Interview: Oriol Casas on joining Vamo Honda and his first GP with the team

With Marshal Weltin leaving the Vamo Honda team, it opened the door for young Spanish rider, Oriol Casas to join the team for the rest of the season. It means Casas who’s an ex Spanish Championship gets his first shot at racing the MX2 World Championship.

The level in the MX2 World Championship is obviously very high and with little time on the Vamo Honda bike, Casas got thrown in at the deep end in Switzerland but showed top twenty speed all weekend long. Unfortunately, technical problems with the bike meant he couldn’t score any points but the speed is encouraging and should only continue to get better.

We caught up with the young Spaniard to get his thoughts on his opportunity and how the Swiss GP went for him plus much more.

Gatedrop: Oriol, you’ve signed with the VAMO Honda racing team for the rest of the season. First of all can you tell us how the opportunity come about?

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Oriol Casas: Yes, I will be doing all the GP’s left including Turkey. After so many struggles this year team and injury wise it seems like I’ve landed on a good place!  I had a good connection with Steven (team owner) last year and pretty much they called me when I was at home in Spain the Thursday evening before the GP of Lommel, I made everything ready and Friday night I was picking up a training bike at their workshop in Belgium!

Gatedrop: You had your first GP with the team in Switzerland. Can you talk me through your weekend?

Oriol Casas: It felt amazing being back at a GP, so much fun during this weekend, especially at this track, I just loved it! At first I thought after so much time injured and without racing at this level I was going to be a take that and build from there kind of thing but it turned out to be really good with what was in my hands, and there is still a lot of room of improvement!

I was not really good in both timed sessions but I am always better in a moto so I got a good start in the qualifying race and I was in 17th until the bike blew up with 3 or 4 laps to go! It was pretty much the same on Sunday being on the Top 20 for the first 20 mins of the motos but unfortunately having to pull off with bike issues in both heats! It’s a shame but I know the team gave their best and they feel as sorry as me without being able to finish the moto’s and they will have it figured out before next weekend!

Gatedrop: You made the switch from Yamaha to Honda for this year, how does the Honda compare to the Yamaha and are you happy with the VAMO bike?

Oriol Casas: I’ve been with the Yamaha since 2014, it’s a great bike and I had so many great moments with it! This year I changed to Honda, I feel amazing with this bike, how easy it turns and all that, everybody says the Honda 250cc doesn’t have power but that is not true anymore. This year they made a really big step and if you rev it the bike has good power and already from stock, for me if they can find a way to give it a little more bottom power – from what I read the 2019 will have it so that would be an amazing bike!

The tuned bike at Vamo is also really good, I feel I don’t need much more just if they could get a little more low power because I am a smooth rider and I don’t like to rev the bikes much but I know how tough it is for the teams to make changes especially with the schedule of the world championship.

Gatedrop: What are your expectations for the remaining four rounds of the series?

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Oriol Casas: I don’t put much expectations and the team also don’t put pressure on me, just to learn and keep improving and be a better rider in the future. If I ride like I know I can ride I’ll be happy and it’s what I did this weekend and the speed was OK!

Gatedrop: You’ve contested in the EMX250 Championship before, how would you compare that series to the MX2 World Championship?

Oriol Casas:  I’ve done almost the complete series last year there and it was a tough one! I don’t know but I never got figured out how to ride good there. I think I am a calm guy that likes to think on the bike and I can’t ride with my eyes closed, when you do practice at 9am and race at 6pm you need to do that, some riders just excel at that and I never got it figured out! I don’t know what the future will bring me but if I ever want to come back and do good I’ll have to work on a lot of things. Overall I feel better on GP’s but at the same time I’m conscious the level of the top guys there is impressive.

Gatedrop: You won the Spanish championship before, just how did that feel, and you must be proud of that achievement?

Oriol Casas: Yes, I won that in 2016 and it felt like the best day of my life! I am not sure about that but I think I am the youngest rider to ever win the title in MX2. I would like to battle it out for the title this and last year but injuries didn’t allow me. Motocross is a tough sport, you know?

Gatedrop: Have Vamo give you the possibility of staying with the team for 2019 if you impress them?

Oriol Casas: We haven’t even mention that, I have the chance to show some good speed now and get something sorted out for next year but until now I was already busy trying to find a ride for the end of 2018 (laughs). We’ll have time to think about that, the only thing I know is I would love to contest the MX2 World Championship next season.

Gatedrop: Anyone you’d like to thank?

Oriol Casas: Everybody who made this possible in the team or sponsors of the team, and especially Rob Goris and his family who let me stay in Belgium at his place and they treat me like his kid, It would be a lot harder being 1400kms alone away from home without them. And you guys for making me this interview. Thanks!

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pic: Dieter Jans