Interview: Hans Corvers talks Geerts, Benistant, Elzinga and the future for Yamaha in MXGP

The home GP for the Factory Yamaha MX2 team couldn’t have gone much better for Jago Geerts as it was the perfect weekend winning the qualifying race as well as the two main races on Sunday. The Belgian is now right back in the championship hunt only 13 points behind Andrea Adamo.

We caught up with Hans Corvers, the Factory Yamaha team boss, to discuss the weekend and more. You can listen or read below:

GateDrop: Hans, the home GP for the team here at Lommel and I don’t think it could have possibly gone any better with Jago Geerts taking the win and getting himself right back into this championship fight. You must be a very proud team manager right now?

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Corvers: Really proud. We hoped that it would be like this at a home GP with a lot of crowd and also we had our VIP set up here – we had more than 200 people so it was stressful for a home GP. He did great, the target was to catch ten points extra, to make ten points more than Adamo but at the end it was twenty seven. We are all really really happy and we didn’t expect this. We expected and hoped for ten but this is incredible. For there now to only be thirteen points in it now is just great.

GateDrop: Just on Jago, he always seems to get hit with blows but he can always get back up and get better because of it. Last year to lose the title in Turkey but then he went to the MXoN only one week later and was unbelievable… This year the disaster in France happened with the injury but then he comes back when he wasn’t even supposed to in Germany and now he is right back in the championship chase. Maybe when he was younger he needed to work mentally but now I don’t think his mentality can be questioned…

Corvers: He is getting stronger. Last winter he moved to Monaco, he lives alone and he is now more mature than before. The problem for Jago and nobody knows including him, he didn’t know why he’d always make those kind of mistakes. He would be leading, he’d be strong and he’s also smooth… and then boom, he’d be down and again he’d be down, why? It was something nobody had an answer for or a solution for that. But last year was already much better but this year, we have to say since he has lived in Monaco and training on the tracks over there. He has grown up, he has really grown up… everybody can see this. He is strong, he still makes mistakes but not as many as before. He looks really strong and confident.

GateDrop: The way Jago lost the title last year in Turkey, he lost basically after Vialle crashed and he got going first. As a team how was that to deal with but to see him riding the week after the way he did at the MXoN at RedBud running with Eli Tomac… unbelievable really after what he’d been through…

Corvers: He beat him on Saturday hey, you remember? (laughs). He was strong. First heat really good but then the second heat he crashed on the second corner, if he didn’t do that he’d have been there again. Jago is a smooth rider and he is riding a lot on the torque from the bike, he fits better with the 450cc because that has the power and you need to ride on the torque. For sure, I can tell you he will jump on the 450cc and he will be there. I don’t say that he’ll be world champion next year but he will be there because he likes, he really likes it.

To go back to last year, it was really a pity firstly for him but then also the team. Five moto’s before the end in Finland, we had twenty-six points in front and before the second heat there, he was strong. I have to say Vialle’s quickest lap time there in Finland last year was two seconds slower than Jago’s laps. Then he crashed, was under the bike and lost points. He didn’t win the GP when he was the strongest, there was the click and it was there he lost the championship. After in France came the crash but in Finland it was there he lost the championship.

When you go from twenty six to two points and go to Turkey. The last heat being one point behind, it was an exciting one. We were emotional, it is normal when you are leading almost the whole season and then at the end he lost by four points. It was not easy but Jago was strong, two days after he said: guys, sorry we cannot turn the page and we cannot go back so we will look forward go to the US and show their that we are strong… he did!

GateDrop: I have to say one thing I like about the Yamaha MX2 setup is there’s not a #1 or a #2 rider – before last weekend Benistant was right in this championship chase as well. What is it like managing these guys because both obviously want to go for the title?

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Corvers: We did, we do and we will do in the future always the same. Whether we have two or three riders, we treat them all the same. Same bikes, okay, individual setups but the bikes are the same. The training schedule and everything, it is the same. We have no number one or no number two and we never will have. This is the best way and they know – if the rider knows it is like this then they have to battle against the teammates, it is like this.

GateDrop: Just on Rick Elzinga, it’s his rookie season in the MX2 World Championship and it’s been going not so bad, a consistent top ten guy but what are you looking to see from him in the rest of the season so he can perhaps stay with the team in 2024…

Corvers: I don’t know if you know but last year, Rick had Epstein-Barr Virus and it was really really hard. With the doctors and they’ve been on it, the doctor said to me that it would be April or May this year that it will be completely out of his body. It is still difficult to go 100%, it takes time and a long time and Rick struggled with it. He can do really fast laps, he can do ten minutes really fast but we saw many GP’s that he drops down and is completely empty. Now with the doctor they have changed a few things and they work on it. This weekend and especially today, he did a great GP. The first heat was not bad and the second heat was really good so we hope now that he in the head has made a click and the body wants to do because it is not that easy. It’s not that the head doesn’t want to do things but the body doesn’t follow. From my side, Rick was last year EMX250 champion and now is a rookie and with this situation being a rookie, so from my side he can get the spot next year.

GateDrop: There’s a lot of rumours about a Yamaha structure change next year. You probably can’t say too much at the moment but is your role likely to be changing?

Corvers: From my side that I can say, in the next days, weeks and I hope in the next two weeks, it will be clear. Also for me because I hear also the rumours and I cannot say that we don’t talk internally but nothing is done. Nothing is done but I can say at this moment, nothing is signed and so long that nothing is signed I continue in MX2 – minimum until the end of the season and we will see what is going to be on the table. I hope it is clear in two weeks.

GateDrop: Is it likely that Yamaha will continue to run three riders in each class or is it still up in the air?

Corvers: It looks like that we will go again with three riders. So far that is what I hear from YME (Yamaha Motor Europe) but again between now and two weeks everything will normally be clear.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Image: Full Spectrum Media

Read our interview with Jago here or watch below: