Interview blast from the past: Lauris Freibergs – Former European Champ!

Coming from Latvia to try and make it in the Motocross world isn’t easy but Lauris Freibergs was one of the first riders to make a mark from Latvia at Grand Prix Motocross. In 2000, Freibergs won the European championship before making the jump up to racing the best in the world at World Championship level.

It’s not an easy jump to make but Freibergs had some good results over the years and as a privateer was always battling against the factory riders – it’s never easy! The best year for Freibergs was in 2004 when he finished an impressive thirteenth in the MX1 World Championship posting a number of top ten results.

Freibergs is still involved in the sport to this day in a coaching role and is also helping his son, Uldis who currently races a 125cc and hopes to follow in his Dad’s footsteps.

We caught up with Freibergs to discuss his Motocross career and much more.

This article continues below

Gatedrop: Lauris, initially how did you get into the sport and when did you think you could make a career out of it?

Freibergs: I come from a family of five children and both of my oldest brothers were motocross riders and that is how I started. In my childhood, I was a very active kid. From my first race, I was always on a podium and that was when I realised I am good at moto racing and it is something I wanted to do.

Gatedrop: When you were a young rider trying to make a name for yourself in the Motocross world, what was the sport like in Latvia?

Freibergs: In Latvia when I was young Motocross was quite popular. There were a lot of riders and a lot of races I could compete in and get better. I was able to get a lot of valuable experience from the start because of the great competition.

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

Gatedrop: What’s the sport like in Latvia now? Is it bigger than when you were a young rider? There seems to be more talent coming from there now and Pauls Jonass becoming World Champ looks to have helped!

Freibergs: The Motocross in Latvia has become more accessible. The quality of the sport has significantly grown. We have a lot of race tracks and great coaches who are very educated about the sport. Latvians are hard workers and in the right circumstances, we have high chances to become champions.

Father and son!

Gatedrop: In 2004 you finished thirteenth in the MX1 World Championship on a privateer Honda and plenty of top ten results. What memories stand out from that year?

Freibergs: In 2004 I reached the peak of my career when I finished thirteenth in the MX1 World Championship. As a privateer, I wasn’t allowed to race at my first GP. And I did not ride the last GP round because it was in South Africa. Simply, there was no budget for it. What else stands out from the year 2004 is when I tore my ACL at the beginning of the season but it wasn’t an obstacle for me to reach my best results.

This article continues below

Gatedrop: Was it tough being a privateer battling with all the factory bikes and what was the level like in the MX1 World Championship that year?

Freibergs: It was difficult because I had to organise a lot of things myself, spare parts, organising my own travelling, and so on. That year it was a real motocross with many great riders. My gate drop was alongside the most titled motocross rider Stefan Everts.

Gatedrop: In 2005, you missed quite a lot of races but when you made a return you didn’t have the same kind of results on the Suzuki. What would you put that down too?

Freibergs: Suzuki as a standard bike was not the best fit for me. It was not possible for us to fix the bike as I needed.

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

Gatedrop: What races stand out the most when you look back on your career and why?

Freibergs: When I look back what stands out for me the most is my European Champion title in 2000. Tough races seemed to work to my advantage. For example, I won my European Champion title with two broken bones. Another great memory is my first GP points when I finished seventh in Italy, at the Mantova track.

Gatedrop: You also rode the Motocross Des Nations a number of times, what’s your memories from those events?

Freibergs: For a very long time, I was one of the main team Latvia riders. Overall, I have competed in Motocross Des Nations 12 times! It was always more special to represent my country, the Des Nations gate drop is more epic.

This article continues below

Gatedrop: You rode Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha for a number of teams – which bike and team did you feel most comfortable with and why?

Freibergs: In my career, I did not get a chance to ride factory bikes. I feel that is why I was not able to show my real potential. If I had to pick one, I had my best results riding Honda.

Gatedrop: You are still involved in the sport and do some coaching. What do you try and coach to your riders?

Freibergs: After my GP career was over, I have organised motocross races In Latvia for eight years and counting. With my riders, I share my experiences and some techniques I have picked up after 30 years of racing. But I am still learning as a coach. I am one of the coaches of the MXGP Academy. The best thing about my job now is that I get to pass over my love for motocross.

Freibergs at a coaching day

Gatedrop: Do you still follow the sport? What’s your thoughts on the MXGP World Championship these days – a lot has changed!

Freibergs: I still actively follow the sport, the races, and the results. MXGP has become more entertaining and the races now are a great show to enjoy.

Gatedrop: Anything else you’d like to add?

Freibergs: I grew as an individual through racing. I was challenged in every possible way but it only made me stronger. I am grateful for all the experiences and valuable lessons. I got to travel the world and meet many amazing people. Motocross is real hard work. It is not for everybody but for me it was the ride of my life.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Main pic: Nigel McKinstry