Interview: Han Corvers – Kemea Yamaha

The FIM World Championship heads to the deep sand of Lommel this weekend. Without a doubt the most talked about GP of the year. After all, Lommel is known as the toughest track in the world. A home race too for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team, which has its headquarters in Genk, only 40 kilometers further. It’s time to have a chat with our team owner Hans Corvers.

We have completed five of the nineteen Grand Prix. Are you satisfied with the results of your riders so far?
Corvers: “Absolutely! Two GP victories, five moto victories, six podium places, the red plate and last week three riders on the box in the second race in the Czech Republic. Great results. Yet, we can do even better. Geerts is gradually getting closer to his best level. When he’s not suffering from arm pump, he is clearly stronger than last season. Renaux is in the lead of the championship. I predicted before the season that he would make the most progress. Have you seen his first moto in Loket? From the back of the field to fifth place, on that kind of track. Awesome. And then there’s our youngster, Benistant. I was quite amazed to see him win a race in Maggiora and Loket. He has a lot to offer. This is without a doubt the strongest team I’ve ever had. That full podium in Loket is the best proof of that. Who would have thought so many years ago that the small Kemea team from Belgium would do something like this? I’m already secretly dreaming about a full overall podium. Imagine that…”  

#959 Maxime Renaux is the championship leader.

This weekend, it’s the Grand Prix in Lommel. Is a home race still something special?
Corvers: “Of course. Close to home, many people who come to see our boys. Normally we always organize something extra for our sponsors in Lommel. A kind of VIP arrangement. But because of covid-19 we can’t risk that. Imagine if one of our riders got infected because of that. We will never forgive ourselves. We are already happy that we can race and that spectators, limited, are allowed again. Hopefully we will be able to receive our loyal sponsors in Lommel in 2022. They deserve it.”  

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#93 Jago Geerts was unstoppable in Oss

You have won once with your team in Lommel, last year with Ben Watson. What is the goal this weekend?
Corvers: “We have three good sand riders in the team, so we are aiming at the win again. Normally Geerts should have an edge in the sand of Lommel. 5,000 spectators are allowed on Sunday. Most of them will cheer for Jago. Nice that support. Jago also deserves to win his home GP. But I remain careful. Just look at what happened the past few years. The competition is also working hard. Even in our own team. They have all three top bikes. Yamaha has taken another huge step forward this year. All three of them start with podium ambitions. Do you know what Benistant said to me recently? Hans, don’t say anymore that this is a learning year for me, that top 10 is the goal. I already want to be a top three rider.” 

The ultimate goal is of course the world title. With three riders in the top 7, that could even become an internal battle. How are you going to handle that?
Corvers: “We do not hide our ambitions. We are indeed aiming for the world title. And yes, it may well become an internal battle. There is only 39 points difference between Renaux, who is in the lead, and Benistant in seventh place. Geerts is fifth, 33 points from Renaux. It’s a very open title race. How are we going to handle it if it becomes a battle between teammates? Honestly… no idea. We’ve never experienced that. So far, the atmosphere is very good in the team. Off the track our riders have fun together. On the track they fight against each other, but with a lot of respect. It is up to us, the staff, to ensure that the good atmosphere remains.”  

#198 Thibault Benistant won a moto in Maggiora.World championship classification (5/18)
1. MAXIME RENAUX (Fra/Yam) 179
2. Mattia Guadagnini (Ita/KTM) 177
3. Ruben Fernandez (Esp/Hon) 165
4. Mathys Boisramé (Fra/Kaw) 149
5. JAGO GEERTS (Bel/Yam) 146

Interview and images: Yamaha