Interview: Vincent Bereni talks Triumph Racing, Haarup, McLellan and more

Image: Jonathan McCready | Interview: Andy McKinstry

Triumph are a new brand in the MXGP paddock as they are taking on the MX2 World Championship with Mikkel Haarup and Camden McLellan. It’s refreshing to see them do so well in their first year as they’ve already got two podiums to their name – one from each rider.

Vincent Bereni is the team manager but even though it’s a new brand he has experience of a management role in the past with the Kawasaki Racing team although now he is fully focused on the MX2 World Championship.

We caught up with Bereni during the Italian MXGP to discuss a rang of topics. You can watch, listen or read below…

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GateDrop: A team manager role isn’t exactly new for you, you obviously have experience doing it from your Kawasaki days, but you were out of the paddock for a year or two years. First of all, what’s it like being back in the paddock doing what you love?

Bereni: Yeah, of course it’s exciting. When you take a break that you don’t really want, it’s bitter. You go to the races and you watch, because obviously I was working on the program and I come to the race and watch for the riders we need to go after. That was good, but we’re missing the adrenaline of racing and it’s fun to have it back.

And obviously being back with a new brand in the sport, that must be even more exciting, to be with Triumph, and obviously you had the year to develop the bike and stuff. What was it like that year, knowing that you were building up to Argentina?

Bereni: Well, it was a lot of work. But we have a good group of engineers behind us a good group of people as well, so it’s really fun every day. I enjoy it a lot.

GateDrop: Clement Desalle had a big role on the GP side. How did it all come about with that deal, getting him involved?

Bereni: Clement has been with us in the past, in my previous team. We have a great relation and I know he was an extremely good rider on testing and very picky. That’s what you need. You don’t need a test rider who’s going to tell you what you want to hear. You just want a test rider to tell you where you’re going to improve the bike. He did an amazing job, I think.

GateDrop: A two-rider line up for your first year in the MX2 World Championship. We’ll start with Mikkel Haarup, first of all… An amazing debut, I think a debut of your dreams really, getting a podium. First of all, did you expect that podium in Argentina, being a new brand?

Bereni: Yeah, definitely. I expected us to be in the front. I did everything I could on my end, but I also see the riders work behind the scenes and the team. So, I do believe that we belong there. Until you go racing, you don’t really know 100%, but the feeling was there. It was not a huge surprise, for me. For a lot of people, it was, I guess. But he deserved it, because he’s a very dedicated rider. He knows what he wants, and he puts it to work.

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Image: Nigel McKinstry

GateDrop: Just on, Mikkel Haarup, obviously, he’s quite experienced in the MX2 class. It’s his last season in the class so from that side, you probably couldn’t have picked a better rider. He had a few team issues last year, being with Dixon and then WZ KTM but for him, being a factory rider again in his last year of MX2 GP’s, I think that was probably what he needed?

Bereni: Well, Mikkel was our number one choice, to be honest. Because we saw a lot of Mikkel in the past, and I think he could not finish the job sometimes. Every rider has a career, but it can pop really right away. But if you remember, Mikkel was the next big thing coming up in the European Championship. Everybody was putting a lot of pressure on him. But the talent was there, so there was no discussion there. He’s got an amazing ride, and he just needed to join all the dots together.

GateDrop: What are your expectations between now and the end of the season for Mikkel? Obviously, you want to get on that box again and probably chasing a win as well…

Bereni: We are right there every weekend. This is a little bit of frustration, because we’re in the top five most of the time. And we’re really close to being back on the box and one thing or another makes it that, we know. But the competition in the MX2 class is quite impressive. That was above my expectations. I have to say that the speed of the MX2 this year is, wow. When you see this year, we already have 10 different riders, I think, on the box. So that tells you a lot.

GateDrop: One rider that got his first podium this year was Camden McClellan. I would say you probably took a calculated risk. Maybe he wasn’t the obvious choice but he’s quickly repaid the favour, and he’s got his first podium. So, you must have been delighted with that…

Bereni: I would not say it was calculated risk. For me, Camden, he has something. And I saw that a while ago. And for me, it was the result of a lot of work. He spent a lot of time working with Clement, also during the off-season, adjusting his riding, adjusting a lot of things in his approach of the racing. He’s young, he’s learning. It’s the result of the hard work. He still has a lot to learn, to be more often on the box. But he’s got it. And obviously it was a shame with the injury.

Image: Ray Archer

GateDrop: I believe he’s already back on the bike, and he’ll be back in Indonesia. So, you must be looking forward to getting him back underneath this awning…

Bereni: Of course. I may have been a little bit harsh with him, because I want more from him. And so, yeah, of course he wanted to come back earlier, which I didn’t allow. But for his own good, I think he realises this. He’s keeping working in the shadow. He’s done a really good job from his injury, how to manage the injury, listen, and did everything he needed to do. So, I want him back where he was. The competition has been racing, so it’s very difficult so the work and the approach is a little bit different than usual. I hope he’s going to be straight back where he belongs.

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GateDrop: This is the first season for the new brand in the sport. Did you have a plan coming into this season? And how would you evaluate the first half of the season?

Bereni: Well, the strategy changed for everybody. I think based on how the championship developed. You have some championships starting slow and then build up, or some starting really high and build up. Well, obviously I’m learning also the MX2 class. That’s usually what you’re kind of doing in the 450 class. But the MX2 class, it’s all-in, every single moto so it’s very difficult to build a strategy. You have to be a rider ready to do 20 rounds at high pace.

GateDrop: The big question, obviously I think there were initial plans to run an MXGP rider next year. There’s obviously rumors the bikes are maybe not there yet. Can you give us an update? Are we likely to see an MXGP rider next year?

Bereni: Not really an update, this is something that’s still under discussion. And triumph will be there.

Image: Ray Archer

GateDrop: So, there’s still a chance we could see a 450cc guy next year?

Bereni: For me, as long as I see a bike, yeah, you know…

GateDrop: Long term, what do you think the plans are for Triumph? Is it just to run this one team? Obviously with other brands, they’ve got quite a lot of teams. Satellite teams, the EMX teams. Do you think that’s a route Triumph might go down in the future? Or at the minute is full focus just with this team?

Bereni: To be honest with you, this is more like a question for the manager, Mr Kimber. They develop the plan for Triumph. I don’t see why not. I mean, there would be a logic.

GateDrop: Mikkel Haarup, I believe it was only a one-year deal but is there an option that he could stay? Obviously, if you don’t have a 450cc guy, it could be complicated to keep him, but who knows, maybe he could end up in America with triumph?

Bereni: Yeah, well I mean, my wish is for Triumph to keep him. That’s definitely something that would be awesome. That’s my opinion.

GateDrop: Also, Camden, has he got a contract for next year?

Bereni: Camden will be with us again for one year.