Interview: Maxime Renaux discusses his MX2 World title and moving to MXGP

What a year it’s been for Maxime Renaux. Coming into the season he was an underdog in the MX2 World Championship and not too many would have thought he’d be able win the title but he improved a lot with the full factory Yamaha team behind him.

The French talent excelled in all conditions and dominated the MX2 World Championship. Despite having at least one more year in MX2, Renaux has decided to make the move up to the MXGP class with the factory team behind him after signing a two year deal.

We caught up with Renaux to discuss his season, goals for MXGP, his future and more.

GateDrop: Maxime, an unreal season for you. Just to go back to the start of the season you signed a deal to become a full factory rider. What were the goals coming into the season?

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Renaux: For sure this season we had some good expectations and winning the title was the goal. We worked as hard as possible over the winter to be ready and it was my part of my goals we went for it. After finishing third last year we just wanted to improve.

GateDrop: Even though that was the goal, I am sure you knew it wasn’t going to be easy with the likes of Vialle and Geerts as well as some young fast kids, you knew you’d have to really work for it?

Renaux: For sure, there’s a lot of fast riders on the 250cc and MX2 so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy peasy. I just worked really hard to put everything together because it needed to be and in the end we made it, I am really really happy with the work we did.

GateDrop: It was your first full year being a factory rider in MX2 this year – just how much of a step up was that from the SM-Action team who obviously did a good job as well?

Renaux: I think SM-Action are one of the best non factory teams. I was really happy with them and they really helped bring me to the place to be ready to step up to the factory team. It was a nice experience with them but stepping up to the factory team, you have a lot of experienced people around you and they can really guide you and maybe give you a little bit more advice. It was really nice to step up and I think we made some improvements everywhere.

GateDrop: You were apart of the Kemea Yamaha team when you raced the EMX125 series, how different is team from back then to now?

Renaux: It changed a little bit and my mechanics but all the rest like engines, the boss and the manger stayed the same so it didn’t change that much even the workshop. I think they just gained in experienced, everyone had more experience and everything was more professional. I have to say I was also more professional so it was a great team I think.

GateDrop: You seemed ready to win the world championship this year from the very start. Anytime something bad happen such as with Kay de Wolf and when Tom Vialle crashed into you, did you ever get stressed? From the outside it looked like you stayed calm all year and do you feel you’ve improved mentally?

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Renaux: Actually yeah, I was pretty calm all year long, I would say the little bit of stress I had was after Russia because it was a really tough GP for me. I really wanted to bounce back and to do a good race in GB and that’s what we did. I was really happy with that as it was a great way to get back into the season and the championship so it was nice. The rest of the season I could manage the pressure, I work well with pressure, the more there is the better I am going to be. With the huge points lead at the end, it was easier to manage but also not the easiest, I would have maybe preferred a little bit more pressure to keep the focus. When you have that much of a points gap, you know mistakes are allowed but also that you can’t relax too much so it’s hard to manage but I did it pretty good.

Pic: Damon D’Hanis

GateDrop: Towards the end of the season it would have been easy for you to just settle for 3-5 results but was it at the back of your mind you wanted to beat Tom as much as you could to win the title in style?

Renaux: That was the goal. I didn’t want to be a world champion that was only world champion because of an injury. I have to be honest, I was also managing because in some races I could have pushed for the win but I didn’t because maybe I didn’t feel the greatest on the track or I had a bad start and didn’t want to rush too much. I tried to be as competitive as I could and win as much as possible because I wanted to be a real world champion and I think that everyone can see that I was this year.

GateDrop: The big news is that you’ll race MXGP next year. A lot of guys maybe would stay in MX2 in your shoes but ultimately why did you decide to move up to MXGP?

Renaux: For sure, I would say that the easiest way and the more secure way would be stay in MX2 because I know I can win and fight for the title, it was the easy way, let’s say. My real objective is become a World champion in MXGP so I need to make that step and I need to already start to get into the class and see what I can do to prepare for the future. My long term goal is definitely to be world champion in MXGP. For me this was the best choice to step up with a world title, with confidence and a great team waiting for me. Everything was set together to really make a good and smart move. This is what we did signing for two years and I don’t have any pressure, I can just have two years to enjoy and build, that’s what we’ll try to do in those two years in order to try and get to the front.

GateDrop: I know you had a clause in your contract to go to MXGP this year if you won the title, did Yamaha try to convince you into staying in MX2 or where they happy with your decision?

Renaux: Yamaha was following me no matter what choice I made. It was on me to decide myself so they were really open.  They want to build champions and they want to build me and to keep going with me to win hopefully another title. I’ve already won MX2 and now I hope that MXGP is coming in the future so we need to know and understand the situation which is the best for me. In the end after making all the positive and negatives points on paper, we decided to make the move to MXGP.

Pic: Yamaha

GateDrop: The season starts in February next year, not ideal for a rookie that needs to adapt to the bigger bike! What’s your plans for after Paris SX and the off season?

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Renaux: I am going to test from the second week in December to almost Christmas and the goal then will just be to get used to the bike and feel good on it.  In January I will start again after the Christmas period on the way that I will focus on my riding.

GateDrop: Just on MXGP, are you looking forward to racing with the best riders in the world? Also, just on MX2, there seems to be a lot of negatively on that class especially from the American perhaps due to the age rule, but we think this year it was really really good as it usually is!

Renaux: I think sometimes people just look to the opinion of others, just like this year here at Paris SX. They made a track without whoops and everyone says it’s a sh*t supercross, it’s going to be so easy blah blah. But go with your feet on the track and you’ll see that there’s some sections that are pretty hard. It’s the same, people think that all the best riders in the world are on the 450cc in MXGP and it’s true there are a lot of really good riders there. But also in MX2 we have a really good level and you can see by the lap times. If you analyze you can see that most of the times we were the same speed as the top five. I think we have good good speed but I am really looking forward to going to MXGP to battle with those guys. I know there are some big big names but I am not afraid to fight with them so I will just go there and see. I have no objectives, I will just go there and fight as hard as I can and we will see.

GateDrop: Boisrame and Fernandez did some MXGP races at the end of the year, they had some good results so that must give you good confidence as you beat them all year?

Renaux: You can see with those guys, they had some good speed and results. There is no reason that I can’t at the front of MXGP, we are going to work hard for this.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Main pic: Yamaha Racing