MXP: Hey Newf! We hope you were able to watch the Indianapolis SX last weekend. You’ve raced on some of these soft and rutted tracks in the east. What do you remember about what it was like to race on a track like Indy?
RL: I recall them being tough and miserable to ride (laughs). The risk factor skyrockets when the tracks are soft, like we saw in Indy, making it a mentally challenging race. It was unbelievably awesome to see Kenny withstand the pressure from Barcia. Both riders made multiple mistakes in the closing laps but remained focused on winning. The Toronto SX one year was similar to what we just watched in Indy, and I can just remember hitting the triple, and it felt like you were getting sucked into the face, and then it would just pop you up into the sky. It was pretty scary, and after a few laps, the main event became just about survival.
MXP: We saw Eli Tomac really struggle in Indianapolis and not only finish in 8th but also lose the points lead to Cooper Webb. In his post-race interview, Tomac said he couldn’t find a comfort zone on the soft track. Do you think it was a bike issue or that he doesn’t want to take any chances at his age when he doesn’t feel 100%? Or maybe a bit of both?
RL: Yes, I think a bit of both. It’s been no secret in the past that Eli has these weirdo races because he doesn’t feel comfortable. He has said it before. This is the softest race we have seen this year, and with it being a new bike for 2023, I’m sure they were pretty far off on their setup. As far as his age goes, the older you get, the more conservative you are, but at the same time, Kenny and Justin are around the same age. So I lean more towards that he just needed to be more comfortable with the bike setup. This championship is getting more and more interesting, without a doubt.
MXP: Okay, the final question for this week is about the 2023 Triple Crown Series. What are your thoughts on the 250 two-stroke rule? First, Kaven Benoit was going to be one of the only top riders on a two-stroke, but now it appears that a few other riders like Mitchell Harrison are thinking about it.
RL: I’m really torn on this whole thing. To be honest, it’s been since 2015 that we have really seen someone get results on the 250 two-strokes, and that was Kaven. No one in the past five years has bothered to race one, and then it’s announced that Benoit is coming back, and we automatically start thinking about how much better that new KTM is compared to 2015. It may need to be looked at harder after this season; as for 2023, the rule currently states these guys can race a 250 two-stroke with limited modifications. However, could you throw a Ryder McNabb or Jake Piccolo on that bike and get the same result that we all think Kaven can get? No, I don’t think so. It takes a special rider and a specific type of riding to ride a 250 two-stroke to its potential. My feeling is, let it happen for 2023 and let’s see how it goes and reassess for 2024. It will be cool to listen to Benoit’s bike, and you’ll always know where he is on the track!