Interview: Antti Pyrhönen discusses Febvre’s four GP wins in a row, Evans and more
It’s a great time for KRT in MXGP, the brand have now won four MXGP overalls in a row with Romain Febvre who is riding superb at the moment and is in his best form since winning the title back in 2015. It is a shame the French rider was forced to miss around the series earlier in the year otherwise the championship chase would be much, much closer.
We caught up with KRT’s MXGP team manager and former Grand Prix rider, Antti Pyrhönen to discuss Lommel and much more.
Listen or read below:
GateDrop: Antti, it’s a good time to be the KRT team boss, that is four GP wins in a row for Romain Febvre now, you must be delighted with how things are going?
Pyrhönen: Yeah, absolutely, we are super happy and really proud of Romain and all the team. We have an incredible team – mechanics, truck drivers and everybody involved. Really really professional package at the moment, we are super happy of all the guys and proud of them.
GateDrop: What was going through your mind in that second moto when he got a really bad start? I think he was twentieth after the first couple of corners…
Pyrhönen: Yeah, for sure there was a bit of stress and adrenaline because I wasn’t expecting that. We have been very strong on starts and actually at all the sand races we did, even the Dutch Masters and everything we always holeshot. We were so confident but there you see, that anything can happen. Luckily Romain brought it home being strong physically and strong riding. He is really gelling with the bike at the moment so we’re very happy.
GateDrop: Seeing him come through the field in that second moto, that was unbelievable, one of his best GP wins of his career. What was it like on your ending watching that?
Pyrhönen: For the team and for Romain it is an incredible time and also for Kawasaki. They have been working hard with us and it’s their factory team so all the effort they’re doing also in Japan for us is superb. We are currently the strongest team and we just need to keep the feet on the ground keep working and make sure we stay focused.
GateDrop: A new track for Lommel this year, I’m sure you’ve raced here in the past but what did you think about the changes to the track? It got so gnarly…
Pyrhönen: Indeed, it was really really tough for the riders and even for the material. There were lots of 180 turns that you basically almost start from zero to have the speed and then battling with the legs. A difficult track I think for the riders and also for the bike so it was great proof at how competitive our bike is. It is really stable and the engine power is awesome as well as the reliability so very proud of the work everyone has been doing.
GateDrop: Just on the championship chase, it is going to be hard to catch Prado for the title but until it’s mathematically impossible, do you still believe you can win the world title this year?
Pyrhönen: Yeah, absolutely, our target is to delay it as far as possible and keep fighting. This is what we are doing and what Romain is doing. We know Motocross is a tough sport and for everybody is unpredictable. Of course we don’t wish bad luck for anybody but for sure we aren’t going to give up.
GateDrop: On Mitch Evans, he came into the season with a little bit of an injury but he is making progress each week getting better and better. Are you happy with his progress? At the same time you might want to see more before the end of the season…
Pyrhönen: Step by step he is doing better and better. It is visible in the first moto’s, he is able to do top tens and quite solid riding. Step by step he is also doing better.
GateDrop: Just on next year, there’s a lot of rumours floating around about Romain. Are you confident you’ll be able to keep him for next year and beyond?
Pyrhönen: Oh yeah, we are very confident. He is loving the bike and really happy with the team. We are also happy with him as well so we are very confident. We are building up for the 2024 season.
GateDrop: The guys are riding a new factory bike I believe, what has it been like developing it whilst racing? It obviously looks good at the moment with four GP wins in a row…
Pyrhönen: Yeah, like I said, we have an awesome team. We have really talented technicians and generally people working more than talking. It is proof of the work everybody is doing. Also, we are a direct Japanese factory Kawasaki team so it is visible the work they are doing.
GateDrop: Just on the level of MXGP, it looks to get better each year with bikes getting better and faster, riders have everything they need these days. Watching from the side, the level looks really high…
Pyrhönen: Indeed, for sure there’s many big elements that need to be strong, the bike and the complete package. The work we do during the week and weekends we basically come here to show how well we’ve done the work during the week. We are pushing constantly to try and find improvements in each area. We are super motivated and from our side we talk with the results.
Interview: Andy McKinstry
Images: Nigel McKinstry