Interview: WMX star – Shana van der Vlist

Coming into the WMX series it would be fair to say not too many people would have predicated that after two rounds of the series that Shana van der Vlist would have the red plate but she’s been fantastic this year and really stepped up her level. In 2020, van der Vlist was solid and finished sixth in the series but this year she hasn’t finished outside the top four during the opening two rounds.

At Lommel, Van der Vlist won and it was the best race of her career so far. In the second moto she didn’t get a great start but she passed all the heavy hitters and won quite comfortably.

We caught up with Van der Vlist to discuss her season so far, having the WMX red plate and more…

GateDrop: Shana, the start of your season has been amazing! First of all in Loket – not exactly a typical Dutch track you went 2-4 to get on the podium with a second overall. Can you talk me through your day?

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Van der Vlist: Loket has always been a track I liked, it is definitely not a typical Dutch track, but I do like the layout very much. During the practice I already felt good on the track and I knew the starts were going to be very important. With a good start in the first moto, I tried to keep my rhythm and flow and make no mistakes. I finished 2nd, something unexpected for me. Second moto I took a good start again, this time I felt more nervous and stiff. I finished 4th and was on the podium, something really special.

GateDrop: Loket got rough with a lot of square edge bumps and with it being hard pack, not many tracks like that in the Netherlands. Maybe Lelystad but I think it get a lot ruttier than Loket did, how did you find the circuit?

Van der Vlist: Yes Lelystad is more rutted than Loket. In Holland you can ride a few hard packs tracks, but none of them are like Loket.  I think the track was pretty sketchy and bumpy during the weekend, it was easy to make a mistake. But besides that I do really like the track and with the jumps it is pretty fun to ride.

GateDrop: Then Lommel, wow! Obviously you are known for your sand riding but you were on another level at Lommel to go 1-2 to take the overall and the red plate. Can you talk me through your day? The best of your career so far, I would say?

Van der Vlist: Lommel was just amazing, definitely the best race of my career. Before the weekend I knew I was going to be fast in the sand, I do really like sand tracks and I was happy that Lommel was on the WMX calendar this year.
The first moto I took the holeshot and led the race for a few laps, I did feel a little nervous and got passed. I stayed close to the leader, but I couldn’t make the pass for the win. I was 2nd. The second moto my start was not good, around 12the place I did work my way up to the lead, that was really amazing.

GateDrop: The second moto you were incredible, it’s been a long time someone has impressed me like that in WMX the way you passed all the heavy hitters and pulled away. It must have felt great?!

Van der Vlist: I had a bad start and was just focused on passing the riders in front of me. I had great rhythm and felt really strong and fast. It also gave me a boost to pass so many girls. To finish the race in 1st position was just a dream that came true.

Pic: MXGP/Infront Moto Racing

GateDrop: It was the first time for the WMX series racing at Lommel. What was your thoughts on having WMX there, it was so so rough! I don’t think too many girls would have enjoyed it!

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Van der Vlist: I really enjoyed it. All the WMX races are hard pack and it was good that there was a “real” sand track on the calendar.

GateDrop: After two rounds you have the red plate, just how does that feel to be the WMX championship leader?

Van der Vlist: It is a great feeling and something to be proud of, for sure.

GateDrop: Coming into the season what where your expectations and have you even surprised yourself at the first two rounds?

Van der Vlist: My goal for this year was to be in the top 5 consistently. I did surprise myself in Loket, but in Lommel I knew I was going to do well.

GateDrop: You’ve really stepped up your riding, it looks like you’ve had a great winter. Did you change anything over the winter and is there anything you specifically worked on?

Van der Vlist: My winter wasn’t the best, I had a shoulder injury what cost me 11 weeks. But after my injury I worked hard to come back strong and I feel like my riding did improve.

GateDrop: I feel like this is the best level the WMX has been for a number of years, what’s your thoughts on the level this year?

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Van der Vlist: The level of the WMX is really great at the moment. There are 40 girls on the line which is already nice to ride with full gate and the first 10 riders are all very fast and close to each other. The level is getting better every year in my opinion.

GateDrop: Looking to the rest of the season, what’s your goals for the rest of the season?

Van der Vlist: I want to perform and I work hard for it, I want to show that during the races. Even though I have the red plate now, I don’t want to put to much pressure on myself and try to enjoy every race.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: MXGP/Infront Moto Racing