Irish MXoN Stories: Trevor Cubitt – Part Two

Part two of our Trevor Cubitt interview as he reflects on his time representing Ireland at the Motocross Des Nations on two occasions. Cubitt has plenty of good memories!

If you missed part one of the interview, you can read it here.

Gatedrop: Individually how did you do and were you happy with your results?

Cubitt: In 1996, I was happy with the results, not sure what the exact placings were, but I felt I rode the 500 as well as I would have rode a 250, which was the goal as I had only starting riding a 500 after I was offered the team place. In 2000, I remember not being happy with my results. After being hit in the face with one of St Jean D’Angely rocks in the first lap of qualifying, I battled back to a qualifying position. That was probably my best race of the weekend. In one of the main races, both Adam and myself were caught in the same pile-up in one of the first few turns. It seemed from then, luck really wasn’t on our side. The heat was unbearable with a late summer heat wave in the south of France, with temperatures around 40 degrees.

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Gatedrop: What memories/stories from the event stick out for you when you look back to the event? There must be some things that happened not too many people know about!

Cubitt: My best memories are from Spain in ’96 at my first Des Nations. Brian (Steele) and I arrived to the circuit together, Stefan Everts and Joel Smets were in the paddock. Brian already knew Stefan and was quick to say hello. Both riders were World Champions and introduced themselves to me. Why? Did they think I didn’t know who they were? I thought that was the most bizarre thing ever. I don’t think I even introduced myself, while I picked my mouth off the floor! Next, I walked the track, on the way back I seen Roger De Coster ahead and took an opportunity to say hello, “How do the team like the track”, I asked. Roger retorted the same question and confirmed that I was the 500 rider for Ireland. Again, I was dumbfounded. How did he know that? I was amazed as the Team Manager, he had that amount of awareness of other riders even before the racing began.

In practise, I don’t think Jeremy McGrath realised what he was risking as he overtook me on the outside of a corner tabletop. I’m fairly sure we didn’t touch but it seemed we were in the air for a lifetime while I tried pulling the big 500 as hard as I could to avoid hitting him. I was so relieved when I got it back on ground!

I pulled up onto the line for the first race beside an 18 year old, Sebastian Tortelli on a 125, I confidently thought I am on a 500, I can beat you off the line and most of these other old fellas (probably in their late 20s, early 30s!). When pulled up round the first corner in fifth, it stuck me “WTF?”. It was a tough first lap, I lost just a few places…

After the racing, the great weekend ended abruptly when dad banged my head off the bathroom door about 4am as I lay there. He told me to get to bed. We had been out in town and bumped into a group of motocrossers, including Jeremy McGrath. People kept buying him beer and he asked me to help him out. He didn’t seem much of drinker and neither was I!

The St Jean D’Angely paddock!

Gatedrop: When you look at the Motocross Des Nations now, do you still think it’s still as special as it used to be?

Cubitt: Absolutely, as much as ever. It’s as tough as ever to be chosen to ride at the Des Nations. For me to get an expenses paid trip to represent your nation and measure yourself against the best in the world was a fantastic experience. Anything after that was a bonus. I definitely signed more autographs those weekends than at any of rest of my motocross events, put together. The atmosphere during and between races was phenomenal with the number of fans at the side of the track cheering and waving flags. It makes for an unforgettable experience.

Gatedrop: What advice would you give to any young rider who might be lucky enough to get selected for the event for the first time?

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Cubitt: Try not to go with any expectations. The best thing you can do is focus on yourself, ride the best you can within your limits. Go for the best start you can and use the speed of those in front to stay up there as long as you can. Most of all, enjoy the experience! Not many people get to the chance to represent your country, in motocross!

Gatedrop: At a domestic level, what were your biggest achievements and what good memories do you have outside the Motocross Des Nations?

Cubitt: My last full season was in 2000 when I won the Irish championship and was 2nd to none other than Gordon Crockard in the Ulster Championship. Gordon had started winning GPs by then and I didn’t expect to beat him. I recall only beating him once that year, when he spent about two laps with rope tangled round his back wheel at Ballyculter! I also had a couple of top ten British open championship rides during my career as well.

Pic: Nigel McKinstry

Interview: Andy McKinstry