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Interview: Hakon Osterhagen discusses his JM Honda debut at Hawkstone International and stepping up to MX2 GP’s

Interview: Hakon Osterhagen discusses his JM Honda debut at Hawkstone International and stepping up to MX2 GP’s

At the weekend, young Norwegian, Hakon Osterhagen had his first race with JM Honda at Hawkstone International. After a tough 2023 season, it was hard to know what shape Osterhagen would be in but he was better and faster than expected.

In the first moto he was with Adamo right up until he crashed which shows his pace is good despite being race rusty. Despite suffering with injuries for the last couple of years, we can’t forget how talented he is. He just needs to stay injury free and build to show his true potential.

We caught up with Osterhagen after his JM Honda debut.

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GateDrop: Hakon, your first race of the year and the JM Honda debut, you were very very fast here at Hawkstone. Did you expect to be so fast battling with Adamo in that first moto?

Osterhagen: The Honda is really good. I really like racing it, there’s a lot of power and good to handle so that is pretty good. Today was pretty good, a little too many mistakes and we try to fix those small mistakes but that will get better. First race and pre season, I kind of surprised myself during timed qualifying to put in the fastest time.

Battling with Andrea, it was pretty fun. As you know he is a pretty fast rider (world champion), to be battling and staying right behind him was pretty cool. Unfortunately a small crash which set me back a bit but overall a really good day and I am really looking forward to the next one.

GateDrop: Just to go back to last year, you got injured, you came back then you got injured at an Italian championship, I think that was actually a pretty big injury, can you tell us about it?

Osterhagen: Last year, was a disaster to be honest. I broke my femur in December during testing in winter training. When I was on the bike again I was really weak, I had no race pace in me and stuff like that. At the Italian championship, I made one mistake, it kicked me off the bike and landed heavily on my left side. I thought it was broken ribs but it ended up being my milt (spleen) that was split. I needed to have surgery on that and that is how it was, but it is behind me.

GateDrop: How much time have you had on the bike before this race? Has it been around a month or something, is that right?

Osterhagen: Nah, I think it has almost been two months now. But the gym sessions as well have been really good. The winter training has been absolutely amazing so I am ready to work hard and go for it.

GateDrop: Due to injuries you never really showed your true potential in the EMX250 class, where you pushing to do MX2 this year or was it just a case of seeing what the best offer was and taking it?

Osterhagen: It was a little bit back and forth. I was really like wanting to go to MX2 because I am 19 and I know that I am still young but for the MX2 class I only have like three years left. So, I wanted to go as soon as possible in MX2. Jacky (Martens) came to my parents and wanted to speak. In the end, this was the best offer.

GateDrop: Just on the JM Honda team, Jacky Martens has helped develop so many young talents throughout the years. You must be so happy to have this team behind you?

Osterhagen: Jacky is amazing and not only that, an amazing rider back in his time. He has a lot of experience and everybody is just like a small family to be honest. We are having fun, laughing and joking. The little kid behind me, Max is something to watch out for (laughs), he is a fast kid. Training is all good, the mechanics are also going pretty well.

GateDrop: For your rookie season in MX2, what are the expectations? You ran with the world champion there today in the first moto (laughs)…

Osterhagen: I don’t think I have any expectations but for sure I am going to push, push and do my best to be honest. It is a lot of races so you have to be consistent and that is what I am going to try and do.

GateDrop: You are very very fast but maybe sometimes get a little bit carried away… Maybe if you are fifth it is better to take a fifth, is that maybe the last step to improve?

Osterhagen: Yeah, for sure. For sure, I am still learning a lot even though I know riders are really smart on the track but they’re also learning a lot. I need to learn and be more mature. Maybe when my body says I cannot go faster, maybe I need to hold back a little bit so I don’t do anything stupid but today was a little bit that kind of day because I had a lot of mistakes. My legs off, over jumping and stuff like that, but it is pretty cool (laughs).

GateDrop: What is your thoughts on this track here at Hawkstone Park? Iconic, old school and sandy…

Osterhagen: I was here in 2019. Oh for the first race? Very good track. During the day when the 450’s came out, they completely destroyed it. There were a lot of kickers and it was so deep as well today, a lot of ruts too. I think it is really good practice for the upcoming GP season.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Image: Scott Dunne