Hear from the 2017 Supercross Champions
The 2017 Monster Energy Supercross series was without a doubt one of the wildest, most eventful season we can remember in the past few years. From the first gate drop in Anaheim to the final round in Vegas, the action and intensity never seemed to let up. In fact, championships in recent history have often been wrapped up a few rounds early. That was not the case this year, as Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Justin Hill was the only rider to clinch his title one round early. Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne both put on spectacular rides to capture their number one plates. We talked with each newly crowned 2017 champion to discuss their journey throughout the season and what it feels like to be on top.
Ryan Dungey | 450SX Champion | 2017 Las Vegas SX
After 17 rounds, how was that? Especially to cap it off tonight the way you did?
These 17 rounds of Supercross were probably the most challenging of my career as far as the season goes. I’ve never had such a battle with another rider pretty much from round four in Phoenix all of the way up until now. I lost a lot of points there and he kept taking dents out of it. We regained the points lead last weekend and it’s nice to be able to talk about how we won at the end of the day and how it tested us. It’s tough, but it makes us stronger. It tests a human being for sure. I’m glad I didn’t give up. I’m glad I kept pushing. There were times where it was hard for all of us, but we tried to see the bright side and keep pushing.
Championship aside, was there a moment in the year where you feel it was the highlight of it all?
The worst finish of the season was fourth, but including tonight I finished in fourth place four times. If I would’ve just laid back or given up those two extra points that I got right at the finish line at Daytona, or that fight back to fourth, or falling in Seattle and having to pick off as many riders as I could to get back to fourth. We won by five points and those could have been everything in the end. When I started the season, whether I won or lost, I just wanted to know that I gave it my best and I did that every race, and I’d be happy with that. That was a goal of mine. You want to win races for sure, but when things don’t go my way I want to make the most of it as well and I feel like we did that. We tried to see the good in everything and when Eli was good we tried to study him, figure out what’s making him better and how is he attacking the track, and try to apply it. There are a lot of things that go into it, but not giving up was important.
Justin Hill | 250SX Western Regional Champion | 2017 Salt Lake City SX
How was your weekend?
It was good. I rode terrible in my opinion, but it’s a little bit to be expected in that position. It’s a gnarly position to be in. I’ve never been in a championship hunt before, let alone this far ahead in the points. I was nervous, there’s no two ways about it. I rode tight and I didn’t do a lot of the things that I should have. The track was a push and pull, it was really hard to make up time, and Aaron Plessinger was just sending it in the whoops, which bit him and I’m bummed for him. I hate seeing people crash, especially my buddies, so I’m bummed for him, but I’m excited for myself. We did it and I’m pumped.
Like you said, there were a lot of nerves, but you didn’t really seem like you knew for sure that you had won the championship…
Honestly, I didn’t know for sure until the guy walked up with the plate and was about to introduce it to me. Everybody was like, “yeah I think you did it,” because nobody added the points up that way. We knew going into tonight that if I won Aaron had to get fourth. That was really all we had thought about. I had no idea where Shane was, I had no idea how far back he was. I thought if I got third I had it, don’t ask me why I thought that, and then I got the idea that if I had fourth I wouldn’t have it. I didn’t want to get passed so I had to get him back in a risky manor and I got it done. I didn’t know though. I came off the track, I threw my bike down and hugged Shane because they rode awesome. I wasn’t celebrating yet because I didn’t know if I had done it.
You’ve got the jersey on, tell me what it’s like just to have that on right now…
I can’t explain it, it’s not like anything else in the world. It’s weeks and months and years of work coming together to accomplish what you’re trying to do. It’s about the time put in, and it’s about hardship with family and friends. Life leading up to this moment is what makes the moment, not the moment itself.
Zach Osborne | 250SX Eastern Regional Champion | 2017 Las Vegas SX
Was it worth the wait after all of these years?
There have been times where I didn’t think I was going to get to race the next year, or maybe never again. When Yamaha of Troy folded in 2008 I thought I was pretty much done. Just never give up on your dreams and know that God always has a plan for everything. There’s no other way to put it.
Take me through everything from start to finish, that first turn was a worst-case scenario…
The worst-case scenario would have been a bad start, but I was down with Dakota Alix tangled up and I was 10 seconds behind 20th. That was terrible for me, I don’t even know what to say.
How did you keep yourself together at that point?
At that point, I had absolutely nothing to lose, so I just put my head down. I had some really close ones, one in the sand where I got super sideways and I don’t know how I saved it. I almost endoed in the rhythm lane coming out of the stadium, I went three-three and then three again, and caught a little slick spot and nosed into the last one and I was close to going down, but I managed to pull it off.
Those last two laps everyone was wondering if you weren’t going to do it or were you not because there was enough of a gap that it didn’t look possible…
It didn’t feel possible. I passed Mitchell Harrison and he passed me back, and I knew if I didn’t get him right back it was over. I had to roll the double before the whoops and then it was just Joey and me. Then on the last lap, I actually think Hayden Melross was between us. It seemed insurmountable until I passed him.
When you went in for the pass, we knew you had to lead him…
Well, I was willing to make a pass and he turned down and I was right there and it happened. It’s for a championship.
It’s been less than two hours since you won the championship, has it sank in yet? Does it feel the way you thought it would?
No, I’m nervous. My nerves are so shot from the race that I just broke down in tears after the finish and there’s no way to explain this. It’s unreal. I’m not sure I even know yet what it feels like.