be_ixf;ym_202111 d_28; ct_100
Monster athletes compete in Thunder Valley National

Between the Motos with Joey Savatgy

Jul 252017

On Saturday, June 3, 2017 at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, California, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team rider Joey Savatgy held off a hard charging Jeremy Martin to win the second moto of the third round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship by .497 seconds. In doing so, the Californian nailed down his first natural terrain victory of the summer. All looked well with the world for Savatgy and the Kawasaki-backed outfit, but then, and for reasons unexplained, the results fell off. High Point, Muddy Creek, RedBud and Southwick – in that order – all brought off-song performances and getting up on the podium appeared to be a bridge too far not only Savatgy, but the entire Corona, California-based race effort. Although not many people were aware of it, with a weekend off between the dark brown sand of Southwick and the forthcoming round at Millville, Savatgy and the group of people that surround him immediately went to work in an collective attempt to sort some things out. Whatever they did, it worked. In fact it all worked quite well as on Saturday afternoon in Minnesota, Savatgy was the class of the field, motoring to convincing 1-2 moto scores. It was a big win for the group in more ways than one. The morning after, Racer X caught up with the never-say-die Savatgy.


Joey, you won the overall at Thunder Valley back in early June, but then things just sort of fell off for not only you, but the entire Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team, didn’t they?

Yeah, man, it’s all fun when everything is going good, but when things aren’t going ideally, it feels like you can’t do anything right. As you said, there was a period there where we were struggling a lot. It was frustrating because I know how hard the team works and everything. It seemed like the results from all the effort we put in wasn’t showing, you know? That’s frustrating for me, as well as for Mitch and everyone else. Everyone puts in a lot of work and when the results aren’t there and we’re not performing, it makes us look bad. If people saw behind the scenes and knew how much work we did put in, they’d know it’s not always perfect. There was a little bit of teething there for a little bit, but I think the bike is good and I feel good and hopefully we’re starting a little streak here and hopefully we can get on a little bit of a roll and just keep the momentum. I just need to keep the good starts up and take it race by race.

From what some of the guys on the team told me and from a few other things I hard, it sounded like you guys took last weekend’s break in the race schedule and really went to work on some things. True?

Laughter. Yeah, that’s an understatement. Adam of Showa actually flew out here on Sunday. My teammate Adam [Cianciarulo] drove up Sunday. He was here on Monday and Tuesday and he left on Wednesday. Adam from Showa was here all week. I don’t how to put this, but we worked hard all week. I guess you could say we worked 9-to-5 all day and had a lot of long days, but I definitely feel like we made big improvements and great strides in the right direction.

Did Mitch and your mechanic Justin Shantie and some of the other team guys head back to RC’s place as well?

No, not this time. A lot of times when the guys would come back here it was Bones [Bacon] and my mechanic and Adam from Showa. This time it was just Adam from Showa and Adam Cianciarulo and myself and that was it, man. We just took it over and made it happen. And we worked on a little bit of everything. We definitely worked on suspension tuning and we made a big improvement in my mind and a big stride in the right direction. And to then perform as well as we did at Millville and to feel really comfortable on the bike and to see the results when they were there, man, that made it all worth it. If we would have struggles on the weekend, it would have been frustrating, but that wasn’t the case. Thankfully, we performed. It made the testing all worthwhile.

To what you’re speaking about here, when the gate dropped at Millville, you immediately found your way into P1 and just cleared out. You looked confident.

Yeah, it’s crazy how much a little bit of change does. When you start feeling comfortable on the bike, it’s crazy to see how much everything starts clicking. I don’t know… It’s crazy. It’s like the puzzle is being put together. All of a sudden, and I don’t want to say everything comes easy, but it all makes so much more sense when you’re riding and racing.

Well, when you do put the work in and do the testing and then go out and go to the front to win a National, it certainly shows you leading by example. Do you know what I mean?

Yeah, for sure. I know Mitch definitely relies pretty heavily on me and looks to me to try and perform for the team. Obviously, I have teammates, but he definitely leans on me and expects me to pull through. You know we’ve been here before and we’ve won before, so he kind of expects that from me and I’m all about it. I like the added pressure and I want to be someone who he can look to and I can pull through for him. That’s another reason why it’s so nice to get a win. We had that whole week of testing and I was solid there and I was telling him the whole time, “Man, the bike is a lot better! It’s a lot better!” He was like, “Alright, cool. Sweet!” The whole thing was nice. To get the win and everything reassures that everything that I’ve been doing is correct.

When you pulled off the track and got off the podium and eventually got back to the truck, how was everybody? It was a big result, huh?

It was one of those deals where it was a big relief. I can’t really explain it, man. You kind of have to be in the circle and be with everyone, but it’s frustrating. Week-in and week-out, we were struggling so bad. It all felt like a letdown. It felt good to finally get it going and to prove to Mitch that, “Hey, I still got it.” I know he believes in me, but it helps when you get the results and we were able to do that. Everyone around the team was pumped. To get good starts and to be good enough for the overall, that’s a huge step in the right direction.

It’s a tough world you exist in as you live and die by your results. It’s a dog eat dog sport, isn’t it?

Yeah, as quickly as you can be good, you can be just as bad and people are very quick to forget if you’re good, and when you’re bad, people tend to remember that a lot longer. We went to Colorado and won there, and then we went on this struggle for four or five rounds and how quickly that people just start to write you off. It’s frustrating. But I know for me, personally, I’m back east here at Carmichael’s place and I have Ricky in my corner and Jeannie, and I’ve got Johnny O’ in my corner and we’re putting in work.

As far as the mathematics go in the struggle for the 250MX Championship, you’re still in it. What’s the masterplan for Joey Savatgy from this point forward?

For me, he biggest thing is to take it race by race. We’ve been on this struggle streak for a while and for me, I want to take it race by race and I want to be there every weekend. Whether we win or lose, I still want to be there battling and I want to make the improvements and want to be on the podium. That’s the number one goal for me – to continue to improve and to figure it out.
Interview by - Eric Johnson