Interview: Benoit Paturel on 2019 and MXGP

If we look back to this time last year, it was a difficult time for French rider Benoit Paturel. He was moving up to the MXGP World Championship and had agreed a deal with the BOS GP team. However, both parties split before the start of the season leaving Paturel without a ride. 

In the end, Paturel did secure a ride with the Marchetti KTM team but then only managed to compete at a few GP’s due to a virus. Paturel is determined to put a tough year behind him and hopes for better in 2019. 

The Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki team have signed up Paturel to partner Lupino for the season ahead which is a promising line up. 

We caught up with Paturel to discuss the move and much more.

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Gatedrop: Benoit, let’s start with this time last year.. You signed with the BOS KTM team who were a new team at the time and then left them. It meant you didn’t have a ride going into this season. Just how much of a difficult time was that for you?

Benoit Paturel: It was a difficult year but I learned a lot in the past year. Now I am focused for the future and look at what’s ahead. We will see what happens in 2019.

Gatedrop: You then signed with the Marchetti KTM team and started well with them before the injury ruined your season. How was it being part of that team?

Benoit Paturel: The team was a good team but I didn’t do much racing because I had a virus and was completely out of the races. It was really difficult moment but after the opportunity came from Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki. It was a good deal and it’s good news for 2019.

Pic: Niek Kamper

Gatedrop: Let’s touch on your MX2 World Championship days. You had a good time with the Kemea Yamaha team. How was it working with the likes of Jacky Viamond and Marnicq Bervoets?

Benoit Paturel: Yeah, I learnt a lot during my three years, it was a great three years with the team and Yamaha. I had good seasons and I progressed step by step over the three years. Now I want to get back to my level.

Gatedrop: I’d like to know what you think about the MX2 age rule, if it wasn’t for that rule you’d maybe still be with Kemea. Was it sad when you had to leave the team or do you think you were ready to make the step to MXGP?

Benoit Paturel: I think I was ready for the move (to MXGP). The last season for me in MX2 was quite difficult because I always had bad starts but really good speed. Pauls (Jonass) and Jeremy (Seewer) started always out in front which meant it was difficult to compete with them every race. For the age rule, we can’t change that. I was born in December and that’s the way it is. Now I will look to the future, I like the 450cc so we will see how it goes. 

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Gatedrop: Just on the move up to MXGP, how does that class compare with MX2? 

Benoit Paturel: For me, last season wasn’t my first full season in MXGP because I only done a few rounds. I had a bad feeling with my physical condition but I mean, I think it’s the best level of the world.  You have the top guys in the class, every rider has won at least one GP. Compared to MX2, you can’t make the same amount of mistakes. Every rider is there every weekend and it’s a big step. I’m happy to be in this class and battle with these guys. 

Gatedrop: You’re a very determined rider, I remember there was a race you lost a tooth and you continued to race. What is it that gives you that determination?

Benoit Paturel: From the very beginning when I got on a bike, I was focused on my goals and really wanted to become a professional. After that I want to become a champion but it’s really difficult – it’s a big step. I didn’t win the championship in MX2 but it was my goal from the beginning. It’s my character and I really want to be at the front, I will work hard every day for that. I really don’t know, it’s just my character. 

Gatedrop: You won your first GP overall in Switzerland, just how did it feel standing on top of the box that day?

Benoit Paturel: For sure, it was very emotional for me. I think with more good starts that year then I could have won more GP’s. I’ve just won one GP but it’s like that and it’s in the past. It was a really good feeling and I hope one day I can have the same feeling again. 

Gatedrop: For the year ahead, you’ve signed with Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki. How did the deal all come about? Also, it’s hard to get an MXGP ride at the moment with guys like Guillod and Van Horebeek having nothing. Did you find it difficult to secure a ride?

Benoit Paturel: I’m really super happy with this opportunity because these guys believe in me even after such a difficult year for me. They still believe in me and not many people still believe in me at this moment. These guys came to me in the summer and I really appreciate that because it’s one good team. They’ve developed as a team with Alessandro Lupino about the starts, performance of the bike, organisation and everything else. I feel really good with this team, everyone within the team works hard which makes it better for me. It’s really important and I am super happy. 

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Pic: Niek Kamper

Gatedrop: You’ve done a bit of riding with the Kawasaki now, how’s everything going with the team and the new bike?

Benoit Paturel:  Yes, my winter is going well at this moment. I’ve been in a difficult situation but I’ve been working every day to be better and I feel good. The most important thing is to have pleasure on the bike and it is what it is now.  I am having fun with the bike now and that’s important.

Gatedrop: On the year ahead, what’s your goals for the MXGP World Championship?

Benoit Paturel:  I don’t really have any goals, you know. I just want to do my best every day to do the job. I don’t want to have any regrets during my career and at this moment I don’t have any. I am focused on the future and I want to make progress every race. I want to be there, you know that the MXGP class is so strong, it means you can’t say I will be in the top five or top three because the level is really strong. I just want to have fun and have pleasure on the bike – then we will see during the season where I am. 

Interview: Andy McKinstry 

Pic: Niek Kamper