Interview: Hans Corvers (Factory Yamaha MX2 team owner) – ready for 2022

2021 was a phenomenal year for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team. World title with Maxime Renaux. Silver medal with Jago Geerts. Manufacturers’ title with Yamaha. And nine Grand Prix wins. “A season that is very hard to repeat”, realizes team owner Hans Corvers. “However, our main goal remains the same: to win the world title again.”

The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team underwent a little makeover during the winter. World champion Maxime Renaux decided to move up to the MXGP. Hans Corvers’ team will tackle the FIM world championship MX2 with two instead of three riders in 2022: Jago Geerts (21) and Thibault Benistant (19) both stay aboard. Another big change: the departure of team manager Marnicq Bervoets, who wil now fully focus on his son’s career. Michele Lavetti, team coordinator last year, was promoted to team manager.
Yamaha spoke to team owner Hans Corvers on the eve of the first international race of 2022, this weekend in Alghero, Sardinia.

Hans, 2021 was an incredible season for your team. Were you able to enjoy the successes enough?
“The 2021 season lasted a very long time. It was almost December when we finished the season. It took a while for it to really sink in to me though. First and second in the championship and the manufacturers’ world title… Crazy. And yes, we we have been able to enjoy our successes. But the world just keeps turning. In a blink of an eye, we’re at the start of the new season now.”

You have set the bar very high in 2021. Is it possible to do even better?
“It’s almost impossible to repeat that season. But let’s not beat about the bush. We remain very ambitious. Our main goal is still the same: to grab the world title again.”

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World champion Renaux decided to move up to the MXGP this year. A pity?
On the one hand, I would have liked him to ride that #1 plate for our team. On the other hand, I can quite understand his decision. That’s also the way things are done at Yamaha. When you’re good in EMX, you go to MX2. When you reach the top in MX2, MXGP is the next step. We should be happy with what we achieved last season. We should therefore not regret that Maxime has switched to MXGP. Instead, we should be proud that we have delivered such a good rider in the main class. And believe me: Renaux is ready to rock in MXGP.”

The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team will line up two instead of three riders this year. With Geerts spearheading the squad. Do you expect Jago to take that final step: from being second two times in a row to become world champion?
“Yes, that’s the goal. Jago finished third in 2019, second in 2020 and again second in 2021. Each year he had some physical problems. Shoulder injury in 2019, bacterial infection in 2020 and last year a knee injury. I really hope he has a little more luck this year and he can stay injury free.”

You accompanied Geerts during a ten-day training camp in the USA. How was it?
“It was great! We had a fantastic reception by Yamaha USA and Star Racing. I was surprised how keen the Americans follow the world championship. Jago was often recognized, often asked for selfies. In Anaheim Roger Decoster came to congratulate me on the world title. Roger Decoster! An icon. I really got goosebumps. We have visited the Supercross in Anaheim and Oakland. Jago was able to train a lot during that week in California. I was really impressed with his tight schedule, with his work ethic. He completed three workouts a day: in the gym, on the bike and running. So far, Jago has had a good preparation. He made progress again: mentally and physically. I see another Jago. Much stronger than last year. He clearly has only one goal in mind.”

Thibault Benistant is still recovering from a knee surgery. Will he be ready for the first Grand Prix in Matterley Basin, in three weeks time?
“Thibault still has a lot of work to do. He just started to ride a bicycle. He won’t be ready for Matterley. We expect him to be back on the bike in the beginning of March. If everything goes well, we hope that Thibault can make his comeback in Argentina, on March 20. When completely fit, Thibault can fight for the podium and for the win.”

For the first time since 2012 you will start the season without Marnicq Bervoets as team manager.
“It is strange without Marnicq at my side, for the first time in ten years. I feel a bit orphaned. But I understand his decision completely. He is now fully focused on his son. And maybe one day he will return to us, together with Jarne. That would be fantastic. In the meantime, Michele Lavetti has taken over the task of team manager from Marnicq. And he’s doing a great job, too.”

Fast forward to September 2022. The end of the season. Hans Corvers is a happy man when…
“… we have won the world title again.”

Words and pic: Yamaha Racing