, for sure I don't want to leave any [points] on the table. —Trey Canard

Being off the last year and a half you get a different perspective of it, so just enjoying it, taking it no matter what happens just deal with it and not try to change too much. It'll probably take me a little bit to get back in the zone, because once I switched teams and went to Suzuki it took me a little while to just kind of get back into the racing and get the feel of things. Hopefully it won't take too long, but I'll be patient… I think when you're 100 percent ready to go into it, like if your off season was perfect, the strategy is kind of you basically say, 'All right let's make sure I stay up and I get through these couple races and then you're like, "Okay, I'm gong to let down the hammer,"' so I think that's a good strategy, but I think unfortunately for me there's a couple things that kind of set me back. I want to get through the first three of four races just kind of learning and being there, and try to not to make any mistakes and once I get through that let it roll. —James Stewart

For me, in my day, I always wanted to go for it because I wanted to catch everybody off guard and I wanted to be going into the second and third round with people shaking their head going, 'What the hell are we gonna do to beat this guy?' And the years that I did well, that's what I did and my plan worked, but later on in the season it bit me in the ass. So I would still do that. I think if I was a Dungey, or had a little age under my belt, didn't feel like I had a lot of years left, maybe I would settle back and just kind of let the cards fall where they fall on this, for the first three or four events. But by the fifth round, Dungey's going to be starting to pick his battles. I just think he still has the speed to win and be smart. Regardless of what people want to say - who was there, who should have been there, who could have been there, that Dungey wouldn't have won, in my book that's a bunch of [B.S.] because everybody has the same opportunities that he's had to be there, they just either haven't been as smart of haven't been as lucky when it comes to injuries. So you know what, I give a lot of credit to the guy. People can talk [bad] all they want, everybody else had that same opportunity, it just hasn't worked out for them. —Damon Bradshaw

I'm going to try to not have a different approach. Last year when I got into the middle rounds, that's when I did better. It felt like I was always in the top five at least, on the podium a bunch, and got a win. So this year I'm trying to approach it like we're already mid-season. When you go into the opener with too much hype and too much anxiety it kind of throws your rhythm off, so I'm going to just approach it like I was approaching races in the middle of the season last year. —Cole Seely

Photo by Shan Moore

Yes and no. The strategy is usually, for the first few rounds, you just want to stay healthy and put in some good rides. Normally, at the first of the season, you always have a handful of guys that are running on just pure adrenaline and they possibly peaked too soon in the season, so they come out swinging for the first few rounds and then taper off. So if you can just stay in that top 3, top 5 range for the first few rounds, everything starts to sort itself out. You don't want to start hitting your stride until about half way… That was the strategy for last season, too, but typically what happens is there are some bad races, some random things happen, and you can only be so patient and not get the results you want for so long before you start to, like, 'Alright, really gotta pick it up. Really gotta make something happen now.' And that's when you end up making stupid mistakes and getting injured and being out for the rest of the season... [re: So is the strategy to push that panic moment back?] For me, personally, I would like to eliminate the panic button altogether. Nothing good comes from the panic button, usually. Teamwise, riderwise, just because you're panicked doesn't mean you're going to get something done. Yeah, the ultimate goal is if you can delay that, you're usually much happier and you're enjoying your season much more. —Brett Presnell, Trey Canard's mechanic

This year I'm more confident. I was able to get my first championship last year and that was a huge accomplishment for me. Obviously I had an injury mid-way, but as far as winning the supercross title and then coming back after injury and winning races outdoors and then being nominated to Team USA at des Nations, it was a huge year for me and I had a lot of great accomplishments. This year I'm on the same team, Star Racing Yamaha, I have the same trainer with Gareth Swanepoel, same mechanic with Eric Gass, so it's all the same things as far as that goes… After winning a championship, you learn what to do and what not to do. You definitely want to start strong, you want to be good at the first round, you don't want to put yourself out of contention right away. Last year I actually had a 7th place at Anaheim, but it could have been a lot worse, I got into a pile up and just had to salvage what I could. Obviously for me it's, you want to win races and do that, but you have to be consistent to win a title. In supercross [250F class] there's aren't that many races, so you can't afford a bad race. —Cooper Webb We're there to win, that's our strategy. We were on the podium at every race [in 2015] and I think that was good and we're going to try to continue to do that and hopefully be on the podium and win races and let the championship fall where it may. [re: How much coaching and strategizing do you give to your riders?] I consult with the riders and what their plans are and also with their riding coaches, so I'm involved in the process, but ultimately I want to know what they're going to do, but I don't instill my thinking and force them to go one way. —Dan Betley

I feel like those guys want to go out and make a statement at A1 and get the ball rolling, but you have to keep in mind that it's a long season, and Dungey is always going to be right there every single race. And a lot of those guys might come out swinging at the first round but by round nine or so they kind of lose their steam, and you've got the Diesel there who's just powering through the whole season. So it's important to start out strong, but I think being consistent for a long series like that is probably the most important part. —Cody Webb

It's really hard once it's race time for me to conserve a little bit, but it becomes a game of chess at some point, you've got to be smart and pick your battles, and that's what I'm trying to learn, like, 'It's okay to take a seventh tonight.' It's obviously not what I want by any means but there are going to be some races where maybe you're just not on that night, or you're having an off night, that's the biggest thing for me, to realize those nights are going to be there and the next week you're going to be able to finish where you want to. It's just a matter of minimizing your bad nights and making the most out of them. That's what I need to really focus on… I think that at some point, you kind of know during the day in qualifying, you're either jiving with the track or you're not. It's one of those things where I totally think the whole tone of the day starts in practice, or when you wake up, I'm not sure exactly what makes it click, but there are some days where you get to the track and you just kind of know. It's a weird feeling but you just kind of know it's a good day or you know that everything's not quite clicking. —Wil Hahn

[With such a deep field] yeah, I would want to go out and make a statement, be really prepared, perhaps over-prepared, which is what used to happen to us by accident just because there wasn't the internet to see what everyone else was doing and video clips and whatnot, and I'd be in Virginia and Broc and Rick and Lechien would be down in El Cajon but not riding together, Wardy would be somewhere in Mission Viego, Hannah, Barnett, we were all sort of in our secret [riding area], there just wasn't much info getting out what we were doing. So I think what we did, all of us, because we all wanted to win so much, that we, just to make dang sure, we all really came into the first races prepared. So now that everyone can see what everyone else is doing, you know it's going to be tough, you're going to hear the usual interview of how it's a long season, gonna take it a race at a time, but I would want to come out and really make a statement, kinda go old school, and just come in, like, 'Look, I want everyone to be talking about how fast I'm going as soon as the first race is over, or as soon the first practice is over.' I would hope to come in firing like that, but then make that assessment how things went at the first round then just be really smart. Because there are so many good guys, that's gong to be pretty competitive right off the bat, and a guy that can keep his cool and know that, 'Hey, if I can just really go for it but at the same time not put myself in a bad position, and just try to limit the damage and go three to five rounds, just thinking, 'If I can just be near the front,' that would be my strategy. Because trying to run the table like days past with Carmichael and Stewart, I don't know if its' going to be as easy to do that. I would try, but I'd want to hit the ground running, but would also be smart about it. Because if you look at how Dungey has won over the years, that's very similar to how I won, and I relate to him in many ways, being kinda selected by DeCoster, and being consistent, always having people talk about, 'Oh, so and so iss faster,' things like that, I can totally relate. So I'd want to be smart like him, but I would want to come out real strong. —David Bailey

The first round, it's ideal to come out of there with a podium, what you don't' want to do is what I did in 2015 is have a crash and end up like 18th. That's the worst case scenario because you're playing catch up the whole time, so if you can get through the first round at least on the podium and shoot for a win by the second or third round, then I think you're in really good shape. —Eli Tomac

I always put a lot of pressure on myself for wins and podiums but this year my training and riding is coming to me really easily and I feel like I just need to let my work show on the weekend. So it's just going to be a matter of going there and putting in 15 good laps on a Saturday night, and just letting what I know how to do come out at the races. [re: is there more hype at the first round?] I've always been high pressure and put a lot of pressure on myself to do good, so for me, I feel like I'm that hyped every weekend so it's kind of just another race for me. So maybe it doesn't have as much of an effect on my results on my first round as other people. —Zach Osborne

The first one, I just wanted to get through, other than that, every one's a race. Because I think everybody's a little crazy at the first round and you're more apt to get hurt… [re: This is similar to your view on first corners, isn't it?] Very similar to that, I hate the first corner. If I can get through the first corner, I know I have a good shot at winning. [Laughs] Unfortunately if you don't try to get the holeshot you usually screw yourself [up] so you need to make an attempt at getting it because if you don't then you really screw yourself [up]. —Bob Hannah

Photo by Shan Moore

Tell me your prediction for the A1 podium.

Anaheim 1, that's always one that there could be a surprise winner at. Maybe Anderson. I think Anderson could do that. Of course my favorites are the Honda guys, Trey and Cole, but I think for a wild card, Jason's been going fast, you saw it at Monster Cup, and he's kind of due for a surprise one like that. —Johnny Campbell

Tomac, Roczen, Canard —Brett Presnell

Seely, Canard, Roczen —Dan Betley

I don't know how Tomac is doing on the new Kawi, he's throwing my prediction off right now. I'm gonna go with Seely for third, second will be Dungey, and then first I don't know, I'm torn between Roczen, Tomac or Barcia, those guys are all hungry and wild enough to do something crazy. So I'm just gonna say Roczen because he's won A1 before. —Cody Webb

Roczen, Dungey, Anderson —Cooper Webb

I'd like to put my name on that, I think there's definitely a spot for Eli and I both… That's tough to narrow down another, there's a strong field, probably the strongest since I've been racing professionally. —Wil Hahn

I'm gonna go with Trey Canard. I love that kid, I love what he stands for. I just wish that he could buy a break. The poor kid cannot buy a break. He's shown so much speed, he's shown smoothness, and the weirdest, quirkiest things happen to that kid and I would just like to see that go by the wayside. I'm going to go with Trey, Dungey, Roczen. —Marty Smith

Tomac, Dungey, Roczen —Doug Henry

Canard, Roczen, Seely. —David Bailey

I feel like Dungey'll be there, Roczen will be there and I've got to put myself there. I think Roczen will come out really strong, I think Dungey he usually doesn't come out as strong at first, so maybe Roczen, myself, and Dunge. —Trey Canard

Anderson, Canard, Roczen —Damon Bradshaw

Eli, Dungey, Barcia —Zach Osborne

I'm going to say myself for first, I'm gonna say Ken Roczen second, and Dungey third. —Eli Tomac

How about the 250F class, because I can't jinx myself on that. Let's just say there will be some guys familiar up there in the 450 class. I don't know the age, but I would say maybe between 18 and 30 in the 450 class. [Laughs] And in the 250F class, if my brother's racing I would say he'll probably win. The guy is killing it this year. —James Stewart

Tomac, Barcia, Jason Anderson —Bob Hannah

Tell me your prediction for the point standings after 5 rounds.

I'm hoping it's Canard, Dungey, Roczen, but I guess realistically it'll probably be, after five rounds, Roczen, Dungey, Canard —Brett Presnell

Do the same [as my A1 picks. Seely, Canard, Roczen —Dan Betley

Let's say Tomac will be leading at that point, Dungey will be second, and Roczen third. —Cody Webb

Dungey, Roczen, Tomac —Cooper Webb

It's gonna be awful hard to bet against Dungey. But, that being said maybe Dungey's not going to be pushing it, I'm thinking Dungey will be second in points, Roczen is on top of the list, we've always got Cole Seely possibly, but I'm gonna go with Trey in third. —Marty Smith

Roczen, Dungey, Tomac —Doug Henry

Canard, and I'm going to park Roczen and Dungey in there. I would like to say Tomac, too, but I'm not sure how that switch is going to go. He's hot and cold, he could totally prove me wrong, it would be neat if he did. —David Bailey

Ronnie Mac, Jeremy McGrath Jr., Jeremy McGrath —Trey Canard

I'm gonna still put Anderson first, I think Tomac's going to be second and I think Dungey's going to be third. –Damon Bradshaw

Dungey, Eli, Trey —Zach Osborne

I want to say I'm leading the points, but I don't know. If I don't have that crash I think it's possible so I'm going to say myself in the lead, Roczen again second and Dungey third. —Eli Tomac

I would just say the top three would be the same ones that I picked on the first one, I know it's a hard answer. I know I failed this question, but I'm a pretty superstitious guy, so I just don't want to [answer] – even if it was in 2009 when I won the championship or any other year I would probably tell you the same answer. —James Stewart

Tomac, Dungey, Roczen –Bob Hannah

Photo by Shan Moore

Who most needs a good first performance?

Mentally I think Canard. I think Canard's poised and ready to win for sure. He's definitely one of the top guys, but I think it would really solid for him to do that and have that momentum off the bat. —Johnny Campbell

Absolutely James Stewart. James Stewart needs to go out and show everybody that he's still got the speed and maybe James doesn't have that fire in him anymore, but we're going find out and I think he's going to want to prove to everybody that he's got that fire in him. If a smart James Stewart shows up at Anaheim 1, I think the troops are in trouble. —Marty Smith

I'd say Chad needs one, Stewart needs one, and Tomac needs one… I just think that when they get started off with momentum, I mean, if Tomac starts off with it that'll answer a lot of questions, make his interviews go smoother, and it'll answer maybe some of his own questions. And the momentum will be established right off the bat, and I think he needs that right now. Stewart for obvious reasons. I think he might not be as sure about himself as he has been when he first burst onto the scene. A win would do him well. And the same for Chad; he knows he can, and somewhere in the season he'll probably figure out a way to win, but if he started off with one, man, I can just hear the announcers and Carmichael 'Oh, watch out for him, if he gets on a roll…' Dungey doesn't need a strong start, he'll be there. Roczen doesn't need a strong start. Those other three I mentioned I think it would do more for them if they started out strong. —David Bailey

Barcia. He needs the confidence. —Bob Hannah

I would have to say Tomac, just because he's been away. It's so hard to say. I think Tomac but I also think Anderson as well. The kid's hungry, he's obviously fast. I don't know him personally, just going on what I've seen… It's a potential to be wet at Anaheim, and if it's wet, then those numbers for Anaheim 1 go out the window. But there are so many guys that really need that first round, but I have to say Tomac because he's been out for so long… You have a lot of guys that can win. Not necessarily that the winner of Anaheim 1 is a fluke by any means, but I still think that Dungey's going to be smart, he's going to hang back he's going to let the kids do what they do, and if he's in the position to be there he'll be there but if he's not he's going to be cool about it like he always is. I think there are still some older guys that are fast, but I just think they're going to be smarter about it… I think you're going to have five guys that are willing to throw it away to win. —Damon Bradshaw

I think James Stewart. I think he's been away for awhile, and if he can come away with a good finish then that's going to give him confidence and put him right back to one of the top riders that he is. —Doug Henry

What competitors [other than your rider] do you think will be the biggest threat to win if there's a mud race?

Probably Barcia because he flogs it. —Cody Webb

We may have a few mud races with el Nino, I would have to give it to Roczen because he's a European rider and their tracks are a little more [likely to get mud]. I'd have to go with Ken Roczen if it's a mudder. —Marty Smith

I would put Tomac in there in a mud race —Doug Henry

I think Canard is good in the mud, so I'd still put him up there. I think if Reed can be doing okay, he's a veteran and knows how to make things work. And Roczen, he's just a great rider, so I think he would be up there. And he probably doesn't like the mud, but he's probably ridden in it enough. —David Bailey

I definitely have to throw Dungey in the mix, from the past. I would just have to pick Dungey because he's smart, he's proven. —Damon Bradshaw

The track, honestly. You know, with [Canard], in the mud, it's just the same as a normal race. But if he can get a good start and be in the top three, very rarely does he finish worse than third, or he usually wins. Like, when he's had the holeshot, his stats for winning the race are almost perfect. Same thing in the mud, if he can start up front, he can stay there… but you get in the back and you're trying to battle and pass and you can't see, that's when it's ugly. [re: Working on any new tricks, like running two pairs of goggles?] Not really, it's just perfecting the ones we have. —Brett Presnell

Tomac… Because he can ride the [snot] out of the mud. —Bob Hannah

Photo by Shan Moore

Are you hoping for a mud race?

To be honest no, not really. I've heard that there are chances of it raining a lot on the west coast, being el Nino. But to me supercross is – you know, I love mud and grew up riding a lot of mud races, but supercross mud races are not fun. They're, in my opinion, a little dangerous, so to be honest. We have a great track crew to fix it, but hopefully not [a muddy track]. —Cooper Webb

I wouldn't mind if they were all mud races, to be perfectly honest. My time in Europe helped my mud skills a lot and I had some good races over the summer in the mud. So I'm down if they're all mud races, but for sure I hope that there's some dry ones just to show how good our bike is and how good things are going. —Zach Orborne

No, not really. It's weird because I can ride the mud really good but I don't like the mud one bit. But I think if there's a mud race, I hope it's the first race, because then it kind of takes away from all the pressure. If it's a mud race you can go, 'Well, it was a mud race. That just is what it is, everyone can get their feet wet.' But none of us like mud races. I like the short day schedule, when you have one practice and then you go racing, I love that; I feel like I learn the track pretty good and I feel like we get too much practice as it is right now, so I would say if we could have short day schedule all the time, like at a mud race, I'd be stoked on that. —James Stewart

I'd rather it be dry. I don't mind mud, but supercross is always nice when you get to ride the track the way it's meant to be ridden rather than be cautious or still yet go for these big jumps when it's muddy, it's always tough. But I don't mind the mud at all; it's a good equalizer, it's a good separator, as well. —Wil Hahn

I don't think anyone hopes for a mud race. But I feel a lot more confident this year, I feel like my starts are much better than last year. Starts are really important in the mud —Trey Canard

I'm not against a mud race but I'm not hoping for a mud race. I'm kind of the middle of the road on that question. It's definitely not something that I want, but it's something I can deal with and I normally do really well. So I don't care, it can go either way. —Eli Tomac

I'm not hoping for one. I've never hoped for a mud race, but I wouldn't mind one. I don't get much practice in the mud, being from Southern California, but I've always been okay with it because I like to have fun while I'm racing and really the only outlook you can have on a mud race is, 'Okay, here goes nothing! I'm having fun with this if I get last or first, it's a kind of a 'who's the luckiest' kind of thing.' Mud races are hectic. —Cole Seely

Photo by Shan Moore

Do/did you perform better or get more motivated when behind on points?

It doesn't matter… It wouldn't matter, you can only do what you can do. That's stupid talk saying you're going to try harder. If you say you're going to try harder then you were a jackass and you weren't trying hard enough in the first place. It's like saying 110%, there is no 110%. [re: Would you ride any differently if leading a series?] Yeah, and I should have ridden a lot more cautiously when I was leading the series than I did. Yeah, I should have, I probably didn't and I should have; it was a mistake. —Bob Hannah

That's the bummer part when you make a mistake like that [my 2015 A1 crash], you're playing catch up so much, you just get in a hurry, goofy things happen, and you don't have an cushion at all to play with. At that point you're scrambling the whole time so that's why you want to come out of Anaheim close to the lead, if not leading. —Eli Tomac

Actually when you're down it takes a lot of pressure off because you only have one option, and that's to do well. So you don't have to worry about this or that or the other you just have to go do your job. —Zach Osborne

I don't think so at all. Obviously you try to give yourself a kick in the butt if that happens, but I don't think that would be necessarily more of a motivator. —Wil Hahn

Not necessarily, no. Not in the beginning. I was always trying to do my best no matter what. If I was leading I may not chance things a little bit more, but as far as being behind in points I would just ride my own race, ride myself, not do anything really different. —Doug Henry

I try not to think about the points too much. Like in 2014 when Jason Anderson and I were battles for the championship, I didn't try to think about the points every weekend. After the fact I would, but I tried to go into every night thinking, 'I want to win, I want to win.' That's all I could think about. Even last year I didn't think about the points that much, probably because I didn't end the season on that high of a note, I was pretty far back there. I don't think of the points while I'm racing, but I do sit down maybe on a Sunday and assess the race and assess the points situation. —Cole Seely

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It's nice to be a chaser, so I didn't let it bother me too much. And the way I won all my first championships, I wrecked and ankle in Dallas and missed a round in the supercross in '83 and I was way back and I thought, 'Well, shoot, maybe I'll just shoot for the Wrangler [Grand National Championship, where SX and MX points are combined] and I figured well, maybe I still have a shot at that. And as the season progressed I saw how people fell away, and just parking close to the front each week puts you in position to do something, and I ended up to win. So right off the bat, I realized that being behind in the points wasn't that much of a bummer. It's some nights, you know, even if you're way back in the points and you're chasing someone that's got a big lead on you you're like, 'Man, how am I gonna get that back?' All they have to do is get tangled up in a first turn thing, or landing on a tough block off a triple, or a lapped rider, and you're right back in it. So I didn't let the points affect me too much, I was always just out there to ride the best I could, and I knew if I did that I would be probably on the box or have a chance to win. —David Bailey

Yeah, you're definitely motivated a little more. You're willing to take a little more risk to get it going. At the end of the EnduroCross season I felt like I was always cautious or on my toes when I was in the lead, I didn't want to mess things up. When you're behind in points you're hungry and you're willing to lay it on the line more than the guy leading —Cody Webb

Yes and no. For me, I knew [after a 7th at A1 in 2015] I had to do good for the rest of the races just to have a chance at winning [the title]. Which is, in my opinion, it's kind of more pressure because you don't have any room for error. If you do have another bad race or whatever the case may be, or even if you don't have a bad race but the guy in the lead is still having good races, you could win out and he gets second and you still could lose. So for me it's difficult to be in that situation. I'd much rather be in the situation as the points leader, where if you want to push it you can, or if you want to settle for that second, I guess you can, too. For me, I try to win every time I'm out on the track and not think about it that way, we just take it race by race. —Cooper Webb

No. Honestly I don't know if it helps or hurts. I've always been a person that's had to deal with pressure. I would say more pressure that anybody ever, just on and off the bike, I embrace it, so I have never had any issues dealing with pressure. I've made mistakes on my own, but it for sure wasn't because of pressure. Maybe not having pressure was a reason I made mistakes, but to me, if I'm behind in points, obviously you've got to just go out and win races. But I think if I'm out front, winning the points, until we get down to the final race or so, it's just the same strategy for me. Just winning, if not, be on the podium. —James Stewart

No. The end result is you always want to win the championship, so you're motivated if you're first or out of it. That's my mindset I guess. —Trey Canard

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What is/was the key for you to recover mentally from a bad race and be confident again for the next?

Forget it. There is no memory if you're a pro athlete. You cannot have a memory. You gotta forget and move on, I don't care what sport you're playing. It's like if you're out there in a moto and you make a mistake in a turn, by the time you get to the next obstacle, whether it be a turn or a jump, that mistake has got to be long gone, because if it isn't, before you know it you're going to lose five or six positions, especially in this day and age. —Marty Smith

Look at the positive, keep your moral high. —Cody Webb

Just forget and move on. If you sit there and say, 'What if,' you're just kind of kicking yourself in the butt. I think if you do have a bad race you learn from it and move on, put it in the past and just work forward and do the best you can. —Cooper Webb

I think the biggest thing is just learning and realizing what mistakes you made… That's why you have a lot of good people on the team and trainers, you surround yourself with those people to help you realize, in a nice way, what went wrong, what they think you can prevent it with, and trying to apply that to the following weekend. —Wil Hahn

Realizing that it's just a bad race. Everybody has them and the key is learning what the mistake was, the key is learning whatever caused that bad race… Correcting the problem will give you the confidence and get you right back on top, or competitive again. [re: was it easy for you?] No, not in the beginning. When I was first starting my pro career every race seemed like it was the world, everything was the most important thing, and when you didn't do well you didn't realize, 'Holy cow I have a long career ahead of me, one bad race, a couple bad races, you're gonna have them,' and I'd say for the rookies, having a bad race, it's harder to come back to winning form than it is for a veteran or a guy that's been around for a little while. —Doug Henry

Just to pull a tearoff and let it go. Everyone will have a mediocre night at best, most of us will have at least one bad night, so it's important just to brush it off and don't let that affect you or change the way that you're doing things. —Trey Canard

It would come during the week, just to go and work as hard as I could, ride as much as I could, and surround myself with the right positive people that knew that you were capable of kicking back from it. And I felt like I did that fairly well. It was harder for me toward the end when I stared getting burned out to come out of that hole I was in, but you know, when things are good, when you did fall down… I was just talking to some people and thinking back to my first year I won Anaheim, I went clear though the last chance to get there. I crashed in the qualifiers, I crashed in everything leading up to that last chance. And I didn't crash there and won it and then was able to win the main event. I think that's one of those, that's the test right there… The year that I won, I think, nine in a row - I remember Stanton, vividly, after the second or third round, just completely down and out, and walking around with his head down and I remember telling him, and I was younger than Jeff but I didn't like seeing that in him because I liked him. I remember trying to, almost like give him motivation. I was obviously on top of the world, I'd won five going into six and won several after that, and even though he was my competition, I remember telling him that obviously you look at the past [but] he needs to look at those positive things and I'm pretty sure in the end he's going to be there, and dammit if he didn't end up winning the season; I think he won three or four rounds, and I think I ended up winning ten or more that year. I probably wouldn't have done that with any other guys, I mean, with someone on my team I would have, but Jeff dug his way out of it… I wanted to see him do well, I didn't want to see him win the damn championship! [laughs]. —Damon Bradshaw

You can't have two [bad races in the 250F class], so you just have to let 'er rip. —Zach Osborne

The key is to figure out what you did to make that mistake and work on that during the week and try not to do that again, whatever it may be. It's just to fix your little weak spots. —Eli Tomac

Short memory, that's the point. Let it go, really try to find out what the mistakes are. Honestly, I've won 50 supercross races and I don't know how many I've lost, but I learn more from the races I lose than I have when I do win. I think the races where you have a bad race you can learn a lot from that, and find out what happened, unless it's a mechanical. You can learn from winning but you learn a lot more from losing. —James Stewart

Just not let it linger, shake it off. In my first years of racing, Gary wasn't always able to be around, and a lot of time I was on my own. And when I was on Kawasaki I didn't even ride the whole series, so the first year I rode all the races was in '83 and I won. And at that point- you know I should've rode 'em all in '82 but I got hurt right before Anaheim and missed some stuff. But in '83 I rode 'em all, and Honda had Jeff Spencer, as an extension to the team, and for whatever reason, I think I just enjoyed Jeff's information. I was real thirsty for that and I think he saw that and he hung out a lot with me. And he never let me dwell on stuff. He was like, 'Just move on, just move past that, there's nothing you can do about it. It's not like you need to fix anything, that was just an off night, so, do your thing and don't make a big reaction just get a better start next time and stay out of the mess and you'll be fine.' So Jeff was pretty solid on that early on, and having a guy like DeCoster as the team, not as the manager, that was Dave Arnold, but for Roger to be there, if there was ever something squirrely you could kind of lean on him a little bit and he would just reiterate what Jeff was saying. Roger was thinking more about the bikes, but he could tell if I was ever a little flustered to just let me know, 'You're looking good, you know? Everybody's going to have an off day so do let it get to you.' —David Bailey

Just shake it off, really, not beat myself up over it. Have faith in my program, know that the people around me are the right people, and not try to trip over it too much, because it's not going to be like that every weekend. —Cole Seely

Work up a good hatred for those SOBs. [Laughs] —Bob Hannah

Who is the worst rider to have right behind you?

That's a tough one. For me, it's tough, last year I'd say in the 250 West, Malcolm was, he's really fast and he can match just about anybody's speed on any given night and he's really, really fast in the whoops. He's a tough competitor. He definitely goes for it, so it makes it tough. And if you're kind of riding not quite on your edge, you can always expect Malcolm to be up in you, trying to make you ride over your head, which obviously sometimes can bite you, but can also bite him as well. So I'd have to say Malcolm. —Cooper Webb

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It's tough to answer, I feel like Justin Brayton because he's been training really hard and he's always strong to the end. That guy's always strong. —Wil Hahn

That depends. If you're in a title fight, then whoever you're battling with is probably the worst person because that's when things can get a little dirty. If it's Dungey, Trey – well, I guess Trey is probably the best person to have behind me, actually, because he's my teammate and he won't do anything dirty. But anybody that's not my teammate, pretty much, 'cause you know there's going to be some bar banging. —Cole Seely

You would think my answer would be pretty straightforward, you know who I don't really get along with a lot, but it's not him. I wouldn't even put him on there. I'd probably say… that's a tough question. I'm not even trying to dodge the question. I guess all of them, I don't want anybody right behind me. I don't mind them being far behind me but not directly behind me. —James Stewart

Anyone that's going faster, really. —Trey Canard

Probably Bowers. He's pretty physical and that can be kind of hairy sometimes. —Zach Osborne

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Who is the hardest rider to pass?

I don't look at numbers when I pass. Probably the fastest rider. I spent some laps behind Dungey last year, he's probably the hardest to pass. He didn't to anything dirty, he's just flat out fast. Waiting for a mistake, I felt like I spent 50 laps behind the guy last year waiting for a mistake and nothing ever happened, so that's probably the hardest rider to pass right there. —Cole Seely

Supercross, last year, I would say Jessy Nelson was a tough guy to pass. He was always getting really good starts, and he knows how to work the right lines to where it's not easy to pass, and he's not scared to kind of throw it in there. So I would say in supercross, Jessy, but overall last year it was definitely Marvin. —Cooper Webb

Honestly, I haven't had many issues in the 450 class. Everyone's pretty much level headed. The 250 class is where there's a lot more ego and there are a lot more tempers, so once I went to the 450 class I haven't had like an enemy or someone I really disagreed with. —Eli Tomac

I don't know. I've had to pass a lot of guys last year, especially with my bad starts… Alessi was always pretty tough to pass. —Trey Canard

I feel like the guys that are like from sixth to tenth place that aren't really contending for podiums are hard to pass because they're just fast enough to keep you behind them but not fast enough to move forward, and then you start to get frustrated. So it's the guys that are just a tick off of the front guys that are the hardest to pass for me. —Zach Osborne

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I would say Vince Friese or Andrew Short, they're both very hard guys to pass… It's not blocking, they just know how to ride to keep people behind them. Sometimes they're easy to catch and then I realize I'm kind of stuck there. —Wil Hahn

I would actually say my brother. I had firsthand experience in 2013 when we raced outdoors, he actually took me out. The few times I got behind him, whether it was practice or a race, he's one of the hardest people to pass. I don't know if that's because we're kin, but I know for sure the next time I get a chance I'm going to have to knock him down. —James Stewart