Interview: Herjan Brakke on Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing

Herjan Brakke is a well respected name in the MXGP paddock after being a former rider himself. However, after a bad practice crash it left him with a big injury which meant he needed to hang up his boots.

Brakke is still involved in the MXGP paddock though as he’s working with the Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing team as they prepare for their first season competing in all the European MXGP World Championship rounds.

We caught up with Brakke on the team and what he expects from their riders.

Gatedrop: The Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing team contested a few GP’s in 2018. What’s the decision for making the step up in 2019 and contesting all the European rounds in the series?

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Herjan Brakke: The team owner Wim Hutten set at the end of 2017 the goal to start a professional motocross team which has to become one of the best privateer teams in the MXGP paddock, last year was the first year so we focused on the national championships and beside that we did some MXGP races. This year the team will step up their game and go for a full European MXGP season.  Everything is going as expected, the team have the ambition to grow every year and I think we are on the right way.

Gatedrop: Sven Van der Mierden had a good season first season on the Yamaha. What do you expect from him in 2019?

Herjan Brakke: Sven’s 2018 season was really good, he made good progress on the Yamaha and s happy in the team.  For 2019 we work more on international base with more hardpack training and international pre-season races, I think Sven is more than ready for the season and he has great potential to do good in MXGP and the Dutch Masters of Motocross. The team expects from him to his every race his A-game and enjoy racing the MXGP races.

Gatedrop: Van der Mierden seems to suit the 450cc much better than the 250cc, why do you think that is?

Herjan Brakke: I think Sven is a calm and smooth rider with a very good overview on the track, this is why the 450 suits him well.

Gatedrop: The team have also signed Micha Boy De Waal for 2019. I know he’s had a complicated winter because of an injury but how’s he looking on the bigger bike?

Herjan Brakke: Micha Boy de Waal is a rider with a lot of experience at the international races, unfortunately he had a knee surgery which side lined him almost all winter. He is on the bike for a few weeks now and is doing very well, he’s learning fast.  For Micha it’s important to put in some bike time, physically he is fitter than ever so I expect Micha will be at his best half way during the season.

Gatedrop: De Waal was known for an aggressive style on the 250cc, is the bigger bike helping him become more smooth?

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Herjan Brakke: For sure, on the bigger bike he needs to be more precise, shift earlier and let the bike do the work. We work already on this and as I said before he’s learning fast.

Gatedrop: Raivo Dankers also had a difficult winter after crashing in Italy but how’s he looking on the 250cc?

Herjan Brakke: Raivo is looking very good on the YZ250F, it’s a bummer that he broke his collarbone in Mantova so he isn’t a 100% for the first EMX250 round in Matterley Basin. He will be back in shape soon.

Gatedrop: What are your expectations for both de Waal during his rookie year in MXGP and also for Dankers in EMX250?

Herjan Brakke: For Micha Boy, the main goal is to become a 100% bike fit again, after that he can be a surprise.  Raivo is also a rookie in the EMX250 class, we believe he can finish in the top 8.

Gatedrop: Being a former MXGP rider yourself, you must be able to help the guys with their riding. In what ways have you been helping them become better so far?

Herjan Brakke: My role in the team is to take care of the riders, if they have any problems they can come to me.  Also, I go with them to the track and make their riding schedule, discuss with them about riding lines, riding position and of course make sure they put in their work. Besides of that I plan together with our physical trainer from I-react centre the physical tests, blood tests, sport nutrition, massages and other appointments where they have to go.

Gatedrop: You worked with Dave Kooiker in 2018. Will you continue to work with him in 2019 and what do you think the future has in store for him?

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Herjan Brakke: Yes, I still work with Dave Kooiker. I think Dave has the potential, he’s very young and has a good mentality. The road to MXGP is long but with the right people behind him he can make it to that level.

Gatedrop: Being a former MXGP rider yourself, how would you say the level is now compared to when you rode?

Herjan Brakke: At the time I rode by myself the level of the mxgp class was already high, the sport continues to develop so I think the level is even higher now.

Gatedrop: Of course, you had to stop racing due to a leg injury I believe. For the people that don’t know can you fill them in on your injury and does it affect now you?

Herjan Brakke: That’s true, on a Wednesday evening before the MXGP of Lommel I made a bad practise crash. I tore off almost all my ligaments in the knee but also I damaged a nerve that runs along my knee. They fixed my knee again with an operation but the result of this damaged nerve is that my right foot is kind of paralysed, I can’t lift my foot anymore. But anyway, I still can do the things that I really love to do!

Gatedrop: Anyone you’d like to thank?

Herjan Brakke: Of course, I would like to thank the Hutten Metaal Yamaha racing team for the opportunity they give me.

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Pic: Niek Kamper