Interview: Livia Lancelot on WSX, MXGP, WMX and her future

Since stepping away from racing herself, Livia Lancelot has ran the 114 Motorsports Honda team in the MXGP paddock for the past five years mainly focusing on the MX2 World Championship. Lancelot did a good job and got many GP podiums but has recently announced she’ll be stepping away from her GP team.

Instead, Lancelot has decided to run a WSX team which is something completely different but something she still enjoys and hopes to get good results in.

We spoke with Lancelot to discuss the team, the current state of MXGP and more.

GateDrop: Livia, we are here at WSX, just what is it like being part of this paddock? It is completely different to what you are used to in MXGP!

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Lancelot: For sure it is different. The change to Supercross, I know a little bit about it as we have the biggest Supercross in Europe in Paris and I am from Paris. I have seen Supercross many times and myself I had the chance to race the X-Games and the SX in Paris. I have a little experience in Supercross which give me this opportunity with the same crew we had in Motocross but to run WSX here. Like you say, it’s not just a bit different, it’s a lot different but at the end it’s the same sport and we have the same passion. Now it is just about trying to learn everything with the new organisation, new people around and new riders. I am definitely happy to be here.

GateDrop: Just on Supercross and the best SX riders, they have always raced in America. This is the first step of SX going global and I think that is really positive for the sport…

Lancelot: For sure, the best Supercross riders of the world ride in America but still it’s only America. Even if they have the best riders because the International riders go and race there it’s still not for the fans. Now this is the opportunity for everyone in the world to follow a proper real Supercross championship. It’s important, they all said in the press conference, and I totally agree with them, if you want to see a real Supercross race, you have to fly to America. This is not easy.

As a French person for example you can fly to Cardiff quite easy next year and maybe one in France and this is different. To have the chance to see these guys race live was not possible before this WSX series.

GateDrop: You mentioned Paris Supercross, I actually went there last year and last year it wasn’t proper Supercross but the track here in Cardiff is much closer to an AMA SX style track so I think that is positive to showcase SX outside America…

Lancelot: For sure Paris is let’s say the closest to America but it is still a French championship plus International riders but because it’s still a French championship they can’t go like an AMA Supercross style track. It’s not as big as it is today but this is also why they created WSX championship to be a real championship and real supercross championship. The track didn’t disappoint, it is great and it is proper Supercross. I think they worked really hard in a good way and so far everything is very positive.

Image: WSX

GateDrop: Just on your MXGP season, you had always focused on MX2 before this year but you started with Ruben in MXGP this year and Hakon Fredriksen in MX2 before he moved up to MXGP and you were then a full on MXGP team. How would you reflect on your season? Ruben has a lot of potential…

Lancelot: I mean the team was created to find new young riders to be able to give them to HRC later. That is why I was there, that is why Giacomo (Gariboldi) asked me if I was motivated to create the team and do everything with him. This is what we have done the last five years. With Ruben it was a little bit different because both HRC riders were under contract – Tim and Mitch. So this meant Ruben didn’t have a place to ride with HRC this year but of course Honda wanted to keep Ruben in the family after a great season he did in MX2 in 2021. We had to find a solution, we were happy with Ruben and he had a good relationship with the team so this is why we went MXGP with Ruben. At the beginning it wasn’t my goal to run 450cc riders, I wanted to try and give experience to young riders and bring them to a factory team.

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We came in the middle to give Ruben a factory bike, a bike he deserved, and he proved it this year. This is why we started with MXGP.

Fredriksen is a big guy and was struggling with starts on the 250cc. It was not easy with him in MX2, and we struggled to help him – we didn’t find a solution with the 250cc, so he proposed to ride a 450cc in MXGP. This was actually the best solution for everyone because what we wanted was the rider to be happy, to feel good on the bike and feel good with the team. Since we didn’t find any solutions to make him feel good on the 250cc with his weight and the way he rides, he needs a lot of power, so this is why both ended up in MXGP. Unfortunately, he ended up injured in the first race on the 450cc with a pretty big crash so that was really unlucky. He took time, had good preparation and was ready for this class but was just unlucky.

GateDrop: Just on WMX, Martine Hughes had an unbelievable WMX debut getting on the box, you were thinking she could be a future champ but she didn’t end the season amazing perhaps due to expectations… TJ O’Hare was very consistent between 7-12 pretty much every race…

Lancelot: For sure, I mean for the girls everything is difficult. Martine arrived without any expectation, I mean I could see that she was fast and I could see that she could battle up front. Not up front with Courtney and Nancy for sure but up front with girls just behind these groups and then you never know, with two good moto’s you can end up on the podium. I knew that this would be possible but the first round was crazy. You know, she is young and after that I think she started to think too much about it. She started to think if she can podium then she could maybe win and that’s how everything starts in a young head. Everything got harder and harder after that, she crashed a lot in Portugal and lost confidence. It is difficult to come back from this when you were young so now she just needs a good winter starting from zero again. I think she can be a really good contender for the next seasons.

TJ is great, she is a great rider and has a great style. She can be really fast in practice but unfortunately apart from a few times we struggled to get her super comfortable on race day. She had so much pressure and WMX costs a lot of money, all this is difficult for a rider. When you know everyone is sacrificing a lot of things then you have even more pressure than normal. You know if you don’t do good then there won’t be another season because the sponsor won’t pay and all these kind of things. It is a different pressure and it was difficult for TJ to forget this and just focus on riding. This is a shame because I am sure she could do a top five overall and maybe even a podium on a good day like Martine did. She would have deserved it but now I keep in contact with them, I hope we can find a solution for them in the future. We will see.

GateDrop: Just on the sad news, I think you’ve done a great job running the 114 Motorsports Honda team but all good things come to an end. What was the decision behind that – a range of reasons or what was the decision behind not having a GP team next year?

Lancelot: There is a lot of different things that came at the same time. You know the season costs more and more every year. The price of a lot of things have increased, the support from the sponsors doesn’t get any better because for them is the same story. Increasing prices so they can’t sponsor anymore than what they do. At the moment, Honda doesn’t want to give factory support to any team in MX2. This is difficult because our goal is to be an MX2 team but without factory bike you can’t battle up front. I didn’t want to keep going to fight for eighth or fifteenth or these kind of places. Okay, we got lucky with a few riders doing a great job but we need more support to be more often in the top five. Since I understood that this was not going to happen for next season, I started to look around a little bit to see what I could do in the future. I did five years like this and it is a lot of work to get everything together. For next year I didn’t have any rider that could do something like Ruben. As you know, twenty races a season is long, for the riders but especially for the staff and I was definitely not ready to do a season to battle for the top fifteen. This wouldn’t be possible.

So, then SX Global came up and Supercross is something different also. You are in big towns, travelling is easier, hotels close, no rental cars, taxi to the hotel then you walk to the stadium, no mud… There are a lot of good things as well that made the choice.

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GateDrop: I think I read you are only going to be involved this year so in terms of next year and the future… you raced WMX for so many years then ran the team… What are you going to do without Motocross in your life or do you still think you’ll be in the paddock?

Lancelot: I didn’t say I wouldn’t be there next year. I want to keep working, I am doing the logistics with the team for years now so working in the background is the goal. This is definitely an option. What I said already and to the team and Giacomo, I am 34 years old now, I want to build a family and travel a little bit less to stay at home. This life is crazy. You can do this for a few years but not all your life. Motocross was also too many races, you can’t be a team manager and only show up at five from twenty. This was not possible but with Supercross it is a little bit different because there’s a great staff behind and Giacomo is part of this story. Next year the plan for WSX is ten rounds which is already half of the MXGP calendar, so this makes it easier for me. I had a life of a rider for a lot of years, then team manager so it’s time now to build something else.

GateDrop: As you were a WMX rider for so many years, if there is an opportunity to help Martine or TJ with a bike or anything like that, would you be open to that? It’s tough for those girls because there’s not too much factory backing…  

Lancelot: Yeah, WMX is really difficult for the girls. The budgets are crazy, and the sponsors are not really into it. The industry isn’t really into it but it is working for a few girls. For Courtney (Duncan) and it is working for Lotte (Van Drunen) now which I am really happy about this. It was working for me and it was working for Kiara (Fontanesi) but not for all of them. It makes life for those young girls really difficult. I am definitely happy to work with WMX and help them. I will try my best but like I said to them, the main problem is with the budget. If they find budget, I am happy to help but I can’t run everywhere to find budget for them, this is not my job anymore. I did it for myself already for so long but yeah, I am still looking at WMX and trying to build something. This would be something great, I am still talking with a few of the girls and trying to work on a project. Maybe not in 2023 but in 2024, this is in my head along with the other projects but for sure if I can help with WMX then I will.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Images: WSX