Interview: Mitch Evans – back for 2022 MXGP

After a very impressive rookie season in MXGP in 2020 a serious wrist injury unfortunately meant the very talented and composed Mitch Evans would miss the entire 2021 season and be unable to build on that throng debut year.

Thankfully Evans has finally resolved his injury and is able to get back on track and will be back with Tim Gajser and the factory Honda MXGP a team this seasons full of motivation to re-commence his career that was hanging in the balance and make up for lost time. Evans gave an honest assessment of his situation in the Honda press conference that you can read below:

Mitch, haven’t seen you in a while and you have been recovering from your wrist injury. How are you feeling now?

Evans: It has been a really long time and I am really happy and grateful to be back. I went back to Australia, and I just had to get surgery no matter what. The pain I was experiencing when riding meant I wasn’t going to be able to ride at the top level. I didn’t really accept wanting to be back in Australia, because the season had just started in Europe, and I was watching the racing on television. I went back to the winter in Australia, and it was difficult at the start, but I just told myself it is the past now and I can’t change it, so I just started to focus on what I could do as a rider or even as a person. I kind of went on this big personal development journey and I am really grateful for everything that has happened, even though I missed a whole year of racing. I believe it will make me a better rider and a better person. I am fresh and ready to go. I am really looking forward to racing and I have been riding now for a couple of months. I still have a little bit of pain when riding, but it isn’t going to hold me back. It is just about getting my strength and fitness back and I am in a much better situation than I expected. We go to Sardinia this week and start doing some training there and our pre-season races. I am just really thankful to be back on the bike and enjoying the process.

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Where you ever worried this might be the end of your career?

Evans: Absolutely, that was something that was thrown at me. When I started riding in March or April, the doctor told me, when he first saw my wrist, he thought I would never ride a dirt bike again. He didn’t want to tell me back in December when he did the surgery, because he didn’t want to put doubt in my mind, but that was when I had so long off motocross and I knew I needed to look at what I might want to do in life. I just thought my life would be motocross, motocross and more motocross. I started focusing on my self and I know the power of how your mind can heal the body and that is when I started going down the personal development journey. I met a lot of amazing people and people who had been in my position and overcome it without a doctor’s help.

Taking that amount of time out and to mentally and physically prepare yourself for the mental and physical of a race weekend, because it is getting more and more intense, hasn’t it?

Evans: You know, for me, I had my shoulder surgery just before I hurt my wrist and I only had three months on the bike before I broke my wrist, so for almost two years I did no riding. When motocross is your life from the time you can remember, from when you first started walking, then you don’t really know what to do. I had to find a lot of things outside of motocross that I enjoyed, and I found myself enjoying things I thought I would never do, like sightseeing. I feel really refreshed and it will be good for me, and I have now a reset button on my career. I look at 2022 as my rookie year again and it will all be new to me again. I need to get back into the rhythm and flow of things.

Missing a whole year isn’t easy, but do you think there will be more pressure now with this being a new championship to consolidate you position with HRC and show you belong in the MXGP pack?

Evans: I am kind of not having any expectations this year. Racing is different to riding and it is going to be different racing and I don’t see any pressure on myself and really, I have nothing to lose, because my last race was so long ago and everyone else has been riding, training and racing. I am just going to enjoy being at the races, with the team and back at Grand Prix and travelling around the World. For me it is about enjoyment and being happy and as Tim always says, a happy rider is a fast racer.

Watching the MXGP class in 2021, was it difficult to watch for you or motivating seeing the level of the guys? And, coming back and do you have any goals?

It was very difficult watching and I didn’t watch at first and made myself busy when it was on. In Australia they races would start around 9pm and the last race around midnight or even later. If I watched it was always the first races and when the championship got really close at the end, I watched it all. I knew I wasn’t going to be racing, so I accepted my situation and focused on what I can do to be in the best position for this year, so I started watching them and tried to learn a bit. For this season I don’t have any goals I just want to enjoy being back and I am grateful for that. What Tim also said about the starts, the starts will be important. I never will forget how to ride a dirt bike and starts will be important and we saw that with Prado in 2020. That is my point.

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Are you still training in the south of France with Eric Sorby and also with Ruben Fernandez riding your bike last year, did you get nervous at all that he might take your ride?

Well, Eric has been helping me out a lot and I am down in the southwest of France. Eric keeps it light-hearted and cool, and I like that. With Ruben I was stoked for him, and we are good friends, so I was happy for him, and he did well all season. It was a shame not to see the bike out there, so it was good to have two bikes out there for HRC. I didn’t see any comments about it, and I had people sending me messages about him taking my ride, but I have a great relationship with HRC, and I am grateful they stood by me.

Australian riders are really coming on strong at the moment, with a lot of fast guys at the moment. Do you think it is possible Australia can actually win the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations at Redbud this year and given that you have good memories from this track? (Australian finished fourth at the MXoN at Redbud in 2018, just two points off third and four points off second).

Absolutely. I was just talking with my agent, and he is also the manager of the Lawrence brothers. We are getting really hyped up again it and it would be great for motocross in Australia, and it is without a doubt a goal for us, and we have good memories. I really like the track there and America is similar to Australia in culture and American motocross is bigger to the Australian population because that is the TV we got when I was growing up. I only followed the American racing as a kid, because that was all we got.

Image: Bavo