Whenever Brylyakov got injured, the Kemea Yamaha team acted quickly and signed Venezuelan rider, Anthony Rodriguez as his replacement rider.

Things haven’t been easy for Rodriguez but every week he gets better and better and looks more comfortable with the team and the bike.

During the Zwarte Cross festival, Rodriguez even won a moto so is in a good place at the moment. For the rest of the season, he’ll want to build on his improvement and get a top five in the MX2 World Championship.

We caught up with Rodriguez to discuss how he’s adapted to the World Championship.

Gatedrop: A-Rod, I haven’t saw anything like this event in Northern Ireland, you seen anything like it in Venezuela or the States before?

Anthony Rodriguez: Honestly its quite different. You’ve got some of the gnarliest sand bombs I’ve ever seen other than the Nations in 2012. Then the back was really hard pack in the forest with a sand tyre on. It was quite different, you were always like 2 inches away from hitting the fences because they were so close to the track. You have fans throwing water at you, I didn’t know if they were doing it to distract me so somebody else would win or something. You have people blowing up confetti at the track. It could distract you if you let it get to you but I was trying to stay super focused. It worked out, it was a pretty fun race. It’s not something I’m used to so maybe that’s why I like it so much. I’m continuously trying to improve, I see all the bumps and I’m trying to jump through them, that’s something new. It was quite good, I was quite happy with it but it was a shame I had a seventh in the first one but overall I’m happy with my riding the whole day.

Gatedrop: Had you heard of this event before this weekend? I’m sure the team maybe mentioned it to you. Did you expect this or are you surprised by it?

Anthony Rodriguez: Actually, I did hear about it last year. I believe it was Steven Clarke that told me a little bit about it so I had a little bit of an idea but I didn’t think it would be this big. Like not at all, there’s a lot of people around here from all kind of ages, all kinds of music, the caravans that go on the track, the carnival stuff – it’s pretty mind-blowing.  It’s definitely pretty different. I think it’s good for the sport to bring people from outside of the environment to come looking at races. Now do I think that they get impacted enough where they will follow the sport? I don’t know because they’re really drunk (laughs). I don’t even know if they’ll remember the moment. Hopefully it helps make the fan base of the sport bigger.

Gatedrop: I was in Germany which was your first GP for the Kemea Yamaha team. You kind of struggled there but since then you’re making progress every week. You must be pleased with how everything is going?

Anthony Rodriguez: These variety of tracks that I’ve never seen before are definitely helping to make me a very well-rounded rider. In Germany I qualified thirty-second and there were only thirty-two riders, I was dead last in qualifying! At that moment I didn’t know what to do. Anyways, like you say there’s been an improvement and every weekend I have gotten better. I wanted to do better when I came to Germany but in all honesty what do I expect? I had not done motocross for over a year and when I did it was for two races only, last year when I did the MXGP. Overall over the last 3 years I did 2 outdoor races. I’m pretty happy with the improvement and hopefully other people can see that as well.

Gatedrop: You’re more of a Supercross kind of guy but now you’re riding this so much are you starting to love it as much or will you definitely be straight back to SX next year?

Anthony Rodriguez: I like them both. I enjoy them both a lot but unfortunately at Supercross this year I was really sick. I was on antibiotics and I was basically not able to train, just race. It wasn’t the full performance that I could give. I feel like I’ve still more in me, I would really love to finish top three in one of the Supercross championships but I don’t know what the future will bring. Hopefully I can find a European 450 team that can support me to race the MXGP. If that’s not possible then to lend a ride like that or to find a team in the US. I know it’s not very easy, it’s pretty difficult actually. If I don’t get the offer from teams I will probably have to do it by myself, it’ll be a change in my life and I’ll probably have to find a job or something. It’s pretty sad to think about it so I don’t really like to talk about it. I try to just go day by day and try to do my best.

Gatedrop: How’s living in Belgium going for you? It’s quite a bit different from America but are you enjoying it?

Anthony Rodriguez: Yeah, it’s a lot different but I mean, it’s hard to explain but the last 8 years of my life I’ve spent them in a motorhome. You could say one of the reasons I’m feeling really comfortable in Europe is because for the first time in my life I have an apartment, a real bathroom, a real kitchen and I’m living in a pretty cool city with is Hasselt. In America I lived in the middle of nowhere so these are things that are also helping me. Not much as a rider but also as a person, just being happier overall. That’s something that I’m learning from, if I do go back to America I would definitely love to train at MTF as well but for sure I will try to rent an apartment nearby. The living style is just so much better that way.

Gatedrop: In that second moto today, obviously Jago crashed out of the lead but you still rode awesome and brought home the win. I was a little surprised, did you surprise yourself?

Anthony Rodriguez: I was pretty happy with it. I’ve not been first like that in quite a while and I pushed pretty hard. I knew there was a lot of good guys out there. To be quite honest maybe I didn’t a little more confidence in myself because some of the thoughts I had inside my head are not the thoughts a good rider should have. I was like “man, I really need to push because they’re coming, they’re faster than me”. When I finished the race and looked at the times, I was actually pulling away from them. That’s a big motivational boost for myself and a wake up class that I’m as good as I am and start to believe more in myself and realise I can go faster than those guys if I’m having a good day.

Gatedrop: Just on the rest of the season, you’re obviously a fill in rider for Brylyakov, do you know yet if you’ll be finishing the rest of the season?

Anthony Rodriguez: It’s most likely that I will stay until the end of the season. The contract is very clear, if he is well enough to ride he will take his bike back so honestly, I’m not 100% sure. If he comes back then you won’t see me at the tracks but we’ll see what the future brings.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pic: Niek Kamper

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