David Vuillemin and his thoughts on what we saw at A3
David Vuillemin and his thoughts on what we saw at A3
Photos by James Lissimore
The track at A3 was pretty good, very busy and technical- what did you think?
I’d say it was ok, busy but as far as technical, maybe a bit more than a couple of tracks we’ve seen this season. I still think Phoenix was the most challenging. There were a lot of table tops at A3 where everyone was doing the same faster combo. I didn’t like the section with the 90 degree turn where rolling the inside was pretty much as fast as doing the difficult outside combo like before the finish, before the triple or after the sand section. The track builders have to make the shorter and easy way a bit slower to give the advantage the guys doing the tough sections. Before the finish, the outside was faster by doing 3-3 but not enough to make a pass. Tomac couldn’t pass Roczen doing it and the same with Webb in the heat race against Malcolm. The whoops were more difficult this weekend which was good. In the second set in the main, you had to go in the main line in the big groove. If you were doing them good in the main rut you basically couldn’t get passed. In the 250 main, when Nelson was leading and changed his line in the second set of whoops to get away from the main rut he got passed by Webb. At the end of the day, it’s tough to come up with a track with a lot of 180 degree turns and long lanes on a baseball field
“When you get him to go as fast or faster than everyone else, he’s tough to beat because you know he’s going to be solid for 20 laps. What he needed in the first 4 races, he did it in A3. He was the fastest in practice which hasn’t been the case in quite some time. That’s how you build confidence before the night program.”
You’ve been critical of Dungey’s bike set-up before but the last couple of weeks he and the bike look to be in synch…is everyone else in trouble here? Do you think Dungey can go on a run?
I wasn’t critical about his bike set-up but about the way he looked on the bike. In the first couple races, he looked awkward on the bike and not comfortable. Also, his speed wasn’t quite as good as Ken, Eli and Trey. Obviously something changed somewhere. You’re right, he looks more in sync now but his corner speed and technique are way better. You can see him keep his momentum way more in the turns. Ryan is a very smooth rider that doesn’t make many mistakes. When you get him to go as fast or faster than everyone else, he’s tough to beat because you know he’s going to be solid for 20 laps. What he needed in the first 4 races, he did it in A3. He was the fastest in practice which hasn’t been the case in quite some time. That’s how you build confidence before the night program. Your state of mind is night and day different when you’re the fastest in the afternoon compare to when you’re half to a second slower. I’ve said it many times, the best way to prepare for race is to kill it in practice.
You think Roczen’s crash may have affected him this week?
The crash, oviously, affected him on Oakland. Did it have anything to do about his A3 performance? I am not sure. He didn’t start the day on a good note. He was over a second slower than Dungey in practice. It goes back to what I was saying above. When you’re behind the eight-ball in practice it’s difficult to overcome that. He actually did in the heat race by clocking the best lap time of the second heat which was just a hair slower than Tomac in heat 1. In the main, he was only the 6th fastest. When you’re 6th on the first lap of the main and you’re the 6th fastest guy, it’s difficult to win or even to get a podium. It all comes down to speed. I’ve been saying it in this column for a while as well as on the PulpMX Show, the number 1 priority should be the speed. He got 4th but was only 5 seconds behind Dungey at the finish line. That’s an average of .25 sec on 20 laps and on his best lap he was already .5 off. If you think about it, it’s not much at all. Mathematically speaking, if he was .3 seconds faster per lap he would’ve won. If you guys think his Oakland crash affected him by a few tenths of a second a lap in the A3 main, then yes his crash in NorCal was a factor.
Canard was looking for a podium before he fell in the sand.
What I saw is that he didn’t make the best decisions and made mistake while in trafic early in the race. We haven’t seen him that far back (6th isn’t really “far” so to speak) in the opening laps yet this season. It’s a different ball game than starting in the top 3 and leading early like he’s done in the previous Anaheims. It took Ken 6 laps to pass Baggett who actually clocked a better fast lap than Ken in the main. Then, he got around Canard because Trey lost the front in the sand and fell. Later on got passed by Tomac on the last lap. It wasn’t a great showing by Roczen after a couple flawless races in the first 2 Anaheims. It’s the first time this year he was battling and “sandwiched” between 2 of the fastest guys, Canard and Tomac. That’s something he will have to fix if this situation comes again. To me, you gotta find a way to pass Baggett sooner than 6 laps and find a way to rebound in speed at the level he was in the heat race which he wasn’t able to do. If Canard can win Oakland by being 10th on the first lap, a guy like Roczen (riding at his potential and passing guys quickly) can win A3 even being 6th on the first lap…
Tomac was upset about the media talking about his bad starts but at A3, his start did do him in. What makes a rider a good starter or bad? Why does the 800 get them all the time?
Why would Eli be upset about an issue he knows he’s having? Starts don’t win races hence Canard in Oakland and Webb in A2. If starts won races, Alessi would’ve won more championships than Carmichael. Starts make it easy that’s for sure but you have to perform and be fast to win. A lot of people think the jump off the gate is important but it’s really not. What’s important is to be smooth off the gate, keep your front end low and shift to 3rd at the right time. The right time is when the bike produces the most torque so 3rd gear will pull the best. If you shift to soon the bike will log too much and same if you wait too long and you’re over peak torque/power.
“Alessi is one of the best shifters and it’s why his starts are on point and also why he’s fast outdoors. In MX, shifting at the right moment and being in the right gear around the track are two of the most important things”
Alessi is one of the best shifters and it’s why his starts are on point and also why he’s fast outdoors. In MX, shifting at the right moment and being in the right gear around the track are two of the most important things. On starts, too many guys dump the clutch because they want to have a good jump but they have to get back on the clutch because they all start to wheelie and lose time. It’s way better to let the clutch go more progressively in one motion which will keep your front wheel low and then, the difference comes when you shift to 3rd 10-15 feet after the gate.
Webb was amazing, what do you see from him?
Halfway thru the 250 main I thought Nelson was gonna run with it. Cooper was second but not close enough to make a pass. Then Jessy started to try different lines, especially in the whoops, which made him lose time. Cooper capitalized right away on it. When he made the pass, that was it. Even if Nelson had the fastest lap in the main I didn’t see him getting Webb back. Cooper is able to be the fastest guy (or close to it) at every round and charge on the last lap like it’s the first. It’s pretty impressive because he doesn’t hit a wall. He seems like he’s racing against the clock and always wants to be fast. Other than A1 where he crashed and made mistakes, I haven’t seen him anything wrong . He has an 18 point lead now and I am sure he’d love to have a 1 race lead after San Diego. There are two races left and a big break after San Diego. At this point, other than an injury, I don’t see him not winning his first pro championship. And he’s gonna do it in great fashion
What are your thoughts on the TV broadcast in general?
You know what? I can’t complain. The races are live on TV! I would be ok even if you were filming the races live on your iPhone with no commentaries! Yes, there are too many Monster girls shown. Too many guys putting their dirt bikes in their living room to see their photos on TV. Emig is too soft and too corporate. He talks about aggressive riding on regular racing actions when he was doing 10 times worse in his time and was one of the dirtiest riders ever. Ralph is coming around for not being SX/MX guy though. Overall, it’s easy to be critical and wanting something different but I am “super pumped” to have the races on live TV and be able to talk shit for fun on Twitter during the show. It makes my Saturdays entertaining in my very boring life
You ever had a start gate malfunction and what took them so long? What would it be like to be a rider on the line after racing five laps?
I don’t think it ever happened to me personally before but I was in a race when it happened. I thought back in the day we had officials on each sides of the gate watching it drop to make sure it worked properly. We’ve had a malfunction before and they caught it in the first lap. It’s like when Tyler Evans jumped the gate. They didn’t let the race go for 5-6 laps before they red flagged it. Obviously, the AMA dropped the ball Saturday. The race should’ve gone for only a lap. If you have guys on each outside of he gate watching it drop. You can catch what happened Saturday right away!
As a rider, riding 6 laps and doing a restart, it sucks basically. You’re already sweating. Googles aren’t a problem because everyone have spares. But, your jersey is soaked, you’re cold. The helmet is also wet. If you were in the top 3, you’re pissed and you know whoever started like crap will try even harder to start in front the second time around. Not too many people like a restart but it was the right call saturday. It’s better to get the right call that took a while than a quick wrong call. I am sure Reedy would agree!