Interview: Liam Owens discusses his European trip and racing EMX250

The last two rounds of the EMX250 championship Aussie import, Liam Owens had a big opportunity after getting a phone call from BUD Racing to race in Spain and Portugal. Despite being 15 years old, Owens showed some good pace and especially in Spain finishing sixteenth in the first moto.

We caught up with Owens to discuss his European trip and plans for the future – he is super keen to return in future to contest a full championship.

GateDrop: Liam, your deal before the Portugal round of the EMX250 series seemed very last minute, firstly, can you tell us how the deal all come around?

Owens: It was Sunday morning in Australia, Dad and I were down the paddock mustering the cows when we got a message from Stephane asking us if we’re interested in coming to Europe to race Spain and Portugal in the EMX250 class. 30 hours later we were on a plane heading to Europe.

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GateDrop: Before Spain, did you get many days to ride the BUD Kawasaki before you went racing? I believe you’d never rode a Kawasaki before either so how did you adapt to the bike?

Owens: I got to ride the Kawasaki on the Wednesday and Thursday morning prior to the Portugal GP. They had quite a bit of rain in France prior to us arriving so I had to ride in the mud and then on the Thursday we could only test in the sand track. I’d never ridden a Japanese bike in my life at that point. The Bud Racing team were awesome and tried to make me as comfortable as possible in those two sessions. After Portugal I got to do a days riding on a dry hard pack track in France with the Bud team which was really helpful and I felt a lot more comfortable coming into the Spain round.

GateDrop: Agueda is a nice track, it’s usually pretty fast and pin it to win it but it looked to get very slick this year. How did you find the track?

Owens:  The track was super fun, we don’t have any tracks like this in Australia. Our tracks are not as wide open and fast at home so it took a bit of getting used to the higher speeds and corners with little to no ruts.

GateDrop: The track in Spain is also fast but there were ruts and bumps everywhere, it looked very technical. Did you enjoy the track, you did very well in the first moto scoring your first points…

Owens: I loved the track on Saturday when it got rough, deeply rutted and technical as this suits my style of riding. On Sunday the track was fully prepped and super muddy so I struggled a little bit in race 2 after a poor start and a crash on the first lap putting me in dead last so I had to work hard to get back to P22.

Image: Mediacross

GateDrop: Just on the EMX250 series, did you follow it before signing with BUD to do a couple of rounds, did you have an idea of the riders you’d be racing?

Owens: Yes, I follow all the MXGP racing very closely and watch every round. When I was little I used to watch old DVD’s of the MXGP’s when Ken de Dycker was on Teka Suzuki and ever since then, it’s been my dream to race GP’s full time. Dad and I came over last year and I raced 2 EMX125 rounds on a stock Husqvarna that we took straight from the shop to Ernee in a Renault box van that we hired, we had no spare parts or even a pressure washer but it was such a cool experience and we got to see how fast and deep the motocross talent is in Europe on that trip.

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GateDrop: Having raced two rounds of the EMX250 series, how would you describe the level of a class?

Owens: The level of the class is extremely high, I really noticed that the qualifying and race intensity is next level in EMX250, the field is really deep. The top guys are super fast but so are the guys all the way to P30. We have some awesome riders in Australia too at the moment but our fields are not quite as deep as Europe and our races are shorter especially for me being only 15 and a junior still.

GateDrop: How was it being part of the BUD Kawasaki set up? A French based team but they speak pretty good English…

Owens: The whole Bud Team were awesome and they made me feel super welcome. They really looked after me and did everything they could to help me improve and get comfortable. The language barrier was not too bad at all as most the team speak good English, probably better than mine in some cases (laughs).

Image: KRT

GateDrop: You are just 15 years old so obviously very young. In terms of the future and in 2024, where would you like to see yourself?

Owens: I am super keen to be racing EMX 250 in Europe for a full season next year. It is my dream to race MXGP. We don’t have anything lined up for next year as yet but Mum and Dad are doing everything possible to get me over. I have been fortunate to have Todd Waters mentor me in Australia for these last few years and we sat down with Todd 2 years ago and put a plan together to work towards racing in Europe one day and I feel like we are on the right path to achieve it. My coach MX Ben Schodel in Australia is also helping me prepare with my riding and Coach Rob Beam’s is guiding me with my fitness training.

GateDrop: I believe you are back in Australia now, but is there any chance we could see you racing anymore rounds of the EMX250 series this year?

Owens: I would certainly jump at the chance to race more EMX250 races this year if more opportunities happened to arise so fingers crossed.

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GateDrop: In terms of the GP’s and they way they’re ran – a two day format with youth racing (EMX125 & EMX250) ran alongside the World Championship classes, how did you find that? I think it’s great for young riders…

Owens: It was so good to be part of the whole MXGP experience. Racing in front of the Spanish crowd was amazing and I have got to see Jeffrey Herlings race live which was amazing. It was great to catch up with Mitch Evans and chat to Courtney Duncan as well when we’re over there. The professionalism and preparation that goes into each race of a top tier GP rider was great to see! One thing I learnt was everyone is unbelievable at starting and as you could probably see from my starts I need to most definitely work on that part of my game (laughs). It’s also great to ride the same track that has been ridden by the some of the worlds best riders on the same day and get to experience how the tracks form up during the weekend.

GateDrop: You got to see a couple of different counties – Spain, Portugal and I assume France as well. Was it nice to see those countries and would you like to see some more of the World if you get given the opportunity?

Owens: Hossegor in France is a beautiful town and the Bud facility is really cool. We were lucky enough to drive to both races from France with the Bud team so we got to see heaps of the Portuguese and Spanish country side. It’s so different to Australia, I love to meet new people and experience the different people and cultures. I can’t wait to see more of Europe in the future.

GateDrop: As of right now, what’s your plans for the rest of the season? I assume to focus on racing in Australia…

Owens: When I get home I will being racing some more of the Australian PROMX series in the MX3 class (unfortunately I missed a round when I came to Europe so its put out me out of contention for the championship but it was worth it to get the awesome experience racing EMX in Europe) and I’d like to get some podiums in the remaining races . We also have the Australian Junior motocross championships later in the year. I am also planning to race in the Australian supercross series in the SX3 class so it’s going to be a busy year. Saying all that if I happened to get a call asking if I’d like to race more EMX250 races this year all of this could change.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Images: Mediacross