In one of the most humble interviews we've had to date with Factory FMF/KTM rider Kurt Caselli, we talk about his first ever Outdoor Motocross experience as a racer and his Southwick results. For the first time in a long time, Caselli wasn't "the one to beat" as he sat alongside the best in Motocross including Ryan Dungey, Andrew Short, Mike Alessi, Broc Tickle and even teammate Mike Brown . With that said, Caselli is back on the grind and ready to take on the remainder of the season. Read on for the full interview...
Let's start with an injury update. You had to deal with your shoulder injury, and soon after was your knee repair. Is it safe to safe you are back to 100%?
Well since my shoulder injury and knee surgery I've been able to stay busy with my trainer Troy McIntosh rehabilitating everything. We felt my range and strength was back up to par before I started riding which left me with about three weeks to get ready for Southwick! So I didn't really feel like I was 100% ready on the bike, but I felt confident that my body was physically back in shape. We're still working on putting all the pieces together to make sure that I am 100% ready physically and mentally for the next round of the AMA National Hare and Hound series, and also the ISDE.
So for your first race back, you decided to race the Outdoor MX race at Southwick. Did you meet your expectations for your first ever Outdoor race?
The original plan was for me to race a few Outdoor Nationals this year, but like so many racers have experienced, injuries threw a wrench in the program and I was only able to race one. The first thing I wanted to do was just make sure I qualified! I ended up in the B practice with the non-seeded riders and that proved to be very eventful. Yellow flags every other corner and a huge pile up was about all I could see in a matter of 15 minutes. I was able to qualify in 33rd position and I was pretty happy with that. I was a little nervous sitting on the line for the first moto, and a bad start mixed in with some arm pump left me in 25th at the end of the race. It was still really fun to be out there and I was excited for another chance in the 2nd moto. In the 2nd moto I got another bad jump and ended up going down in the 2nd turn leaving Justin Brayton and myself at the very back of the pack. I finished the day with a 25, 24. I'm not too happy with my results but it was still a great experience.
Did your teammate, Mike Brown, have any advice for you?
Mike Brown has, "been there done that." His on my list of all-time bad dudes! He's won Supercross, Outdoor motocross races, WORCS races, Endurocross main events and at age 40 is still running top 10 in the Outdoor motocross races. It's always a treat to be able to pit with him and get advice on the track, about bike setup, and even line up on the same gate as him. He gave me a few little pointers before practice and racing that definitely helped me out.
Tell us about the bike you raced?
For Southwick I was able to ride a factory Dungey replica. I had my own suspension with a Factory motor that was somewhat close to what Dungey is using. The bike is just unreal! It has a lot different feel then what I am use to (KTM 450SX with a carburetor) and it took me a little while to get comfortable on, but has plenty of power!
What did you find to be the biggest struggle on the track?
The biggest struggle for me was definitely the start. Both motos I got off the gate slow and wasn't able to get up front quick enough to ride my own lines. I learned a lot and can't wait to do another one.
Did you get to hang with any of the top guys?
I didn't have much time to talk or hangout with a lot of the top guys, but it was cool to be in the same race with them. Since it's just a one day event, everyone is pretty much to themselves trying to prepare as best they can.
What was it like to go to a race where your not "the one to beat"?
It was actually really nice to be at a race without the expectations of winning or the one to beat. Although I know a lot of people wanted me to do well and be up front, it was nice just to have a fun time reguardless of my results.
If given the opportunity, would you race more Outdoor's?
I would love to do a lot more Outdoors and I am hoping next year I will be ready for the opening rounds. With conflicting races and limited time for preparation of the Hare and Hound and also ISDE, I won't be able to race anymore this year.
How different was the motocross environment vs. the off-road environment your used to?
The moto environment is way different from the casual off-road scene, but I feel like there is good reason to that. The moto guys have a lot more pressure and money backing their teams and everything has to be perfect. From training to bike setup and race day-focus; things need to be precise. When you show up for an off-road event the bike should be ready to race and all you can do is relax until race time. When you're racing a 100-mile desert course that you've never seen there isn't a whole lot you can do prior to the event besides eat a lot of food and mingle with your friends! The intensity is different as well as the pressure and support. I'm lucky enough to have experienced both.
Who would you like to thank?
First I would like to thank KTM USA and my boss Antti Kallonen for setting everything up and making sure I have everything needed at every race. My mechanic Anthony Dibisilio who works around the clock every week making sure the bikes and race vehicles are race ready. My trainer Troy who does more then I probably even know year in and year out. Everyone else at the KTM factory that puts forth the effort to build a brand that they believe in. FMF, KTM Hard Equipment, Thor, Bell Helmets, Scott Goggles, SIDI Boots, DVS, FreeGun, GoPro, GPR stabilizers, USWE, and VurbOffroad for letting me have word vomit for the last 15 minutes!