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Interview: Stephen Rubini opens up on his future – Brazil and selected AMA Nationals

Interview: Stephen Rubini opens up on his future – Brazil and selected AMA Nationals

After many years racing the MX2 World Championship, Stephen Rubini didn’t have the best of years in 2023 racing selected MXGP events but he ended up in Brazil racing the national championship over there.

Rubini will spend most of his 2024 season over there as well as he’s signed a deal to race the Brazilian championship but will also race selected AMA Nationals which is exciting.

Kevin Frelaud caught up with the French rider to discuss his future and more.

Stephen, tell us why we’re seeing you at Mantova and Sommières, when you’ve been a bit off the radar in recent months…

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Obviously, something was brewing on my side for the 2024 season. I would have liked to have done some preparation races in the USA, but at the moment there are only the qualifying races for the Loretta Lynn’s and I can’t take part in them. The only races I could have done at that time were Mantova and Sommières. So there you have it, two great preparation races, despite the complicated conditions in Mantova. There were a lot of good riders in Sommières, and it went pretty well. Top.

You did 2 great heats, and there were some big names that race MXGP. How would you sum up the Sommières International?

I’m still pretty happy, despite two rather complicated starts in the heats. That’s no excuse, but I’ve got a stock 450 CR-F that Honda France lent me, so it was complicated to get out in front. Fortunately, I had the help of Peter de 4.42 for the suspension, and that made a big difference. As far as the engine is concerned, there’s nothing on the bike; the exhaust system is original. It was complicated to be competitive with the factory riders, but I think I did well. I found solutions to save time in certain places. My first two heats weren’t too bad, and the superfinal was really complicated with a completely botched the start. I tried to get back on track after that, but you know Sommières, and you know it’s hard to overtake. I didn’t do so well in the last heat, but it was a very good workout for me.

Image: Kevin Frelaud/Dailymotocross.fr

For those who were wondering. You had a great last MX2 season in 2022, and the move to MXGP in 2023 was quickly aborted. What happened? 

It’s sad to say, but it’s true that last year I had a very complicated year. I wasn’t enjoying myself at the world championships. It’s taking a particular turn, and I don’t want my career to take that turn. I tried to find solutions and went to the US, which was an incredible experience for me. Then I went to Brazil and it was the same thing. I had my preconceptions, but in the end it was extraordinary. I met some really nice people with whom I could see myself working in the future. The news is that I’ll be riding in Brazil and then in the US with the help of Honda Brazil. I’m happy to announce it now. These are things I want to do, things that make me happy right now. Right now, I’m enjoying motorcycling again, and that’s very important.

What would have to happen for you to consider trying your luck in MXGP again in the future?

Try my luck again? Honestly, I don’t think so. These are no longer the goals in my life today. Grand prix racing is very difficult. The factory bikes are there, and it’s really hard to catch them if you don’t have the right equipment. It’s possible, but it’s very, very hard. I preferred to take a step backwards to enjoy myself, because the main aim of this sport is to have fun, even though it’s a job for us. Maybe in the future, if there’s a grand prix in Brazil, I’ll take part. Argentina one day, to be seen. I could do a privateer job, but I don’t think I’ll be doing much more than that.

We can see that the “old hands” of the sport in France are putting together Motocross and Supercross programs, and touring Europe. They manage to get by like that. Is diversifying into Supercross not in your plans at the moment?

Yes, I am! I’m going to do Supercross. We’ve got a 3-race championship in Brazil, so I’ll have to get started. I’ve also got some little projects in the back of my mind, so why not think about entering the US Supercross in the next few years. If all goes well, if I feel capable of it, and keep my head on my shoulders, it would be a great experience. I’ve got a lot of respect for all the riders who do Elite and Supercross, and I think the riders who do it and manage it the best make a much better living than a lot of GP riders, so respect to them.

We also have to fill the fridge, pay the bills…

That’s right, you have to bring in money. It’s one thing to spend money, but if you don’t bring it in behind the scenes… Motocross is an expensive sport to practice, and you soon go broke. I went to the US on my own, with a little help from Bud Racing and Dimitri Rollando, it was my dream, but it cost me a lot of money. Almost everything I earned over the years. Here you go… Well, it opened doors for me in the future, so that’s positive, but everything costs a lot of money. It’s a great sport, but you also have to make ends meet financially.

Did you see Sébastien Pourcel’s post about the low number of MX1 entries at Lacapelle Marival? What does it inspire in you?

I’d like to tell you that this is astonishing for a French championship, and especially for an opening. Yes, the alarm bells are ringing. After that, I wasn’t at all interested in this year’s French championship, or in the new standards introduced recently. We can all see that things aren’t going in the right direction anyway. A few years ago, I think it was in 2013, we still had end-of-year bonuses. That doesn’t exist anymore, and little by little, we’re not going in the right direction. After that, I understand that Motocross is losing its image in the eyes of the public and the State, with the ecologists and so on. The thing is, the teams and private individuals who make the effort and put in the resources to fill the Elite grids are less and less inclined to make these efforts and put in these resources. There’s nothing to be gained, life is more and more expensive… If there’s no small reward behind it, it’s complicated. Back in the 85cc days – that was a long time ago – I used to take my little 200€ bonus to go to the French championship, and that more or less paid for the trip. Nowadays…

Let’s try and put a positive spin on things, shall we? In 10 years, what will your sport look like?

That’s not exactly positive [laughs]. We’ll be electric by then, I think. Honestly, these bikes work, but it takes all the joy out of Motocross. When we switched to 4-stroke, we lost the sound of 2-stroke, which was magnificent. Now we’ll have no sound at all… It’s not something that attracts me. Unfortunately, it’s the future and we’ll have to move on. By then, I hope I’ll have finished my career [laughs].

What’s next?

After my career, I’d like to train drivers. To be able to pass on my experience to the next generation, to young people. It’s something I enjoy, something I’ve already done a few times and always enjoyed. Maybe it’ll happen sooner than expected, you never know, but it’s there somewhere, in a corner of my mind. I’ve still got a few good years left in my legs, but I think my future lies in this, because I don’t want to leave the world of motorcycling. 

Interview and images: Kevin Frelaud/Dailymotocross.fr