A Matthes Report: Three Weeks

Well, holy shit the last three weeks in American motocross/supercross have been something else indeed. We had the Motocross of Nations on American soil (at RedBud), the Monster Energy Cup (in Las Vegas) and this past weekend the Red Bull Straight Rhythm (in LA). Could you get three disciplines as different as that if you tried? True motocross with 30-minute motos, supercross with three ten-lap sprints and, finally, a 45-second straight line rhythm section on a two-stroke!

Let’s break down the three events and what was good, what didn’t work and more, yeah?

Best Race: MXoN

I mean, c’mon… It’s the most prestigious race on the calendar and if you take away the American results, it was still exciting. Glenn Coldenhoff pulls a Gautier Paulin and dominates a couple of motos (beating his teammate Jeffrey Herlings), The MX2 class featured some great racing between Hunter Lawrence, Ben Watson and Jorge Prado and Herlings’ race in the Saturday qualifiers was something else. Add in the thousands of people there and, despite the weather, it was a great race.

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The racing at RedBud was, unsurprisingly, incredible.

ConwayMX

Best Race (Part Two): Josh Grant/Ryan Villopoto at Straight Rhythm

With all apologies to the MXoN, perhaps the coolest thing I saw the last three weeks was the run between Grant and Villopoto. Both guys were absolutely pinning it and scrubbing like crazy… Well,Grant was more than RV. RV was soaking everything up with his legs while JG was flicking the bike left and right. It was way rad to watch both guys trying to get to the ground fastest.

Most Interesting Race: Red Bull Straight Rhythm

I mean, where else could you see legends like Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey line up on two-strokes? It was pretty cool to see both guys come out, have some fun and try to race in a straight line and, judging by the smiles afterwards, neither guy cared all that much if they had lost (RV did).

Most Unexpected Development: Team USA at the MXoN

I mean, c’mon! That was and still is shocking.

Most Unexpected Development Other Than Team USA: The Million-Dollar Winner

Feld Motorsports ran a contest where at the Monster Cup a lucky fan, who beat thousands of people to be flown to the race, that had gathered enough money up in a phone booth got a million dollars if a rider swept all three main events. Well, with Eli Tomac  capturing the first main with ease, things looked good for Jesse Hebert, a guy that worked at a law firm in Washington DC. We all saw Joey Savatgy let Tomac by to give Tomac the sweep and both Eli and Hebert won the million bucks. Truly a crazy development within a two-minute span. Congrats to Jesse, who’s a super fan of the sport. Now change your phone number ASAP Jesse.

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There were two big winners at the Monster Energy Cup.

Monster Energy Media/Octopi

Breakout Star Of The Three Weeks: Glenn Coldenhoff

I mean, Glenn didn’t have a great MXGP season so to see him go out and win two motos at the MXoN was pretty amazing. Whether it’s Gautier Paulin or Max Anstie, there are plenty of guys over the years that step up at this race and in 2018 it was The Hoff.

Hero Of The Three Weeks: Ryan Villopoto

Just ask him if you don’t believe me. Villopoto retired, like, three years ago but he’s the only rider that raced all three weekends. If you count the Pit Bike of Nations as one of the events, that is. RV took the win there for Team USA, he should’ve been top ten at the MEC if not for getting penalised for not taking the Joker Lane and he finished third at Straight Rhythm. Whew, he’s been pretty busy. Also he rode a TTR-110, a YZ450 and a YZ250 in those three weeks so talk about a sample platter of bikes.

Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Monster Energy Media/Octopi

Tracks: Supercross in 2019

The Monster Energy Supercross series is really not far away at all now. The off-season may have just begun, but round one is only two months away. So, bearing that in mind, it is hardly surprising that Feld Motorsports have released the track maps for the upcoming season. All of those can be viewed below. Daytona is obviously missing, as it is not promoted by Feld.

Round 1: Anaheim 1
Round 2: Glendale
Round 3: Anaheim 2
Round 4: Oakland
Round 5: San Diego
Round 6: Minneapolis
Round 7: Arlington
Round 8: Detroit
Round 9: Atlanta
Round 10: Daytona

TBC. The track map for Daytona will be released at a later date.

Round 11: Indianapolis
Round 12: Seattle
Round 13: Houston
Round 14: Nashville
Round 15: Denver
Round 16: East Rutherford
Round 17: Las Vegas

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: 

All Results: Berck-Sur-Mer

The Championnat de France des Sables begun at Berck-Sur-Mer this past weekend. Whilst some were focussed on the Weston Beach Race, which took place in the United Kingdom, Nathan Watson, Petar Petrov and other recognisable names were on track in France. Who won? Results can be viewed below.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Pascal Haudiquert

All Results: Weston Beach Race

The Weston Beach Race is in the books for yet another year and, as always, plenty of talking points emerged from the historic event. Who won in the Adult Solo category? Todd Kellett claimed the victory for the third year in succession. The top two hundred and twenty-four finishers from that race are below. More results from Weston-super-Mare will be added to this page shortly.

Adult Solo Race (13:15)

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer

Results: Red Bull Straight Rhythm

The two-stroke only edition of the Red Bull Straight Rhythm went off in Southern California last night and, to the surprise of some, Shane McElrath emerged victorious. McElrath faced Ryan Dungey in the three-run final. Dungey defeated Mike Brown, Cedric Soubeyras and Ryan Villopoto to get there. McElrath, on the other hand, worked through Darryn Durham, Ryan Morais and Jordon Smith.

Shane McElrath and Ryan Dungey won a race apiece in the first two runs in the final, but the former obviously reached the chequered flag first in the last run. The same thing played out in the semi-final, which consisted of Ryan Villopoto and Jordon Smith. Villopoto ended up taking the final win and therefore the third step on the overall podium. Got that? Carson Brown took the win in the 125cc class after defeating AJ Catanzaro in the final. Luke Renzland ended third.

250cc Overall Results

1st

Shane McElrath

2nd

Ryan Dungey

3rd

Ryan Villopoto

125cc Overall Results

1st

Carson Brown

2nd

AJ Catanzaro

3rd

Luke Renzland

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Red Bull Content Pool/Chris Tedesco

Chatter Box: Lee Webber

Following on from the announcement that Shaun Simpson would be returning to the Maxxis British Championship, it has now been confirmed that Harri Kullas will contest the domestic series with Cab Screens Honda next year. Cab Screens, a relatively-new team, have signed him to a two-year deal. Lee Webber exclusively chats about the huge deal in the MX Vice interview below.

MX Vice: Signing Harri Kullas is obviously a huge step for the team and now makes you contenders for a title in the Maxxis British Championship. Why now? What makes this the right time to make such a big step?

Lee Webber: We feel we have been around long enough now to run a contender. We have done our apprenticeship, if you like, so we have the knowledge and the infrastructure within the team. We have the personnel now. We have been lucky with existing and new sponsors, who all share the same vision. They have stepped up each year to improve deals to help us move forward. There are obviously some teams in the paddock who have stepped straight into being title contenders, because they had the funding, but we have had to build slowly to this point.

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Harri Kullas was third in the MX2 Maxxis British Championship in 2016.

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Seeing as you are now housing a former Grand Prix podium finisher, will there be any changes to the infrastructure of the team or support that is given from Honda?

Unfortunately (for us), Honda predominantly back Buildbase and rightly so. They do a great job, so our deal is the same as 2018. They are keen to work with us and are really happy with how we go about things. We also work closely with Buildbase Honda, which is the right thing to do. Dave and Ryan Thorpe have been a huge help to us and we do feel like a part of the Honda family. In terms of infrastructure not much will change. We now have a full-time mechanic for Harri, but everything else was already in place to get to this point.

Is the goal with Harri to win a Maxxis British Championship? Would you be happy with a top three or something else?

We have a second-year option with Harri, just to take the pressure off this year. For sure we want to win the Maxxis and Harri certainly has all the attributes to do that, but the goal for 2019 is podiums and we can see where that takes us. I did not want Harri to have that pressure in the first year, with a new team and new bike, so it is good to lift that kind of pressure off his shoulders.

Was it always the plan to sign an international talent like Harri? Have you been following a step-by-step plan that was laid out a couple of years ago?

I would have said a few years ago no, but the team has evolved these last couple of years into what it is now. We certainly have not followed a step-by-step plan as we are largely governed by what sponsorship we can get. We felt the time was right to sign someone like Harri and he is perfect for the team. I had spoke to Mark Chamberlain about him and he gave him a glowing reference; he has also ridden the Maxxis before. It has all fallen into place nicely.

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Harri Kullas was sixth overall in the Open category at this year's MXoN.

ConwayMX

Is the plan to eventually continue to grow and field two title contenders/race winners? Are you even looking beyond that and hoping to get into MXGP one day in the future?

We are more than happy where we are at the moment. Growing again would need more financial input so we will keep things as they are for now. I think MXGP will always be beyond us, as that would be a huge financial commitment. I am hopeful that one day Youthstream will introduce an EMX450 class – that would be perfect for where we are as a team.

What about the results that the team achieved in 2018? Are you happy with everything? It was obviously a little up and down at points.

It would be fair to say we have not had the best of years. Obviously, James [Harrison] leaving in the middle of the season did not help and our youth rider Josh Peters got injured mid-year so he did not have the year we hoped. Dan [Thornhill], on the other hand, had a pretty decent year in the Maxxis British Championship. He never should have rode at Canada Heights, as he was so ill, but did so and he missed the last round through injury. If he could have taken solid points at those two rounds he would have finished seventh or eighth, which would have been a fantastic finish considering the depth of talent in this year’s MX1 class. We were happy for him to have finished tenth in the end though.

Dan Thornhill has obviously re-signed for 2019. What do you hope he can eventually achieve with the team? Do you feel that learning from Harri will help him?

I honestly believe he has nowhere near reached his potential yet. People think he is older, but he is only twenty-three and still has plenty of time to develop. He is a great lad to work with and he has established himself as a solid top-ten rider in a tough championship; he only saw positives from having Harri on the team and he is keen to learn from him as well. I will make sure that happens and that Harri can help Dan develop into the rider I know he can be.

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Harri Kullas (24) and Dan Thornhill will make up Cab Screens Honda.

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There have been a handful of theories about the Maxxis British Championship recently, as always, but how do you feel about the way things were run and the crowds this year?

We have a very good relationship with Stuart Drummond and Rob Francis, two good guys who work their butts off to make the weekends happen. There is obviously room for improvement within the championship though. Crowds have been sparse at a couple of rounds, which is strange considering the level of riders we have now. I think we need to have team-manager meetings with the ACU to bounce ideas about. I personally cannot stand the whole rider selection process that still seems to happen for the Maxxis British Championship. It is okay for us now, as our two boys will be there, but for riders in the lower ranks they will not know until mid-January if they have got in or not.

How is a rider supposed to go and chase sponsorships if he does not know what championship he is riding in? There is certainly room for improvement. Perhaps the top twenty should automatically get in for next year and then there can be a qualifying programme, so that you get the fastest riders on the line every time and not just a rider who was loyal to the championship and is getting lapped after three laps? I would love to also see the British Youth Nationals become a part of the Maxxis. It is clear that the BYN is not getting the riders and perhaps running at the same venue on the same weekend would give it some kudos, along with team managers actually being able to watch some new talent.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Discussion: Marvin Musquin

Marvin Musquin looked great at the Monster Energy Cup over the weekend, but his results did not exactly reflect that. Musquin showed plenty of speed, one year on from claiming the million dollars, but little issues held him back and eventually left him outside of the top ten. Everything that happened is discussed in this exclusive MX Vice interview, plus some other hot topics.

MX Vice: Last year at this race, everything went right for you. This year was a bit different. Even though the results weren’t what you expected or wanted, the speed was really good. There are positives. 

Marvin Musquin: Yeah, exactly. Practice was awesome. I was able to put some good lap times and I was the fastest. The technique was good, riding was good, but going into the race my starts were not the best. I put myself in a decent position the first moto and I came back to second. I was pretty happy with that. Second moto I was on my way to do the same thing. I passed third place and, unfortunately, Chad Reed had an issue right in front of me and I couldn’t avoid him.

From that it went bad. My leg was stuck in his wheel. I still tried my best and came back to ninth place. To fight for the overall podium, it was already tough. Then the last moto I was really looking forward to a good start and that’s exactly what I did; I was inside. I was really tight inside and made a nice turn. I was in a good position to get the holeshot and then someone ran into me really hard and we went opposite way of the track. From then, it was done.

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Marvin Musquin eventually landed in eleventh overall at the MEC.

ConwayMX

Following the incident in the second race with your leg and then that crash in the last one, are you okay? Beat up at all?

Yeah, a little bit for sure. That’s a crazy race. The track conditions too. We get ready in a really short time for this race. It went awesome last year, but it didn’t go my way this year. I have got to be happy with the riding.

Your speed was really good today and I know a lot of people have talked about that. Is the work you have been doing with DV on the technique side what you credit your speed to?

Yeah, I think so. It’s been good to have DV coming to the track. I always liked his point of view, his thinking and technique. It’s been good. We worked together today on the riding style and the practice went super good, plus the racing. It was getting better and better. The racing incidents, stuff like that unfortunately sometimes happens.

How long have you been working with DV now? Has there been enough time where you have noticed differences out there?

No, it was only a couple times I had DV at the track. It’s been good. I like him. It was a lot of fun. It was a test this weekend, so it was nice. We’ll keep working.

You haven’t got much time, but I’ve got to ask… Team France obviously won only a week ago, so it’s still quite fresh. Everyone knows how the whole thing went down with you. Surprised they won? Thoughts on the whole deal?

Yeah for sure, surprised they won. A rider like Gautier Paulin, he’s the captain of the team and they definitely wanted to pick him. This year he rode unbelievable. That was very nice to watch. He deserved the overall. But Motocross of Nations is a crazy race and anything can happen. If I’m not wrong, since Ernee in 2015 when I was there and Romain Febvre won both motos, after that the French team, they never won a moto but they always won the overall. You have got to be very consistent. Crazy for them that they won again this year, but congratulations.

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Musquin will begin testing, before travelling to his home event in Paris.

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Everyone knows about the drama and everything you have been through on that side. Putting all of that to one side, just seeing them up on the podium, I am guessing there is a part of you that wishes you were there with them and had a chance to show what you can do?

Yeah, of course. I was definitely looking forward to race RedBud. I race there every year for outdoors. I think we need to communicate more with the federation or them to be more out-spoken, just to be honest with what they want to do and tell the truth or whatever. If they don’t want me, they don’t want me. We have got to talk more before the selection.

You are going to try and fix this whole French federation drama then or you want them to fix it anyway?

Yeah, I’m not in control of that. They do whatever they want. They are the one that picks the riders. I’m not in control of that, so that’s the way it is. I had a great experience back in ’15. I was looking forward to doing it again, but unfortunately they didn’t pick me.

Finally, obviously this is kind of the start of your off-season races. Is your schedule going to be as packed as it’s been every other year? Geneva, Bercy and all of that?

Just Paris this year. Looking forward to start riding intensely the beginning of November and towards Anaheim.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Chatter Box: Chad Reed

Chad Reed was one of the most intriguing riders to follow at the recent Monster Energy Cup, not like that was a surprise, as he made his indoor debut with the Autotrader Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing squad. The event was certainly turbulent for him, hence why the results were not quite as impressive on paper, but there were countless positives to extract from proceedings. All of those are tackled in this exclusive MX Vice interview.

MX Vice: Speed was good, first of all. Results, obviously you would like them to be a bit better, but things were kind of out of your hands. There were positives to take from this.

Chad Reed: Yeah, definitely. First one was like that normal first race back shock to the system. Struggled a little bit. Then the second one I got another great start. I think I was in second there and obviously got the rear brake stuck on. The last one was like the icing on the cake for me. I already had a good day. We progressed a lot. I was having fun. Then the last one, I felt like I actually went out there and rode well and got a solid third. It was a good end to the weekend.

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A freak rear-brake issue hurt Chad Reed's overall ranking at the MEC.

ConwayMX

The rear brake thing, was that just a rock? Did someone hit you? How did that come about?

No, I jumped a little long and I landed in the mud. There was some mud in there. It just jammed right up in-between the engine, the rear brake and whatever and just got stuck on. Then obviously, because I came to a major halt, everyone rammed into me and had nowhere to go, so unfortunately it was my fault. To be running up there and then to be able to come back and get another good start in the last one and then actually finish on the podium was awesome.

Like we said, the speed was good. There were a lot of positives to take from today, but the one thing that sticks out in my mind is you are finally getting good starts again. I think the last time you were consistently getting good starts was back at San Diego and Anaheim 2 in 2016. That has been holding you back since then.

Yeah. I would say that in supercross and the way that the current generation rides, it so much is depending on the start. You have got to be in it to win it, I always say. You have got to be in good positions. This is my fifth race on the bike, fifth moto race. Two at the national, and I got pretty much two holeshots there, and then holeshotted one tonight and pretty much second in the other two. All things leaning towards the bike is really, really strong on the start. I have confidence. Starting is… Sometimes it is not about technique as much as it is just having that confidence that you know you are going to be able to get a good start.

This was kind of like your first tryout on the bike in supercross. Were there any shocks to the system set-up wise? Anything you learned that you maybe didn’t expect?

No. The things I felt we needed to work on were very, very clear here. We immediately went to work on that and we made amazing progress. I think that from the day to the night, we saw a big improvement for us as a team. This bike gets boxed up Monday and goes to Australia. I feel really good about the bike that we are putting in a box and sending to Aus. Now it is about continuing what I learned today from my intensity and my riding, plus seeing where Eli [Tomac] was really strong and where Joey [Savatgy] was good. Then just taking that and implementing it into riding and coming out in November and seeing if I made that jump.

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Chad Reed's working on confirming his plans for the upcoming season.

ConwayMX

This has all been super positive. Is there anything today that has worried you or given you something to think about? Is it just been one of those days where everything’s kind of gone right?

Yeah. My concerns coming in were for the most point validated during practice. Then as the night went on, I felt like we got better. I got more comfortable. My intensity got better, so overall I just think it was a really, really positive day and night. I can’t ask for anything more, to be honest. When you get good starts like that and you run out front and you actually see the guys, it’s nice.

Finally, are things heading in the right direction away from the track now, as far as whether you will be on this bike at Anaheim 1 or not? Even if nothing’s locked in, is it kind of starting to look good?

It’s unfortunately not locked in and it’s just at a point where it’s a dollar and cents thing. Team is working really hard. I have all confidence in them and believe them that they are working hard. I see it. I’ve been in North Carolina the last kind of month and I see the work that they are doing and the behind-the-scenes stuff. Truthfully, I’m making a lot of phone calls to old TwoTwo Motorsports sponsors and things like that too. A bit of luck and some continued hard work… I really think that we can make this work. I’d be really, really kind of excited to make it work.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Catch Up: Malcolm Stewart

Although Malcolm Stewart competed in Canada, with a lot of success, a couple of weeks ago, the Monster Energy Cup acted as his real debut with the MotoConcepts Honda squad. It went fairly well too, as he ticked many boxes and even slid into the top five in the overall classification. Stewart discusses his night in Las Vegas, as well as his future, in this exclusive MX Vice interview from the event.

MX Vice: Pretty good day all around, really. You showed speed and consistency. Top five at the end of the day. Happy days.

Malcolm Stewart: Yeah. It’s cool. This is like my first big race with the team and stuff, so I’m happy. The day was great. The track was super fast. It is what it is. We went out here and got a solid top five. I think my teammate Vince [Friese] got seventh overall as well, so it was a good day for the whole crew. I definitely want to thank Mike Genova for even just giving me the opportunity to even let me ride the motorcycle. That’s awesome. Tony Alessi has been fantastic. We have all been working hard. It’s been a long couple weeks for me. I’m still getting used to the bike. From here on out, we all got a big learning curve. So, after tonight, the team… We all just sat down and talked to each other. For us, it was good. It’s nothing but positive from here and I’m excited.

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Ending fourth in the second main was a highlight for Malcolm Stewart.

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Did anything earth-shattering come from that talk with the team? Anything you have kind of learned that you are going to take forward to make big improvements?

Yeah. I got a lot of improving on myself and I can tell you the last two weeks… For me from two weeks ago until now is definitely ten times better. I can’t wait for what Anaheim 1 brings me, so as long as we stay trucking. Hopefully I can earn this spot. I think the resume is looking better now.

Speaking of making changes with yourself, I think I read recently that you have actually done that. Like away from the track, you have kind of fixed your situation a little bit and made sure there’s nothing but positivity around you?

Yeah. Like I said, I’ve been working at the W with [Gareth] Swanepoel a lot. Just kind of having fun. Just doing me. I think getting to ride this team… Definitely making some changes. The biggest change for me is I don’t have to worry about… I don’t have to be a team manager and a rider at the same time, because that’s just way too much stress factor for me. As long as I can go to sleep knowing my motorcycle is going to be there, that’s the biggest picture for me. So now I can just really focus on myself and only grow and be better from there. I think that’s one of the biggest changes for me and I’m happy about it.

That’s a good point. I guess a lot of people hear that and be like, “You were on JGR last year. That must have been the same.” Even with that deal though, you were kind of still being the team manager for yourself every two weeks or every time that deal needed to be discussed again.

Exactly. There were times where I would do two weeks and then it would be like, “What do we do after the race?” Then they’ll let me know Tuesday. It was stressful, man. But honestly, so far everybody’s been doing good. It’s still early. The goal is to stay trucking. Hopefully we land something here and we keep going, man. That’s really what it is about. Like I said, I’m working hard and I can’t wait for Anaheim 1.

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Malcolm Stewart has nothing set in stone for next season at this point.

ConwayMX

I think the best thing about today is that fifth overall was a great result and definitely something to be happy about. I feel like with your speed and everything though, you could have even done better. That’s obviously a nice feeling to know that.

Yeah. Like I said, we are getting more used to the bike. Not only that, plus we got some more overseas races. We have got Tokyo. We have Spain. We got Italy. We have Switzerland. Like I said, I got myself a world tour. So the more time, and the more time I get more gate drops, it’s only going to make me better.

Is there anything you learned with the bike today? Seeing as it was your first proper race. anything you learned that kind of surprised you a little bit?

You learn that intensity. That’s the biggest thing. I’m riding against the top guys, so that’s obviously a big learning curve for me. It was fun. It was a fun event. Obviously gate drops, suspension and chassis set-up. Obviously you don’t want to set your chassis up too much for this type of event, but there are little things like the dragon’s back. There were a couple things that you would have at a normal supercross track and I think it’s nothing but positive. Any gate drop is positive. That’s the bottom line.

Obviously it is tough to say, but nothing’s locked in with this team for next year yet. Is it looking good though? Are things going in the right direction?

Well, as of tonight I think getting a good resume and getting a top five should definitely help a little bit. Hopefully I’ll know something here in the next couple days.

Do you even have to worry about a back-up plan if this doesn’t work out? Are you still thinking about that in the back of your mind?

If it don’t work out, you ain’t going to see me at supercross. I’m way too invested in trying to make this deal happen. I don’t know. I’ve done threw all my eggs in one basket, so let’s not even think about option two. We’re thinking about option one only.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX