Interview: Gert Krestinov discusses racing Southwick National

Throughout his career, Gert Krestinov focused on his GP career as well as domestic championships including the UK, Germany and Estonia but last weekend he travelled to America to race the AMA National at Southwick. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it as back in 2006 he raced at Glen Helen but seventeen years later he was back racing an AMA National.

Krestinov enjoyed sandy conditions that suit him well and ended up an impressive eleventh overall racing against the best in America in hot and humid conditions.

We caught up with Krestinov to reflect on his weekend and more.

GateDrop: Gert, you raced the AMA National at Southwick at the weekend. Firstly, what made you make the decision to head over there and race?

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Krestinov: Its been something that I have always wanted to do one day. My good friend and sponsor JT Construction is in USA, he helped me to organise everything for that race and of course if I have the opportunity, I would do it.

GateDrop: You have actually raced an AMA National before but not since 2006 I believe at Glen Helen where you finished 28-23 in the 250cc class! You’ve come along way, what can you remember from that day?

Krestinov: Yeah that was really cool, I think that season I finished second in Junior World Championship. We wanted to do something cool at the end of the season and my good friend Jim Holley helped us to organise that race for me as another Estonian Juss Laansoo was also racing AMA Nationals there that time. And I had been there training with Jim and Juss before. I remember it was a hot day, track had some gnarly bumps, big jumps and a lot of good riders. I was happy to qualify and the results were okay for me that time.

GateDrop: Going back to your weekend at Southwick, can you talk me through your weekend? You were very consistent and weren’t too far off some of the factory guys!

Krestinov: I was in B group for the qualifying and that was the last group. The track got a lot bumpier and slower each session so it was important to get a good time in the first session. It was also hard to get a good clean lap, as you had so many riders on the track, but thirteenth overall wasn’t bad. The weather was so hot and humid, that was the hardest part, the track was also rough but nothing surprising for me. The starts were near top ten and I knew I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted in the beginning to prevent overheating myself in the end, so I chose a good pace to make a good result at the end of the day and eleventh overall is nice. The speed wasn’t a worry for me, just getting through the day and crossing the line was.

GateDrop: In terms of equipment, where you just riding a borrowed bike – did you bring suspension or anything over with you?

Krestinov: We bought a bike there for that race and sold it after the race. I brought my suspension and some other good stuff from Estonia. It was a good new stock engine bike with a pipe and race fuel in it.

GateDrop: How did you find the Southwick track? It didn’t look to get that rough until the final moto but it then looked very tough for that last one!

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Krestinov: The track was really good I think. I was prepared for that but like I said, I wasn’t prepared for that weather. Can’t do much for that when living in Estonia. I did go there the Monday before the race just to get as used as possible. Everything about that race was good, nice atmosphere with so many riders and that brings excitement.

GateDrop: How does the track compare to a Lommel or a Lierop?

Krestinov: The ground there is sandy but not as deep as Lommel or Lierop. Still it does get rough. Also, the elevation up and down doesn’t seem as big from TV as it really is. Nice track.

GateDrop: The heat and humidity looked very hard to deal with, how did you find that?

Krestinov: Yes, like I said that was really hard, it was just hard getting kitted up and then you had to race too. It was barely an hour between the races. Had to recover and fill the body with liquid real fast.

GateDrop: How did you find the level of the 450cc class over there? It’s amazing you weren’t that far off the top ten considering, you did better there than the ADAC you did earlier this year although the guys at the front in America are obviously very fast!

Krestinov: The level is obviously very good. Also, the level in ADAC is very strong with so many good athletes. I like how the US series respects the privateers too. At the beginning of the year I wasn’t in that good of a form but a lot of training and riding has improved that.

GateDrop: What’s your plans for the rest of the year? You seem to be mostly racing in Estonia this year – any wildcard GP’s and another AMA National planned?

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Krestinov: July will be pretty busy with international racing, I’m planning the EMX Open in Lommel and then the MXGP in Finland. Plus, we have two more Estonian Championship races at the end of the year. At the moment I haven’t planned anymore AMA Nationals in 2023.

GateDrop: You must still really enjoy racing – how many more years do you see yourself in the sport?

Krestinov: Yes, still love racing, love the lifestyle and keeping myself in shape. I don’t know how many more years. I’m turning 33 in August, I have a good group of people helping and supporting me at the moment, and if they are willing to continue, then I keep going too as long as I’m competitive.

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