Interview: Max Spies – racing MXGP at 19 and impressing at Lommel

The 2023 season has been all change for Max Spies making the move up from the EMX250 series to race the MXGP World Championship. It’s not the usual route into MXGP but when you see Spies’ build then it makes sense. The young German is only 19 years old but is already starting to mix it with some MXGP regulars as he starts to really improve.

Loket and Lommel have been great for Spies and now he knows he has what it takes to run in the top ten with the best riders in the world which should be a big confidence boost.

We caught up with Spies after Lommel to discuss his season so far and more.  You can listen or read below:

This article continues below

GateDrop: Max, Loket was already good for you but I think Lommel was an even bigger step up this weekend. I don’t think your results actually reflected your speed. You must be really happy with the way you rode here at Lommel?

Spies: For sure, it was an amazing weekend. Last weekend (at Loket) was already good being able to ride inside the top ten to finish eleventh overall. In sand I am usually a little bit better as we saw here in Lommel. I was riding in the top ten for a long time, I could finish top ten in the qualifying race but today I was a little bit unlucky. I was riding in eighth until the mid way of the first moto, I was trying to push forward to seventh and sixth – it was possible with the speed. But I made a small mistake with the front wheel and I went down over the bars, This was frustrating, I lost a lot of time but I got back on the bike and did quite a good job – I was twelfth but was able to find the flow to push forward again. I was able to move into eleventh to pass Fernandez. I then saw Jeremy (Van Horebeek) in front of me, the top ten was there but the last lap I made a small mistake and Ruben passed me again but twelfth was good.

In the second moto I didn’t get a good start and the first lap was just chaos, everyone was going from left to right and you don’t see the ruts anymore when you have so many riders in front of you. I was fighting quite good in fourteenth position already and tried to push into the top twelve but then I had a huge mistake over the waves. I almost got kicked off my bike but there I damaged my radiator cap – it opened up so I needed to close it again because water was dropping on my leg. It cost me a lot of time but I was riding smooth after finding flow again seeing if the bike would finish the race. The last laps I was able to get to fifteenth again passing Mitch (Evans). I mean it was okay, it is my first season in MXGP and no one is really expecting that from me but now I can say that I am a top ten rider. In the first moto I was almost able to get into sixth position so that’s a sign to all the others out there. For a 19 year old, I think it is quite good and we will see what we can do in the future.

GateDrop: In the qualifying race to be able to pass the MXGP World Champion and pull away, that must have felt amazing. Did that give you more confidence for race day because like you say, sixth was definitely possible…

Spies:  Yeah, in the first moto I had more energy but after that crash I lost the flow a little bit but I tried my best. I showed all the guys what I can do so all in all, it was a good weekend. We will see what we can do in the next races.

GateDrop:  How did you find the track? I think you’ll sleep well tonight because it was so so rough out there and not too much track prep overnight as well as some rain on race day – it made it even rougher I think…

Spies:  I mean at the beginning of the weekend I was thinking, okay, it’s quite strange the track. But as the waves came inside I was getting a good flow and I think it was a good mix of fast and slow corners. It was an interesting track and I think typical Lommel… but I need to drive home seven hours now (laughs). That is the aftermath but we will see what we can do next week in Finland.

Image: Nigel McKinstry

GateDrop: Being 19 and not doing too much in the MX2 World Championship because of your height and build, what is it like racing the MXGP World Championship? I think the 450cc clearly suits you better but obviously the level is very high…

This article continues below

Spies: Yeah, this year the level is very high in MXGP. It’s sad that I cannot ride MX2 anymore because I am too heavy for the bike and too tall. I think if I had good weight for the 250cc I could also do like top five there in MX2. But now on the 450cc, the bike suits me way more and it’s like what many people thought, on the 450cc that is my time.

GateDrop: Obviously being 19 and one of the youngest in the class, I guess this year there’s zero expectations and it’s just about learning, learning and learning. Then you should get better with more time on the bike and another winter behind you for next year…

Spies: I think so. This year is nice, nobody puts pressure on me, I just put pressure on myself. I just want to go from race to race and learn. If I get no points, like in Arco I had a very bad weekend but I was able to learn from that and try to get better in the next race. This is what happened so we will see what I can do next year. It is interesting and for sure I can do better next year with more time on the bike. We will see what the future brings, it can be interesting.

GateDrop: Just on Germany Motocross and the sport there, they’ve been missing a big name in MXGP since Max Nagl retired from the World Championship. They will be hoping you can be the next top rider in the class and also with Simon Längenfelder flying in MX2, Nagl racing National races and not forgetting Henry Jacobi, the future looks bright as well as the MXoN team in the future!

Spies: Yeah, I mean we will see. I think for sure I can be the top German rider in the upcoming years. For the MXoN this year, I don’t know who is riding it, I will be very happy to do it but we will see. It’s just the first season for me in MXGP so next year will be more important. I will try to follow my dreams to become world champion one day. Maybe a German could be a world champion again, that is the goal at the end. We will see how far we can get up there.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Images: Nigel McKinstry