Interview: Brent van Doninck talks Hawkstone International, JM Honda and Belgian talent

Belgian talent, Brent van Doninck made his JM Honda debut at the weekend in the UK racing the Hawkstone International event. As far as debuts go, it couldn’t have gone much better as van Doninck ended up third overall and if it wasn’t for bad starts, it could have been even better as he was as fast as anyone on the day.

We caught up with the likeable Belgian to discuss his day at Hawkstone, thoughts for the 2023 season with hew new talk and to talk about the latest Belgian generation breaking through the sport.

GateDrop: Brent, that was your first race of the year here at Hawkstone International. At the first race arm pump is common but you looked so comfortable out there that it didn’t look to be affecting you at all…

Van Doninck: Well, I did have a little bit of arm pump to be honest (laughs) but it got better each race. I mean it was a good first race of the season, I was just struggling with the gate but I heard that many riders did, it was a different grid and there was a lot of wheel spin on it. It was hard to get out of it, but each race and especially the super final was a little bit better. In the first and second moto I went completely sideways on the gate so I had to come from the back twice. My riding was good but it did take a lot of energy to come through the back always like that. The super final was going good, I was catching Glenn a little bit but then we came to some lappers before I made a few mistakes. It killed my flow a little bit so then I just decided to stay there in second. It was a good day overall and the bike was good, it’s always a good first test and I am happy with how the bike feels. Maybe we can do a few small changes but overall it looks good.

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GateDrop: I’m not sure if you’re aware but in the first moto you were the fastest on the track and in the super final I don’t think you were any slower than Glenn, you must be really happy with the pace? Just on the bike, how does it compare to the Yamaha? I don’t think your debut could have went much better apart from winning!

Van Doninck: You know, with Jacky (Martens) I was able to test a little bit more to make the bike how I want it. That was a little bit difficult last year, I basically had to ride with what I got. Being with a professional team like JM, it makes everything a little bit easier. The bike feels great, I am not saying I had a bad bike last year, for sure not. But it is just that little bit, those little details that make it easier to ride and that’s what I have now. Of course we still have to wait for other tracks but I’m sure it’ll feel good and even if it doesn’t then Jacky will make it work.

GateDrop: Towards the end of last season, you made a big step in MXGP and were a consistent top ten guy then but this track you seem to always fly, I guess the next step for you is to take that pace to other tracks. But it is hard to do over 20 GP rounds and there’s so many fast riders – it’s not easy!

Van Doninck: I ended the season last year really good. I made a change or a click mentally, sometimes you don’t even know how or what happens but I felt more focused and enjoy even more what I’m doing than even when I was younger. I just really love what I’m doing and it helps to stay motivated. If I can start the season how I ended it last year that would be great but it’s a long season. We have to keep both feet on the ground because this race I really like. I know I am good here but it doesn’t mean it will be like that in Argentina. Of course I will do my best but I mean we really need to step it up this year 100%. I want to be a consistent top ten rider at all the GP’s with a few headlines I would say.

GateDrop: 4-5 years ago it wasn’t looking amazing for the future of Belgian Motocross but with the likes of Liam Everts and the Coenen twins riding really well, things are looking good from a Belgian perspective if they can develop like we now expect…

Van Doninck: The Coenen brothers are doing great, they are really hard workers I believe and Liam will do good. I mean we also have Jarne Bervoets who is Marnicq’s son, I saw him riding last weekend in Lommel and he also looks really good on the 85cc. I mean there are still some talents in Belgium you know but it doesn’t make it easier for us because at the moment we only have two tracks we can ride I believe. In the winter only really one – Lommel. If you want to do good, it’s harder for a parent now at the moment because you have to travel and you have to travel a lot to get good training tracks to develop. But at the moment we have some good riders in Belgium which is good.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Image: Leigh Wootton