Interview: Alessandro Lupino reflects on his MXGP season, MXoN success and the future
It was a very impressive season for Alessandro Lupino on-board the Marchetti KTM machine. The Italian was top ten the whole season and ended up tenth in the championship which is impressive – the best non factory bike!
It was also a great day for Lupino at the MXoN as he helped Italy take the win in front of his home crowd at Mantova – memories he’ll never forget!
We caught up with the likable Italian to discuss the season and more.
GateDrop: Alessandro, let’s start with the MXGP season, it was a very long season but you finished in the top ten of MXGP and the best non factory bike, I don’t think you can complain too much about that, it was a really good season for you…
Lupino: You are right, I can’t complain about this season. We were the first independent team with a stock bike, my goal was to finish in the top ten and I did it. The season was a little bit too long for me because we started already in November to ride because the plan at the beginning was to start the GP season quite early but then they moved it. They decided to start it again in June, we are now in November and still racing so it was really long. At the beginning I was really at the top with my shape but lately I went down and I felt my energy was not enough anymore. Still now, it’s been two weeks since the GP’s stopped, I’ve been doing nothing and I still feel tired.
GateDrop: Not only did you finish in the top ten but the way you did it impressed me as well. You were top ten the whole season and even when you got a little bit tired you got the job done so you must be positive about that?
Lupino: Of course. Maybe from the outside people don’t see it but to be competitive with the factory bikes really means a lot. They work every day on the bike and we are a private team with small sponsors. We just have one bike that you can go and buy in the shop and that’s it, we put a pipe on it and then go racing.
GateDrop: I’m quite surprised by that actually, I thought you worked closely with KTM and did some testing for them and in return got good equipment?
Lupino: Unfortunately not. KTM was already full with the testing but the one thing that helps me and is really good is that I have WP which is good suspension. That set up is really good.
GateDrop: Before the MXGP season resumed, you raced an AMA National. Just how was it to race over there and how did it differ to MXGP?
Lupino: We kind of went there for a joke (laughs). We went there and just rented a bike that had quite a lot of hours on it. We just went to have some fun. I think when it comes to Supercross the USA guys are almost untouchable but when it comes to Motocross, lately in Europe we have worked so hard that I think we are a little bit faster than US and the Nationals. I enjoyed a lot the racing over there even if I wasn’t 100% fit, I think I’d actually like to go and race an AMA National championship one year.
GateDrop: Considering you went there for a joke, to qualify fourth, did you surprise yourself a little with that on a stock bike?
Lupino: That’s right, when I stopped and they said I was fourth fastest, I was like, “what the f**k, are you joking?!”. I came a few days before the race to try a bike but there was a problem with the fuel tank and the bike didn’t have much power. Luckily they helped me the night before the race and they changed the fuel pump. They then asked why I was racing with a stock suspension so they made a suspension for me as well and they brought me this on Sunday morning. I didn’t even get to try it until qualifying, it was an adventure and like you said I was surprised. It was the first National so they are coming from Supercross when maybe they aren’t so used to it but after a few races I’m sure they’d be faster.
GateDrop: Just on MXGP and the level this year, the level is just insane from the outside, you have Herlings, Febvre, Gajser, Prado and Cairoli which is a crazy top five before we get to other guys. It’s just crazy…
Lupino: Things have changed the past few years, my wife hasn’t been coming to as many races and she noticed something has changed. The past few years has changed a lot because from the first lap to the last lap you don’t have time to breathe. It’s like a Supercross race and before it wasn’t like that. Now the level is really high that you can’t make a mistake. If you make one mistake in a corner you could lose three positions. The top five are really fast and especially at the end of the season when they had a step in front of the other guys. I think 5-15 is so close and we are right there.
GateDrop: The good news is some guys have retired but then there’s some young guys coming up from MX2 like Renaux and Boisrame so it’s probably going to be just as tough… With the season starting in February have you got a plan yet of when you will start testing and how much of a break you’ll get?
Lupino: The level will still be high even with some guys retiring but after this Paris Supercross I want to take at least two weeks off without bikes and enjoy life. It’s crazy but if you see the calendar, at the end of January we already have a National (Italian) but I will not do that because I won’t do that, I’m getting old at 30 years old and can’t recover as fast. I will start with the GP’s on the 20th of February so from January we will go 100% full gas on the bike. We have some work to do but we have some time.
GateDrop: The MXoN – what a weekend for you and Team Italy but that last moto, just crazy! Where you aware of the penalty and what was that moto like? Probably the longest of your career!
Lupino: It was the toughest of my life. Arminias (Jasikonis) pushed me out at the first corner and it was the only place I could re-join the race. I was riding good and I saw were 11 points ahead so they told me to just keep on going. I then heard on the speaker that there would be a penalty for Lupino so I was like “f**k, I need to pass the guys in front”. After 50 meters I then crashed and from that crash I can’t remember nothing. I hit my bike and I am sure that I crashed with three laps to go so I can’t really remember what happened for fifteen minutes. I don’t really know how I ended the race to be honest, you could see I was not 100%. For sure, if it was a GP race I would stop and not continue because riding when you don’t know what you are doing, it’s not nice. I knew it was the MXoN so I had to keep going.
GateDrop: Rumours suggest you’re going to be a full factory rider again in 2022, I’m sure you can’t wait for that and how many years do you think Alessandro Lupino has left in MXGP?
Lupino: It will be nice to have a factory bike in my life or at least work with a factory company because unfortunately I’ve never had this opportunity in MXGP. My plan was to finish my career soon but I think I will do at least three more years and then I’ll put a stop to it. I’m 30 and then I’ll be 33 but we will see what happens in the future.
Interview: Andy McKinstry
Main pic: MXGP/Infront Moto Racing