RACER X | The Conversation - Marvin Musquin

RACER X | The Conversation - Marvin Musquin

The team over at Racer X sat down with Marvin Musquin and talked all things off season, how he is getting along with the team, and what his goals are for this next SMX season. 

Marvin Musquin is nearing the end of his professional career and while he hasn’t officially said when he will step away, his recent pull back into supercross only deals suggests that page will turn soon. The Frenchman will be 33 years old when the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season starts in January, but his recent form suggests no signs of slowing down. Musquin finished fourth in the standings last year with a win at St. Louis, then elected not to take a deal that KTM offered for him to continue racing into Pro Motocross. He did, however, decide to suit up for Team France at the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations and even jumped back down to a 250 for the first time in seven years to help his nation to a second-place finish. Then he won the Red Bull Straight Rhythm for a fourth time and had a solid weekend at the Paris Supercross in November as well.

It's not over yet for Marv as he heads into his 16th year as a professional, but he also now has a reminder of how quick time can pass sitting next to him in the same semi-truck at the races. In 2011, Musquin, a two-time MX2 World Champion from France uprooted his life to pursue a dream to win in Monster Energy AMA Supercross. Red Bull KTM’s newest face in the USA is a 22-year-old Frenchman named Tom Vialle who holds the exact same accolades and the exact same dream. When we caught up with Musquin at the 2023 Red Bull KTM team intro, of course 2023 was on his mind, but so too were the last 12 years of his life.

Racer X: Off-season, how have we been feeling so far?
Marvin Musquin: Pretty good. I like my program. I’m out here in California. That’s now the second season I work full-time with David Vuillemin. I like my program. I got two tracks here to ride here at KTM. Obviously, a track in Corona if I want to ride the track from GasGas. Been to Pala. There’s a couple tracks around here. So, I went to Kelley’s [Derek Kelley] track one time to switch it up. It’s good. I like my program. We’re having a good day today. I like it.

You did a couple off-season races. How was that in terms of prepping yourself for getting into the mindset for racing again?
We did Straight Rhythm. That was on two-strokes. I really enjoy riding on 250 two-stroke. It just sounds so good. Obviously, that went really well. I really wanted to race Paris supercross. I did it last year. That would have been the only one race to do on the off-season. Many years I used to do, obviously Straight Rhythm, Paris, and then Geneva. So that was two to three races off-season, and this year we only had Paris. But it was good. I had a good trip. Now we’re back in full training and trying to be consistent with the training and leading up to Anaheim.

On the bike, how is it feeling? How is everything with the setup? Are you getting that dialed in, too?
Yeah. We made some changes. Still trying to learn. The real test will be Anaheim.

Obviously, you haven’t really announced a retirement tour or anything like that, but it’s maybe coming to an end soon at some point. Are you soaking up these moments and opportunities a little bit more knowing that there’s not many years left?
Sometimes I do. Sometimes maybe I don’t. Maybe I should do it more. But I do enjoy it. I enjoy it in general. I don’t want to say the mindset, but the experience is helping a little bit. I had some good season in Florida and good training, but it was just hard mentally because I was so focused on trying to be the best, even at practice. I still do. I still want to be the fastest, but if I’m not the fastest in practice, it’s okay. I have more experience now, but I’ve spent too many years wanting to be the best in practice and when I was not the best it was hard on myself mentally. The training was not as efficient, I would say. So now, obviously I don’t ride with a lot of riders. Most of the guys, they are in Florida. So, I do focus on myself with DV and working on technique and doing the laps. So, I like my program.

How is that switch then to riding by yourself, being back here in California? Is it refreshing to take that Florida weight off you a little bit and just kind of be yourself?
Yeah, a little bit. But at the same time, you do need to ride with other guys. So, yesterday we did and today again all over with the other guys. I’m doing the same program, so I’m studying the motos with them and stuff. We do compare lap times and we see the other guys riding. So, it’s good to see that. They are obviously in shape. They’re in form. It’s good for the team. It’s an exciting year with everybody. Being by myself with DV, sometimes I’m by myself on the track. DV likes to call it a hybrid track and try to mix different lines. Do backwards track or backwards whoops, and stuff like that. We haven’t done it much this year, but last year we did it more, mainly for the whoops. Trying to come in the whoops with more speed and stuff. It’s been fun but tough also mentally. It’s good for the focus, as well. When you’re getting up there in age in motocross, it’s important to work on the focus. Many years of racing and crashes and stuff and injuries, it takes a lot on you. So, it’s important to do that.

You’ve always been a guy that I feel like when I watch you dissect a track in practice, for example at a race, you’ll try different lines and you’ll try to find something that either the inside is a little bit faster here, or whatever. So, working with DV and seeing the way that he makes you ride the track backwards and move the cones around, does it kind of fit with your mindset of how you would even attack the track?
Yeah, for sure. I feel like I also grew up like that. Me and my brother, just riding our own track, we’ll go backwards. We’ll go sideways. Whatever we could do. There is a track, but there are so many obstacles and so many rhythms that you can do, that we wanted to do it. That’s kind of also what DV wants me to do. That was actually the goal today, to do a moto and switch the rhythm section. So, that’s what I did. Just to do something different. Obviously, it’s important to put 20 or 25 laps together and do the exact same rhythms and the fastest rhythm. But, it’s cool to switch it up. It keeps you sharp. I was able to do maybe three different ways in one section, so that was cool. I get to do different sections maybe first. In practice, I’m not talking about racing. So, it was fun. It’s kind of cool. Then you can see the other guys. They’re looking and then they do it. There was a quad over there they were watching, and then they did it. So, sometimes I wish I’m transparent and they can’t see me.

In terms of working with these guys, now you have a fellow Frenchman on the team with Tom Vialle. It’s almost weird in a way that you came here as a two-time World Champion and you uprooted your life to come here, and he’s doing the exact same thing. So, what kind of advice have you offered him about this transition and getting used to everything?
I feel like he has more experience than me when I moved in America. He did spend three years already with Red Bull KTM over in Europe. I’ve had a year and a half over there before moving here. So, I do feel like he has a lot of experience already. He knows what he wants to do. He made the decision to be in Florida. So, obviously we’re not spending a lot of time together. Yeah, I do wish we could maybe ride together more, but he does his own thing. Any advice I could give, I’m here. If he has any questions, I’m here. It’s cool. It’s cool to see that he’s making the move. It’s not easy. He does have his parents, his brother, his girlfriend as well. They’re a good group, which is nice. I was lucky to have Mathilde, my wife, with me and we did it together, but it’s a lot. Already it’s not easy for them. A lot to adjust. It is Red Bull KTM, but it’s a different team, different people. It’s a lot different than Europe.

Like you said, when you came here, it was the same team but you’re almost switching families a little bit because there’s a different group of people here. I want to talk to you about your whole career with KTM at this point. You’ve been with them for fourteen years, right? Has it been almost rewarding, in a sense, to have a brand and a group of people stick behind you for as long as they have and feel like you’ve given back to them the way you have?
Yeah, of course. I have I want to say a crazy story with KTM, especially Pit Beirer. I switched brands in the middle of a season, and leading a world championship. I had to miss a race because of that switch, and I did become world champion with them. So, it was such a huge effort from my side, my people around me, and their side as well. It’s a crazy story. And the next year we backed it up and became world champion, battling with [Ken] Roczen. That story, it was just insane. We still talk about it today. I love the brand. I’m really respectful and really impressed with what they’ve done year after year. So, that’s why I wanted to keep going because they never give up on me. I did move to America. I did get injured right away. They never gave up on me. I got a title in ’15. I did move to a 450. I had a tough year in ’16. They didn’t give up on me. Then I started winning main events on the 450, which I never thought I would do. So, a lot of things like that. So, when I look back on my career, yes, I could say in ’18 I should have won the championship. If, if, if. But at the same time, I would have never thought I would have done what I’ve done here in America or in Europe. So, it’s kind of like exactly what I dreamed of, so I can’t complain, really. I’m still here racing and doing what I love. I’m still in America, 12 years later. I’m going to become a dad, and I’m still racing next year. So, it’s awesome.

When you think about how this journey has been for you, has it felt like when you look back at it all now, that it went by fast and you wished you would have almost cherished it a little bit more, or do you still feel like it’s just one year at a time and you’re kind of cherishing every moment as they come?
When I feel my body, it’s been a long time, but when I look back, I feel like it went by quick. But so many things happened. Some injuries and some supercross seasons that I missed, but I never missed an outdoor season in 12 years. It’s little things like this. We can talk about it for a very long time. We should do a podcast about my whole career. Maybe I should have cherished a little bit some of the years. Like we just talked about, the program at Aldon’s [Baker]. It was quite a lot. A lot of pressure also at the practice track. That made me feel like it went by quick. I didn’t spend a lot of time really soaking it in, and it went by. Every season, every season… That’s also kind of like why we don’t have a child yet, I feel like. Because year after year and season after season, we raced through end of August and in September we spent maybe two to three weeks in France to see the family, and then we flew back to America to start riding again in October to do the Monster Cup, and then the whole winter season training and then Anaheim comes. It’s like back-to-back. Just keeps on going. That’s why I’m like, are we going to have a child when I retire? But my wife is 33. I’m about to turn 33, so it’s time. Even if I still race, it’s time to have a child. So, we’re going to enjoy it.

Talking about that grind like you just mentioned, you finally got a real purposeful time off by taking the summer off this time. It wasn’t an injury that sidelined you or anything like that. So, you got to almost refresh, in a sense. Does that make you feel better going into ’23 that you have just a little bit less wear and tear on your body?
Yeah, a little bit. That’s for sure. For sure, it was not bad for the body and everything, the mind. We did spend more time in France, which was good. So, I’m glad I did that. I’m able to race again next year, so I have no complaints right now. I’m just really happy to be here and still enjoying the riding. I’ve always said that until I don’t feel competitive, I want to be racing. I did get multiple podiums. I know that next year it might not be the same. There’s a lot of good riders that are capable of getting on top of the podium. So, I feel competitive. I don't know what the result will be, but I want to do good. I want to win again. I want to be on the podium again. So, until I feel like I’m capable of that, I want to keep racing. If not, if I’m not able to get top five or even top ten, I don't want to represent my sponsors like that. So, that’s why I want to do good for my sponsors and for the team that I’ve raced for for 14 years.