We’re going to try something new. Our How Was Your Weekend videos are very popular, but we often hear that readers would like to uh, read our content. So we’ve typed out the interviews with the riders. Let us know what you think.
For the third year in a row, the creative minds at one of the biggest drink brands in the world turned their attention to motocross racing. The 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm ran under the lights at the Fairplex in Pomona, California, and its long pairing of bracket races thrilled the SoCal crowded on a cool October evening. Any big surprises from the one of a kind event? A few, such as the emergence of competitive electric motorcycles and the incredibly close battles in both classes.
Once the final races ended, we grabbed the top-four finishers in both classes (250 & 450) and got their take on the day.
Josh Hill | 4th Place
How was that?
That was one of the most satisfying nights of racing I’ve had in a while. I wish we could have done a little bit better against the TLD boys, but we had about one day of Straight Rhythm practice. Well, two days if you count the track in NorCal and one test day with WP. The bike has come a long way and it’s pretty crazy to ride an untested bike like this, with a completely different form of engine, and be competitive with one of the top tier teams in the country. It was good. And it was good to see that I can ride a bike kind of fast. That was fun to get excited like that again.
I think the only place you were at a disadvantage was at the start, because you couldn’t meter the power or whatever on that steel grate. But your BMX skills came in through the rhythm.
I didn’t think I lost so much off the start. I wasn’t comfortable with using a start hook just because our suspension wasn’t stiff enough. It was bottoming out and I could hear it, the rubber hitting the plastic all night. We did the best with what we had. WP did an awesome job with their one day of testing with us and Mark helped us a little bit today and gave us a little stiffer shock setting. We were all the way in with the clickers and weren’t there yet. It was good. The power is almost there and I think it was on par with the privateer 250s. I had a little disadvantage with the TLD guys and I needed to stiffen my suspension up to go those speeds. That was the fastest I’ve ridden that bike over Supercross obstacles and we’re not even close. It was hard to find a perfect setting. The bike has torque and weight in different areas than any other bike, so we’re going to need to make a specific setup for this type of racing.
The Alta guys are in to this and from talking with them earlier today, it seems like their entire factory is here and are into this.
I got told about this opportunity at the Charlotte GP and it all came to fruition. After that I changed my program up. These guys were putting a lot into it and I wasn’t able to ride as much, so I changed my diet and stopped drinking completely. I got on a racer’s program for a couple of months and it has been really fun. It’s gratifying to have a nice night like this and pay off all of these guy’s hard work with some of my own and have a good showing on the bike. I’m pretty happy with how I rode and I’m not sure how much harder I could have rode.
Jordon Smith | 3rd Place
How was it?
It was good. This is the most fun that we have all offseason, probably. It’s a lot of hard work during the offseason with getting ready for the season next year, but we have a good time when we come to this race, no matter what place we get. I was really bummed to not be in the final race out there, but it was a good day no matter what.
That scrub you threw over the sand triple, that was big.
I didn’t really have a choice! I had to go for it and try to get Shane there to close it out for that race because you never know what can happen in the last one. I didn’t get him and he got me in the last one. It was a tough loss and it sucks coming down here because there’s nothing you can do to make up the time but scrub harder. That’s what I tried to do and it didn’t work out.
Racing Hill on the electric bike, how was that?
I never heard him one time. I didn’t know where he was, like if he was right behind me or beside me or still at the starting gate. I couldn’t tell where he was, so it was a little bit in the back of my head because I felt like I had really good runs going but didn’t know where he was.
Do you carry this into the offseason?
This is just a fun event and there’s no pressure from the team, just the pressure that we put on ourselves. I want to try and build off of this because there are things that you can learn. I got a little impatient in the second and third runs against Shane and that’s why I lost. I need to work on some things for Supercross next year.
Mitchell Oldenburg | 2nd Place
How was it?
That was fun! There was no pressure all day, we just kind of went out there and did the best that we could. It’s a one-off race for fun, so that’s what we did. We had fun and came away with second place, so I got my first trophy as a pro. I’m pretty pumped about that. I’m looking forward to next year and Red Bull put this amazing event on, so hopefully next year we can come out and get the win.
You were the fastest guy through the whole day and then lost it to Shane. Are you bummed or okay because you showed everyone that you have the speed?
If I’m going to lose to anyone, I’m okay losing to Shane. I lived with him for a year and we became really good friends. We push each other every day, train together, and do our motos together. Everything we do is together, so it’s alright. The big picture is Supercross and to have a really good offseason so we come out swinging for the East Coast or West Coast. I want to be ready to win some races. I feel good with my program and my year so far, so I’m excited to get some work in.
There were a few times when you had laps comparable to Marvin and other guys in the 450 class. Did you have something that the other guys didn’t have?
Honestly, I didn’t even know that. I just tried to clean everything up and do it perfectly. The last run in our qualifying, I put everything together and luckily came out as the fastest qualifier, which I think set me up for the brackets. I tried to approach it one race and one jump at a time so I didn’t get ahead of myself. And I think I did that. We will put in some work over the offseason, get some good laps and long motos in, so we will be ready for the East Coast or the West Coast.
Shane McElrath | 1st place
How was it?
It just felt good. Last I got second and was a little bummed on that, but this year it was TLD teammates one-two-three. I was able to seal it off in the final round and it juts feels good. A win is a win and this we can use in testing for Supercross while also having some fun.
You put in some really good battles there at the end. Where you ever stressed that you could have lost one?
It’s pretty on a 250 hitting every jump as fast as you can and you throw the bike [Laughs].
Trey Canard | 4th Place
How was it?
It was great, man. I had a lot of fun and it was definitely different than I expected. I loved it and I’m really glad that I did this because I worked some nerves out. I hadn’t raced in a little bit and this is a whole new environment for me, so it was great to be in it even if it wasn’t a normal race. I was really happy that I came and had a lot of fun.
This is the first time that you’ve ever done this race. Was it challenging to figure it out?
The speeds are so high and it’s nerve racking when you’re first getting going to send it like that. More than anything I wanted to come out of here healthy and winning wasn’t a priority for me at this point. I did the best that I could and had a lot of fun. I made some good progress for myself mentally and it was a good day.
This is it until A1?
I feel like I need some time to prepare and I feel like going to an overseas race would have been too much on me as far as travel. I want to get used to my bike and you usually miss two or three weeks of good training in those times. I want to get some good time at home so that I can improve.
Josh Hansen | 3rd Place
How was it?
It was fun. I had a lot of fun today at it was always down to the wire. It was a full drag race.
When did you figure out that big quad out of the start?
That thing I learned off of Excitebike. You have to get the nose down to get the turbo to get over the quad to turbo to get over the other quad and then the speed check. Shout out to Kawasaki for the brakes and to Excitebike for believing in myself that it could be done. It was pretty cool!
Everyone thinks that you had to get over the jump to win, but you sent it to the line.
It looked gooned out, but they said that is where the line is and that’s the rules. It was either that or I was going to downside the finish line and blow out my teeth for the crowd.
Third place, not bad.
I had a lot of fun. I made a quite a few mistakes and had some times where I could pick up that I lost to Dungey, and the same thing for Trey, but I made it up on the very last one. It’s always cool to race these guys and Red Bull put on an awesome event. I hope they doing it again. I’ve been hearing rumors but I hope that they keep it going.
Ryan Dungey | 2nd Place
How was it?
Red Bull Straight Rhythm is always good. I think a lot of people think that it’s simple because it’s a straight line and there are no turns, but it’s pretty challenging. We had a lot of good guys and it was a level playing field. We were all right there in speed and you had to hit your marks. We had some good battles and it was cool to make it to the final this year with Marvin. Last year I didn’t make it to that part, I got third, so it was cool to bring it to the finals. I didn’t end up winning, got second, but we had fun, learned some stuff along the way, and are healthy and safe. There were a lot of positives and good things, and I see some things where I can be better. You have to be looking for those types of things. I’ll take the positives.
The battles between you and Josh were really good and you could tell that in the third one you really wicked it up.
The first ones I was going, too [Laughs]. It was super close and in the rhythm lanes I was really losing a lot, he’s really good at going forward through the rhythm lanes. The first one, it wasn’t looking so good after that but I came away in the second and third and then advanced to the final. A lot of people underestimate people at this race, but it’s short and intense and there’s a lot of skill. You’re going up against a lot of guys and there’s a broader playing field of talent.
You’re not a guy that’s known for hitting offseason races, but after the injury and missing races in the summer, are these helping you find a flow before the training camp?
I think so. I had some time off in the outdoors, good time off. I was able to regroup and recover and refresh in ways that probably I don’t know. It was good to recharge and I had three races in a row with Germany, Monster Cup, and here. It was good to get the gate drop feel and to bring that intensity. In November and December we will start ramping up our training, so things will be building soon. We will take next week and a little time off, and then get back to Florida to get to it.
Marvin Musquin | 1st
How was it?
It was awesome. I love the Straight Rhythm and I was looking forward to racing the 450. Ryan was getting better and better through the day and it was so intense. I wanted it to be done and didn’t want it to go to the third run. It’s so intense, that’s just the word.
You were the fastest guy through the whole day. Did you have something that maybe other guys didn’t?
You have to be very aggressive and maybe I got too aggressive in the last runs. I overshot one of the jumps before the three onto the table and I thought because of that it was over. The left side was really dry in the whoops and I didn’t like it. The right side was much better, but you had to do both sides. It worked out so good. It was fun against Ryan and I couldn’t have a better guy to go against. I’m really happy about it.
You had Germany, Monster Energy Cup, and now this, so you’re on a hot streak. Do you carry this into training and Anaheim One?
Exactly. It’s been good and we changed a couple of things on the bike, which has helped me a lot. I’m feeling better and I’m looking forward to offseason races in Lille and Geneva, and I’m looking forward to races next year already.