Page 1

Bavo Swijgers image


The Man in MX2 Interview Geoff Meyer Images Ray Archer

Defending MX2 world champion Pauls Jonass isn’t wasting time in showing his competition that this defence isn’t going to be as difficult as some might have thought. So far in 2018 the Latvian has gone 1-1-1-1 and is riding the crest of a wave that puts him in the next level position. Just like Jeffrey Herlings before him, Jonass is clearly not only the guy to beat, but might be near unbeatable if he keeps his head and doesn’t get carried away with his early season results. We caught up with him and asked him about his weekend.


Motocross Illustrated: Tell me, for us watching, it was so, so cold, but how difficult is it riding in that type of cold? Jonass: Actually, for racing it was so cold, really cold. The first 15 minutes of each moto, I felt like a snow man. Riding and fitting with the bike, its hard to get a good feeling on the bike, because all the muscles and ligament are so cold. So, its difficult. At the end of the moto its not such a problem, because your body is warmed up, but those first minutes, the hands are so cold. Motocross Illustrated: With the cold, it must also be difficult to stay focused, not just because of the muscles, but your mind must also be a bit frozen? Jonass: You can feel the concentration isn’t 100%. Reaction of the body is slow, compared to normal conditions. For everyone it is the same, but in the winter, I spent a lot of time in Belgium practicing, and while I wouldn’t say I am used to it, I know how to react when its like that and I know what to expect. Motocross Illustrated: How was the circuit over the weekend because of the weather? Jonass: Actually, the track Sunday wasn’t so bad, I was expecting it to be worse. On Saturday it was just muddy and one lined, but they worked on it on Saturday night and ripped it, which made it dryer, maybe they prepped it too much between practices, because it wasn’t as bumpy as it normally is, but they had to, because the ruts in the takeoffs were really deep and in some corners your foot pegs would dig in. Also, the track changed so quickly, each lap the lines would change, so you couldn’t always take the same lines because after on lap that line would get so deep. It was a little like enduro in some places. Motocross Illustrated: You have gone 1-1-1-1, and you are clearly the guy to beat. Did you expect it to be like this?


Jonass: I wasn’t expecting it, but that was my goal, to be at the top. Last year I was consistent, and always around top five, but I wasn’t the top guy who goes 1-1-1-1. This is something I worked on, to be the guy to beat. So far it goes well, but the season is long, and I don’t want to get too confident or too high, you could say. Keep working hard, that is important. Motocross Illustrated: Going 1-1-1-1, breaking your competitions spirit a little bit, how important is it mentally that you show the competition that you are that guy? Jonass: Yes, for sure. I know previous years racing Jeffrey, he was the guy to beat, he could go 1-1-11 all season long, and sitting next to him on the start, I was nearly already beaten, you knew Jeffrey was going to win. It isn’t easy to do that, go 1-1, but it gives you extra confidence and it does break your opposition. Motocross Illustrated: Next up is redsand, and you rode redsand in the winter. How much did you ride there? Jonass: I rode there for a week, so maybe five times, maximum. I know, racing at a track, and practicing at a track, it’s really two different things. The feeling is different and then they also put the banners next to the track, and it really feels like a different track. It’s a really nice track, its fast and wide and when it gets bumpy, it will get heavy and really rough, and you need to be really fit to do two motos. It won’t be an easy weekend, but it’s a nice track for racing. Motocross Illustrated: What is it like, is it like Valkenswaard? Jonass: Not like Valkenswaard, more like Kegums in Latvia. Its sand on the top, but it’s a bit hard underneath. You get many square bumps, big braking bumps. In Valkenswaard the bumps get big and smoother, but in Redsand the bumps get big square bumps. Its difficult for the riders.


Motocross Illustrated: I know you are not thinking too much about your competition, but is there anyone you have your eye on yet? Jonass: I think Jorge of course, you know, there are many guys who are fast. Jorge was fast and always good in the sand. Olsen wasn’t close this weekend, but he is consistent and strong, and I saw him in the winter and he will be strong. Also, Hunter will be strong when we get to hard tracks or rough. I think also Covington when he gets more bike time, those will be the main guys to keep an eye on. Motocross Illustrated: Last question, MXGP. Jeffrey is really on it, and it seems Antonio is also riding better than ever. Have you watched much of the MXGP, and if you have, what do you think? Jonass: For sure I have watched it, this weekend I only say the last minute of both motos, but yes, they are both on the next level, Jeffrey and Tony are so much better. Those two are the next level and Jeffrey this weekend was on it. Tony made some mistakes, but it’s nice to see two KTMs battling up front, they are on their A-game.


The Future Is Now Interview Geoff Meyer Images Ray Archer

No doubt about it, for the last six to eight months the fastest motocross rider in the world is Jeffrey Herlings. Coming off his handful of MXGP victories in 2017, the flying Dutchman has taken GP wins in Argentina and Holland and stands atop the MXGP championship points. Taking his tally to nine GP wins in MXGP, and his total tally including MX2 victories to 69 GP wins, it won’t be long before he closes right down on Antonio Cairoli and Stefan Everts as the very top of the all-time list.


While it hasn’t been all about easy wins for Herlings, his victories have been as impressive as most of his MX2 victories combined. Beating Antonio Cairoli in stunning fashion in both rounds one and two, the Red Bull KTM Factory rider has shown that for the moment, the MXGP class is his. Not getting carried away with himself though Herlings knows that Cairoli didn’t win his nine world championships by fluke, and the Italian legend will come back fighting in Spain this coming weekend and until the championship is finally decided. We caught up with Herlings and asked him about the horribly cold conditions last weekend and also his season so far. Motocross Illustrated: Obviously you train a lot in the winter, but have you ever ridden in conditions like that? Herlings: It was extreme, because normally when we have these types of temperatures we go to Spain, where it might be around five degrees, instead of riding on a half frozen, sketchy track. Last weekend with the wind, it felt like minus five or minus 10 degrees. It was horrible with the hands and a lot of riders were struggling with cold hands. Motocross Illustrated: This is the second weekend that you have dominated with your speed. Antonio to me is maybe the best ever at race strategy, he is very crafty, and it’s like you did an Antonio Cairoli to Antonio. How do you see it?

guys lined up inside from Saturdays qualification. I was around 8th to 10th. But coming back to your question, I don’t think he even needed a strategy because he started out front and he just did his thing and tried to pull away. I just need to work my way to the front and close the gap. Motocross Illustrated: There was a moment in the second moto and you were catching Tony and you looked a little tired, was that the case? Herlings: No, not at all, I could have done even more laps no problem, and I wasn’t riding over my head at all. I just kept charging and I knew it would get tough, because the track was really rough because of the rain and the cold. The track got really gnarly, and sometimes I was unlucky with lapped riders and sometimes he had trouble. I feel really good physically and I had to burn a lot of energy, a lot more than Antonio. Motocross Illustrated: You have pretty much the same form as in the second part of 2017, and at the time Tony mentioned that you didn’t have the pressure of a championship and he had backed it down a bit to win the championship safely. I mean Tony is possibly the greatest GP rider of all time, and he is probably riding better than ever, so it must be even more gratifying because of that?

Herlings: Yes, for the moment it does, but it’s just two rounds in, and Tony is a big champion and an icon in our sport, so we can’t write him off, because he might find the speed I have at the moment. Until now I am faster on pure speed, but that isn’t a guarantee that I am faster in the next Herlings: The thing is, he always few rounds. For now, we want to work holeshots for some reason. His avon our starts, we have already made erage starts in the Italian championships and also the GPs, he has taken a big improvement, but still trying things and new parts to improve it. As a bunch of holeshots. So, he stays out of trouble and does his own thing, a rider and team, we are still working and once I am top three in the start while I am working my way through on a regular basis, that will be a big the field, fighting with other guys to get to the front. Once I get to second, advantage for myself. The tracks we have so far have been easy to pass, I still have to make up like five or 10 seconds. Obviously the last two races but tracks like Arco, you start 15th or 10th, it’s hard to still win the moto and I didn’t have the best gate pick, and from my feeling the start gate wasn’t we will work on that and I am sure we can improve it. straight, so you have even more metres from the outside. All the good


Motocross Illustrated: For many of us, as motocross fans, we want you to get a bad start, because it makes for sensational viewing. I guess you can understand that? Herlings: Sure, as a fan, I understand, it must be fun, but for now it’s been the bad gate pick why I wasn’t straight up there, if I had a better gate pick like in Argentina and Saturday in Valkenswaard, it would be different. In Argentina I got a holeshot and in Valkenswaard on Saturday I also had a good gate pick and was second into the start. I think if I have a good gate pick I can get out well, and I am not saying I can beat Tony out of the start, because he is a great starter (he is also kilos lighter than Herlings). At least if I can be top three, I am happy with that. Being realistic, Tony is a better starter than me, I can live with that, but I want to beat him out of the start one day. Motocross Illustrated: I know you like the record and stuff, and you won your 8th time in Valkenswaard and you are the first motocross rider to win eight times at one single circuit. How does that feel? Herlings: At least I broke some records in the sport, being the most dominant Dutch rider in history and now having this record and one day I hope to get to the 101 GP wins. I am 69 right now, and we need 32 more and those wins are not coming as easy as the MX2 times and I am only 23, so I can be on the top for many years. The main priority now is to keep our eye on the championship and stay consistent and see what we can do. Hopefully keep fighting until the end and it seems that will be against Tony. Motocross Illustrated: Redsand you rode a lot in the winter, and I am not sure if Tony has ridden there, it seems he prefers to ride in Italy in the winter. Does that give you an advantage and what do you expect from the track in Spain? I was speaking to Pauls (Jonass) about it and he said it’s like Latvia. Herlings: It is like Latvia actually, it really depends on how they work on the track. If they rip it and work on it, it’s like a real sand track, if its windy and they don’t work on it, or water it so much, it can get like hard pack. Depends on how they work on it. I have ridden it in all conditions.


Distributed in the UK by


Potential Shown Story Geoff Meyer Images Bavo Swijgers

American rider Thomas Covington got his first win of the season with his Saturday qualification moto victory last weekend at the Valkenswaard circuit and put together a consistent Sunday with fifth overall in the class, he is now eight in the series points. Despite a less than perfect winter due to an injury at the October held, Monster Energy Motocross of Nations the factory Husqvarna rider is looking solid already and will head to round three in Spain this weekend with some confidence.


We caught up with Covington and asked him about his season so far. Motocross Illustrated: Obviously because of your MXoN injury, your off-season wasn’t great, which meant your first rounds might not have been what you wanted. Can you explain the rounds in Argentina and Holland? Covington: I was pretty happy with last weekend, especially that qualification race win on Saturday, and two solid motos, that is pretty much where I expected to be in these two rounds. Top five or six and build back into it. In Argentina, I was feeling good coming into it. It might sound stupid, but I had a nutrition malfunction. In the off-season I improved my diet, but with the travel to Argentina, there were not a lot of good option to eat and also the supermarkets in Argentina there wasn’t what I needed, so I ended up not eating anything and Sunday I just had no energy, especially after the first race. I think that was my biggest issue there. I have learnt from it, and we will build now for the next rounds. Motocross Illustrated: Did you enjoy the trip to Argentina, because I know you have mentioned you like that place? Covington: Yes, I love going to Argentina and my dad and I try and plan a fishing trip. It’s probably my favourite place on the calendar. I didn’t have time to go fishing this trip, we were meant to go Thursday, but I was too tired from the trip, but he went down two days earlier and went fishing. Last year we stayed an extra week and went fishing. Motocross Illustrated: That win on Saturday, considering your off-season, and you mentioned you didn’t expect it, that must be a massive confidence boost? Covington: Yes, that is the plan. I know I have the speed and the skills, and, I need to improve my starts, on Sunday my starts were not that great. How the track was, it is hard to catch the top three with those starts, they can really send it, especially with all the jumps faces like they were. Get consistent starts and I should be there. Motocross Illustrated: That weather on the weekend. I know where you are from on the East Coast in America it gets cold, but have you ever raced in conditions like that?


Covington: I can’t remember racing in snow at all, or anything that cold. Sure, when we go riding in Alabama, it gets cold and wet, but for the last seven years, I actually lived in California and it doesn’t get too cold there. Motocross Illustrated: I can’t remember it being so cold and I have lived in Europe for 25 years. What was it like then riding in those conditions, because watching was unbearable? Covington: I didn’t have big issues, but the biggest thing was the hands, stop the hands from actually freezing. We had some big massive hand guards on the bike, but I think what made it cold was the wind, it was freezing. I didn’t leave the truck the whole weekend apart from to ride my bike. Once the racing got going though, I didn’t think about it that much. Motocross Illustrated: Have you ridden Redsand much? Covington: I was down there for like three weeks this winter, but I think everyone did. It will be cool to race down there on a familiar track. Motocross Illustrated: Are you surprised at all about how well Pauls Jonass is riding? Covington: No, not really. He is a really strong rider and consistent every weekend. I am not surprised at all, but hopefully I can get up there and put more pressure on him, and also Prado and Olsen can get up there, hopefully make him make some mistakes. Motocross Illustrated: When somebody is riding like that and dominating really, if a few of you can get up there and ride hard against him, not just put pressure on him, but maybe push him around a bit, and like you said make him make mistakes, is that something you have thought about much? Covington: I haven’t though about it at all, and I haven’t really been up there to do that, so I have just been concentrating in my race. Motocross Illustrated: How is your week leading into Spain? Covington: Just staying here in Belgium, get a couple of days in Wednesday and Thursday and then head to Spain on Friday and hopefully to some good weather.


HOLESHOT INTO 2018

WITH THE EARLY BIRD OFFER!

ALL THE EVENTS LIVE

day & Satur LIVE ay Sund

Access to our exclusive series ‘Behind the Gate’

BUY NOW Available on multiple devices

Follow MXGP :


Ray Archer image


Ray Archer image


Yamaha image


DISTRIBUTED IN THE UK BY


HOLESHOT INTO 2018

WITH THE EARLY BIRD OFFER!

ALL THE EVENTS LIVE

day & r u t a S LIVE y a d Sun

Access to our exclusive series ‘Behind the Gate’

BUY NOW Available on multiple devices

Follow MXGP :


Gajser Back HRC Story Images Bavo Swijgers

Tim Gajser had a successful season debut in the Netherlands today as he claimed ninth place overall in the MXGP of Europe at Valkenswaard. After finishing ninth in the opening encounter of the day, he crossed the finish line of race two in thirteenth place despite crashing unhurt in two separate occasions.


Gajser got a good launch as the gates dropped and ran fourth in the early stages of race one. After a couple of strong laps, the Slovenian rider was unable to match the improving pace of the riders around him and had to give up a number of places, moving down to 8th. From there Tim did his utmost to maintain his position but after dropping one more place he was eventually ninth at the finish line as the chequered flag was deployed. Tim had an even better start to the second encounter, running in second place as the MXGP field entered turn two. Gajser had a difficult time in maintaining the position as he quickly dropped down to 5th place before eventually losing the front and crashing unhurt halfway through the second lap. The former MXGP and MX2 world champion managed to jump back on his Honda CRF450RW and from 18th place he made his way back to 14th position before another crash occurred; Gajser re-joined the race and was 13th at the end of the encounter. Team HRC will now pack up and get back on the road towards Spain to contest the MXGP of Spain at Redsand next weekend. Tim Gajser: Actually I am a little bit disappointed because yesterday I had good speed and the qualification race went well, so I was expecting a bit more from today. I had two good starts but made quite a few mistakes that cost me a lot of time but I’m happy that finished both races – and that I didn’t get hurt. We did some important laps, so now I’m looking forward to Spain.


HOLESHOT

ay & d r u t Sa LIVE y a d Sun

INTO 2018

WITH THE EARLY BIRD OFFER!

ALL THE EVENTS LIVE

Access to our exclusive series ‘Behind the Gate’

BUY NOW Available on multiple devices

Follow MXGP :

Motocross Illustrated  

April Issue

Motocross Illustrated  

April Issue