It might be only the second season for Revo Husqvarna as a team but they’re already had plenty of success both domestically and on the European scene.
Having attracted Martin Barr to the team to join Mel Pocock they’ve a very strong line up for the MX2 British Championship and the EMX250 series – the team have had plenty of podiums this year and the pair of them even swapped the EMX250 red plate about at the start of the season.
Mark Yates, the team manager is very ambitious and wants to see his team step up to the next level and run a World Championship rider.
We caught up with Yates to discuss how the 2018 season is going and his intentions for the 2019 season – it’s exciting times for the Revo Husqvarna team!
Gatedrop: Mark, after such a good start to the season for the Revo Husky team, you’re probably a little bit disappointed with both riders being off the podium at Desertmartin?
Mark Yates: You know it is a shame. This is Martin’s track as well really and he rode well. He had a good first moto, obviously Conrad Mewse is in a different league at the moment and you need to park him somewhere with were we are at. Good first moto for Martin and for Mel to go 2-3.
The second moto, it was a great start for Mel as he took the holeshot before the red flag. Martin was sat in tenth or eleventh. Went for the restart and unfortunately for Martin he got caught up with probably the biggest pile ups with a buried bike. It took so long to dig the bike out, it was an uphill battle for him. In all fairness to go from second last to seventeenth was a good result. He salvaged three points but in Martin’s words, he feels the championship is over for himself now being so far behind.
Disappointed a little bit for Mel and the team with what happened to Martin, that was one thing but then all eyes on Mel, he was sitting second in race two for a second overall so to throw himself off it six minutes from the end and finish joint third for fourth overall so it’s not been the best weekends.
We have struggled a bit over the last two or three Europeans with the guys and the qualifying and starts which everyone is aware of. It’s something that as a team working with Martin and Mel we’ve got to try and get to the bottom of. They’ve got to push harder in qualifying too for a better gate pick for a better start. Otherwise we are forever trying to fight through a pack – those have lost us the red plate. Now we are down to the final four rounds with 200 points so we can’t really afford to mess around or screw around anymore. We have to get the qualifying dialled in, the guys have definitely got the speed and there’s no problem there, it shows in the races.
Gatedrop: This is your second year as the Revo Husqvarna team manager, are you getting to grips with it even better in your second year and building a better working relationship between the riders?
Mark Yates: For sure, it’s not our first rodeo in all sense from racing cars to being with Roger Magee. I’ve always been involved with running a team at some level. We’ve obviously got two good pro riders this year and we’ve got Dylan as well and he’s really struggling in his first season.
I mean working with the riders, the thing about our two main riders with Martin and Mel, they’re both mature and professional riders with a lot of experience under their belt. They don’t have to be told what they need to do whether it be their own personal training, rider training or whatever the plan is for during the week. It’s something they’re in control of, I think Mel has said before that if they didn’t follow anything that they’re supposed to be doing It’d show up in their performance. That hasn’t been the case outside of qualifying and starts but that’s just one small part of it.
Gatedrop: Martin started the season very very well and won the second EMX250 moto of the year. I don’t believe he took a break over winter so would you agree that’s maybe why he started so strongly? And also the kids in the EMX series are starting to figure out the level now themselves..
Mark Yates: I think that for sure, Martin was very prepared for the year as he put in a lot of riding, sometimes I think Martin can do too much riding. Going through his training during the off season was really good, we went to Spain and did an awful lot behind the scenes. Martin showed great speed and always had the edge probably over Mel a lot of the times. We came into the season thinking Martin is going to show good speed but I know what the level is like in EMX and I didn’t honestly expect us to go to the first EMX250 round and for Martin to go P1, to win the second moto and show such a great comeback in the first moto to go from dead last to tenth. Likewise, for Mel to take the first moto, for a team it was really good.
All of a sudden it feels like you’ve lifted your expectations as such and then you set your goals a little bit higher and you’ve just got to be careful sometimes you don’t set them too high and let yourself down. We’ve swapped the red plate around between the two riders in the team, both Martin and Mel are still second and third in the European championship. I don’t think it’s over yet, it’s a little bit tough for Martin as he’s thirty-two points behind and Mel is nineteen points behind. Anything can happen, you can be a guy that wins the first race and then have one big off in second moto and that’s potentially twenty-five points gone. Things can change but we’re at the time of the season where I think they’ve got to sort it now. We have to get ourselves sorted out for Lommel and in the next couple of weeks we will be spending a couple of weeks at our Lommel workshop at Jacky Martens and we’ll be doing a lot of sand riding at the likes of Honda park and various other tracks in that area. Obviously, it’ll be difficult to ride Lommel because they’ll be getting it ready for the GP.
Gatedrop: Obviously, it’s the world championship but KTM have a bit of a problem with Herlings and Cairoli as well as Prado and Jonass going for the World Championships but they’re in different awnings. What’s it like having both Mel and Martin in the same team battling for the title?
Mark Yates: Both riders are professional riders, they’ve been team mates before but at the end of the day there is one rule, always beat your team mate (laughs). I have one rule as team manager, there’s no team orders but there is one order, please don’t take each other out!
At the moment and the earlier part of the season, they’re going in and battling and swapping leads, it’s all been hunky dory. Though I’m sure it’ll get to a junction were they’re fighting tooth and nail for those few points and at some point, the attitude towards each other could change. But that’s just human nature.
Gatedrop: Looking ahead to 2019, have you any plans yet and what would your intentions be? There’s talk we could see Barr in MXGP which would be exciting!
Mark Yates: We definitely want to do GP’s next year. We’ve done an awful lot of development work put into our 250 program and I’m so desperate to run our 250 in MX2. Unfortunately, for Martin and Mel they’ve aged out so they can’t do that. I can say that Mel will be doing EMX250 again next year along with the British.
Martin is on a two-year deal, yes Martin would like to do MXGP. We want to do MXGP’s whether it be MXGP or MX2. I think the 450 at the moment is so competitive, Martin and I have had some talks about it but you can see the depth of quality riders in MXGP and not being disrespectful to any of our guys, do you want to go into a championship to try and get into the just top fifteen, top twenty. It’s an unknown that we’ve still got to discuss but at the end of the day the whole thing will come down to some external funding and factory support. We’ve done an awful lot this year setting this team up and it’ll come down to if we want to go to the next level which is a whole other expense, it’ll come down to what we finalize with an external sponsor and what level of support we get from the factory which is what we’re in discussions with at the moment.
Gatedrop: You discussed you’d like to have an MX2 World Championship rider, you’re in a good paddock for spotting talent you could possibly bring to the team. Who in the EMX250 class has caught your eye and you think could go onto big things in the future?
Mark Yates: Yeah, I mean you’ve got Jett Lawrence, Dylan Walsh and there’s quite a few good riders out there. There is one rider we are talking too at the moment which I don’t want to discuss at the moment, it might get him in trouble with his team. He is British but it’s not Josh Gilbert before anyone assumes that, I’ve already had Dave Thorpe on my case with that one (laughs).
The thing is it’s all up in the air, these things get earlier every year and this is what gets me. Your half way through a season and all of a sudden, your focus has been taking away to perform in the championships you’re doing this year and at the same time you’re having to deal with the next season. It’s quite a distraction to be honest but I understand it has to be done – it just seems to get earlier every year.
Gatedrop: I believe there’s six fly away GP’s next year, what’s your thoughts on those? I guess as a team manager of a small team you’re not a fan! Also, if you do run a GP team, it would be for the European rounds only?
Mark Yates: Again, it would come down to funding. We had to do one this year with the Russian GP as a European team and the expense of that is around 10 thousand pounds for us to do that one. Again, it would be down to final support and funding as to what level we could do. For sure, how I think it would work is typically how a lot of the satellite teams do is that we’d do the first one and the second one maybe. Then the rider would have to be in a certain position in the championship to see if we can carry on because you get certain funding from the organisers for shipping and everything else if you’re in a certain position. It’s an unknown right now but you’re absolutely right, doing those fly away races is a massive expense. It’s 10-12 thousand for an average satellite team per round so it’ll be 60 grand before you even start.
Interview: Andy McKinstry
Pic: Nuno Laranjeira