Interview: Tom Brunet on racing the EMX125 series and his improvement

One rider that had high hopes coming into the 2023 EMX125 championship was young French talent, Tom Brunet after his rookie season. However, he picked up an injury which seen him miss a lot of racing but since making his return he has been steadily improving and making progress.

For the 2024 season, Brunet will be hoping to avoid injury and really build to become a consistent top ten rider and be in the top five on his good days and the podium is his dream and what he works for.

We caught up with Brunet at Matterley Basin to discuss his season and more.

GateDrop: You were racing for a French team last year, but it must have been easier for you because now you’re racing for a Spanish team. How did it come about, how is it organized, and with the language barrier, isn’t it too complicated?

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Brunet: I already knew the Team Manager – Carlos – since I’d been riding 85cc, and we got on pretty well. We had a good relationship and last year we started talking and it was a natural progression for this year. I’m still in France most of the time, because my trainer is in France. But there’s a very good relationship with the team. It’s a great team with a family atmosphere and it pulls me upwards. In terms of organization, I spent a good part of last winter in Spain before injuring myself, and Spain is also better for training in the sand. As for communication, I’ve learned a bit of Spanish, but we speak English. The team manager speaks English, so it’s easier.

GateDrop: Unfortunately, you were injured at the start of the year, but since your return to the races, you’ve been improving. You must be pleased with the progress you’ve made?

Brunet: I’m very happy because it was a pretty serious injury. Today, everything’s going really well, even though it took a long time, specially because I contracted a staph infection which really slowed me down during my convalescence. I was amorphous, tired all the time and slept a lot. Now everything’s back to normal and I’m back to 100%. It wasn’t easy to get back, but I rode really well in Sweden!

Image: Nigel McKinstry

GateDrop: How would you sum up the end of the season and these European races?

Brunet: It was positive for me. I had spent a month training in Belgium before competing the EMX125 at Lommel; a mythical race in the sand, very tough. Still, I arrived with a bit of a lack of confidence, as I hadn’t done a single European round all season, and in the sand… Last year, I did not qualify for Lommel and I was afraid of missing out again. I was stressed right from the free practice session. I qualified with the 16th fastest time, knowing very well that I wasn’t in it. Seeing that took a good weight off my shoulders and I went into the first race in a different frame of mind. I rode well, I could have been in the top 15, but unfortunately I crashed. It was a bit the same in the second moto, I was riding more freely but not necessarily the way I would have liked. I was in the top 15 and crashed again, finishing 19th. It was pretty good for a comeback, even if I made some mistakes that cost me better results; I was still happy.

From there I continued training and arrived in Sweden much more confident and serene. I set a good pace in time practice – I was 8th in my group from memory – and it was the first time I’d been with the guys at the front, able to fight with them. I was determined in the first run, but I braided myself for nothing right from the start. I didn’t ride very well, I messed up and fell twice to finish 21st. It was a real shame not to have been able to build on my good lap times from the practice session in the moto. On Sunday morning, when I arrived at the track, I saw a huge downpour. Perfect for a man from Normandy, I thought the track was going to be greasy, and I love these conditions. For me, it was the moment to get a good result and I finished 8th in this moto despite a crash, I made a great comeback. I was happy with my result in Sweden.

Before Matterley, I had trained well with Marc-Antoine Rossi and Pierre Alexandre Renet. In fact, Marc-Antoine really helped me a lot in training this year, he really pushed me. In England, I was good; it’s an incredible track, my favourite at the moment. It went pretty well for me. I finished 13th in the timed qualifying and it was very close. I saw that I had the speed to be in the top 10 in “normal” conditions this time. I started out in the top 10 in the first moto, but I got tangled with another rider on the first lap, his bike fell on him and I got stuck with him. Things were looking good… I restarted in 40th place and climbed back up to 19th. I saw that I had a good pace and with my lap times, I could have been in the 12-10 range. In the second moto, I got off to a pretty good start, spent the whole heat in the top 10 and then, with 10 minutes to go, had a problem with my front brake. Without a front brake, it’s complicated, especially at Matterley on the off-cambers and when entering the turns. I lost a few spots and finished 14th. But it’s still a good result for me, because it’s been a difficult year. To come back and achieve these results… I’m still satisfied with myself.

Now it’s time to work for next year, because next year I’m going to have to give it my all to perform at my best. I think this season will help me. Last year, I had a bit of a hang-up about Europe, because the tracks are so big and the MXGP is incredible. I managed to get over that hurdle and now I feel mentally ready to tackle the next season in the EMX125 class.

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Image: Nigel McKinstry

GateDrop: What’s Tom Brunet’s day-to-day life like these days?

Bruno: At the moment, Tom Brunet is pretty busy [laughs]. I went back to school in September. I’m doing a BAC PRO at an agricultural school, a BAC CGEA. My days are full because during the agricultural season, you don’t count the hours. At the moment, I work from 07:00 to 20:00. During lunch breaks and in the evenings, I have to make sure I get my physical training done, because you never forget your priority, which is moto! Otherwise during the season, I often ride on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and a little bit on Thursdays depending on the races. Now that the season’s over and I’m back at school, I ride on Wednesdays. I try to keep my schooling stable because it’s important for the moto life, just to speak English with the teams. My days are busy, I work a lot in the professional world and also on the physical side. I love working and I’m fulfilled in everything I do; I’m happy.

Interview: Andy McKinstry/Kevin Frelaud

Images: Nigel McKinstry