Interview: Josh Gilbert – improving again in 2019!

Buildbase Honda’s Josh Gilbert has made an impressive start to the 2019 season and just finished second overall at Lyng to leave him fourth in a very competitive MX2 British championship.

Gilbert is also competing in EMX2 and while he has shown the speed to be a front runner, he has been forced to come through the field more often than he would like in the first two rounds – but the speed is there.

We caught up with Josh to get his thoughts on the year so far.

I guess we will start with Lyng, I think you qualified on pole and then second in race one and had to battle through the field in the other, can you talk us through your day there?

This article continues below

It was the first time I have ever poled qualifying in the British which is always nice to do. I’m never usually one to be able to throw a fast lap together. I’m usually better in the races but to go out and do that is always nice but at the end of the day it doesn’t really count for anything until you do it in the race does it?

Moto one I got a perfect start and checked out really for the first five laps. I put five fast laps together really and did break away quite a bit but after the five laps I did start to tighten up quite a bit. I think it’s just purely because I haven’t really been at the front very much lately. At the Europeans and stuff , I have had a bit of bad luck and been coming from the back quite a lot.

It’s different riding at the front with the faster guys, like I said I tighten up and even when Conrad passed me I struggled to settle down the whole race after that, it was bit of a battle. Even though I finished second I wasn’t overly happy with it just because of how I tightened up for half the race really.

The second race I actually felt way better, I gated about fifth and worked my way up to second then just as I got into second behind the leader, I went down one of the hills and had a bobble all on my own and ended up going out over the berm. Then Ostlund and Conrad went back past me again, then I was trying to pass Ostlund back and Bas Vaessen ended up passing me – so I went from second to fifth in about two laps!

That second one was a bit of a dogfight between that top five, Conrad managed to get through and get into the lead and I think if I could’ve, when I was in second, got by Dylan ( Walsh) and into the lead I think I could’ve had a bit of fresh air and maybe got away but it didn’t happen, it was my own little silly mistake. I passed Ostlund back on the last two corners and that was for second overall, so yeah my speed, fitness and everything does seem to be going really well at the minute, it’s just minimising the mistakes and putting everything together.

I think the reason I was crashing a little bit was because I stepped it up a little bit more through the winter, and it’s just getting used to that speed and intensity that is a little bit higher. After the weekend there is a lot of positives and hopefully I can take that to the next round.

The British, there are a few new guys in who are all GP riders you all seem pretty close that top five or six, it seems to be an intense battle!

Yeah I think there is definitely the top six and then almost a gap, there is a slight divide. A bad race for one of us is a sixth really, so it’s going to be a tough season, because you just have to try and be consistently in that mix. We aren’t very far apart but that’s a good thing for me because I know they can run top ten in GPs.

This article continues below
Gilbert Pic: Nuno

Does it feel more intense last year because everyone seems right on each other and you can’t make a mistake? Or do you just try and concentrate on your laps and do your thing?

It’s definitely more intense like I said with that second moto, in the first moto I was trying to concentrate on my laps but like I said I tightened up but if I was in that same situation again then if I ride like I know I can then those boys ain’t gonna catch me. It’s a bit of a mental thing really, now I know I can run there and know that in myself.

You were saying in the winter you stepped it up again, every time I have seen you, each year you seem to be a bit quicker, what did you do this winter to allow you to get that extra bit of speed again?

If I’m honest I did pretty much exactly the same through the whole winter as I did last year, it seems to be working whatever I’m doing. Not a lot has changed, I just try to get out on the bike as much as possible really.

Regarding the Europeans, I was at Matterley and you were riding really good, but having to come through the field, is that a bit frustrating for you because you know you have the pace from the British championship and your lap times in EMX2?

Yeah, well the crashes at Matterley we’re my fault really, I think I was overly pushing in the first couple of laps in the races and it obviously bit me. Down in Italy it was completely not my fault, it was just one of those racing incidents when we were going down into the first turn and some guy came across me going into the first turn and I just clipped his back end and ended up cart-wheeling down the start, so it was frustrating.

The second race was a bit better, I gated around sixth but got caught up a little bit in the second turn with someone and ended up dropping back to about 11th then worked my way back up to eighth. I think I was thinking more about staying on and finishing a strong enough race that I ended up tightening up and dropped back a little bit.

But now I have got these few races under my belt, from now on all I need to do is concentrate on getting every lap consistent and do the best I can.

This article continues below

How do find the adjustment to the different tracks in EMX2 and travelling to the different countries?

Yeah, I’m quite a laid back person anyway, not a lot really bothers me! We have been travelling for years even just with the British, it’s a lot of travel. We actually got home earlier from Italy on Sunday night than what we did from Lyng! It’s not too bad, I kind of just get on with it.

You are 21 now so are you looking at trying to get into MX2 now in the next year or two?

It kind of all goes on how I get on this year really. If I do well in the Europeans I would like to find an MX2 ride but at the end of the day I can’t do it without the people that help me out, so we will see, for now I have to concentrate on getting results in.

Gilbert Pic: Nuno

Just on your style, you have always been really smooth and at one with the bike, some smooth guys find it hard to ride that edge. Do you find that or do you feel you have a good combination with a smooth technical style but being able to push that edge sometimes?

Sometimes I do get moaned at for not letting it hang out quite enough! Everyone is different really, Jake Nicholls did actually say to me after the first moto in Lyng that I was too smooth and needed to let it hang out a bit but it’s just because it was a fast flowing track, with fast stutter bumps.

You see some guys that are all over the bike but at the end of the day they are using a lot more energy, you kind of get used to how you ride, it’s just your riding style really.