Anaheim One was entertaining to say the least, but probably the most memorable moment of the night was the fight between AutoTrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha’s Weston Peick and Smartop/Motoconcept’s Vince Friese. The two premier class riders tangled once earlier in the night show and Peick found himself on the ground after a block pass was made by Friese. During the semi event, it was like deja vu, as the two came together again with both riders going down this time. A fight quickly ensued with Peick throwing numerous punches, but Friese managed to get out of the way, remounted his machine and finished the race. That’s all in the past now, though, and Friese has put the incident behind him, as he’s focused on racing more than ever before. We’ve seen the 55 machine at the front of the pack on several occasions thus far in the season, so be on the lookout for continued strong finishes from the long-time Motoconcept’s rider.
By now, you have two rounds under your belt. How are you feeling thus far in the 2016 season?
I’m feeling alright. I’m about where I expected myself to be. My starts are pretty good and my speed is pretty good, but, man it’s hard to stay up front. Like last weekend, I was leading the race for a second, but eventually got passed. There are so many fast guys in that class and it literally seems like 18 of them have won races, championships or ride on factory teams. It’s absolutely stacked. It’s been tough, but I was happy with my riding last weekend. It could’ve been better, but it also could’ve been a lot worse. For me, it’s always good to be up front learning the pace with those guys. My result wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but to get that result the way I did was better than starting in the back of the pack and having to pass the entire race. Again, by being up front I can learn the pace, and gain a feel for what it’s like to ride with those guys, which is important. I’m happy with that, so hopefully I can keep getting those good starts and maintain that intensity and speed. Hopefully I can keep building off of that and keep it up for a full 20 laps. That’s easier said than done, but it’s a long season. Not to mention this is my first time doing the entire 450 series. I feel like I’m the kind of guy that can build throughout the season. Being in the 250 class, it’s quick, hectic and the season seems very short. It seems like there’s not a lot of room for building because it’s just sprint races all the time and then you’re done. Hopefully I can build into that top race-pace and be a threat for podium finishes soon.
Like you said, you got those leading laps under your belt. Is it nice to know that you can hang up there and possibly even contend for good finishes?
Yeah, for sure. It’s huge for my confidence and it’s huge for my team. To be able to hang up front with those guys and to show that not only I am capable, but the team and the equipment is capable of running up there is great. Obviously we have a lot of work to do to get up there and stay up there, but I think I’m capable along with my team and my equipment. Mike and I have obviously shown that our bikes are capable of running up front, and I think will be able to build throughout the year. I’m really looking forward to getting better results each weekend.
Obviously the talk of the year so far is the incident between you and Weston Peick. Did you ever think in a million years that you would be involved in something like that during a Supercross night show?
Man, if I were to imagine myself in that situation it absolutely wouldn’t have been in the middle of a Supercrossnnight show at this point in my career. I guess I could maybe see it happening a few years ago or something when I wasn’t that fast. Maybe in an LCQ or something like that. Definitely not at this high of a level. Weston and I are both veterans of this sport and we’ve been doing it for a very long time. We are professionals and we are paid a lot of money to come out here and perform like professionals. Yes, things like that get aggressive all the time, and I know I’ve made a name for myself to be overly aggressive, but it’s something that I totally understand. I honestly don’t believe that I’m any more aggressive than some of the other guys out there. I think I get a bad rap for it a little more just for the fact that I’m up towards the front and not in the back amidst the chaos. Some people might think that I don’t have the speed after starting up there with the fast guys to finish up there with them, too. My speed is not quite there, but I’m still around those guys, so I understand why some may think I get in the way. If Dungey and Reed were in the midst of a battle, they don’t want to see a 15th place guy messing up their battle, and I don’t want to be that guy, anyways. In a heat race or semi race I’m going to ride as hard as I can no matter who I am battling with. If Dungey is coming by me on lap 10 and he’s going for the championship I’m not going to be the guy that slams into him. I truly believe that I don’t do anything excessive, but I’ve obviously gained a bad rap. I start up front and I battle with the best guys, and maybe some of them don’t like it when there is a no-name guy in front of them. Again, I don’t want to be that guy, but I’m going to give it everything I’ve got every time I’m on the racetrack.
Looking back on the incident, are you proud for the way that you handled yourself? You stayed out of the fight completely, picked up your bike and went about your night.
Yeah, definitely. That’s kind of a no-brainer for me. I would never throw punches on the racetrack. No matter how high the motions get or how pissed off you get, there’s really no excuse in doing that. It’s not good for the sponsors, the team or your reputation. We’ve all worked so hard since before the Monster Energy Cup. I think it’s been about four or five months now that we’ve been loading up every day, going to the track, working with the engine and suspension guys and spending ungodly amounts of money and time on everything to get prepared for this series. To come out and ruin my reputation, the teams reputation and everyone else involved because I get mad at someone and want to punch them is completely selfish and unprofessional. I wouldn’t even say that I’m proud at the way I handled myself because that’s just the professional thing to do. Like I said, I could see that happening in a 250 LCQ with a couple rookies or something like that. I honestly felt that in both pass attempts on Weston I gave him plenty of time and space to check up and get on the brakes. Obviously Weston felt otherwise about that. I don’t know if he felt like I didn’t give him the room or if I miss judged it or if he missed judged it. I’ll never really know what he was thinking, but I never intended on putting him and myself on the ground. Weston is a big guy, and chances are if he goes down you’re going down with him. Why would I want to put myself on the ground? My intentions were to just take the line away from him and that’s it. It is what it is and that’s part of racing. I completely understand his frustration, and I think he learned his lesson. He’s a smart guy and he’s a very emotional rider which isn’t very hard to see. He rides with a lot of passion and tries very hard to do his best. I’m not mad and I don’t hold it against him. Again, it’s just part of racing and I’m sure he learned his lesson. I did, too in a way, but I’m still going to ride hard every time I’m on the track.
Moving on to racing again. What are your expectations for yourself this weekend?
Honestly, pretty much the same thing that I’ve been doing. I want to start up front again and I want to keep pushing and building off of what I’ve already done. Good starts, sprinting early in the race and maintaining a good position throughout the race is what I’m looking to do. There are so many good guys coming up behind us, so it’s important to maintain that momentum. I learned a lot last weekend being upfront like that and looking back at it, I may have forced the issue a little too much. When I go back and watch the footage of myself, I feel like that’s something that I’ve done a lot in my career. I try to force things that aren’t there. It’s the kind of thing where I can be at the practice track going about 75% and I’ll feel faster than when I’m pushing myself to the limit. I’m learning each weekend and I’m getting older, so I need to start learning quicker. I think I’ve got most of the tools necessary to be a top contender, but it’s all about putting it together, which isn’t easy in any sport – especially motocross. We’re at the highest level in the world and these are the best athletes, as well. To put it altogether is tricky, but I definitely feel that my team and I have all of the tools needed to be contending for the podium. Again, it’s just a matter of putting all of the pieces to the puzzle in the right place. Hopefully we can build into that throughout the year.