Interview: HEP Motorsports crew chief Clark Jones – discusses Max Anstie

At the end of last year, Max Anstie after a number of years in the MXGP paddock decided it was time to return to the AMA paddock as he wanted to have another crack at racing Supercross. The HEP Motorsport time signed up with talented Brit but after an injury he unfortunately missed the Supercross season. 

However, despite being on a pritvateer bike he’s showed some good speed at the AMA Nationals and sits eleventh in the championship standings. 

It remains to be seen what the future will hold for Anstie but he’ll be hoping to race Supercross next year if all goes according to plan. 

We decided to catch up with the HEP Motorsports crew chief, Clarke Jones to discuss working with Anstie. 

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Gatedrop: Clarke, let’s go back to the beginning, Max Anstie was racing the MXGP World Championship last year. How did you guys get the opportunity of signing him coming into 2021?

Jones: Max has always had a dream of racing Supercross in the United States as well the AMA Nationals. After a successful run at the MXGP series Max was in search of a ride in the states. After first talking with Max I was excited at the opportunity to get to work with a rider of that calibre.

Gatedrop: How were the first couple of weeks working with Max at the test track? How was he looking on the Supercross track?

Jones: When Max first arrived on the West Coast for testing we put him on Adam Enticknap’s 2019 settings for a base line. In little to no time Anstie was already a couple seconds a lap faster than current riders at that time.

Gatedrop: Max then got his with a blow and an old injury which meant he’d miss the Supercross season, that must have been tough for the team to take?

Jones: That was definitely a blow to the whole team! Unfortunately that’s a part of our sport and we know these things happen. Max utilized his time off studying the Supercross series and he was a fixture in our teams pits for most of the season. If he couldn’t race he still wanted to use the time to better himself as a racer.

Gatedrop: The good news is that he made it back for the AMA Nationals and the outdoors. We are six races into the season – how would you sum it up so far?

Jones: We’re now six races in – to think that its been almost a full calendar year since Max lined up for professional motocross I would say he is doing great. The odds were stacked against him with a difficult injury to overcome and he has continued to build on his performances.

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Gatedrop: During the second round, seeing him lead until three laps to go, you must have been buzzing and did you expect that?

Jones: Yeah, we were excited to say the least. It’s unfortunate that the lapped rider fell in front of him. A classic case of what could’ve been. Looking back, the conditions were in his favour but Max is a great racer and he’s won a lot of big events. That said I expect him to be a contender and I know he has what it takes to win. However, I wasn’t necessarily expecting a win in the series that soon.

Pic: Chase Lennemann

Gatedrop: At Ironman things were looking bad after his hard crash in moto two, you must have been fearing the worst?

Jones: After moto two at Ironman we assumed the worst and that our season was over. It’s taken Max a little while to get going again but he’s improving and we’ve all seen the progress.

Gatedrop: In terms of being a privateer team, how difficult is it to compete with the factory bikes?

Jones: HEP is supported by Suzuki with production motorcycles. We’ve built our race bikes top to bottom in-house. With all parts of the motorcycle being developed under one roof we have been able to really dial in our bikes. The motor package has certainly proved itself amongst the factories consistently hurtling to the front of the pack off the start. Of course we would always accept some more support if its offered.

Pic: Chase Lennemann

Gatedrop: How would you describe working with Max? He seems to be a good and funny guy but serious when needs to be..

Jones: Max is an easy athlete to work with. He is a true professional and dedicated to his craft. He gets along great with the team which makes things simple.

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Gatedrop: Do you feel there’s much work still needed to do with the bike to get Max 100% comfortable?

Jones: Being primarily based on the west coast the majority of our testing up to this point has been on hard pack terrain. As the series heads to harder pack conditions we will continue to adjust track to track and evolve the set up to suit Max’s taste.

Gatedrop: What do you expect from Max during the rest of the outdoor series?

Jones: As I said earlier in the interview I truly believe Max to be a contender for the series. Right now if Max can build a solid base of consistent top 10’s I think he’ll have the ground work for increased success in the future.

Gatedrop: At this stage have there been any talks regards Max staying with the team for 2021 and how likely is it to happen?

Jones: Max is a great asset to our team and only time will tell.

Gatedrop: If Max does stay with the team, how do you think he can perform in Supercross? It’s been a long time since he’s raced it..

Jones: I believe Max is capable of top 5’s in Supercross. If he puts his mind to it I’m confident the results will follow.

Pics: Chase Lennemann

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