MPG / DAILY BREAD / FEBRUARY 20, 2017
Lance Kobusch has finally made the move up to the bigger bike after an extremely successful run of form in the youth classes. The Missouri native has won over twenty nationals championships so far in his career, including a win as well as multiple overall podiums down at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. The Team Green Kawasaki rider has proven his worth on the big stage on multiple occasions, most notably taking the win in the Supermini class at the 2015 Monster Energy Cup. Recently, Kobusch has showed the lightning speed that has earned him his nickname since stepping up to the 250. He won his first major race on the big bike at the Motoplayground Race at Ponca City, cementing his place in history as the first ever Motoplayground Race Champion, and additionally sweeping every other class that he contested. Kobusch carried some of that momentum into the 45th annual Thor Winter Olympics as he set some of the fastest times of the entire week. The Monster Energy sponsored athlete displayed the speed to win at any given moment, but was held back by some unfortunate circumstances and mediocre starts. Nonetheless, he’s coming into the 2017 season with a newfound sense of confidence and comfortability on the bike and he’ll be gunning to best his tally of five championships from the 2016 season. We caught up with Lance to chat about how he’s been feeling on the bike over the offseason, his family history of racing, and what he’s got in store for 2017.
First of all, you’ve had a handful of races on the 250 now — have you been getting more and more comfortable on the bike with each race and where are you at now with dialing everything in?
Oh yeah, y’know, the first race I was a little nervous; I’m sure everybody deals with that. I got out there and of course I’d like to have better results than what I’ve had, but uh...I think I’ve learned a lot and that’s really important. Because, if I can take away what I’ve learned and put that into my riding, it’ll make me better so I can come back stronger -- if I don’t make those same mistakes, then hopefully I’ll be closer and closer to flawless, and be able to get up on top of the box this next time. With more riding I’ve been feeling like I’m getting stronger, I’m definitely more confident. I think...y’know, I show it on my instagram -- I’ve been throwing big ‘ole whips now and stuff, just feelin’ a lot better. I’m happy and excited.
You were thrown’ some fatty whips with Brett Cue down at Underground, you feel like you’re ready for some whip competitions?
Haha, yeah...I dunno about that, we’ll see. Brett, I mean, he’s awesome -- he’s a really good friend. He came down there and there’s a couple jumps that I was never really throwin’ whips off of, and y’know, he was crankin’ ‘em out over them and he’s like “Now you do it.” I was like “Alright, I guess I’ll try.” I went up and the first like three were
terrible. Y’know, they just slowly got a little bit better and then I was like...I feel like I’m strong enough that if I land a little bit sideways, y’know, I can keep it there. I just went up and tried to get under it the best I could and just lay it out there...and uh, y’know, I don’t think I scared myself once. It’s pretty good when you get out there and you’re able to do that and not worry about it. I think my confidence, because I’m startin’ to train really hard now, so I’m really confident in my body; I’m gettin’ a lot stronger and I’ve just been on the bike a lot which feels really good. So, like mid moto I’m out there layin’ it down, just throwin big whips and stuff to keep it fun, and uh...I think it helps a lot ‘cause I’m like Kenny Roczen -- I like to have a lot of fun whenever I ride. I try my best to do that, ‘cause I ride my best when I’m happy so that’s what we’re trying to do.
So, you’ve been staying down at Underground while the whole Reynard crew is out in California for SX, how has it been switching up the program and training with a new group of people?
Yeah, it’s really awesome. The facility down here is really cool; the track is like top notch, so that’s really what’s great about it. You get down here and you’ve got like Parker Mashburn, Zane Merrett, you’ve got some pretty fast guys. So, y’know, some guys to always keep me on my toes so I’m not slackin’ off anywhere. I’m out there puttin’ in a lot of hard work and trying one hundred percent every time I go out there, so it’s been really good. Umm, I miss hanging out with all my friends and the crew from Robbie’s and now that he’s back I’m excited to get back there. Underground’s been sweet, the people down there have been super cool to me and hopefully I’ll be back, but I should be headin’ to Robbie’s here pretty soon. I gotta go out to California next week and right now I’m stayin’ with my buddy Jesse Flock, but then yeah...back to Robbie’s.
You did some racing at the Texas Winter Series a couple of weeks ago and took two overall victories and a second place, how’d the weekend go for you down there at Freestone?
Yeah, at Mini-O’s I just struggled to get starts, y’know. It’s hard when you’re only so much faster than everybody -- I had fastest lap times almost every race that I was in, but it’s still hard to win when you start in last place, y’know. We’ve been cranking out the starts, so it was good to get there and -- I got the majority of the starts. I raced Parker Mashburn, Zane Merrett, and Devon Xindaris and the motos I was in...if I didn’t get the start I could still come from behind and pass, and y’know, give myself a comfortable gap and get the win. I won every moto except for one -- Zane got the holeshot, I started behind him, and then I was comin’ into a turn and hit some breaking bumps, tucked the front end and took a digger pretty good. But, I got back up and tried my best to run him back down and finished about side-by-side with him...but uh, he was just able to edge me out for the win which is a bummer, but speed was phenomenal and starts were good, so if we can do that at the spring nationals then I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be on the top step.
I’d assume you went out to the Dallas SX last weekend, how was your day at the track and what’d you think of the racing?
It was awesome, ‘cause I hadn’t seen my family in a little bit so they got to come down and go to the SX with us. And then it was awesome ‘cause both of the Pro Circuit guys went one-two and my good friend Austin Forkner got his career best with a second place, got up on the box, so I’m super stoked for him, and Justin Hill got another win and gets to keep the points lead. So, I mean the racing was awesome; it was intense and the track was super slick. Austin said it was real slick, so it was hard to stay consistent. Yeah, I got to see a lot of my friends I haven’t seen in a while and a lot of people from the industry, so it was a lot of fun!
2016 was a year of ups and downs for you, you killed it at Freestone, and Mammoth, ended up getting injured at Loretta’s, and have shown some really good speed since moving up to the 250. All in all, are you content with how the year went?
Yeah, I mean...I guess it’s okay. It wasn’t horrible, but it could have been a lot better, y’know. Like I said, I hope I can just learn from my mistakes and fix it for this year and hopefully I won’t have those injuries. Hopefully I can win everything -- that’s always the goal for everyone in MX. Yeah, so...just getting on the big bike I didn’t do bad, I just got to judge where I was at with everybody. It wasn’t too bad, the speed was there...like I said, I just gotta work on my starts. And then I won Mammoth, Freestone -- y’know, I think I won about five championships or so, so not bad. It’s just like little stuff...like me and Stilez Robertson hit in the first turn at Daytona and my peg got jammed up under my back brake, so I had no back brake and no peg -- I got fifth. That kinda sucks, but I somehow managed to salvage a fifth. It wasn’t horrible. Then Mammoth, the only races I didn’t win I’m pretty sure I just -- there was a first turn pileup and I was at the bottom of it, y’know. Me and Joe Shimoda got together at Loretta’s and I hit my head and knocked myself out, and didn’t get to race the rest of the week which sucks ‘cause I think I was the fastest there, so...speed is good, I just gotta work with consistency and starts, kinda puttin’ all the pieces together. So, I’m really excited comin’ into 2017 to see what I can do; hopefully I can open up some eyes and get some help goin’ into the pros.
You came back with a bang on the 250 down at the Motoplayground Race at Ponca City and you were actually the first ever champion there in the 250 All Star A/B class. How’d the weekend go for you and what was your impression of the event as a whole?
Awwh yeah! That place was sick and I’m super stoked to go back. The track was super gnarly...and I liked it whenever I was on my 50s there. I haven’t been back in a long time and it was cool to be back and uh...hopefully I’ll be there next year. On top of that, they had the pitbike race and all the cool events going on, and uh...just the cherry on top was I was the first champion -- not only that, but I swept every class that I entered, so it was pretty cool. I had the fastest lap all weekend out of all the A riders and stuff - first race on a 250, so it wasn’t too bad. I was able to win the A/B All Star and beat all the A guys which was really cool. It was definitely a huge confidence booster just comin’ onto the 250.
Did you feel like the unfortunate week at Loretta’s kind of gave you an extra drive and motivation moving up to the big bike?
Oh yeah, for sure. Y’know, I was not happy with how Loretta’s went at all - I won the first moto, but then the second moto I hit my head, so I was not very stoked. But, what doesn’t kill ya makes you stronger, so I really, really wanted it then, y’now. ‘Cause it’s been a while since I’ve had a Loretta’s championship and that’s not okay, so I’ve been puttin’ in a lot of work and hopefully my results will start to show. I’m just hungrier and hungrier everyday, it definitely motivates me more and more to work hard.
Mini-O’s was decent for you, I know you expect more of yourself, but you had some bike issues and poor starts that week, and still came away with an overall podium in both SX and MX. How’d the week of racing go down there for you?
Yeah, not bad but it sucked ‘cause in SX my starts were crap. It was my fault and we got it figured out for outdoors a little bit better. But, I came from last place and I caught up to the third place on a hard-to-pass track and while I was doing that, I set the fastest time. So, that’s pretty gnarly to do. I knew my speed was there and, y’know, I was doing something wrong on the start and hopefully we got it figured out. Outdoors I had some bike issues, but y’know, it just made me want it more and more, and not getting the win there -- y’know, I think I had seconds. Now I’m like suuuuper hungry; I really, really wanna win now.
You’re always doing lots of different stuff off the bike — whether it’s riding your scooter, hunting, you’ve actually dabbled with racing cars before. What would you be doing if you weren’t a dirt bike racer?
I’d be racing something, I dunno what...whether it was cars, tractors, y’know, go karts, whatever...I think racing is just in my blood. My Dad’s done it his whole life and so have I, so I don’t think I could ever get away from it. Maybe I’d be someone in the industry, but who knows? I enjoy riding scooters, bikes, going hunting, fishing, hanging out with my friends, playing video games -- just normal kid stuff.
How’d you kinda get into the whole car racing thing?
Yeah, it was cars before dirt bikes. Y’know, I was like three years old goin’ to the track with my Dad that I remember. One of my earliest memories is being at the race car track -- it’s something I love to go do and watch. I didn’t race much, y’know, I got hurt one time and got a break from motocross -- it’s been my life since I was six years old. I started riding when I was three, four I started riding more, and six is when I started going to nationals and getting sponsors and stuff. Ever since then I’ve been all dirt bikes, but I got hurt one year, broke my femur, and I had some down time. My Dad was like “You wanna buy a car?” and I was like “Sure, why not?” What do we do? We go out and get a car and do some racin’, and once my leg healed up and we were ready to go again, we got back on the dirt bike and I haven’t done it since. But, I love go karts and stuff. We’ll go drive go
karts -- I dunno what, maybe I’m just naturally talented -- but I’ve always been pretty good at that stuff. I really enjoy doing it and uh...hopefully after motocross, I can go buy me another car and go do it again ‘cause I really like it.
Up to this point in your career, what’s your favorite race that you’ve ever competed in?
Monster Cup was really cool just ‘cause it was in the big stadium on TV, like lots of people -- that was really cool. I wasn’t too stressed out about it, ‘cause I used to race a lot of fair races. So I was like ‘Y’know, it’s just a really big fair race. Let’s just go out here and have some fun.’ But, honestly...my favorite races are probably the local races -- like the little hinky-dink, a couple entries -- I think I had like five kids in my class, but we’re all friends and I got my family at the track. It’s really cool and it’s special to me, I’d have to say that those are my favorite races.
Are you going be back at Monster Cup this year in the All Star A/B class?
Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ll be doin’ it this year. Hopefully I can just do it like Austin and go undefeated, but uh...we’re gonna put in a lot of work for it. It’s something that I’d really, really like to win...I mean, you wanna win everything, but it’s one that a lot of people get to see.
What’re your goals/expectations for yourself heading into the 2017 season and how’re you feeling heading into spring nats?
We’ve been puttin’ in a lot of work, so I’m feelin’ more confident just bein’ on the bike; I’m loose, relaxed, I can go really fast and be comfortable doing it. That’s the most important thing -- being able to be comfortable and I’m happy with the bike, I’m happy with me, y’know. I’m happy with how everything’s going right now, so hopefully we can just go to spring nationals, get on the box, and of course hopefully win, and kinda just carry that momentum all the way through the year.
Who would you like to thank for helping you out?
Shift, Pro Circuit, Monster Energy, ilabb, Ethika, Renthal, N-Style, Kawasaki, 100%, Dunlop, Bell, AP Designs, RTC
/ Words / Lake Kilpatrick
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