Harri Kullas interview - MXoN Bogeyman
Posted on October 04, 2019
Harri Kullas is like the bogeyman to Team USA at the Motocross of Nations. Back in 2018 in the mud of Redbud, the Estonian rider beat home riders like Max Anstie and Justin Barcia to finish with 7-10 results to help Team Estonia to eight position in the team results.
This year the Bogeyman led home Team USA's Zach Osborne on three occasions in the Open class and finished with a stunning 4-12 to help his country to fourth in the MXoN. Always considered a talent in Europe, and very unlucky not to have a Grand Prix ride, we caught up with the always friendly Estonian asked him about his performance this year.
MXLarge: It is funny, your name pops up at the Nations the last two years. You are beating some pretty good riders on a regular basis, Justin Barcia last year and this year Zach Osborne in all three races, so you have been on it.
Kullas: Yes, I beat Osborne on Saturday and Sunday.
MXlarge: Coming into the event, you must have felt good. We talked a couple of weeks ago and the weather ruined everything, but how did you feel coming in?
Kullas: We knew it was going to be a wet one, and in my mind, I pretty much like these types of conditions, but anything can happen. I made myself ready with goggles and my bike, because I tried to prevent all the things to not DNF. The track was perfect for me. When the track is slower, more technical and rougher, and raining, mentally it is harder, but these types of conditions are good for me. You have to be smart with the bike to finish the races. You can’t follow everyone into the corners, and you need to be careful with the clutch.
MXlarge: I can imagine that is actually fun to have those things to think about, using your mind a lot. How is that?
Kullas: For most people it isn’t fun, but for me, yes, it is. It is a lot of stress and we spoke with my team-mates where you put the foam and things like that. We are a small team and we always try and think what is possible to make it easier. You are always thinking about prevention and I think that was our success also with the mechanics and not riders blowing clutches or whatever.
MXlarge: As we mentioned, to beat Osborne is a pretty good performance, but did you have a battle that you really enjoyed with another high-level rider?
Kullas: Yes, with Dean Ferris, but I got some good starts and the really good guys passed me, but in my second race I had a nice battle with Ferris. He passed me on the second lap and then I passed him, then I needed to change the goggles and he passed me, and then I passed him back. It wasn’t nice, but on the other hand it was fun.
MXlarge: I am not sure if you noticed, but I saw an interview with Roger De Coster and he mentioned that it cost Team USA $300,000us to do the Nations. I was rather surprised and felt maybe he had made a mistake in the cost. What was your teams’ budget for Redbud last year?
Kullas: I saw this, and I couldn’t understand it. That is crazy money for one race. In Europe you could do a GP season with that money almost.
MXlarge: I think he made a mistake, because a lot of people I have talked to said there is no way it costs that amount.
Kullas: Last year I think we spent something like 20,000 or 30,000 with the flights, hotels and renting the bikes there. We didn’t spend a lot of money to do it. If you book early, then it is easy to go like that. My bike rent and things like that wasn’t expensive.
MXLarge: We hear it every year how the Team USA riders shouldn’t be getting beaten by you guys, and specially by you, because you are not a GP rider. I find that really disrespectful, because obviously you are very good in the sand or mud and deserve credit for that. I think it is clear the GP riders are a couple of levels better than the AMA guys in these conditions and that is it, no excuses. I mean had Cairoli, Desalle, Febvre and some others been there, it would have been even uglier for Team USA.
Kullas: I agree with you. I didn’t think much about that until a couple of days ago. When Ferrandis said you get beaten by guy you never hear of, and guys like Osborne or Anderson, they don’t know who we are. The tracks there are easier than here, and the GP tracks are bumpier and outdoors we are just better than them, because we train on difficult tracks. We give the credit to their supercross skills and they should respect our motocross skills. I agree with you 100%. I was speaking to somebody who was around Team USA in their preparation and he said their bike set-up for motocross is completely wrong. Their suspension is way off and that is why they struggle on sand tracks.
MXlarge: How is your winter schedule?
Kullas: Actually, not really busy, but I spoke to some teams about doing the Dutch supercross races, but I couldn’t make a deal. I won one last year and been on the podium and I think I deserve some money to start and I don’t ask a lot of money, just travel money and a little bit of pocket money. I think I deserve that. We didn’t’ find a team and I do the Tampere Supercross in Finland and I do the second round of the German championship in Chemnitz.
MXlarge: No Arenacross?
Kullas: No, my outdoor season starts in January when I start to prepare for next year, so I don’t have time for Arenacross. I also don’t do Dortmund Supercross.