Interview: Cas Valk on getting back on the box, dealing with injury and racing the British Championship

After a very strong off season, Cas Valk was coming into the EMX250 series as many peoples favourite for the title. Round one in Spain did not go to plan and then at the second round of the Dutch Masters, he picked up an injury and has been riding in pain ever since.

The Dutch talent bounced back at a slick Arco di Trento circuit though finishing 2-2 for second overall and get back on the podium – that is more like it!

We caught up with Valk after his podium which you can read/listen/watch below:

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GateDrop: The second round of the EMX 250 championship here at Arco and after a disappointing first round, you must be happy to get on that that box again even though it wasn’t the top step…

Valk: Yeah, for sure. No, the first round wasn’t the best with some stupid mistakes and yeah not the best but we turned it around here at Arco di Trento with finishing two times second. For sure, I was hoping to win but I was not feeling 100% coming into the weekend with the slight injury on on my ribs so I was already really happy to finish on the box with second overall to keep the championship alive. I’m already looking forward for the for the next round in Portugal to be back 100% and fight for the win.

GateDrop: Can you talk to me a little bit more about the rib injury, I think you done it at the Rola?

Valk: Yeah it was actually, I raced the Dutch Masters on Monday before Riola and in the Dutch Masters I made a strange movement. It was not even with a crash, I just made a strange movement and got a really painful rib and in Rola I rode the first race with really painful rib so the second race we decided to not race. We did as much as possible to be ready for this weekend and came out pretty good to finish second overall so I was quite surprised with that but also really happy. I never give up and I won’t so I will be ready for the next round to fight for the win.

GateDrop: At Riola, you mentioned there that it was painful.  What was it like this weekend obviously talking to your dad I think the plan was in free practice and time practice not to do so many laps because obviously it’s a long weekend, sensible I think because you looked good there in the moto’s….

Valk:  Yeah, for sure, I didn’t do too many laps in the free and timed practice to keep it a little bit more easy. I didn’t take too much unnecessary risk, to go third or fourth to the gate was fine, you know. There is a lot of options here on the gate to take a good start so no it was was actually pretty okay this weekend. I felt it a bit during riding but I switched my mind over it to not think about it and keep going. I managed to do that and I even managed in the second race to close the gap in the end as well but yeah then the race already was over. It was a little bit too late but I was happy about it.

GateDrop: What was your thoughts on the track this weekend obviously they brought a lot of sound and put it on top but by the end of yesterday it was it’s usual slick nature – not exactly Dutch style but it goes to show you’re good in all these conditions now…

Valk: Yeah, for sure. I think this year even the track was a bit more slippery and like a bit more rocky and hard parts. But anyway, it is the same for everyone so you cannot complain about the track you just need to be fast and do your thing.

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GateDrop: Obviously you were in the EMX250 championship last year a lot of guys moved up, it’s only really you, Valerio and Karlis that have stayed down. Was there ever a temptation to go to MX2 or because you didn’t actually race a four stroke yet, is that the reason you stayed down for another year?

Valk: Hmm that is maybe one reason but also KTM wanted me to race in the EMX250 so yeah that was the decision of them and for sure I think it’s not bad to do one more year in the EMX250 class then go strong into the MX2 I hope next year. For sure looking forward to that also, I work hard for it.

GateDrop:  Being with this team you are working closely with Shaun Simpson, he’s a guy that knows what it takes to  get right top of this level and he started out at the bottom racing Ulster Championships so he can certainly teach you a thing or two…

Valk: It’s a great team, a lot of nice people. They are all nice and to work with and Shaun is also nice. He knows a lot, he brings good things to me to teach me. I’m working also with Joel Smets for the riding part when I’m back home in Belgium so that’s also really nice.  He is one of the best I think so for sure this helps me a lot for sure. It’s been really nice to work with all these great people.

GateDrop: My next question was going to be about Joel Smets actually, what was it like working with him and also during winter I think you done a lot of laps in Belgium and riding with Andrea Adamo, an MX2 world champion so that’s obviously not exactly bad for the development…

Valk:  We did a lot of laps together with Joel. I knew already Andrea and he is a friend of mine so that’s makes it also nice. It was a great winter, we put some good laps in with so many sessions to be as fit as possible and ready for the year. It worked good.

GateDrop: You had a really good pre-season, I think a lot of people have you down as the EMX250 championship favourite. Does that add pressure and how do you deal with that?

Valk: Yeah, of course there is always some pressure but I think I can manage it always quite good. I think I can manage it quite good and to fight for the championship, it’s not the first time I fight for a championship so I know how it is. I also know how it is to lead one championship to be in second so for sure this time I can try to push a bit and close the gap.

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GateDrop:  You obviously raced Riola, do you know how many more MX2 GP’S  that are on your schedule this year?

Valk: I will do for sure Arnhem in in the Netherlands of course as that is my home GP. Maybe I will also do Spain in Lugo and Loket maybe. I think there is maybe one more but for sure like around four or five, the most as possible but for sure I have to be 100%, If I do it again like it was in Rola then it’s better to skip it.

GateDrop: You’re obviously with the British team, you’ve been racing the Dutch Masters and now you’re going to be racing the British Championship shortly. Are you looking forward to racing in the UK and Tommy Searle has just announced he’s going to be in the MX2 class… the old gun versus the new gun in England!

Valk:  Yeah, for sure. I am looking forward to racing in England, it’s like a new experience for me. I have never raced there apart from at Matterley Basin as it is part of the GP calendar. I am looking forward to racing the British championship and be racing also like guys like Tommy Searle. It’s going to be interesting to see how I am against a guy like that so it’s going to be good.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Image: Dimi_Dg70