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Interview: Quentin Prugnières talks signing with F&H Racing, stepping up to MX2 and Marc de Reuver

Interview: Quentin Prugnières talks signing with F&H Racing, stepping up to MX2 and Marc de Reuver

Quentin Prugnières has secured an MX2 World Championship ride in 2024 after signing with the F&H Racing team. It’s a big opportunity for the French talent to show his potential and learn for the future as this year will be his rookie season in the class but there’s no doubt he could be a rider for the future.

Kevin Frelaud from dailymotocross.fr recently caught up with Prugnières and sent us the interview across.

Quentin, you joined the F&H Kawasaki racing team in the off-season and are preparing for your first MX2 World Championship season. I imagine there have been a lot of changes in your program and your life in recent months. Can we find out what your daily routine is like nowadays, and talk about the differences with the last few seasons when you were racing in the EMX series?

In terms of training, I’m moving around a lot more than I used to. I’ve moved over to a team with more resources too, so that goes with it. We’ve been training in Sardinia, Germany and France. Now I live in Holland, but I’m not really there that much. That’s one of the main differences.

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Secondly, the workload has simply increased. In itself, it’s still physical preparation, it’s just a bigger volume. The work remains the same, it’s just more sustained. Basically, we’re doing more of the same thing. The way I work is different because I have a different coach now – Marc de Reuver.

What I can say is that I keep a very close eye on my weight and my health. I have blood tests and I’m weighed every month. I’m very often tested in that respect. When it comes to nutrition, I’m even more careful. I have a very detailed food program, which is adjusted according to my weight. I’ve really seen and felt the difference. Before, I was careful with food, but it was more my own doing because I wanted to try new things. With Thierry [Van Den Bosch], we didn’t necessarily have a nutritional plan in place. Now, I have to eat so many times a day, I have to eat X, avoid Y… I’m not told “eat more salad, eat less pasta”. It’s all about precision. 

How are you adapting to life in Holland, with a Dutch team, and having to speak English on a daily basis?

Honestly, I haven’t had any problems in that respect. I think it’s a very good thing to get out of your comfort zone – and out of France – and move to Holland. We’re coming to the end of the winter prep’, and I didn’t really feel what everyone had told me. I’d been frightened into thinking it was going to be hard, that everyone was suffering up there. Personally, I’m not suffering, in fact I’m quite happy. In fact, it’s even better than Hossegor because I don’t have the temptation to go to the beach, to go out with friends in the evening, etc…. Here, I’m not tempted and I don’t have the time anyway. Everyone’s here to work, it gets dark at 4pm, and at the end of the day all you want to do is sit at home and rest. I have zero distractions, I’m totally focused on my off-season. 

It’s a positive thing to have left France. When you go to another country, there’s usually something missing. Living in another country, with people who don’t speak your language, takes you out of your comfort zone and you end up getting used to it. As a result, traveling becomes easier, and going to other countries becomes less restrictive because you feel at home everywhere.

I was talking to Marc-Antoine about this off-season, and he told me that his training was very different. Before, he was used to be taught how to ride well, but now he’s being taught how to perform, because the technical knowledge has already been acquired. Do you agree with that?

Yes. Marc de Reuver has his own way of working, and his own way of riding. I had to go back to the basics, and even relearn how to ride a bike, because I hadn’t actually ridden for a month and a half. From Matterley Basin, I rode once for the French sand races to be a marshall and from there, I hardly rode at all. I needed to get back on track and get back on the bike. 

Of course, I’m less likely to be caught out on details in training. They don’t tell me to let go of the brakes or work on my position on the bike. In concrete terms, you’re there to put your ass on the bike and open up the throttle. Before, you might have thought that the result didn’t matter, that you just had to ride well; that was the most important thing. It’s different now. Now, you have to give it your all, just go balls out. There’s no other options [laughs]. It’s very different from the preparation for the European championship. 

When I see the effort and resources the team puts in for just one rider, it’s just enormous. You realize that this is your job; you go to sleep at night thinking that you want to win races, and you wake up in the morning wanting to win races. You’re formatted and that’s all you think about. You do testing, you try to find solutions to improve yourself, to strengthen your condition even more… As a rider, you don’t think about much else in the program itself. We have a trainer who takes care of our physical program, telling us what to do, when to eat, what to eat. Basically, we get on the bike, and try to do as much as we can to help the mechanics prepare a good bike. It’s really become a job.

You’ve just entered the world of professional motocross, in fact.

Yes, that’s right. I thought I was already a professional when I started out in Europe with the Bud Racing Kawasaki racing team, but looking back, it’s not the same thing at all. It’s another step up, it’s not the same. In past interviews, I used to talk a lot about having fun on the bike. I’m not saying that my aim is no longer to have fun, but it’s not at all the first thing that comes to mind these days. I’m having fun on the bike, yes, but also doing my utmost to put it all together to perform. 

I also know that you have to compare like with like. I really don’t want people to misinterpret what I’m saying. Stéphane Dassé has done a lot for me, and Bud Racing in general too. I had to work to get into the Bud Racing Team, and I didn’t bust my balls for 4 years with them. That said, it’s no longer the same dynamic. Right now, I’ve got two mechanics and an engine tuner, if not two. Since I’m the only rider, when we’re doing suspension testing, everyone focuses on me. There are a lot of people working around me. We have more resources, there are more people. We’ll be racing the World Championship, so we’re not aiming for the same thing as before, in the end. 

Image: Kevin Frelaud/Dailymotocross.fr

Did you expect to have to professionalize like this?

I was kind of expecting it, I’m not going to lie. On the other hand, I didn’t expect it to be so difficult. Before, my lifestyle wasn’t too bad. Now, you can’t afford to sleep an extra hour, nothing. Last night, I went to bed at 10pm, and the next morning at 8am I was completely cooked. You have to be on top of your game all the time. You’re thinking about your food, preparing your stuff for upcoming trips, you’re thinking about the bike, you’re thinking about how to improve, you’re wondering if you remembered to tell your mechanic this or that, or if you’ve passed on all the important information during the last day of testing. In the end, you’re always working, and that takes up a lot of your energy. You’ve got to get everything done on time, you’ve got to get organized for trips, you’ve got to manage your laundries and all ! If you miss a laundry, you don’t have any clothes for the next day or for the gym. I swear, I’ve become a robot! You can’t leave anything to chance anymore, that time is now over!

With Marc de Reuver, expect to have your smartphone confiscated at every grand prix.

It’s not that I expect it, it’s that he’s already done it at Riola Sardo. He took my phone away! In itself, it was fine, but at first it’s difficult because it’s a habit. Eventually you forget you don’t have it, and then realize you don’t really need it that much. I just use it to talk to my friends, eventually. It’s a distraction nowadays, and it also keeps me from thinking too much in the evening, from getting caught up in things. Right now, I’m at an age when it’s time to give it my all. The thing is, I’m also at an age when everyone’s on their phones, on socials, an age when you’re talking to girls. I was made to understand that having a girlfriend was a parasite [laughs].

A word about Marc. From the outside, and when you don’t know him, you see a big, tattooed bad boy who looks a bit crazy around the edges. How are things going for you with Marc?

Well, when you talk about the crazy bad boy side, you’re not far off the mark [laughs]. Marc will make you work your ass off, but he does give himself a bit of an image. He’s not really like that. If you’ve read his book, you know he’s a bit of a streetwise guy. Marc is a top guy with a lot of heart. If I’m lucky enough to be at F&H today, it’s partly thanks to him, because he played a very big role in my signing. People misjudge him in my opinion, he puts a lot of heart into what he does; he’s really passionate. 

I’ll admit that after the first few training sessions, I wondered what kind of guy I’d stumbled across [laughs]. I thought he was crazy. In fact, not at all. He’s really very passionate; he’s a guy who’s done some stupid things in his career and he wants to show us the right way. He doesn’t hide it. He’s won GPs, he’s led the world championship, and he’s made mistakes. He keeps telling me “I’ve done things you haven’t, so listen to me”. Sometimes he tells me to do something a certain way, and I try to prove him wrong by doing said thing a different way, but it doesn’t work! He’s always right [laughs]. So now I just listen to him without having second thought. When I had a doubt, I tried to prove him wrong, but in the end, he was right… and then he looked at me with that unbearable little smile of his [laughs]. 

The KX-F 250 that comes out of the F&H team’s workshops is still a KX-F 250. But how different is it from Bud Racing’s bike?

That 250 is indeed the same 250. But there are differences between the F&H bikes and the Bud Racing bikes. Again, I don’t want people to misinterpret things. There’s a huge difference between the bikes, and the reason is the same as before: it’s to do with the budget. Bud Racing used to put in a lot of money during the year to make bikes that worked. Now we’re talking about a team with more budget. Inevitably, we have a few extra openings, and so the bike ends up being different.

And putting into words what you feel on the bike, what you want during testing, is that something you manage to do? As you say, F&H has resources that you didn’t have access to before, so I take it that you could have access to parts and mods that you’re not even aware of at this stage?

I’ve still got a lot of room for improvement here. I talked to the team about it as soon as I arrived. I told them that they were going to have to support and guide me during the testing and especially at the beginning. I think I’ve improved quite a lot over the winter, and I’m already better at expressing how I feel and getting into the details with the bike. When I ride, I understand a little better how the bike works, and they explain a lot to me about it. These are things that take time to assimilate; they’re not innate or easy for me. I’m not saying I’m going to be a test rider any time soon, but we’re working hard to make sure we have a really good bike this year.

Image: Kevin Frelaud/Dailymotocross.fr

You just rode your first off-season race at the Italian International. You got a 4th overall in Sardinia, there were some big names and you had a great second moto. When you work so hard in the off-season, you have to wonder whether it’s really going to pay off. When you leave Riola with a great performance like that, does it reassure you about the work you’ve put in over the off-season?

For me, when you work hard, it pays off. As they say, hard work pays off, that’s the way life is, and when you work hard, you reap the rewards. Riola was a positive weekend. This first race went the way it was supposed to. There was no point in going to Riola to win, it’s not the world championship. I got into the swing of things, even though I was a bit tense in the first practice session. I had a decent first moto, following Adamo and Oliver at the start of the race. Then I got a bit tense, didn’t breathe enough and was stiff at the end of the race.

In the second moto, I rode differently and that helped. I got the holeshot, led for a few laps, and then a lot of mistakes. Oriol [Oliver] passed me, and I set out to try and retake the lead, but I made a lot of mistakes. For a first race, it was good. It was a preparation race. It went as it should for me and for the team. It was a positive day, we learned and we know what we need to work on. We’ve got the timing right.

What are your goals for the 2024 season, and what does the team expect of you?

In itself, the team doesn’t expect much from me. They haven’t put any pressure on me. Of course, they want me to perform. What they really want is for me to stay healthy, to be consistent throughout the season.

Personally, I’d like to be able to score top 10 finishes in the first few races and up my goals during the season. If I get the chance to win a GP, get a podium, whatever, I’ll give my all to seize the opportunity. The aim will be to get off to a good start and get out in front. We’ll have to push hard and get moving. I’ve still got a lot to prove, because last year I had a great start to the season in Europe and then… After that, a lot of people didn’t take into account everything that had happened to me. I broke my collarbone, but I still managed top 5 and top 3 in motos when I was down with mononucleosis, riding against riders who were in good shape. Despite all that, I have a very bad reputation after my last season. I fell far short of my objectives last season, and that put a damper on both the paddock and the fans. It’s all right, I’m working, and we’re going to sort it out; I want to prove my worth. My main aim is not and never has been to please people, but if you can be encouraged rather than pulled down, that’s always better.

You don’t have a teammate this season. In the off-season, would you have liked to have had one to be able to prepare yourself, to help you, to guide you, to measure yourself?

It doesn’t bother me that much. When we train here, we often find ourselves at the track with other grand prix riders. Two of Marc de Reuver’s riders are also with me in training. They’re a bit slower than me, but it’s a good emulsion, and it’s cool not to be training alone. It’s a small place, and we often find ourselves on the same tracks. Right now, it’s Grevenbroich, Grevenbroich and more Grevenbroich [laughs]

How do you feel about the new season? How does it feel to be the next up and coming French rider in the MX2 World Championship? There’s Thibault Benistant, there’s Marc-Antoine Rossi, and there’s Quentin. We know how successful the French have been in this class in recent years; does that put a bit of pressure on you?

No pressure at all. I’m really happy to be part of this new generation, because we know how difficult it is to get a ride in MX2 these days. I’m ready to give 200% during the season. To be part of this new generation is huge, because there aren’t many riders who are lucky enough to be in this position one day. I’m very happy to represent France, to wear the FFM logo, and to be considered as the next generation in France. I belong to a category of people I’ve admired all my life. As a kid, I dreamed of hanging out with the GP riders, and today, I’m one of them. It’s nothing but happiness, even if I have to work my ass off in training. I’m living a childhood dream and I’m giving it my all. Like all French riders, I want to be selected for Des Nations one day, to represent my country. 

Last thing. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the F&H Kawasaki team for giving me this opportunity. They’re making a childhood dream come true, and I have to tell you that after my 2023 season, I had no idea what the future was going to hold. Now I’ve got everything I need to do a good job, so I’d like to thank them for supporting me.

Were you in limbo in the off-season?

If the offer from F&H Kawasaki hadn’t come through, there’d have been a good chance we’d have sold the house and gone off to the World Championship or the EMX250 Championship with a mechanic… It would have been a real pain to find an option to bounce back. That’s why it’s really important for me to thank the F&H Kawasaki Racing team.

Images and interview: Kevin Frelaud/Dailymotocross.fr