Interview: Kevin Horgmo on being an MXGP rookie, living in France and adapting to the 450cc

Young Norwegian talent, Kevin Horgmo started this season in unknown territory after moving up to the MXGP World Championship after inking a deal with SR Honda. Everything has changed for Horgmo as not only has he got a new team, but also a new coach (Yves Demaria) and living in a new country (France).

The start of the season has went to plan for Horgmo as he’s been consistently in the top ten in the toughest class in the world.

We caught up with him to discuss his rookie season and more which you can read/listen/watch below:

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GateDrop: You are an MXGP rookie but so far so good, four rounds in and you’ve been very consistent in that top 10 every time. You must be happy with the start of your season?

Horgmo:  Yeah, for sure… like I still feel I have a lot left in the tank but the first three races… Yeah, top ten every GP.  Of course, a little bit lucky with some guys being out already but I feel like I’m close to the top guys. I’m always like at the back of the of the faster guys and really close to them. It’s not like I’m missing a lot of speed, so I hope to build into the season and get closer and closer… Trentino today, yeah, it was difficult because yesterday I was struggling big time in the qualifying moto. But actually, the timed practice was good with the close times and P11 was good.

But yeah, the qualifying moto was horrible, I rode super bad and had a bad start crash. I was riding stuff, so I was happy with how I turned it around today. I was much closer in speed but being 22nd on the gate, I was coming from the outside so I couldn’t really mix it in with other guys.  The first moto, I was still struggling a bit and I was not happy with my riding but the second moto I can be content with my riding. Unfortunately, on the last lap I almost over the bars and crashed on the last triple before the finish so smacked my head pretty good but only lost one spot to Pancar there so that was good. I need to be content with the day even though it was a difficult one, I made the best of it.

GateDrop: Everyone talks about the level of MXGP, it’s crazy high and everyone knows that. Are you surprised yourself a little bit that you’ve been so consistent and in the top ten so often?

Horgmo: Yes and no… because I have been training all the winter with Valentin and in the beginning, I was much slower but then every training I was getting closer and closer. Every track we went to, and I was always little bit behind, but I knew that I could be close to him on the races if I had a good day. Of course, the goal was always to be top 10 but to do it and actually have it as a goal are two different things. It’s difficult because the level is really high and once you get the bad start, it’s so tough and especially on this track in Arco. In Sardinia in the last 10 minutes, you can still pass a lot of guys but here it’s difficult if you take the rhythm from the guys outside the top 15.

GateDrop: Obviously with the very different conditions, you’re going from Sardinia to here so the fact you have been in the top 10 at all these different types of terrains is positive I think…

Horgmo: Yeah and especially like Sardinia because I haven’t done any sand training so I went really deep there and all week I was like completely fatigued and really down. I think coming into this race I’m still not recovered like I was struggling big time yesterday. I was tired all day and also today, just feeling tired so it will be good now to have a little bit of time off. Even though I need to do the French Championship but at least I need to try to recover as good as possible because I went really deep in Sardinia, you know.

GateDrop: what’s your thoughts on the age rule in MX2?  I mean if it wasn’t for that age rule maybe you’d still be racing in MX2 and Whenever you have to go up to MXGP, it can be a little bit scary going up to the 450cc, but you have showed you suit the bigger bike, where you always this confident you could do this well in MXGP?

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Horgmo: I was excited to move up to MXGP because it’s a new challenge and a new class. I’ve been riding a 250cc since I was 17/18 years old, so I was pretty excited. I don’t know, I think it suits me quite well because actually you can be a little bit more technical and try to play with a track a bit more.

With a 250cc you just hang out and you can do that for 35 minutes but with a 450cc if you do that after the first 10 minutes you’re finished. You just need to find a rhythm and yeah, the step up has been good. With the age rule, of course, I could have made a lot more money racing MX2 and maybe 25 would be a good age to do it. But anyway, it’s something I cannot change and it’s just something I need to live with, and I got a good opportunity here with Team Shiptocycle Honda Motoblouz SR Honda. They have been really good and took a chance on me and for now it’s working out.

GateDrop: Just on your winter, obviously a new team, a new trainer in Yves Demaria and a new teammate in Valentin Guillod. Just what was your winter like working with those guys France – it seems to have been good?

Horgmo: Yeah, it’s been good like. We have been in south of France all the time so it’s nice to stay in my apartment just training around the area where I live all winter. I didn’t have to travel anywhere or go on a boot camp or whatever. We have it all at home, so it has been quite relaxing.  We have the practice track like 5 minutes away, so we can go there in the morning be done by 1PM then eat some lunch and go train in the afternoon so in that way it’s really good. Also with Valentin, yeah, he’s a fast guy and of course I want to beat him and every time I’m there. But it’s difficult he put’s the gas down and he’s such a talented rider. It’s really good being able to train with him and he is also a great person. We have a good trainer in Yves always talking about small things with the bike, he always thinks a lot and always has good feedback and input.

GateDrop With F&H Racing, you were based in the Netherlands/Belgium, you’re living in France now and I was speaking to your Mum the other week, she says you’re loving it and you don’t want to go back to Norway (laughs)…

Horgmo: It’s actually perfect for me. Everything is so close, in the Netherlands I was living quite far away so we had to travel and it’s spending a lot of time in the car. But of course, I’m really thankful to the F&H crew because without them I wouldn’t be where I am at now. I made some big steps together with Marc (de Reuver) and together with that team.

Yeah, without them I couldn’t have done what I’ve done so they have been also a good help for me. Even though maybe it’s a little bit far, we always went to good tracks and had good training, you know. So, we could perform at the races but it’s completely different now. It’s a different culture with different people and everything is different.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Image: Mediacross