Interview: Marc De Reuver

Marc De Reuver is back in MXGP this season in a new role working with Pauls Jonass.

It is fair to say the Dutchman has had a good impact so far with Jonass winning four of the six motos so far in MX2. De Reuver of course was a rider with blistering speed and he was a legitimate world title contender himself for factory KTM in MX2 in his day. It means he has the experience to guide Jonass on what to do and what not to do as he embarks on his MX2 world title bid this season.

We caught up with one of the big characters of the MXGP paddock to discuss his role with Jonass and get his thoughts on his own career. In an open and honest interview we discover that Marc is happier than ever but gives some frank admissions about tough times during his own career.

1. You are back in the MXGP paddock working with Pauls Jonass, how are you enjoying the role?

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I like it a lot actually, more then I expected if I am honest. You know to see other riders race normally hurts a lot. But I feel nothing when I see others ride so that is a good thing I think. It means it’s really over.

2. Has your own racing experience been able to help in coaching Pauls…both the good and the bad?

Well. I sit on the back of Pauls his bike when he rides. I feel every move. Every bump. Every mistake he makes. Why he makes the mistake. Why he does something good and also why he choose certain lines at the track.

3. Pauls has been very mature this season so far, has won four of the six motos in dominating fashion and seems to make less mistakes even under big pressure, what have you been teaching him?!

You know. In the end it’s Pauls who rides. He wins. Not me. I am just the tool he needed to win. It has been always in him to be this fast it’s just now it comes out the way we work together. Like Argentina 2nd moto Jorge Prado was very fast in the beginning. Then it’s my task to keep him relaxed with the mechanics pit-board and signs with my hands. I knew he was better in the end but when you can’t stay cool (like I had many times) you can blow yourself up. Pauls also trust me blindly. That is very important but also very difficult for me. If I tell him to ride backwards he does it you know, so what I say has to be right. But I am very confident with myself on the track so that also translates to him. I always tell him, ‘when we enter the track I am always right!’ hahaha… almost always then!

4. You were one of the best sand riders in the sport, are you able to bring those techniques to top level riders Pauls?

I remember when we practised together in Lommel last year when it was summer. I was like; ‘how can he be so fast in the sand?’ He needed a lot of work. Still we work a lot in the sand. Riding sand is not very difficult to understand for me. I always see lines very quick if not quicker then anybody else. When I come to a corner with big bumps and ruts I just see my own lines I don’t see the others. I am always looking for the lines that make sense to me. But the difficult thing about this, this needs to be natural. I always have to tell Pauls the system I have before entering the track but he learns very quick and sees it also now. He sees the sand track like I see it. But I won less GP’s on sand then I did on hard pack. People always think of sand tracks when they see me.

5. Pauls is very talented and with Herlings moving up his talent is really shining through this season. How highly do you rate him now that you are working with him every day, and what are his biggest strengths?

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Pauls is mentally very strong when it counts. But you know the whole surrounding is important for a rider. Indonesia was very hectic for example. Not a good situation. Pauls was leading first moto and then I didn’t have a good feeling about it when I saw that mud hole riders getting stuck. Pauls had to make a choice on a sudden moment in the race when there were like 6 riders stuck there and he made the wrong one. I screamed so loud when I saw him stuck there on the tv screen in the pit lane. I knew that was it and hoped he could regroup for the 2nd moto but it went even worse.

That 2nd moto was not really fair with riders cutting the track everywhere, but I also have to admit they had no other place to go then outside the track. The track itself was not rideable anymore. Then it’s my job and people very close to him to get the situation under control for Pauls. We have to take as much as shit possible. Pauls need to be fresh every GP.

KTM is doing very well by the way to achieve that. Valentina Ragni is taking a lot of work on her to plate to relieve the riders. Also Dirk the team manager is doing a good job. We have Gatis, Ryan, Pauls’ family, Willy Linden Pauls’ trainer and manager Kristers Sergis that all help to these results.

Jonass won his first ever GP in Qatar! Pic: KTM

6. You had exceptional speed at times in your career and challenged for a world title, but would you do anything different if you had to do it again to get that elusive world title?

Man. I don’t want to sound cocky but I had to be world champ minimum twice. But maybes, if’s or what could haves don’t count. All I wanna say about this is that there have been a lot of contributing factors. My own mistakes to begin with, some bad luck, but also I trusted people who I never should have trusted. But this is a life lesson and I am 34 right now. I had to quit too young I think. Due to injury and due to a change in the way motocross industry works nowadays.

But hey, I had a lot of fun spending money and think I was the king those days. But in reality I have had very lonely times in my life. With a lot of money you can buy everything you want but it doesn’t mean it makes you happy. Now I am a lot happier then I was back in the day. The only thing I miss is winning. But I found that now in helping Pauls and other riders. They are my adrenaline I missed after quitting.

7. What is your opinion on the current MXGP, MX2 & EMX format and the level of the MX2 World Championship? 

Well. Youthstream did something amazing for the sport you have to admit that. People who don’t know anything about motocross before now they see it on TV a lot. Only thing I would change is age limit on the 250EMX. Like 21. MX2 open age. Not everybody can ride a 450 (MXGP Class) bike you know. I think it messed up careers for riders like Butron. The last thing I would change only allow one extra class per weekend. To safe the track a bit. One GP the EMX125 kids and week after the EMX250 class. Skip the EMX300 and let them ride with the 85EMX or something else. But overall you can be sure MXGP went to a next level.

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8. The calendar has already been to Qatar, Indonesia and Argentina before heading to Mexico. Are you a fan of the calendar and the over-sea GP’s?

Yes I am. When I raced it, it was more an European championship really. We had one or two over-sea GP’s. I think it’s nice to go around the world but it’s very expensive for the teams that’s the other side of the coin. But for a rider it’s really nice I think.

9. You are still involved in the sport, have settled down in life and have a nice girlfriend are you happy with life at the moment?

You bet. I am in my happiest phase of my life at the moment I can say. You know I had like 15 years immense pressure of always achieving things. I always put the bar too high for myself. I always rode to show other what I could do with a bike. Dutch people don’t want to see you win. They like to see you fuck up. I know this sounds strange from my mouth but it’s true. When I was injured and I made a come back half of the crowd come to see if you ride shit again.

That’s why I love British and Italian people so much. They still give me respect. I like that. I don’t ask them to do that but they do it. I am very happy with my girlfriend on the moment she is really the love of my life. She brings out the best of me. I am working hard on the moment. I made a mess of my life but it’s also where I am making my money from nowadays. I have a lot to tell to the kids what is not the way hahaha… I always made comebacks when people thought it was over! I had some days that nobody in the world could match me. But also days a snail could pass me hahaha… I should write a book and people would have maybe some different thoughts about me. But I have a few people I can always rely on. They know who they are. For now I just want to get Pauls what I never achieved: the world title!!!