Interview: Thibault Benistant on winning at home, French support and his future
It was a superb weekend for Thibault Benistant racing his home GP in France with a packed crowd and amazing atmosphere. The Factory Yamaha rider didn’t disappoint his home crowd as he took the overall win on the day.
After a couple of difficult GP’s for Benistant he will be hoping that is the turning point in the season and that he can now challenge for the MX2 world title.
We caught up with Benistant after the French GP to get his thoughts.
GateDrop: Thibault, an amazing GP here for you in front of your home crowd. It must feel great to stand on the top step of the box with that superb support behind you…
Benistant: Sure, the weekend was really good. I felt really good from the beginning, I just wanted this victory so bad. I wanted to do 1-1 but it can’t always go the way we want. Already to win the overall was really good and I am really happy. In front of all those people and the French fans, it is just the best so I am so happy. I think I can say I give to them (what they wanted).
GateDrop: Just on the track, I mean Saturday was almost like an Enduro, so rough and technical – maybe a bit dangerous. On Sunday, it was still rough and tricky but not as bad. Did you enjoy conditions both days as you excelled?
Benistant: Yeah, I mean yesterday (Saturday) was a bit dangerous but I mean it is Motocross. It was really good and I was enjoying a lot, it was actually only one downhill that was a bit too much but the rest of the track was so nice. You could make the difference and not have to push that much so it was good and actually I preferred the track from yesterday. Today (Sunday), it was a bit more easy so the speed was way higher, I prefer when the track is slower and more technical. But yeah, I felt good and I managed to win.
GateDrop: It looked very intense between yourself, Kay, Andrea, Liam, Roan and Lucas, it was great racing! Did it feel intense? It looked like if you made one mistake someone would pounce…
Benistant: Of course. It was not easy, I could see they were close, I could see it on the board. If you made one mistake maybe you lose 4-5 positions so it could affect the GP really fast. It was tight racing but I managed it quite good.
GateDrop: The past few GP’s you hadn’t been at your best but obviously you found something this weekend, did you change anything? Maybe your mindset or with the bike?
Benistant: Actually I was feeling pretty bad during the last few GP’s. I mean Spain was a bit better but Portugal and Arco, I was feeling really bad on the track actually. When the track was hard, I just had no feeling, I wasn’t able to push and it wasn’t easy because I was getting good starts and just getting passed not able to do anything. It was not easy but we tried to stay focus and find, not the problem but the small issue that made me slower let’s say. We just found it and this week coming into the GP was a really good week of training.
GateDrop: A home GP which can be a lot of pressure it didn’t faze you but with Jago being injured now, could this add more pressure? Yamaha will be looking at you to deliver the title if Jago is out for a while…
Benistant: It is not easy and it is sad for him. The championship is long and we know it, anything can happen for everyone – technical issue or injury. For sure we don’t count on it but it is the sport, it is not easy but we go quite fast, high speed and a mistake is there. It’s really close to being beyond the limit so it’s tough for him and Yamaha are sad for sure. Actually I don’t feel pressure, I just tried to ride like I know and we will see where I am going.
GateDrop: Just on your future, you have a GP contract with Yamaha for next year but where do you see you future longer term – in MXGP or America?
Benistant: Yeah actually I have a two or three year contract with Yamaha. After that I sort of think to go to US but we have to find the good opportunity. But first I want to prove myself here in Europe before I do something else.
Interview: Andy McKinstry
Images: Infront Moto Racing