Interview: Guadagnini, de Wolf, Coenen and Jorgensen look ahead to 2024
With just over a month to go until the start of the 2024 FIM Motocross World Championship season, the Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing Team has unveiled their rider lineup; boasting an exciting mix of raw talent and experience. Headlining the premier class in MXGP for the team is 21 year old Italian racer Mattia Guadagnini, while young guns Kay de Wolf and Lucas Coenen are set to take MX2 by storm.
For Guadagnini it has been a rollercoaster 18 months – stepping up from MX2, and bouncing back to full fitness after a spill at the 2023 MXGP of France. Similarly both de Wolf and Coenen are laser focused on bringing home the golds on their 2024 Husqvarna machines.
Read on for their thoughts on the challenges ahead, as well how the preparations have been going over the winter. First up is Mattia, and keep scrolling to hear Kay Lucas’, and Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing team manager Rasmus Jorgensen’s thoughts….
Hey Mattia, new team, new vibe – and a new 450 beast – how great is that?
Mattia Guadagnini: It’s great to be with the Husky team, Life is good, and I’m enjoying the new environment. The transition to Belgium has been smooth, though I’m still adapting to the weather and track conditions. Overall, I’m quite happy and motivated by the fresh experiences and changes.
Talk a little more, from a rider’s perspective, about the excitement ahead of the 2024 season?
Mattia Guadagnini: I’m really excited about the upcoming season. Last year, I adjusted to the new bike and MXGP class quickly, and I even achieved a podium before an injury sidelined me. Now, I’m hungry to get back to racing, and after a productive winter, I’m focused on being fully prepared for the season’s start.
Fans got to see your first day shredding on the FC 450 back in November last year; you looked very fast and strong?
Mattia Guadagnini: For sure! I’m feeling great on the bike now, and we’re working hard to prepare for the long season ahead. There’s still some work to be done before the first race, but overall, everyone at Husky is doing a fantastic job. I’m really impressed with our teamwork, and I’m confident it’s going to be an interesting season.
What has been your focus in the offseason in terms of training and preparation?
Mattia Guadagnini: At first I had to get used to riding again after being injured for several months. Although I returned for a few races, another minor injury set me back. After spending a long time off the bike, I have worked hard to regain my confidence. We’ve since begun training under a new fitness program also, improving my connection with the bike. I’m approaching this step by step; I’m just super excited to line up for the first gate now!
Aside from aiming for outright wins, what are your goals for this season?
Mattia Guadagnini: The first goal is, of course, to have fun and enjoy what I’m doing. It’s just about having good feelings and good vibes. We are on the right track now, and we just need to keep it this way. The Husky team is a young team, with young mechanics, and the people are also really fun. Of course, there is plenty of serious work but always in a fun way. It’s also not too heavy. I think it’s the right way.
How much pressure do you put on yourself to perform at the highest level?
Mattia Guadagnini: I’m really calm and focused, and always try to enjoy the moment, enjoy the races, and enjoy life. I think I am pretty good at not putting too much pressure on myself, taking it as it comes. But when you get behind the gate, you need to be ready.
What have you learned so far from being in the Husqvarna Factory team?
Mattia Guadagnini: Each team is unique and brings new experiences. Being a professional rider for a few years, I’ve adapted to various ways of working. The training approach here at Husky is a little different, but I enjoy it. Our team is very diverse compared to before, when it was mainly Italians. Currently, only my mechanic and I are Italian. This change is interesting; it allows us to learn from each other all the time.
As a professional competing at the pinnacle in the world championship – what advice can you share for fans and amateurs of Moto?
Mattia Guadagnini: I think that the best thing is to enjoy what you are doing, of course. I’m enjoying it, and I’m a pro rider! So for an amateur rider or for just people that are having fun, they should just do that! For the kids when they first start, they really need to enjoy, not let the parents put pressure on them or themselves. It’s a long process from when you start to maybe become a professional rider. Not many people can do it. I was also not sure if I could make it, and now I’m here. So get out there and have fun!
That’s a great mentality to have – it seems like you’re really enjoying what you have right now?
Mattia Guadagnini: Yeah, I am also learning it. It doesn’t come easy. I’m trying my best. It’s a few years where I’ve really tried to look at life as the best way to enjoy it. I’m still really young, so I think I still have a lot to learn. But it would not be so fun to just reach your dream, and then see it pass, and then you say you could have enjoyed it more. So I just want to take the best out of it and don’t have any regrets after my career and that I did my best!
New season, new bike, new challenges! How are you both doing?
Lucas Coenen: I’m feeling way better than last season. In 2023 I was thinking more about the others. This year I don’t even think about them. I just go my way with my brother and try to help him also. He helps me too and we are stronger together. But yeah I just need to not make the same mistakes as last year, find some good things and we will be good.
Kay de Wolf: I’m really looking forward to starting racing again, a little bit of excitement and nerves, as always, but I’m really looking forward to it and finally we can start again. The winter took so long for me, I always feel the same way at the end of every winter – that I want to start racing again!
Tell us about your expectations for the upcoming season in MX2?
Lucas Coenen: I was learning a lot last year. Bad luck sometimes happens also but that is racing! For me this year, I just need to work on my consistency and learn as much as I can. I’ll try to just do my own thing and not focus so much on what other riders are doing. I think this is the best way.
Kay de Wolf: I agree with what Lucas said. I think just like we did last year, I need to be as consistent as possible. I’m really looking forward to this season, I’m really excited. For sure there will be a lot of learning again this winter, but so far so good! So hopefully we can get some good results and start fighting for the title!
How has your off-season training been leading up to the 2024 MX2 season?
Lucas Coenen: It’s all about having fun and keeping active. It sounds very distant from the MX track – but I have played some golf over the winter. It has actually taught me to have more patience, which is something that I need to work on for my racing. Of course the gym training and getting on the bike as much as possible is important, but it’s all about balance.
Kay de Wolf: I took quite a long off season break this year, which is something I hadn’t really done since 2021. I haven’t had a big holiday since 2021 because at the end of 2022 I started working with Reuben on my fitness and riding straight after the final event. This winter I have been riding a 450 in training, and now I’m feeling really good, physically I’m feeling really strong. We have done a lot of physical training, made my back stronger, worked on my ankle a lot because that was a weak point – so I’m in a good spot now!
How excited are you to continue to be a part of the Husqvarna team. What does this mean to you?
Lucas Coenen: I want to maintain this balance of enjoyment and focus. Of course it’s also an opportunity to have a great time, but being a part of a factory team like Husqvarna is a dream; and representing this brand, with its distinctive colours and style, is amazing. The bike’s speed is impressive so I just want to do the best I can, to keep this dream a reality for as long as possible.
Kay de Wolf: This will be my sixth year with the team and I’m really looking forward to it. I was signed at the end of 2018 – so it’s been a long journey with the team but amazing! The entire team is such a special crew! The headquarters are also really close to my home town, so I’m actually still living at home. To be a part of the Husky side of one of the biggest groups of manufacturers in motocross is very special, and I can’t wait to get the season started.
How would you describe the overall team dynamics and atmosphere as the 2024 season approaches?
Rasmus Jorgensen: I can honestly say that every one of our team members are extremely passionate about their profession in the sport. We have two highly competitive MX2 riders under the same tent. For the moment our main focus is to do the best work possible, and prepare for the long season ahead!
How excited are you and the team to be in MXGP (with Mattia) this year?
Rasmus Jorgensen: Very Excited! It’s a very nice challenge to enter the premier class. Obviously Mattia was already on an Austrian bike for the last few seasons, which makes the switch on to our FC 450 easier. It obviously brings a new element on race days – running MXGP and MX2 side by side – with the overlap of races, but I’m certain that we will manage this without any problems.
What qualities do Lucas and Kay bring to the MX2 team?
Rasmus Jorgensen: To have two potential title contenders in the same class is obviously great for our team. So far we have had zero issues in 2023, but Lucas was a rookie. 2024 it will be a full reset. You always want to beat your team mate, and I’m sure in this case it’s the same. As a team we are trying to give them both the tools and attention required to win. The MX2 class is stacked and very exciting. It’s going to be an interesting season.
What key updates have been made to the MX2 FC250 and FC 450 MXGP machines?
Rasmus Jorgensen: Our teams in Austria are constantly working to improve our Factory FC250’s and FC 450. We will see once the final testing is done, but I’m very confident that we will have a better package than previous year.
What impresses you about Mattia as a rider and an athlete?
Rasmus Jorgensen: Mattia’s youth career was very impressive. I’ve followed him since he was on the 125cc. He is a very laid back guy who enjoys the smallest things in life and at the same time a hardcore racer who goes for it. I find that pretty cool!
Finally, Is there a message you would like to convey to the fans and supporters of Husqvarna Factory Racing as the team enters the 2024 season?
Rasmus Jorgensen: I’m super proud to be managing and representing the Husqvarna Factory Racing team. I’m a fan of the brand, and I’m so proud of the overall look of the team and its rider line up. We will continue to work hard and never give up on the ultimate goals. Keep pioneering.
To finish off their pre-season programme, the Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing team will compete in the opening round of the 2024 Spanish Championship, at Talavera de la Reina on February 3rd and 4th. Following this, the Husky squad will head across the Atlantic for the first round of the FIM Motocross World Championship with the MXGP of Patagonia-Argentina on March 10th.
Words: Press Release
Images: Shot by Bavo