Interview: Max Anstie

It wasn’t an easy first season in America for Max Anstie after a decade in MXGP. The enthusiastic and technically accomplished Brit unfortunately suffered an Achilles injury that ruled him out of supercross without even crashing, leaving him still not at 100% for the delayed outdoor season.

Despite a couple of crashes and a couple of DNFs, and the fact his HEP Suzuki privateer team had never done outdoors before, Anstie had a decent year outdoors that included an impressive podium to finish ninth in the series – including leading some laps and nearly winning a moto until he hit a fallen backmarker!

We caught up with the popular and charismatic Englishman to discuss his season, his health after surgery on a randomly collapsed lung and his hopes for 2021.

Gatedrop: First of all Max, how are you feeling after the operation on your lung? Things don’t always seem to go smoothly for you – but you always seem to stay positive!

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Anstie: I’m feeling pretty good already, I have a follow up with the doctor in a couple of days and I think I’ll be back on the bike in a week. With the lung in a way I was quite lucky that it happened now in the off season and not during the season. At least now I can get it sorted out and not really miss anything.

Pic: HEP Suzuki

Gatedrop: It’s been a tough season for you overall with getting injured before supercross, but you showed some of your speed outdoors at times despite not racing for a year – how do you sum up the season? And was going from a private team that also hadn’t done outdoors before a bit of an adjustment from what you had been used to back in GPs especially with the one day format in the US?

Anstie: I honestly had a great time in the short Motocross season that we had over here. Ok, changing bikes and team is always a challenge and moving to the US also was a change but still when I’m sat behind the gate with a 30min +2 lap race ahead of me it feels the same in MXGP or AMA. The one day format was fine, everyone had to deal with a lot of change this year with the pandemic and everyone’s racing ended up being a one day format. It would have helped me to figure out the tracks a little bit if they would have run the press (media) days before the races like in years past but that’s about it. 

Gatedrop: Did you have to adjust the way you rode on GP tracks to how you rode AMA tracks, what is the biggest differences in the two series from your view? 

Anstie: Not really I feel like most of the MX tracks here are relatively similar. They all have good traction, big jumps and nice ruts. In MXGP there is much more variation in tracks, ground and conditions. 

Gatedrop: It seems that the GP tracks are more technical than the AMA Motocross tracks, they seem quite fast and you have to pin it. Do you enjoy those kind of tracks and do you miss the GP tracks? You’d have loved Lommel this year… 

Anstie: Yes of course 3 at Lommel could have been good for me but yeah I did really enjoy the tracks and racing over here. I didn’t really miss any of the tracks, It’s definitely cool to be racing in America, they make it look so good on the TV and I think most riders grew up watching “the great outdoors” so it was definitely awesome to be here.

Pic: Chase Lennemann

Gatedrop: On your achilles injury, how is that feeling now and did it hinder you during the motocross season?

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Anstie: It’s still constantly improving, I have to work on it all the time, It was definitely a shitty injury! Yeah, I couldn’t prepare anywhere near how I would have liked and I had to manage it throughout the season. But each week it got better and I knew it was going to be a challenge. 

Gatedrop: Regarding supercross, has it been hard to get back into that way of riding after so long away -and is it nice to change things up and not just ride motocross all year long like you have for the last ten or so years in GPs?

Anstie: Yeah, supercross is awesome! It wasn’t too difficult for me to switch back into it. I always had a SX track at my track in England so whenever I was back there riding I would always jump on the SX track for a few laps. I feel good with the bike because I had a motocross  season to get comfortable. I’m also not expecting it to be easy. I know these guys do supercross all the time and there will be things for me to learn but I’m really looking forward to it.

Pic: Chase Lennemann

Gatedrop: It looks like you are staying with HEP for 2021? Will the team get more support next season from Suzuki with JGR going away?

Anstie: There’s still a few things to iron out on the team’s side, but yeah it’s looking like we will be the main Suzuki 450 team. There are still a few more things to sort out but I want to stay with the team throughout next year, I have a good group of people I’m working with and I’m excited to line up for SX.

What are your expectations going into supercross?

I don’t know haha! I haven’t really thought about it from a results side. I’m just going to prepare as well as I can and then go racing! I’m expecting there to be a lot to learn, and I’m expecting the US riders to be really strong and fast at SX, but again I’m up for the challenge and I’m looking forward to it. 

Have you plans to come back to GP or the British scene in the future or is America your focus in the next couple of seasons?

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America is the focus for now!

Anstie leads the way. Pic: HEP Suzuki

After Glenn Coldenhoff got injured at Lommel is it true the Standing Construct GasGas team asked you to fill in for the end of the MXGP season. If so, what made you decide not to go? 

Yeah actually Tim at Standing Construct and also Antti at Ice One reached out to me, I have good relationships with all of my previous teams and the guys involved in them. I decided not to go back because I was still in contract with my current team through October and also I made a big move to come to the US for my career and I didn’t just want to get on a plane back to Europe when I had work to do for Supercross.

On our website alone we see a lot of support and interest in you from the British fans, they love it when you do well in the States!  Can you still feel that home support when you are living and racing in America?

Oh yeah for sure, it’s awesome and I really appreciate it! It’s great to see on social media and it will be nice when the whole world can get back to “normal” and people can fly out to watch SX! I’m actually working on being able to give the UK and European fans an exclusive package to come over and get a real “behind the scenes” look and VIP experience with me for Supercross when things get back to normal! 

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