Interview: Mel Pocock!
Not many riders in this sport can say they are as tough as Mel Pocock. Two years ago, Mel was going through the toughest time of his career as he lost his thumb and didn’t know if he was going to be able to ride at a professional level again. Fast forward to 2017 and looking at him riding now and you wouldn’t think he was riding without a thumb!
Through hard work, grit and determination Mel Pocock is back riding at a high level in the Maxxis British Championship. He currently sits fifth in the MX2 British Championship and is locked in a fierce battle with Todd Kellett for fourth, that’s a battle Pocock will want to come out on top on.
We caught up with Mel after the fifth round of the Maxxis British Championship to talk about his season so far and how his injury affects his riding.
Gatedrop: Mel, unfortunately you had a DNF in the first moto due to bike problems but you had a solid fifth in the second moto. Are you happy with your speed but frustrated at the same time?
Mel Pocock: Yeah, I’m a little bit frustrated but it’s not anyone’s fault so it is what it is you know. Everyone has a problem during the season, it’s to expected but it’s been one of those days for me. In the second race I had a pretty good start and managed to battle up to fifth, that’s where my pace left me today. I had a good enough lap time and I had some good lines but yeah, not much to say except for the fifth in the second moto. I didn’t manage to finish the first race but that’s the way it goes. It’s good to be back at the famous Desertmartin, it’s the first time I’ve needed to use sun cream here in Ireland. I’ve had a good day and thanks to Revo Husqvarna and everyone in the team as they put in a lot of effort.
Gatedrop: You made the decision to sign with a new team in the paddock, the Revo Husqvarna team. You’re used to the best equipment riding with Steve Dixon’s team in the past. How is everything going with the Revo team?
Mel Pocock: The team has been phenomenal. They’ve been the most supportive family. Sam and Mark Yates, they’re father and son – I feel like I’m an extended son to Mark Yates. We have Jordan (Divall) here who’s riding the rest of the season in place of Jamie Carpenter. The team itself is definitely one of the best in the pits and I’m proud to be riding with them. Hopefully it leads to next year.
Gatedrop: You lost your thumb a few years ago now, mentally how tough was it to come back from such a big injury?
Mel Pocock: Yeah, it’s still tough. Like today the track was so fast, I’m purely riding through my four fingers, it’s hard! It’s been a tough journey and I’m super proud of what I have achieved. To get back here and say that I’ve had a fifth, I’m not really that happy with it but it’s a big achievement for me on the injury side. I think I can say I’m the only one here racing with one thumb.
Gatedrop: Have you had to change your riding style much since the injury and is it frustrating that you can’t ride the way you used too?
Mel Pocock: Massively, massively, massively frustrating. I’m riding more up front as I’m riding through the palm of my hand and then on the back of my fingers. You know it’s a new chapter to my racing and I always get compared to how I was before I hurt my hand but the racing is today and the opportunity is now so I will do the best I can. I can tell you that riding with four fingers is more difficult than anyone would think.
Gatedrop: Your riding pretty good this year, after the injury did you ever think for one minute you’d get back up to this speed?
Mel Pocock: No, never. I’ve outdone what my mind was thinking at the time. Many days I’ve spent trying to get back training after and wondering if I would ever ride again pain free. I can happily say that I can now ride pain free. It’s a nice feeling to carry on my racing career after such a big injury so happy days!
Gatedrop: Natzke is a new guy in the MX2 British scene this year and then some young guns Kellet and Eccles looked to have stepped it up. What’s your thoughts on the class compared to previous years?
Mel Pocock: You know, you get these young riders and fair play, they are hungary for the sport. They do a lot of training and a lot of riding during the week, they are the younger generation. I’m not getting any younger, I’m 24 years old now. I’m not one of the youngest in the class but fair play to them, it takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot behind these riders to take them to the level we are racing at. It’s just how racing goes, the younger riders get the hang of it and not scared to ride the throttle open.
Gatedrop: You’ve rode a few EMX250 races this year, how have they gone for you and do you plan on doing anymore?
Mel Pocock: Yeah, we are going to do some more. We’ve got two more planned. We aren’t sure exactly what ones we are doing yet. There’s talk of the French one and the one in Switzerland. It’s been tough going in that class as well, there’s a lot more focus on that class now. There are a lot more teams only being European teams attracting riders from here, there and everywhere. That class is not slow; it’s got a lot of fast riders and a lot of support from big names. There are a lot of young guns, it makes it a tough old race for people like me to go there and race. It’s definitely not a push over race but it’s good.
Gatedrop: You mentioned earlier that you’re one of the older guys in the British MX2 class, is moving up to the MX1 class something you’ve thought about?
Mel Pocock: Yeah, I mean I always talk about it and joke about it but it’s going to be on the cards one day. I feel like I needed to ride the 250cc this year because of my hand injury to work out the grip. I didn’t want a 450cc coming out of my hands all the time but yeah one day in the future I’d like to be a 450cc rider and push myself to ride new bikes and bigger cc’s!