Interview: Rasmus Jørgensen on MXGP track prep & Thomas Kjer Olsen!

Rasmus Jørgensen is a well-respected name in the MXGP paddock as not only a former rider but you’ll find him under the Rockstar Factory Husqvarna as he works closely with top MX2 rider Thomas Kjer Olsen.

Under, Jørgensen guidance, Olsen has won the EMX250 Championship and also finished third last year in the MX2 World Championship a rookie so both are clearly working well together.

We caught up with Jørgensen at the British GP in Matterley Basin to get his thoughts on his rider as well as the MXGP track preparation and if it can be improved.

Gatedrop: Rasmus, this interview is going to be something a little bit different from the normal as we discuss the MXGP Track prep.  Let’s start with last year, that’s where I started things being done slightly differently as they were flatting the tracks overnight and now this year it looks like they’re doing it between most sessions.  What’s your thoughts on that?

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Rasmus Jørgensen: Being at so many races, it’s a little bit difficult to look back at. For me, if we look at this year, first of all for tracks like Redsands, this year I noticed that they do a lot of flatting and a lot of it. Especially before the first MX2 moto and also between, it’s not a bad thing for racing in my opinion but it’s difficult for riders to make a difference then sometimes.

The biggest thing is when you have hard pack tracks like Arco, Orlyonok and Teutschenthal. For example in Russia, on Saturday the track was fast and quite easy and then suddenly they put a lot of water on the track which on hard pack makes the lines really difficult which is okay. For the racing part it slows it down a lot and it’s difficult to make passes and things like that. For me it ruins the racing a little bit.  It was the same at Teutschenthal, I heard some riders complain that it was too easy on Saturday but on Sunday you have the same issue. You have many different line choices and they’re all difficult, but still it seems that there is only one main line. It’s then difficult to make passes and make a difference.

Also, the aspect from the spectators. From my point of view, when you come and you don’t have so much knowledge about motocross, then you come to a race at Teutschenthal, you have the best riders in the world and they look like amateurs in places because it’s so difficult, the track and slows it down too much.

But I’m sure they are doing the best they can, I personally just think that the watering can be improved and that way we can have better racing.

Gatedrop: From my point of view, before last year they weren’t really touching tracks, just fixing dangerous jumps etc and that was fine. But this year I think they’re flatting the tracks so much, it’s almost like they’re looking to America and want a smooth track! These riders are the best riders in the world and by riding the tough tracks also improves them as riders and makes the level higher in my opinion. Would you agree?

Rasmus Jørgensen: I can see it like that also. But it’s also really different. The tracks in the US, most of them are very similar and they’re wider. It’s difficult to compare a track like Glen Helen to a track like Arco which is in a small area which means you’ve a lot of stop and go, 180 degree turns and the speed is much lower. Then they make it so difficult with the watering it slows it down a lot and it’s difficult to make a difference. It almost becomes like enduro at times.

If you don’t get a good start it’s almost impossible to move forward you know unless you’re Jeffrey Herlings. I think they are touching the tracks but I think they’re doing the best they can. I think there’s things that they can improve on and also with the watering. Also going back to the hard pack tracks like Arco, Orlyonok and Teutschenthal, they put so much water down before the MX2 moto. Not only putting water on the track but also doing it, in my opinion weird places on the track. For example, in Russia there was a downhill, it was complete concrete, there wouldn’t be any dust from that area but they put a lot of water on it that it was like ice. At the end of the day, it’s the same for all the riders but I think it would improve the racing.

Gatedrop: You mentioned you think the watering is an area for improvement. What would your suggestion be for improving the watering of the tracks?

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Rasmus Jørgensen: I don’t know how it is with the timing, maybe that’s the problem on Sundays, they have to water a lot before MX2 because they don’t have time between MX2 and MXGP. But, the ideal situation would be to water less and then a little bit before each moto. Then teach the guys with these water cannons how to do it the right way and not completely flood the track in rock hard places which makes it like ice. The first few laps in the MX2 race is always like ice and if you don’t get a good start it’s difficult to ride the track the first few laps and to make passes.

Gatedrop: In terms of watering, they seemed to do a better job here in Matterley Basin, would you agree and is that what you’d want moving forward?

Rasmus Jørgensen: Yes absolutely! The track was fast all weekend, and some might say it was easy. But I think we can all agree that it made for some great close and intense racing. In Matterley they did exactly like I previously mentioned, they watered a bit before each moto, not too much and not too less.

Gatedrop: You’ve been working with Thomas Kjer Olsen for quite some time now. He seems to love Latvia as he’s won at the place two years in a row! What do you think he needs to do to start winning more regularly?

Rasmus Jørgensen: Thomas is working extremely hard. For sure, at Latvia and maybe even Redsands were the speed is higher and more flow at the track, he prefers that more. I wouldn’t say he’s bad on hard pack or anything like that but he has a slight preference for these kinds of tracks.

At the end of the day it all comes down to hard work, to prepare and work on your weaknesses. We are trying the best that we can and he’s trying the best that he can. We will see, the season is still long.

Pic: Juan Pablo Acevedo

Gatedrop: I’m sure the goal between now and the season ends is to try and win a few more GP’s. Looking ahead to next year though, will the goal be to win the title? With Jonass likely moving to MXGP it would make Prado and Olsen the favourites as of now.

Rasmus Jørgensen: If you look at it at the moment, absolutely. But even if you looked at it from last year and from the get go, he was third last year in his rookie season. So automatically as a racer you want more. He wasn’t coming into this season of his goal being another third. He was going in with high expectations and worked hard during the winter, then he’s see where he’s at. Do the best you can, keep your feet on the ground and work hard.

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For the moment the two KTM guys are really strong and it’s no secret they’re hard to beat when they get out front from the beginning, or even if you get a great start they are still extremely fast. Finishing top three in the world championship is still a big achievement and to do it two years in a row would also be great, but we are always looking to be better.

Gatedrop: When I look at the likes of Jonass, Prado and Olsen. Olsen might benefit the most from a 450cc and maybe that’s where we’ll see the best of him during his career? He could maybe do something special like Febvre has done!

Rasmus Jørgensen:  I hope so. He’s a big, tall and strong guy. He’s riding the 250cc pretty much how you should ride a 450cc. I haven’t seen him on a factory 450cc yet so it’s difficult to say but most likely it’ll suit him. For now, he’s just focusing on MX2. People easily forget that he’s not even been in GP’s for 1 and a half season yet. I believe its very important to collect all the experience possible from the MX2 class before making the move. The MXGP class is no joke, and you need to be mentally prepared to make the move, and the more wins and podiums you can bring from MX2 the more prepared you will be for the big challenge. When the time comes, I’m sure he will surprise.

Gatedrop: Have you anything else to add regarding the track prep?

Rasmus Jørgensen: Well in general I think Youthstream and the whole MXGP organisation is doing a great job. I’m a big fan of the series and how it tests the riders on different track conditions, weather condition and so on. But I do think that there is room for improvement, to get out the best racing with how the tracks are prepared.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: Nigel McKinstry and Juan Pablo Acevedo