Interview: Jordi Tixier discusses running his own team and his start to the season

Coming into the 2020 season was an eventful one for Jordi Tixier as he parted ways with the VHR KTM team just before the start of the season. The French rider then inked a deal with Sarholz KTM before deciding to run his own team (The JT911 KTM team). Coming into the 2021 season, Tixier is in a much better position as he’s experienced what it takes to run the team now and his plans were set in stone coming into the season.

At the opening round of MXGP, Tixier had a good day as he finished eleventh overall – a very solid start to his season. We caught up with the former MX2 World Champion to discuss his build up to the season and more.

GateDrop: Jordi, if we go back to the start of last year you’d just left a team weeks before the opening round, then you signed with Sarholz before deciding to start up your own team. It must have been pretty chaotic but things are more settled going into 2021 so preparation wise you must be in a far better place?

Tixier: Yes, it’s been quite difficult and I would also say that I was lucky that COVID-19 came otherwise it would have been almost impossible to build a team. But things are going in the right direction and for 2021 we are in a much better situation and better preparation. Everything is all good, it’s not a big team and this isn’t my goal, I just want to have a good bike going into the GP’s and to do my best all of the time.

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GateDrop: After starting up your own team and having last year to get used to it. How do you find running a team as well as being a rider? You must be very busy but after a year’s experience you must have learnt a lot along the way?

Tixier: For sure, it is a lot of work. You have to train and make everything ready for the team but luckily I have good people around me which helps me a lot. Doing it alone, it wouldn’t be possible to do that so I am lucky I have that and people I trust as well which is very important for a rider. I have learned a lot, different things, not only riding but also managing the team and relationships with sponsors. It is something I really like being close to my partners.

GateDrop: Coming into this year, how difficult has it been to get ready for the season with the MXGP calendar being changed etc? Did you take much time off or did you keep riding the whole time?

Tixier: I almost didn’t take any time off, only for Christmas I took a few weeks otherwise I just kept training but we did less than normal. We only rode two or three times a week compared to four or five times a week. I just tried to keep my physical conditions on point and improve a few points on my riding. It was quite difficult because we didn’t get any date when the championship would start so it was hard to get ready on time but I just did my best and listened to my body.

Pic: MX July

GateDrop: Just on your winter preparation – I assume you’ve mostly stayed in France. How has it been going for you and how do you feel going into 2021?

Tixier: Yes, I mostly stayed in France. I was also in the South quite a lot because we have a house there so it’s pretty easy for us to go and ride there. We went back to my place where we have a few tracks also. I moved quite a lot but stayed most of the time in France, we don’t have a big budget so we didn’t know it was necessary to go to Sardinia or Spain this year and that’s why we concentrated on staying in France to make the bike as good as possible for the GP’s.

GateDrop: You raced the opening round of the French Elite Championship at Ernee which was stacked full of talent. You ended up a solid seventh overall which isn’t bad for a year since your last race. Can you talk me through your day and are you happy with how it went? The track looked very technical as well!

Tixier: The French Championship was quite good. We had a really natural track, Ernee is one of the nicest places in France to ride and the preparation of the track was amazing. We had a lot of ruts, it was very bumpy and like a real Motocross track. It was a track that we should have all the time, it would be very good to have a track like that all the time. From my side it was more than six months without racing, we know training and racing isn’t the same so my goal was to take a good start and have two solid moto’s, this is what I did. In time practice I was fourth which was quite good with a lot of top GP guys. In the moto’s I got better and better lap after lap. I was disappointed with my first moto as I struggled to find a rhythm but second moto I had a good start and just riding with the guys in front close to top five. It was good moto’s and good to have before the first GP.

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GateDrop: The opening round of MXGP went well for you with eleventh overall in Russia, you must have been happy with that?

Tixier: Russia was a consistent race, I took pretty good starts and it was good to get into a rhythm I would say. The speed wasn’t my best at the weekend but it was only the first GP of the season and it’s a long season. I’m not the kind of guy to start the season always pretty good so from my side when I look at the standings in the championship, there’s a lot of guys that can ride in the top ten. Being eleventh overall wasn’t bad, I can do a lot better but honestly I didn’t crash and I got better lap after lap. We start from here, we keep working and building and hopefully England will be better.

Pic: MX July

GateDrop: You’ve been an MXGP rider for quite a long time now – the level of the class always seems to get higher every year. Would you agree with this and I guess you are expecting the same this year!

Tixier: I don’t know if it keeps getting higher but I would say for an example, it’s higher than it was like ten years back. Before there were maybe three or four top guys and then you had a big gap between five and the rest of the field. Now when you look at the standings there’s like fifteen or eighteen guys that ride really good. They’ve got podiums or titles in the World Championship or even in a race, it’s why the level looks so high now. It’s good for our sport but it’s not easy for the riders.

GateDrop: You are strong in the hard pack conditions, have you done much sand riding over winter and how do you feel in the rough sand?

Tixier: I’m a French guy so I love riding the hard pack for sure. Since I signed with Factory KTM in 2012 I had a lot of time in the sand and I would say it’s the kind of race I really like. When the feeling is good and it’s easy to pass, even physically when you feel strong it’s possible to make a difference over the other riders. This is something I like in the sand compared to hard pack but for sure I feel great in hard pack but probably like every rider. Now all the top guys know how to ride hard pack, know how to ride sand, know how to ride mud and everything. Honestly, if I must choose I would say I enjoy more racing in the sand like Valkenswaard or Lommel because you can make the difference. But for the rest, a nice hard pack track like Ernee is the kind of track I really like. You had a lot of speed but also very technical with the ruts and easy to find nice lines – that’s what I like.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: MX July