Interview: Stefan Everts reflects on Liam’s season so far and more

Interview: Andy McKinstry

It was a difficult start to the season for Liam Everts after picking up an injury for round one, but he was able to return in round two and since then has been running consistently at the front of the MX2 World Championship. The Belgian got back on the box in Maggiora and came close to winning it but just couldn’t make it happen but a podium is still good.

We caught up with Stefan after the Italian GP to discuss Liam and more… You can watch, listen or read below:

GateDrop: After a couple of difficult GP’s for Liam, maybe he didn’t get the win, but at least he’s back on the podium and plenty of positives to take, I think…

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Everts: Yeah, I think after the last two GP’s, Liam was not in his best shape. He was struggling mainly with himself, and I think this weekend was only positive. On Saturday he rode really well, he took a qualifying win, and then he took first moto under pressure from Simon. He showed some good things. Second moto, everyone was trying to make a pass, but no one could really make a pass in the second moto. Everyone was just following the track. It was, in my opinion, way too flat, because they flattened out a lot of the turns, so it was just one lined. Yeah, it was a pity, but okay… Same points as Sascha for the overall win, but I think mainly we have to look at it as it was a positive weekend for himself. His mindset was a mental win for Liam to be back where he should be, and that’s up front, and hopefully this will put him back in the curve going uphill for the next rounds.

GateDrop: Like you say, he tried everything. It looked like with a lap to go, it looked like you Lata had it, but Liam set his best two sectors in sector 3 and sector 4, so he certainly tried his best.

Everts: Yeah, you always have sectors on the track where you’re faster, where you drop back a bit, and then you have that yo-yo effect, and we see that a lot of times. I think it’s a thing to work on and try to not have the yo-yo effect and work on your bad sections and make them work better but everyone was having it. Andrea could not pass Liam, Kay couldn’t pass Andrea. The only way you could make a pass if they crashed, like Simon made a crash, and then Haarup made a crash, and then you could move up. It’s a pity for racing. It was exciting to see for the people, but it’s nicer to see also some passing.

GateDrop: Coming into the season, obviously Liam got that injury. How big of a blow was that mentally? Obviously this year coming in, he probably would have had eyes on the title, but that kind of wipes it out even before the season starts. It must be a bitter pill to swallow…

Everts: Yeah, of course at that time it was difficult for him, but he put himself over it. He came back strong in Spain. He was coming through really quick, and then he took his first GP win in Arco, and another one in Portugal. But after Portugal, he was struggling a bit. It is what it is. He had to deal with it. He missed the first GP, and it’s a lot of points he dropped there. But anyhow, there’s still 10 rounds to go. It’s still a long way to go, and we’ll see where we end up.

GateDrop: Just on the last two rounds where he struggled a little bit, was there any reason for that? Any issues going on, or was it just bad riding and bad starts?

Everts: There were a few issues, but it was something internal. Mainly it was up to him and things he was busy with in his head. But that’s the learning curve. He managed to turn things around in Latvia, even though it was only 5 and 4. But for me, it was a big turning point and a big win for himself. And now, this weekend again, being back on the podium will make him a lot stronger mentally, and that’s what we’re looking for.

GateDrop: Sacha, the last two GPs, to be honest, looks like a different rider. He looks so smooth. It goes to show what can happen when you win your first GP. Are you surprised, and how impressed are you with him? It’s good for Belgian motocross…

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Everts: The last seven GP’s, the Belgian riders have won. With Sacha, we know he was super-fast in the past, but he could not keep it on two wheels. And now he’s been riding smarter and smarter, and it pays off. You can see the result. He won the last two GP’s now. He’s a very fast starter, and he can go really fast in the first laps. And again today, especially in the second moto, he straightaway pulled that gap and managed to take the win, really impressive. It must be amazing to be in the family there. Especially to see them both on the podium in Latvia was really nice.

GateDrop: This season has been mud, mud, and mud. You must be sick of the sight of it. But at least today was dry and overall, maybe they flattened a little bit too much. But to be honest, I was just happy to see it dry… So, they’ve done sort of the best they could that way…

Everts: The track builders have done a really great job. And maybe even a bit too great today, you know, by flattening it too much. But like yesterday, the circumstances were dramatic. We know here in Maggiora from the past it can dry out really fast. But at one point, I think they should leave some more difficult sections in there. We know from the past, Maggiora is difficult to pass, especially when you’re in the back section, there’s always one line. So when you have some possibility somewhere, just try and leave it in. But nothing bad for the track builders. At the end, they’ve done their best and we had great racing today.

GateDrop: Just on Standing Construct Honda, Alby Is back on the bike, with PJ, what should have been a not so bad injury, Obviously, was complicated with the medics. Have you got an update on him? It looks like his season’s over…

Everts: Well, for now, it’s hard to say when he can be back. At this moment, I would say that the season is over. But you never know things can change quick. Everything needs to go good. Yes, it’s a feeling in the hand, which is important. But we will see how quick he can be back, giving the mobility back and the strength and then you can make a final outcome. For Alby, he’s back on the bike. Normally, he’s going to ride this weekend in Italy. I think he will be, as soon as he’s back in the GP, he will be back in Loket.

Image: Full Spectrum Media

GateDrop: I believe you have a family house in Portugal. During the GP season, do you live in Portugal or do you spend more time in Belgium during the season?

Everts: No, in the season, we are mainly in Belgium. We travel up and down to Belgium. It’s more central. When he was at the GP of Portugal, he was some days before and some days after there. But no, in the season, we are in Belgium.

GateDrop: Jeffrey Herlings, I’m not sure if you’ve read them, made some comments earlier in the week about MXGP safety and track prep. Have you got anything to say about that? Obviously, one of your riders was affected, PJ, which really isn’t acceptable at this level.

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Everts: I think what happened to PJ was not the blame to the track.

GateDrop: Oh yeah, but in terms of the medical situation?

Everts: Yeah, the medical situation. We know the story from Argentina. We know the story from Thomas Olsen last year in Kegums. It was also a bad story. I just hope that things will change. I hope that nothing will happen bad to Liam one day because if you come in this situation and nothing is organized for a parent, this is really bad to see. Bad things can happen.

Everyone needs to take their responsibility. It’s a dangerous sport, we are at a high level. At the end, we are human beings and not dogs. If you hear the story from Brent, he’s been treated more like a dog. That should not be. It’s just crazy.

GateDrop: How are things with you with what you have been through? How’s your health?

Everts: My health is overall good. I still suffer with my feet like always. It’s something I will have to live with for the rest of my life. Sometimes we try something new, but I don’t have so many high hopes for a miracle to happen. I just have to live with it.

GateDrop: Last question. Luongo and Coombs are in talks about running an AMA and MXGP combo race. I think that would be pretty cool for the sport. Obviously, we don’t know when it will happen, but what would your thoughts be on that?

Everts: Sounds interesting. We know that the American series is very super long. To add more races for them, I think it will be very intensive. Maybe it would always be interesting to see something happening. We have the Motocross of Nations each year and that should be the highlight for everybody out there.