Interview: Jake Nicholls gives his thoughts on MXGP and racing a US National at Red Bud

As part of our interview with Jake Nicholls (watch it in full below or read part one here ) we asked the former GP star what he would do to improve the series now and we talk about his experience of racing an AMA National at Red Bud. As ever, Jake gave very honest answers.

I know you are not a fan of the organisers, although I think the tracks, although they are man-made, have improved the technicality, the GP guys are technically ahead of the Americans, at least outdoors but what would you like to see, obviously prize money is a huge one, to stop all the negativity and create a better series?

It would be nice of the age rules went. I just think these 450s, some people like me can’t just do it so it would be nice if that went. Like the Americans, they’ve changed their rules that you stay on unless you win the title, that would be nice.

And also, stop trying to make it like MotoGP. It’s like they only want 20 people there and they are all on teams. Your man in a van is not welcome, and that’s not motocross. Motocross is 40 people, the top man is getting paid millions in his big truck and the man in 30th is in a van. That’s how it was not so long ago and I’m not talking 20 years ago, it was 10 years ago. I think they need to get rid of that and that comes with costs.

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Driving to these races in these countries… perhaps have that as the elite series, I don’t know. You know what? It’s not nice to go to them either as rider. We are lucky here (UK), everyone moans about the NHS and I appreciate it’s not great at the minute, but these hospitals in these places, you don’t want to be in them and it’s not fun. You stay in crap places and it’s really not what it looks. I think they need to come away from that.

And it would be nice to go to some old school tracks, I wouldn’t have stopped if those places were still there. I personally don’t enjoy those modern tracks so much and do you know what? Half of that is because I am not that good at it, you don’t enjoy things that you are not that good at, and if I was really good on those tracks I would probably still enjoy it a little bit. So yeah, that’s an honest thing but it would be nice to see some natural stuff.

You rode Red Bud a couple of years ago, how did you find that format and racing in America?

I love the one day format because I have always learnt the track pretty quick so in qualifying at 7.30 in the morning we had one sighting lap and then it was qualifying! My second lap was my fastest time in all of the practice, my first full lap doing the jumps was my fastest lap. I really enjoyed it, it was hard because the races were only an hour apart so it was really hard to eat and it was hot and stuff but I preferred it to two days to be honest.

I know you are planning to race some British outdoor stuff on a 250 (in 2023) but any jaunts to America?

I would love to do it but I have to be honest, I don’t train anymore that intense and you have to give yourself a fair chance. And also time, our business is a small, big business so it is labour intensive for my dad and I as well as everyone else, so I can’t really just disappear for a week. I really wanted to go and do more but then I broke my leg and the year after was Covid and I really, really wanted to do more, because it was such a good experience, but I have to take that one and remember that one. Realistically I will probably never do it again. I would probably steer clear of the big bikes now in the outdoors.

The last couple of years before you retired you were working as well. How did you find the balance? Was it a good to get away from bikes or was it hard to find the time to keep fit?

It did me good. I feel like I always over trained when I did GP’s. When I came away from GP’s and I worked, I had to narrow it down quite a lot and that did me good. It was full time, I wasn’t just turning up when I felt like it. Obviously came away to do practicing, but my dad’s track is a mile and half away from my work so I could go out for two hours, do a couple of sessions and come back.

It did me good. I’m a bit of an overthinker, I always was overthinking a bit in my career and it helped me get away from that and it brought a lot of enjoyment back. 2018 was a really good balance but I never really quite got it back. I had a year with my leg (broken) and that year allowed me to get way more deeper into the business and then I couldn’t really get it back.

Interview: Jonathan McCready

Images: Nigel McKinstry