With Max Vohland’s second year of professional racing at an end, we wanted to see how he and his dad, Tallon, felt things had gone. He came into his pro career in 2021 earlier than planned and has one more year on his contract. Max and Tallon visit about what they’ve learned and how he’s progressed.
For the full interview, check out the YouTube video right here. If you're interested in the condensed written version, scroll down just a bit further.
Jamie Guida – Vital MX: With eight top tens, and running up front at a few rounds, what are your takeaways on the outdoor season?
Max Vohland: I think it was an improvement from last year for sure. We definitely were more consistent with our results. We were running up towards the top five more often. I'm happy with the progress. There are some goals I wish I could have accomplished this year, but for sure next year will be the year to accomplish those. I really wanted that fifth overall in the points, but RJ Hampshire was pretty good towards the end. So, we ended up sixth in the points.
Vital MX: What were those accomplishments that you want to get?
Max: Well, you always have to take small steps. First is getting third in a moto and then let's go for a third overall and then let's go for a second. And then let's go for first, that kind of deal. I really wanted to get a podium overall this year and I was close a couple of times, it just didn't work out. But those top dudes were at a very high level, and it was hard to catch up to get onto that level. I feel like I was improving, but it's the same with everyone. Everyone else improves as the year goes on too. It's really hard once you're in the race routine every weekend. It's hard to gain on those guys because they're doing pretty much all the same stuff you're doing. And it's hard to do more because you don't want to be too beat down for the race on the weekend. You want to be 100% and really manage your peak. But once you're there, it's easy to stay there, unless you get hurt.
Vital MX: Tallon, were there things you saw him improve on or things that you saw click during the season that you can tell us about?
Tallon Vohland: You know, it was just a big improvement from last year. Some of those improvements were things that we learned from last year. I'm handling the food and training and recovery. And we learned at this level, recovery is probably as important as it is trying to get better. These are some of the lessons we learned which leads back to him getting these results because he was stronger, he was able to recover faster and start training again during the week. All these small steps that you don't see as an amateur coming in that you learn. I will say that one great thing about being on the Red Bull KTM team, we were around some of the best riders in the world. Being around Marvin (Musquin) and having an opportunity to spend some time with (Ryan) Dungey, you're under the tent, you can see what they're doing, what they're eating, what their people are doing. And so sometimes you're like, ‘Okay, well we could try that or let’s try this’. So that's been a big benefit.
Vital MX: Max, what were some of the struggles that you need to focus on overcoming for next season? Was there anything in particular that stood out?
Max: I feel one of my biggest weaknesses is my one lap time. My qualifying has never been great and even this year I think my best was eighth or seventh. Actually, I did get that one fifth at Budds Creek. That was the best I've ever gotten. I definitely need to work on that because that will help improve confidence just for the day in general. And I need that little bit of extra speed. I need to find that extra level where you're just sending it and pushing it because you can learn what corners you can push hard. And if you need to break that out for a race moment to make a pass or something, you know how far you can go into certain corners and how fast you can go through certain sections.
Vital MX: Are you a rider that can go out the first lap of qualifying and be full speed?
Max: When it came to amateur racing, my first laps were always amazing. I felt my first laps were always better than the majority of the kids I was racing. But now it's different with longer motos. You don't want to go all out in qualifying for the entire time because you're not trying to kill yourself before the two motos you have to do during the day. It's hard to stop and go and stop and go because usually when I'm riding motos, my lap times come right towards the middle of the moto. I have the track completely dialed. I know a lot of the lines and you can put stuff together, all the trick stuff that you can do around the track. When you’re qualifying, you have to figure all those out fast and then you have to try and nail it fast. And you’re trying a lot harder than you usually would in a moto, so you make a lot more mistakes. So, it's hard to consistently have fast lap times in qualifying, considering you have to stop, wait, make sure you have a gap, go and try extra hard without making any mistakes. I've had so many good laps going and then you miss a corner, you go off track or you get sketchy, and you miss a line and you just lose too much time and you just don't gain anything.
Vital MX: Tallon, as a dad, have you found a way to step back when you're at the races on Saturdays and let him do his thing?
Tallon: Definitely. I think especially this year, midway through the season, I got pretty busy, so I actually had to be on the road for three weeks straight. I would just meet Max at the race. I primarily focus on just his food and preparation when we're there. The rest of the stuff is honestly in his hands. I don't even really go over and see the bike or talk to the guys because they have a ton of experience. He has to trust the team and Max has to learn to work with them and that's all part of it. It seemed like we were making some strides. We're working more with Dr. G now, also. So, we keep trying stuff to see what areas are working and the ones that don't.
Vital MX: Is that somewhat of a relief to be able to release some of those reins or not so easy?
Tallon: It's not so easy. You know, sometimes it's more complicated than people know inside the teams. That's just what you have to deal with. And that's what he needs to learn to deal with. You know, sometimes I think as a young man, you come in, sometimes you've got to be strong. You've got to be clear on what you want rather than to hang around, because then it might not get done. Maybe some clicks didn't get turned like you wanted because you didn't say, “I want this”. These are all things that the young kids eventually learn how to communicate with the team managers and the mechanics.
Vital MX: Max, what's your relationship like with Roger DeCoster and Ian Harrison?
Max: The relationship's good. I feel with a lot of teams, their best guys are always going to get the most attention because that's their best chance of getting good results. But I feel like when it comes to the testing side and the bike and the effort, we're trying a lot of stuff and everyone, the whole team was really making huge steps in the right direction with suspension and making the bike faster. We've been working on some stuff, and they have some stuff definitely in the making that I've tried and it's going to be good for next year. They've got me wanting to do some testing here shortly. Actually, we’ll be doing some testing with only me for three days straight and trying different things. Ian is a bit of good cop to Roger's bad cop sometimes. But if it's good everyone's happy, you know?
Vital MX: How are you as a tester? Are you learning to communicate what you feel and what you want to the mechanics and suspension guys, the engine guys?
Max: Yeah, really good, actually. One of our guys, Jim Anderson, just ended up retiring, but we had a really good relationship and I work well with him and also our other guy, Ryan is really good. There was a point midway through the season where I was riding the bike and we were just having problems with the shock and I was thinking, what can I do to this thing? My dad and I even spent the day out and clicked the thing all the way both ways multiple times to try and find something that was good. We couldn't find anything. I felt I just need more dampening in the shock. That's what I felt like I needed. I told my suspension guy that and he's like, “Yeah, I'll just try whatever you want”. And he sent us a shock with more dampening, and it ended up working really well. And then (Ryan) Dungey ended up liking it and he ran it the next weekend. Then Dungey ended up doing a little bit of a change to it, and then I tried that change and I liked that. So, we had a thing going of bouncing stuff off each other. To have something that Ryan Dungey liked was a confidence booster in my testing ability. I could feel that's what the shock needed. And another guy was able to prove that it was good.
Vital MX: Going into year three of your pro career, do you foresee any changes to your program, Max?
Max: I don't think so. We're definitely going to try and test more and ride more different tracks. In supercross, with the new bike coming out, we got stuck at the test track for too many days, way too many days. Now that we have the ability to go hit whatever tracks we want, we're going to hit pretty much any private or local track that's open that we can get experience on. There are different build styles of supercross tracks. You go to the supercross track on the weekend, it's built completely different than anything you usually ride, and you have to learn it fast. It's like a different style supercross track every week. That's kind of our goal. We have some more testing too.
Vital MX: Was there anything you absorbed from having guys like Dungey and Antonio Cairoli under the tent?
Max: How professional they are and how serious they are. Dungey always seems like he's on a tight schedule and he's always got everything exactly how he wants it. For certain races, they have certain things that they do. Like when we're in Minneapolis for the first round and we were under the stadium, we didn't have our normal stuff in the truck. But Marv had everything that he needed. He even brought a little hamper to take a nap in between practice and the night shows. Stuff like that. I didn't ask the guys too many questions because it's hard to really ask a guy on race weekend that because they're so focused on their program. You just sit back and watch it from a distance. You don't want to mess a guy up or get in their way at all.