Vince Friese has been in the 450 class for a while now, and seems to finally be near that top 10 pace. We chatted with him after his race in San Diego. Here is what he had to say, including a get together with him and Weston Peick once again.
Moto Now: I feel like 2018 has been your strongest year in the 450 class. Seems like you’ve been consistently riding within or near the top 10, more so than you have in the past at least.
Vince Friese: For sure. We’ve worked really hard in the offseason, the team has gotten me a great motorcycle. I worked really hard on my fitness and with the bike, and it’s paying off. In the first few races I was getting good starts, but tonight I finally put it all together with a top 10. Definitely feel like it has been my strongest season so far, so hopefully we can keep making progress.
Are there any significant differences this year that are causing these improvements?
We are on the new bike. Mike [Alessi] and I were on the old bike last year, so we switched this year and it has been amazing. I’ve always been a Honda guy, and that new Honda 450 is just unreal. And then obviously the Race Tech guys and KYB guys, there has been a lot of hard work between them with the suspension. We’ve made that super good, which is really showing through the whoops. These were some big, tough whoops tonight. So for me to get a good result on a track with big whoops like this is awesome for me, and it shows all the hard work that they’ve put in for me. Also Chad, our engine guy, put in a lot of hard work and made the engine unreal. So the whole package has been unreal.
You mentioned the whoops were tough tonight. More generally though, it seemed from an observers point of view that the track was pretty slick too. What other challenges were there?
It was definitely slippery, and it got some different potholes and things like that. It was tough to ride, but I got through it, so still easier than last weeks track. Last weeks track was crazy.
You got passed by Dean tonight, but I noticed that you latched on to his pace somewhat afterwards.
Maybe a little. He passed me, and then he got by Reed also. It took me a couple laps to get by Reed, so once I got around him, I latched on to Dean for a minute. He just hits the whoops really good though, things like that. He’s also coming back from injury, so probably riding more timidly. He’s still riding good though, riding awesome. I tried to up my level in the whoops to his level. I got to the point where I was like “man I maybe could catch him, but I won’t be able to pass him”. So I backed off and settled for the 10th.
What are your strong and weak points?
Definitely my strong point is the start and corners. My weak point is the whoops, but I think I’m turning that around. Myself, the team, and everybody is putting in a lot of hard work. We’ve made a lot of progress.
There was more drama between you and Weston Peick tonight. That doesn’t seem to go away! What’s going on?
Yeah, the first turn in that heat race, the door was open. I just went for it, and bumped into him pretty good there. I think he went off the track, but came back on quickly. I had no idea he came back on so quickly, because I thought I got him off the track. But man, right after the whoops, he must have been going down there fast and he got me back in that corner; knocked me off. I got him, and then he got me. It is what it is, he got me back. He even came over and said, “hey man, you had that coming”. And I was like, “I know I did”. It was fine. I think we came out even on that.
But you were expecting him to come back on you?
Not really expecting it until we were a couple whoops from the end. I could hear him, I could see a yellow fender. So I was like, ‘uh oh, here we go’.
And you know what that means I guess (laughs).
(Laughs) Yeah, when he runs into you, you can feel him. He’s pretty heavy out there, and can easily knock you off the track. Even when I ran into him, he didn’t move very easily.
You mentioned you talked… does that imply you’re on talking terms?
No I wouldn’t say that, I’m not gonna go talk to him. But about that incident, he came over and told me I deserved it. And I know I did: “I got you, and you got me right back”.
So you don’t mind riding like that?
I enjoy it. It wasn’t anything dangerous or super dirty. Just riding for position. It wasn’t a t-bone or anything like that. It was a hardcore block pass really, but a lot of guys don’t seem to like that. But I think it’s part of racing.
Sometimes when I watch you ride though, it seems like you have open opportunities for a block pass. But you don’t do it! Because of what has happened in the past with dramas and fines, are you more conservative out there?
No, I think I just learned over the years that it’s probably not the best thing for me. Not the best for my race. Sometimes the guy is faster, and I should back down a bit, let him go, and learn from him. Try to get a better result that way. No point fighting, wasting time. People behind you catch up, and the other guys in front of you pull away.
Makes sense. Well, what can we expect from you for the remainder of the season?
Hopefully to keep things rolling. Top 10 has been the goal, and I feel comfortable there tonight. Hopefully we can keep that going.
Cover photo from Transworld Motocross