When Youthstream announced an under 23 age rule would be hitting the EMX250 class in 2019, it threw a spanner in the works for Simone Furlotti’s plans. Furlotti had signed a deal with the GBO KTM Motorsport team but the newly introduced age rule meant he was too old to contest the EMX250 series and left him without a contract for the year ahead.
However, the good news for Furlotti is that his team decided to change their plans and the Italian will now race a 450cc in 2019 and contest the European rounds of the MXGP World Championship series.
We caught up with Furlotti to get his thoughts on his change of plans.
Gatedrop: Simone, you’ve signed with the GBO KTM Motorsports team for 2019, how did the deal all come about?
Simone Furlotti: Matteo Bonini, my new team manager, participated in the Italian Championship with his team and also as a rider, that is where we started to talk about a deal for next year, also because he wants to grow as a team and participate for the first time in an International championship.
Gatedrop: You initially signed to contest the EMX250 series with the team but then Youthstream put in the age rule to the class. When that was announced how did you feel and did you know what you were going to do?
Simone Furlotti: It was totally unexpected, it meant that I was left without a contract for next year, on the 15th of October… It was not a nice situation. At the beginning I really did not know what to do and if I was able to continue to stay in the MXGP paddock but finally, together with Matteo we made it happen.
Gatedrop: You plans have now totally change as you’ll race the 450cc, you must be pleased the GBO KTM Motorsports have stuck behind you and made this possible?
Simone Furlotti: Yes for sure, the team could have looked for another EMX250 rider, but they tried to find a solution with me. So I really have to say thank you, especially to Matteo!
Gatedrop: You’ll work with Matteo Bonini in 2019 who’s an ex GP rider, so far what’s it been like to work with him?
Simone Furlotti: He has a lot of experience and still rides, so he knows what a rider needs. So far everything is going well, I am staying in an apartment near the workshop with the other riders from Monday to Friday. We train together with Matteo’s personal trainer. When we go to the track Matteo is always there and that is really helpful.
Gatedrop: You’ve rode the 450cc KTM, so far how do you feel on the bike?
Simone Furlotti: I feel very good, it is a great bike. I have already used a Yamaha 450cc during training the last two winters, so the 450cc is not completely new to me.
Gatedrop: Obviously initially you wanted to race a 250cc again but now you have to ride the 450cc, what’s your thoughts on it?
Simone Furlotti: When I first talked to Matteo we also considered the 450cc but then decided to use the 250cc because it would have allowed us to race a full European championship, which is probably the better option for the team and for the sponsors to get more visibility. In the end we had to switch to the 450cc, which fits my riding style even better.
Gatedrop: Just on 2018, you rode in the MX2 World Championship, how would you describe your season?
Simone Furlotti: 2018 was a difficult season, unfortunately I picked up too many injuries in winter and in the middle of the season. In the last few races I started to feel better but it was just too late.
Gatedrop: You were part of the SM-Action Yamaha team for a few years. How was it being part of that team?
Simone Furlotti: More than a team, SM Action was like a family for me. We started as a small team and grew together for three years, as a team and also me as a rider.
Gatedrop: I believe the wrist injury you picked up at the start of last year was quite serious and you can’t bend your wrist back fully now. What was the injury like and how is it now? Does it affect your riding?
Simone Furlotti: I damaged my wrist quite badly in December, two fractures, a dislocation and two torn ligaments… I was back on my bike only in March, after three and a half months. I still can’t bend it 100% but it doesn’t really affect my riding style, I just feel it sometimes.
Gatedrop: For 2019, what are your goals/expectations for the year ahead?
Simone Furlotti: Our goal is to stay in the top 15 as often as possible in the MXGP and to try to fight for the Italian Championship title.
Gatedrop: How do you feel racing the MXGP World Championship next year? The class is so deep with talent!
Simone Furlotti: It is for sure a really difficult championship, we will work hard to try to reach our goals.
Gatedrop: Anyone you’d like to thank?
Simone Furlotti: I’d like to thank Matteo and all the sponsors that support us for 2019.
Interview: Andy McKinstry