Marshal Weltin (22) won’t be the only American lining up in the opening round of the MX2 World Championship this weekend in Neuquén, Argentina. In contrast to series’ veterans Thomas Covington and Darian Sanayei the Jumbo No Fear Vamo Honda rider is about to embark on his first complete season in the MX2 class. Weltin graduated from the EMX250 series sixth in points with one podium under his belt.
After spending some time in North Carolina and at home in Michigan Marshal headed over to Belgium to join Jumbo No Fear Vamo Honda team in December. It’s been a hectic period of (sand) riding and phycial grind. On his Instagram account Weltin himself summed up the off-season as “30 hours logged in the gym, 170 miles logged on the pavement running, 80 hours logged on the bike training in the sand”. And now it’s go time! Albeit solo because Marshal will be the only Jumbo No Fear Vamo Honda in Patagonia. Weltin’s Dutch team mate Micha Boy De Waal will start his GP campaign at home in Valkenswaard.
So do you feel ready for the season opener this weekend?
Marshal Weltin: “If you ask I think every rider is going to tell you he would like to have just a little bit more time! Riders never feel ready to go. You always feel that you would be just a little stronger if you still had time to do this or that. But overall I’m really pumped, I’m excited for what’s coming and looking forward to the first race in Argentina.”
What do you know about the track, because it’s new for you right?
Weltin: “Everything is new for me! It will be my first time in Argentina, I mean basically my first time in South-America in general. Of course I watched all the footage of previous GPs in Neuquén and it looks like an amazing and fun track. Very different from all the sand I’ve been eating lately! For sure it will take a bit of getting used to the conditions too because we’re coming from freezing cold in Europe to 96° F, that’s what 35° C?”
How did your preparation go?
Weltin: “Pretty good, physically the workload has been pretty intimidating and riding in the sand weren’t my happiest days! As far as the bike goes I had to re-transition to the Honda. We had to wait a bit before receiving the 250 bikes so I started off riding the CRF450R which has been a lot of fun, it’s just a really nice bike. I think we’ve got a nice package with the CRF250R as well. We used January and February to play around with the chassis and the engine to find what suits me best.”
Jumping into GPs is a pretty big step from EMX250, what’s your take on that challenge?
Weltin: “Yeah, of course the level of riding is higher and all the fastest guys are there. But, except for the overseas we’ll all race the same tracks the EMX250 guys do. So that won’t be different, more than anything the GP time schedule should fit me a lot better. I’ll be getting plenty of track time compared to EMX250. That definitely helps to get familiar with the track. As far as results go I don’t really know what to expect. I’m not saying ‘this’ is where I should finish. If I can ride to the best of my ability I’m happy. We’ll have to find out where I fit in this new class.”
Argentina is immediately one of the furthest destinations on the calendar. Some people are bummed out by the traveling.
Weltin: “Nah, I disagree! Patagonia is a really cool place to visit, nature is awesome here and I like to travel and discover new countries. Actually to think that you get to see all these places just because you happen to race a dirtbike is a bit surreal. I feel it’s a blessing to experience all that!”
Great stuff, good luck for the weekend and enjoy!
Interview: Tom Jacobs
Pics: Niek photography