Interview: Kenny Vandueren on Renaux, Benistant & Paturel

Since he decided to step away from racing himself, Kenny Vandueren has still been involved in the sport but in a training and coaching role. The Belgian has been working closely with Maxime Renaux, Thibault Benistant and Benoit Paturel and has had a positive affect on all three of them.

The 2021 season was special as far as Renaux is concerned as his hard work paid off by winning the MX2 World Championship and Vandueren was very much apart of the journey. The French talent has a new challenge for the 2022 season as he’s decided to make the jump up to the MXGP World Championship.

Vandueren has also started working with Glenn Coldenhoff ahead of the 2022 season and we asked him all about the Hoff in part two of our interview coming soon.

GateDrop: Kenny, let’s start with the 2021 season – what a season for Maxime Renaux! He was the underdog for the title going into the season but did you think coming into the season he’d be that good? A big improvement!

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Vandueren: When I trained intensively with Maxime for the first time in December, I immediately saw that I had someone with me with a lot of motivation and commitment with a goal for 2021. The physical tests and values ​​also showed that he had an exceptionally strong body compared to a standard athlete, it just had to be closely monitored, that I do together with Yente Dourte (performance coach) thanks for this. I am therefore very proud that in my first year I was able to work alongside Maxime in a factory team and take the title.

GateDrop: After winning the MX2 world title, Renaux has decided to step up to the MXGP class, the easy decision would have been to stay in MX2. What’s your thoughts on his decision to move up and how’s he looking on the bigger bike during the short time he’s had on it?

Vandueren: As I mentioned, I know how strong Maxime is and will like this switch. The feeling on the 450cc is definitely good at the previous tests. We are of course at the highest level and I don’t think the level in the MXGP has ever been as strong as last year in 2021. He will only have one challenge and that is himself.

GateDrop: Despite missing the last two rounds of the series through injury, Thibault Benistant still ended up eighth in the world championship standings – not bad as a rookie. Were you happy with his season and what do you expect from him in 2022?

Vandueren: It is still very early to say this, we know Thibault is a very talented rider as he showed last year that he can win moto’s and has a lot to fight for for the title but despite his injury now we are going to focus on his Rehab in Antwerp with Bert Driesen at MOVETOCURE first to get him back healthy and fit on the bike, so a total program change for him. From there I’ll be writing the program of the year for upcoming season and try to work on his weaknesses. Looking forward to see him grow more!

GateDrop: Unfortunately, Benoit Paturel didn’t have an injury free season but when he made his return, he showed some really good speed battling in the top ten. Were you happy with how he ended the season and how important is it for him to stay injury free for all next season?

Vandueren: Correct! He recently had really bad luck in his preparation before the GP’s started he contracted a heavy virus and put everything on hold, so had to rest for a few months which was not ideal. I couldn’t have wished his end of the season better for what he has gone through, seeing him still battling up front. We are on a good way. He’s the funny one among us who makes everyone laugh and working all together as a team with the boys will make him stronger!

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GateDrop: The MXGP season is set to get underway in February so you don’t have as much time as useless to work with your riders but it looks like you’ve already been working hard with them? Are you excited for the season to start?

Vandueren: We’ve started beginning off working on a lot of off-the-bike fitness/physically, like you saw what we did in Spain, Calpe. We started the morning with some Yoga and core before breakfast, did a lot of hours on the bicycle, we spend most of our time on bicycles, and some gym in the afternoon. If anyone has injuries or instabilities, anything nagging, we’ll work with that with the Kiné of Yamaha Filip Dierckx.

And basically, from the beginning of December, that’s when we really, really get going. I’m leaving now on Monday to Sardinia to start training together with them. I am really looking forward to the season. Motocross is a dangerous sport, so you’ve got to prioritize the riding over everything else. You have to balance when it’s good to push them off the bike, and when you need to let them recover. That’s the hardest thing to balance. If you go and do some gnarly strength training in the gym and wake up really sore and tired the next day, well, it’s not dangerous for to go jump on a bicycle and ride for a couple hours, But if they wake up really sore and tired and you try to get them to do fifty laps at one hundred percent effort on a Motocross track, it starts becoming dangerous. That’s my job to get the monitoring for each guy done, I’ve been there and done that, that’s why I enjoy it so much!

Interview: Andy McKinstry