Interview: Gert Krestinov on THAT GP win at Lommel
Back in 2008 at the MXGP of Belgium at the gnarly sand track of Lommel, Gert Krestinov shocked the world on his privateer KTM as he won the MX2 World Championship that day. The Estonian can look back at that event with fund memories as it was his only GP victory and something every young Motocross rider dreams of.
We caught up with Krestinov to discuss the GP when he shocked the Motocross world.
Gatedrop: Gert, back in 2008 you shocked the world at Lommel in the MX2 World Championship. In the first moto you got a bad start but worked your way up from twentieth to eighth. Can you just talk me through that race?
Krestinov: Yeah, that was a surprise for everyone. My goal was to be in the Top 10 and maybe beat my fathers best race result, 7th in the Belgium GP 1986 when he was part of the Soviet Union team. I got a decent start in the first one actually, but I think I was trying to make a pass from the outside and got pushed off the line and crashed. So I started to work from behind and I was already maybe 7th but then I had a little crash again and dropped outside the top 10, so within the few last laps I pushed again and ended up in 8th.
Gatedrop: The second moto, wow! Domination, you won by 25 seconds and had a lap time three seconds quicker than anyone. When you think back to that race what memories stick out?
Krestinov: I had a pretty good start, I think I was 3rd and I had Erik Eggens and Nicolas Aubin in front of me. I made the passes and then I was leading, that gave me an extra boost and I wanted to lead one lap at least but I found myself distancing second place with quite a big gap, I think that’s where I made my fast laps. During the race I saw that Eggens was second and I was trying to control the lead but I think his bike maybe run out of fuel or something in the end so I ended up with 25 second lead in the finish. Adrenaline didn’t make me feel tired, on the last lap I was only hoping that I wouldn’t run out of fuel as the races were 35min+2 that time.
Gatedrop: I mean to go 8-1, did you know during the race you were going to win the GP or when did you find out?
Krestinov: I didn’t know or even think about that, I just wanted to win a race. After the finish my trainer that time, John Van Den Berk came to me and told that maybe I won the overall, it depended where Rui Goncalves would finish, he was still on his last lap.
Gatedrop: Being on a privateer team. How did it feel to beat so many factory riders?
Krestinov: That year I rode for my private team in Estonia called Favor KTM Motorsport that was funded and put together by my supporters in Estonia and run by Mart Lajal. That ride in Lommel I think secured my spot in the Silver Action team for the following season.
Gatedrop: What was the track like that day? Mega rough?
Krestinov: The track suited me really well, from the first lap in free practice it felt like home, I could do what I want, but we had worked hard with John van den Berk previously and skipped the South African GP to train in Belgium and Holland to make a good result in the sand, which was my strong point that time. The track was rough but Lommel is tough every year.
Gatedrop: What was it like when you realised when you won the GP, emotional and what was it like to stand on top of the podium?
Krestinov: It was a crazy good feeling. I felt relieved because all my friends and sponsors invested a lot of money in my racing, so to give them something back felt really good. Also I felt good for my father, because he sacrificed a lot of family time in to my racing, so to see his son on top of the World Championship podium must have been emotional. Also for myself, having done that, I felt that I’ve accomplished something and people will remember me for that.
Gatedrop: Do you remember before the race, what your expectations were for the race, did you really expect to win? I’m sure you surprised yourself!
Krestinov: I didn’t expect to win, but I had good feeling about it. I had also met my wife Sandra before the event so that gave me extra seconds (laughs).
Gatedrop: What was the level like of the 2008 MX2 World Championship? Rattray, Searle, Aubin, Simpson and Cairoli to name just a few were at the sharp end..
Krestinov: I think the level was really strong. There was no age limit and you had to qualify on Saturday.
Gatedrop: That year you finished seventeenth in the World Championship but missed some races, overall what was your target for the championship?
Krestinov: It was really my learning year as I’d done few GPs in the previous year, but I broke my leg in Teutschenthal in 2007, so I missed that season. For 2008 I wanted to gather experience and have some good races. I was leading the race in Lierop for a couple of laps and ended the race in 5th and I had strong finish in Valkenswaard.
Gatedrop: Just on 2020, after many years you’ve raced the British Championship you’ve a new challenge in Germany after signing with the KMP Honda team. Is that something you are looking forward to?
Krestinov: Yes, I was really happy and excited that KMP Honda Racing, Alex Karg showed interest in me becoming his team rider. Its really hard these days to find a ride and for him giving me this opportunity, I’m beyond grateful. Our main target is the ADAC Mx Masters Championship and we will do the German GP in Teutschenthal. I would like to thank all the sponsors who stay behind us during these hard times.
I hope everyone will stay safe and we can return to our normal life ASAP.
Interview: Andy McKinstry