Supercross points Leaders Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey Interview: Ready for Anaheim 3 - Dirt Rider Magazine

Chad Reed at Anaheim 1

Team Suzuki supercross riders Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey are leading their classes in 2009 racing - Supercross and West Coast Lites - after 5 rounds in the Supercross class, and four in the Lites West class. I spoke with them both two days before the Anaheim 3 supercross while overlooking a track draped in tarp as rain started to sprinkle.CHAD REED****PP: I see you limping around a little bit, can you give me the story on that?CR: I hurt my leg this morning, I had a bit of a fall. That's about it.PP: Are you going to be okay for Saturday?CR: Yeah, should be. Hopefully.PP: You mentioned on the TV broadcasts the last few weeks you haven't been feeling it or been riding 100%. Have you been working on it? Do you think you've gotten over that?CR: Yeah, I think we've made some real positive changes this week with the bike and really, honestly, it's got nothing to do with the bike, it's all me. And I just haven't ridden very good from the first lap of practice. I've just struggled the last two weeks and took a lot of falls when that's kind of uncharacteristic of me and it's been a struggle to get going and stay on the bike. So I think the last two weekends getting seconds have been great rides for me, and I walked away bummed that I didn't ride great, but I was excited with the position that I finished because of how poorly I felt that I rode. And on top of that James has ridden really, really good, maybe the best that he's ridden the last few months. I think it's going to be an interesting series, and with five races in, as bad as my last two were, I still have a six point lead, and that's the position I want to be in. I want to get a win more than anyone, but you gotta be smart. You gotta be at the right place at the right time and that's what we're doing.PP: Your starts have been making it a little harder for you. Have you been doing anything different? Practicing your starts?CR: I think that it's my technique that's been letting me down. I do starts during the week and I kill 'em, I hit 'em good, then I get to the race and I think I get... You know when you get one bad start, then two bad starts, three bad starts, then it starts to get in your head. 'What the hell's going on?' You work on it, work on it... I feel great during the week, I just have to do that in the main event. In hindsight, my starts really haven't been that bad when you look at where I was. The first race I was third out of the first turn, the second race I was third again, back here (Anaheim 2) I was in the top four and then I actually got clipped from the rear and crashed. Houston, I was decent then I got tagged from the inside by James and then I got jacked up in the S-Bend (tight first two corners). So getting down into the first turn I feel like I've been okay, it's just 'wrong place wrong time' and that's me. You gotta get out front and go for it. So I'm working on my technique and watching Alessi, trying to steal some holeshots from him and see what we can do.PP: How about the fuel injection bike. Has there been much adaptation you've had to make to it?CR: The biggest thing that I would have to say is how do you deal with getting confidence after confidence after confidence? I had to adapt. I really didn't realize how much I would pull up on the bars (in previous seasons) because I was so freaked out that the bike was gonna bog or hesitate that little bit. A lot of people get that bog and hesitation (comment) as that you're bagging out the bike, but the reality is every four stroke with a carburetor bogs or hesitates. I personally have taken some big falls because of it and I get hated on because I say it bogged or hesitated. Fuel injection is amazing. I haven't had one issue with it. I'm looking forward to going back east and getting into the domes where the bikes are finicky. I think we're going to have a good advantage back there.PP: It seems like you're cornering better. You just look better on the bike.CR: I feel better so that's good that I look better. I just feel like this bike, the RM-Z450, just fits my style. It feels really light and nimble and it turns really well. And working with the guys, Roger and Goose and Ian, they're good, good guys that have seen a lot and they're helping me a lot with the bike and giving me the best tools to go racing. And that's what it's about.PP: You've had to pass a lot of guys, like we mentioned your bad starts, but it seems like the tracks this year are particularly hard to pass on. Do you think that's the case?CR: Yeah, it's been frustrating for sure. The tracks have been hard to race on. I think they're trying to make the tracks longer, and the tracks are turning out to be one big maze that we can't pass in. This year the lap times are higher than what they've been previously, but they have just no rhythm, no lines to pass on, and that's making racing, I think, kind of boring. As a fan, sitting on the starting line, I'm watching the Lites guys battle it out. My teammate Dungey, being half a second to a second faster in San Francisco, and he can't do nothing at all. That's disappointing a little bit to know that you work so damn hard, people put so much effort in, and then it's just... And it's really nobody's fault. Honestly it's not. I applaud them for trying to make the track longer, but maybe it's just something that doesn't work. When we go to San Fran, it's always short, potentially muddy, normally a 42 to a 45 second lap. Let's add 2, 3, 4 laps to the race and do it that way and have a great race track but still have the same time (race length). The fix is, let's concentrate 100% on having a good race track, see what the lap time is, and take it from there to see how long we want to go. For me, I don't care, I'll do 30 lap races. You work your ass off during the week to be the best on the weekend. The race is the easy part.

Ryan Dungey

PP: How has it been working with Roger?CR: It's been fun. The advice that he has is different from the advice I've had before. He's a rider that's been there himself, he's been around a lot of very talented people and I think he gets it. And that's something I've never had in a team manager. I think he gets me and he does his job and he plays his role. He doesn't want to be your best friend, he doesn't want to be your man friend, he doesn't get emotional over you saying this doesn't do this or that doesn't do that. He's just a guy with an open mind at all times, and he's just willing to make things better, and that's what it takes to be the best team out there. And I believe we have a really strong team, the best one.PP: So here we are, Thursday afternoon, before Anaheim 3, there's tarp over the track, I saw some raindrops coming down. Are you looking forward to a mud race, or is that something that concerns you?CR: Either way I'm okay. It's So Cal. They're claming rain, it's raining right now, but who knows how long it's going to stick around. All we can do now is prepare and if it's raining then it's going to be a tough race. This is the McGrath (designed) track and I did press day to day, and it's probably one of the more technical tracks that we're going to see all year long. To have that muddy, it's going to be extremely tough on everybody. In those situations you've gotta be on your game and get a good start and stay out of trouble. It can go both ways. You can lose a lot of points, or you can gain a lot. So I'm gonna try to do what I've been doing, put myself in a good position, and take advantage of the situation.PP: You talked earlier of adjusting the number of laps based on lap times, you're already thinking like a promoter. After this series is over, tell me a little about your plans when you go back to race in Australia.CR: Being involved in promoting Australian supercross has really given me an insight and outlook to the sport from a different angle. I sometimes get caught up in it and I'm the fan and the rider too much. You don't really see that if the track sucks, or it's a particular way, or the berm's low here or it's low over here - those things, there are reasons why it's like that. After working in Australia last year I've really seen it from a different view, and I think I'm more understanding. I don't think I was the only one bitching, but I really understand this year there's a real reason why it's like that. If you've got a really short track, then add a few laps to it. But a short track, sometimes, you're talking about trying to give other people a chance to win. If James and I get bad starts on a short track and short lap times, a sprinter can get a good start and go. They've got a good chance of holding us off, so it's all a two way street, and there's always different ways to look at it.RYAN DUNGEY****PP: So you're sitting in a good position in the series. Have you been doing anything different, or are you just keeping it business as usual during the week?RD: I haven't really switched a lot up, but I think there's progress to be made, for sure. But I think with my program, with time, it will come over the season. Things are going really well, I've had some great finishes. I'm really enjoying it and I'm having fun. But the Pro Circuit guys aren't making it easy, they're right there, right behind me. Weimer's putting up a good fight and hey, it's gonna be a battle maybe to the end even. We'll have to see. These next two rounds it'll be nice to get a couple wins if not be right up there, but then we have a nice break, so it'll be good to finish strong.PP: Last year you got some really good results on the 450. Two questions here - do you have any plans to get out there in the Supercross class, and what bike will you ride (new rules allow a rider to race a 250F in the 450 class)RD: I'm not gonna lie, the 450 was a lot of fun last year. It was probably one of the best times of my life. I think last year it was something to get in, get my feet wet, have fun. There was no pressure to do anything, and there wouldn't be this year, but I think if I were to do it now, I want a whole off season to prepare for it and I want to come into it swinging. If I were to race the Supercross class (this year), I'd do it on a 450. I would like to have the power, except if if were Daytona. There I'd like to ride the Lites bike, it would be fun.PP: I heard last year when you raced some 450 supercross rounds you were doing it to keep your head out of your own series, and keep you busy and keep you in shape. What are you going to do during the break this year?RD: I'd like to get a headstart on outdoors. To be honest I haven't really thought about it, I've been focused on the West coast championship, trying to get these rounds in and then we'll take it from there. Eight weeks is a long time to just hang out and chill. I think, too, like you said, last year I went into the break just not knowing what to do. 'I don't know where I'm at, I have to find myself.' And racing that (450) just brought back the fun, I got to race in my hometown, it was so much fun that I found myself enjoying it and realized what I'm doing this for and just realizing what life's all about. There's a lot more to life than just racing. I really feel like I found myself.PP: Here we are before Anaheim 3. Are you watching the weather report? And what do you feel if it's going to be a mud race?RD: This morning I woke up, the first thing I saw was the radar. I'm like, 'Dang it, it's coming!' But it is what it is. Like Anaheim 1 last year. We had a few mud races in the West coast and everybody's got to race it. And not to take any serious chances. Just being smart, play it safe. You can't control everything, right? You've just got to have faith in it.