Interview: Klaas Hattem discusses Gebben Van Venrooy Racing and fly away GP’s

The Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing team have recently announced that they won’t be racing the third round of MXGP which is heading to Argentina.

We decided to catch up with team manager, Klaas Hattem to discuss why the team won’t go and if he feels private teams should get more support to race the rounds outside Europe.

GateDrop: Klaas, we are already two rounds of the MXGP series in – Vlaanderen has showed good pace but maybe hasn’t had the results to back that up so far and Jasikonis made big progress in just one week but again didn’t have the results in round two to reflect his speed. How would you reflect on the first two rounds for the team?

Hattem: For sure every team or rider in MXGP expects maximum results but you have to be also realistic. Calvin had surgery in the winter and the break between 2021 and 2022 season was short, so the recovery time also limited. He need a bit more time to return on the level he belongs. Arminas still needs time after his head injury. People easy forget how big it was and the way to come back is also long and not easy. But we have the confidence that both riders will show the potential they have soon.

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GateDrop: I believe coming into the 2022 season the team have made some changes and now have a workshop near Lommel – how has all that been doing?

Hattem: The workshop is in Mol and we are happy to work from there. All facilities are there to improve during the season. We save a lot of time for traveling to the tracks that means the mechanics can focus more on the bikes. The workshop is close to the riders, so for everybody a better situation.

GateDrop: The team have confirmed they won’t be making the long trip to Argentina for round three of MXGP. What’s the decision behind that? I’m guessing it’s down to finances and how expensive it is for the team to get there?

Hattem: To make that decision was not easy. Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha is a private team, not factory. so we need to find every year the budget and lucky our sponsors are loyal to us. I can tell you and you can be sure that we will always do 100% our best to race.  But you need to know that all decisions you make during the season must also be responsible. When decisions get irresponsible it is better to say no than after having to say sorry.

GateDrop: Out of interest, approximately how much would it cost the team to get to Argentina?

Hattem: I can‘t tell you this because we are not going so I don‘t know the costs.

GateDrop: I think overall, Infront do a good job running MXGP but when it comes to fly away races, do you think they could support the teams more and if so what ways would you like the support?

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Hattem: As everybody knows the situation in the world was the last 2 years until now not completely normal. Difficult for organizations but also for (private) teams. I understand that when you speak about the World Championship, it is nice to have races in other continents. But in my opinion when only the Factory Teams can go to all the races, it’s not good for the sport, the sport needs private teams. Maybe it’s an idea to create a limit of kilos for all teams. So that factory teams can help a bit there supported teams and Infront support the teams with discount on tickets and freight. At the end, the gate is full and secure better races. That’s what the sport needs.

GateDrop: Maybe asking Infront to pay the expenses off all the team would be a bit much but surely they should pay some of the travel expenses for the teams?

Hattem: It’s the responsibility of Factories and organizations to give the spectators a good show. So you can fill in what I mean…

GateDrop: In general what’s your thoughts on fly away GP’s, I do think they’re needed to make it a global World Championship but to make it work we need the majority of the teams there which we won’t get at Argentina with you guys and Beta not going…

Hattem: I think my answers of the previous question tells you all.

Interview: Andy McKinstry