Interview: Luke Smith on going blue

Luke Smith has secured a ride in the British paddock for the year ahead with the MSR Redline Yamaha team in which Smith will contest in the MX1 class. Considering that Smith came into this season on a Kawasaki 250cc before switching bikes twice he’s done really well to secure himself a ride in 2019.

Smith jumped on the 450cc towards the end of the season and looked much more comfortable with the bigger bike.

Now that he’ll have a full winter to prepare on the 450cc he’ll be hoping for even better in 2019.

We caught up with Smith to get his thoughts on the move and expectations for the year ahead.

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Gatedrop: Luke, the news has just dropped you’ll be with the MSR Redline Yamaha team for 2019. It must be nice to have secured a spot on a British team for the year ahead?

Luke Smith: Yeah, it’s great to have secured a spot in a team and have the vast majority of my plans in place already for next year. I was very close with the team throughout 2018 as well so getting to work with the same group of people for another year is a big positive.  I am really fortunate to be in such a good position.

Gatedrop: The team actually ran KTM material this year, do you know the reason why they’ve decided to switch to Yamaha? I’m guessing they’re getting good support from Yamaha!

Luke Smith: I think there’s a number of factors which came in to the decision to change brands, and in the end it sort of came down to a group decision between us all. From my perspective, the Yamaha seems like a really impressive all round bike straight out of the crate, and I have a lot of confidence in the guys involved with the team in terms of tuning and suspension etc. I am confident that I will have a really good bike underneath me come race time.

Gatedrop: This year you started the season on a 250cc Kawasaki, then switched to a 250cc KTM before making the switch to the MX1 class. How was it switching between the bikes? It’s not exactly ideal!

Luke Smith: This year has been very hard work that way to be honest. As you say, switching bikes is far from ideal. I came into the season so under prepared, not having rode much, then I switched bikes right before the first round. I then decided to switch to MX1 half way through. It was all a bit of a mess really, but I’m glad I made the switch to MX1 as I really enjoy riding the 450’s.

Gatedrop: On a positive, your best results came in the MX1 class so you must be happy with how you adapted to the bigger bike?

Luke Smith: Yeah, definitely. I had some better rides than others but overall I felt a lot better on the 450 and considering the position I was in a few months ago, to say I’ve scored points in every MX1 race I’ve done so far isn’t too bad I guess.

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Gatedrop: You must be looking forward to having a full pre-season on the 450cc – something you didn’t have this year?

Luke Smith: Exactly, that is probably the thing I am the happiest about going into this off season. I know exactly what my plans are for next year, what bike I’m riding, who I’m working with, everything. I know exactly what I’m working towards and I have the full off season to put the work in, build up some more strength for the bigger bike and be fully prepared for the start of the season so I am really pleased about that and grateful to be in this kind of position!

Gatedrop: You’ll be team mates with Josh Spinks, are you planning to ride as much as possible with him as that should help bring on your speed?

Luke Smith: Yeah, me and josh have became good friends over this past year, and Eythor as well for that matter. We all get on really well and enjoy working together so I’m sure we will be putting in some moto’s together over the winter and throughout the year and will keep pushing each other on.

Gatedrop: What are your goals for the 2019 season?

Luke Smith: I have a number of personal goals going into 2019. But really, I just want to focus on being the best I can be and improving every time I ride/race. I feel that with a full off season of preparation for the MX1 bike, I can be in and around a top 10 guy at British level and I would love to be considered for the Irish Motocross of Nations team next year. I genuinely feel like they are realistic goals for me with how I know I can ride, but we will see what happens. All I know is that I am in the best position I have ever been in going into 2019 and I will be putting 110% into my preparation to ensure that I am ready to go come march, then I guess we will see where we are and go from there.

Gatedrop: Being with a British team, I guess it’s unlikely you’ll be doing any Ulster or Irish Championships in 2019?

Luke Smith: I’m not really sure yet in terms of home races. I would like to do a few races at home throughout the year, maybe I will see if I can convince my team mates to come do a few with me for some fun but we will see what happens. I would say it’s unlikely I’ll be doing a full championship or anything like that but I will try to get some races in if possible.

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Gatedrop: Have you any plans for the off-season yet, will you go elsewhere in Europe? Also, have you any pre-season races planned?

Luke Smith: We haven’t got any plans set in stone as of yet. At the minute I’m taking some time off to rest, and save up some money. I plan to start riding again towards the end of December and hopefully get into Europe after that to do some training. We have discussed a few possible races we could do but haven’t decided on anything yet, but hopefully we will get to do a few pre-season races before the start of our season in March.

Gatedrop: The All-Ireland class at the Belfast Arenacross taking place in January sounds exciting. Is that something you’ll consider doing?

Luke Smith: I seen that on Facebook last week. I don’t really know much about that to be honest. I really enjoy doing Arenacross style tracks and races but at that time of the year I would say the focus will be on the start of the outdoor season. Never say never though, I guess we will just see where we are at once I begin riding again.

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