Interview: Pauls Jonass – red plate holder!
Amazingly with Cairoli, Searle, De Dycker and Herlings out, KTM are still leading a world championship thanks to 18 year old Pauls Jonass.
The talented Latvian has sprung to prominence over the last few weeks in Herlings’ absence and his sand riding skills at Lommel got him second overall and the red plate with a four point lead over Tim Gajser. .
Jonass in his first year as a factory rider and first full year in MX2 thanks to illness last season, and has not only surprised his team but also himself!
But now a world title is a real possibility and the battle is on between the next generation of Jonass v Gajser and Honda v KTM.
We caught up with Pauls as he spoke with his mentor Stefan Everts to talk about leading the championship so early in his career.
Gatedrop: I don’t think many people expected that you’d be leading the championship by the end of Lommel?
Jonass: I think no one expected that at all, this season I didn’t expect to do so well. I didn’t expect that I would hold the red plate for maybe two years. The goal was maybe after two o three years to be at the top, now on my first full season as a red bull factory KTM rider that I would have the red plate. It’s a pity Jeffery cannot be here but I try to do my best to keep the red plate in the orange families hand.
Gatedrop: Does this change your mind set now? Do you believe you can be world champion?
Jonass: I try not to think about the red plate, I just go to every race and try to do my best like I do until now I’ll just do the same and enjoy the race. If you enjoy racing then the results won’t be bad.
Gatedrop: You had that big crash in Sweden how did you manage to be unhurt?
Jonass: That was nasty you know, before Latvia I didn’t practice at all (too sore). I tried one day in the week before Latvia and I couldn’t do it. Then in Latvia I got the podium after that czecho podium and here (Lommel) podium. Maybe the crash changed something in my mindset. Now it’s working good and everything is clicking with the riding and all the training, its going really good.
Gatedrop: You had a few health issues last year you weren’t on a factory bike but from the first round this year you were on the pace what did you do this winter to go up so many levels?
Jonass: Yea I just changed trainer I train with Stefan Everts and Willy Linden as a physical trainer and I think we changed a lot and we worked really, really hard. That was a long, long off season we did a really good job and you can see that in the results. Stefan said the hard work is paying off, in Lommel you can see who is the man. Max was riding really good today but some day I will beat him.
Gatedrop: In the first moto you went for him at the start, was that the plan to break him?
Jonass: No I was just enjoying it, I felt really good from the start. He made a little mistake and I saw the opening so I went for it. It worked out I was leading for some laps but he was riding good so congratulations to him for the win. Now I have a red plate, that was something no one expected and it’s nice to have.
Gatedrop: With all that training over the winter did that help you mentally also?
Jonass: Yea it helped mentally especially with Stefan he’s my mental coach. He helps a lot and takes all the pressure off me. He helps so much he says one sentence and everything is clicking.
Interview: Jonathan McCready
Pic: Nigel McKinstry