Interview: Josh Vail heading to the JWC to represent GB and eyeing a future racing EMX

Image: JHMX Photography | Interview: Andy McKinstry

One bright young British talent emerging is Josh Vail who is in his learning year of racing a 125cc machine. This year the main goal is racing in England but has got his feet wet racing at EMX level as he has contested two rounds of the EMX125 series so far.

This weekend is a big one as Vail heads to Heerde in the Netherlands to represent team GB where he’ll have the honour of representing his country at the Junior World Championship.

For 2025, Vail is eyeing up his first full season racing the EMX125 series. It’s never easy as a privateer but it’ll be nice to see the young Brit take the leap to racing against some of the best talent in the world.

We caught up with Vail ahead of the JWC this weekend:

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GateDrop: Josh, let’s start with your season. How do you feel it’s all going?

Vail:  It is going really well, I’m surprised at how much I enjoy riding the 125cc and the way it handles. I’ve always had a weight disadvantage on the smaller bikes but it’s not so much of a hindrance on the 125cc.

GateDrop: You raced two rounds of the EMX125 series so far – Sardinia and France. How did you find being part of the GP paddock riding the same weekend with the best riders in the world?

Vail:  The EMX was a great experience and massive learning curve. Daunting but great to race so many fast boys (and they are fast!) in such a professional atmosphere. Sardinia, I was out my comfort zone, not knowing what we were doing but every round since has become more natural. As a family we worked out what we needed to do and improved on things as we went along

GateDrop: Riola is one rough track, how did you find it? At least the UK have plenty of sand tracks and you do race sand a lot…

Vail:  Your not wrong, I grew up riding FatCat and really enjoy Saltfleet which is not far from me, I love sand tracks but I’ve never experienced sand like Riola before. It was super rough and throw in the heat, mosquitos and grueling 30+ min moto’s was certainly a tough one for the first on the calendar. Be great to go get some training in there over the winter, its a great track.

GateDrop: France was a hard pack track, something very different. How did you find that weekend and that track?

Vail:  Only word for France, wet! The track had just started drying out and was running well for Qualifying but then it rained heavily for the afternoon, we were postponed till 6pm to race. Hard pack is my weaker surface, and wet hard pack more so, but I got stuck in and managed to pull through the pack, really pleased with my pace.

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Image: JHMX Photography

GateDrop: You’ve only raced two EMX125 rounds but two very different tracks. Does that just highlight the different conditions you need to be good in to be competitive?

Vail: 100% to compete at that level you not only need to be competitive on different surfaces but also weather and having the GP riders in between can totally change the track from free practice to qualifying. France wouldn’t have been my round of choice but it was important to experience a hard pack round as well as sand.

GateDrop: The Junior World Championship at Heerde this weekend. You must be excited to represent team GB this weekend?

Vail:  I can’t wait. Proud to be apart of TEAM GB for the second time. I’ve never rode sand tracks in Belgium or the Netherlands before but the track looks really good. We have a really strong team this year across all classes and can hopefully do well as a country.

GateDrop: What’s your goals for the JWC this weekend?

Vail:  Personally I’ve set the bar high and I’m aiming for top 5-10. The track looks like it would suit me and the longer moto’s are better for me. It wont be easy against all the Dutch boys especially but as long as I do my best I’ll come home happy.

GateDrop: What’s the plans for the rest of the season – anymore EMX125 races planned?

Vail:  I had planned to race Arnhem but I believe it clashes with the Sellindge fastest 40 round, hopefully we can work something out that makes it possible. On home ground I’m focusing mainly on the British and Fastest 40 as priority.

GateDrop: What’s your goals for the future? A team to do EMX next year would be the goal I am sure? How tough is it being a privateer making it to them?

Vail:  A team for the EMX would truly be the dream. Being a privateer is honestly hard work, underestimated and tough on the family mentally as well as financially draining. We have to work together to get it done and have had some great experiences so far. My dad works all week and literally comes home from work jumps in the van and drives me to the rounds. (Sardinia was a 6 day round trip on the road) . He’s then manager, coach, pit man, bike washer and mechanic. The jet wash area at the GP’s is truly a crazy place, especially after a mudder. We plan to race the whole EMX125 series in 2025, it would be really great to get some help, in any area, to help make that possible, and build on an increasing English youth presence at the GP’s.