The world watched the Grand Prix kickoff this past weekend a little closer than usual
The world watched the Grand Prix kickoff this past weekend a little closer than usual
Photos courtesy of Monster Energy
We sent DV our usual supercross questions and included one RV/GP question but he had a lot of thoughts on the Qatar race so he decided to go rouge on us and just make this a GP column.
Your take on RV’s first GP race?
Sorry Matthes, I deleted all the questions about the Atlanta SX and decided to talk about RV in Qatar in depth-ok here we go…
It’s obviously a huge change for Ryan to go race the GP’s this season. He hasn’t raced a motocross race since Lake Elsinore National on Aug. 24th 2013. That’s 1 year, 6 months and 4 days or 553 days since he lined up behind the gate of a motocross race. That’s a lot of time and he had to be a little rusty. He has the same bike but he’s working with a different team and different people. It’s way easier for a Euro or an Oceanian to adapt to the US life than for an American to adapt to Europe. It takes time. It’s no secret that he is not quite ready yet. His bike isn’t suited to a GP track and he needs some races, more testing and have an open mind to improve. Here is my opinion on the matter on what went/is wrong.
The opening GP was under the lights and Villopoto went 9-8 with a few bike issues.
I think Ryan rode in California way too much to prepare for the GP’s and test his bike. Setting up your bike on any California track is not good. California is good for Euro riders in the winter to get some riding done. In Europe, the weather sucks in the winter, tracks are flooded or frozen so it’s tough to ride. Since the Euros already have base set-ups for their bikes and know the GP tracks, it’s ok for them to come to Glen Helen and Comp Edge to get some riding done. Plus, you can’t start from your factory US bike to test for the GPs. You almost have to start from scratch, from a bone stock bike and start bolting stuff on. It takes a lot of time. But making an US factory 450 MX bike into a good GP bike takes even more time. Just because the philosophy is so different and that’s what you have to put in your head when you start testing to race GP’s. When I talked to RV in A1 about the MX GP’s, I told him straight up that if he wanted to use his US bike there and steer with the rear like he often does in the US, he would hate it and struggle. His dad was there too, he looked at me and said, that’s what we do. We pivot the bike with the throttle and we won a lot of championships like that. We’ll be just fine. I didn’t really want to argue with the dad of one of the best rider the sport has seen but in my head I was like, ok whatever…
RV and his team headed back to Europe between GP’s to do some more testing.
His bike in Qatar wasn’t good. It looked horrible. His forks bounced around like a ping pong ball on acid. His rear end looked very low and not moving at all. Riding like that on choppy tracks with long ruts isn’t fun and not efficient. The rear has no traction and you get kicked in every braking/acceleration bumps. The front bounced around, stays too high and you can’t get in the turns/ruts the right way. Center of gravity is too high and it’s tough to lean the bike in the ruts, in small shallow inside lines and slick flat turns. If you look at GP bikes of the riders that do good, they are more balanced. The suspensions has less damping to absorb choppy bumps and might seem real busy but it also helps in traction. RV’s bike doesn’t move in the rear. To have traction, you have to have a free-er/faster rebound. The swing arm/shock combo have to push the wheel/tire down to the ground to bite the dirt and get traction. Too often people think that if you get kicked it’s because the rebound is too fast and so they slow the rebound down.
Then, the rear wheel skims the bump while braking and acceleration but the wheel has the time to get back down to the dirt to get traction. When the tire is in the air, obviously, you have no traction. You can ride like that in Red Bud and Budds Creek and it’s a better set up for there. Since the dirt is so deep and the bumps big, if you ride with a “Euro” plusher and busier set up, both ends of your bike will be rocking back and forth and it wouldn’t be good. In Europe, only a couple tracks get that way.
Then, you have the engine. In the US, since it’s deep and the tracks take some much power from the bike, you need it to be powerful to compensate. In Europe and GPs, it’s never like that. They don’t bring thousands of truck loads of sand every year and flood the track for two weeks straight before the race. Even in the deep sand, you don’t really want to have an aggressive bike. Just because the rear wheel would spin too much and you would dig holes instead of going forward. In Qatar, you could see Ryan’s bike spinning around because it was too agressive. For me, it was a huge change when I got to the USA to get used to US-set-up bikes in MX. They were very snappy and powerful compared to my GP bikes but it’s the way you need to be over here. I knew a mellow/smooth power bike wouldn’t be efficient on a deep MX track. My “euro” set-up in second gear wouldn’t even pull in a deep Red Bud berm. I had to adapt myself, work on my riding style and also on my fitness differently. It’s tougher physically to ride an agressive bike with stiff suspension outdoors. It’s why some Euros have struggled when they’ve come over.
“RV knows how to ride a bike and when he decides to ride with a bike that fits that series even if it’s something he doesn’t believe in, he will be up there. I am not too worried about it. It might not be in Thailand but be ready the see the RV we know in Argentina on March 29th…”
Let’s get to the good news and compare some data from 2 years ago. Desalle came over for Thunder Valley in 2013. It was the 2nd MX race of the series here and he was already in full MX mode for a while in the GPs. RV won moto 1 with a best lap at 2’04.4. Desalle was 6th with a 2’06.4. In moto two, RV won with a 2’06.1. Desalle got 7th with a 2’08.1. In both motos, Clement was 2 seconds slower when you compare the best lap of each guy. In Qatar, Desalle got 2nd in moto 1 with a 1’49.6 which was also the best lap time. RV got 9th with a 1’51.2. In moto 2, Desalle got 2nd with a 1’50.5, which was the 4th fastest lap and RV got 8th with a 1’50.9 which was only .895 sec slower than the fastest lap of the race by Nagl.
You can see the difference between both guys not riding in their usual series with bikes not adapted for that series. So in my opinion, with RV looking so uncomfortable in Qatar and being less than a second off on the best lap in moto 2, makes me realize than with an adequate bike, he’ll up there easily.
“In the US, since it’s deep and the tracks take some much power from the bike, you need it to be powerful to compensate. In Europe and GPs, it’s never like that. They don’t bring thousand of truck loads of sand every year and flood the track 2 weeks straight before the race. Even in the deep sand, you don’t really want to have an aggressive bike.”
Last point, I don’t think it was smart from RV and his team to go straight to race in Qatar without racing warm-up races. Everyone says- “RV doesn’t do warm up races”. I don’t care what he does or doesn’t. It’s a new team, new championship, new tracks and new competitors. If RV doesn’t race in overseas SX races before the AMA SX championship, it’s really not a big deal. He knows what a SX race is. But when you haven’t raced a motocross race in 553 days, it would have been wise to race a couple italian MX races, for exemple, to get in the race mode and test the equipment. In those races, he would have seen that his bike wasn’t up to par for Euro tracks. He would’ve rode with Cairoli and Paulin. And it would have been better to get a disappointing results in those races and have time to react before flying to Qatar. Now, instead of staying in the middle east and do some tourism, he flew back to Belgium/Holland to go test for a couple days before flying back to Thailand.
But, you have to acknowledge that he had some issues that weren’t really his fault. He stalled on the start of the first moto. And no, it wasn’t an electrical issue. Something obviously went wrong but my very close sources said that nothing was wrong with the bike. In moto 2, his rear brake went out in the middle of the moto and that’s why he got passed back by Febvre and wasn’t able to catch up. 9-8 is obviously not very good but with the circumstances of his set up being horrible and having issues with the first moto start and his brake in moto 2, he would have been top 5 in my opinion. It’s not all bad. RV knows how to ride a bike and when he decides to ride with a bike that fits that series-even if it’s something he doesn’t believe in-he will be up there. I am not too worried about it. It might not be perfect in Thailand but be ready the see the RV we know in Argentina on March 29th…
Just give him some time to realize that he went in the wrong direction and he’ll be fine.