MXGP riders discuss three GP’s in a week
MXGP has resisted major tinkering for quite some time now. The FIM world championship has lived with the 23-age rule and Qualification Heats for more than ten years and the short-lived ‘Superfinal’ concept for flyaway Grands Prix was soon scrapped in 2013.
However, the ravaging effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a large mallet to the series as 2020 has become an exercise in hopeful salvation. One-day formats, limited venues, back-to-back events at the same circuit and – perhaps the most radical – midweek races to squeeze the maximum number of rounds onto the championship points table.
The resumption of MXGP this season will be a case in point: Kegums will stage the Grands Prix of Latvia, Riga and Kegums on August 9th, 12th and 16th – Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday – with planned alterations to the loose, red soil by way of differentiation.
From a long campaign of twenty events and full weekends to a shorter, sharper experience where keeping injury-free might be just as much of a valuable commodity as outright speed, riders and team will now have to launch across a very different ‘rhythm section’. So we contacted a few of them to ask how they think it will be…
Pauls Jonass, Rockstar Energy IceOne Husqvarna: It is something strange, something new and a big challenge for everyone but I don’t think it will be that crazy because we’re used to practicing in between the GPs and now those races will just take the place instead of those sessions and it’s just one day. That will help that prevent burn-out…but we all know that racing and practicing are two different things. It’s different but I think it’s the only way we can see out the season in these times.
Gautier Paulin, Monster Energy Yamaha MXGP: I’m enthusiastic to see a new calendar because at the end of March it looked like we wouldn’t be racing. Then we saw Supercross finish the championship and both F1 and MotoGP start. So, it’s good we have a calendar and, for sure, it will be a strange year in almost every aspect because of the smaller crowds and the social distancing when motocross is a close sport to the fans.
Jeremy Seewer, Monster Energy Yamaha MXGP: It’s a tricky one, especially because of the tracks we’ll have. Latvia and Lommel are already some of the most physical on the calendar. It will be tough, less time on the track and you have to put all your energy in one day.
Ben Watson, Monster Energy Yamaha MX2: It’s strange but it’s a situation everyone has to face. Now that the GPs are a one-day format I don’t think it will be as intense compared to a normal weekend. The strangest thing will be getting our heads around that one day; it’s looking like it’s going to be 20 minutes of Free Practice and 25 minutes of Timed with 5 start practice. It’s enough for everyone to get used to the track, to get into a rhythm and shake out the arm-pump.
Jorge Prado, Red Bull KTM: I don’t think three GPs in one week will be too bad because we have some time to recover and go back at it. We’ll see, maybe when we are there and wake-up on Wednesday to race again – and know that we have to do it once more the coming Sunday – I might think differently! We all train a lot so I don’t think it will be too bad.
Clement Desalle, Monster Energy Kawasaki: I understand the idea, especially when the GPs will be one day, but somewhere like Lommel will be really hard on the body. I like the sand but I really like the hard-pack too! It will need some different strategy and preparation, but we’ll get ready in the best way possible.
Jeremy Seewer: You need to find your best way to perform on those three days. Let’s see who puts it together because you might see someone putting all-in for the first one and getting good results but they might be quite f**ked for Wednesday and to reach the same level. You have to plan your energy. It will be interesting to see how we all handle it.
Shaun Simpson, SS24 KTM MXGP: It’s going to a nice new challenge. I don’t think there will be much difference physically as we’d normally ride two days during a week anyway and then two days on a GP weekend. I think it will be easier. We obviously don’t have to do much travelling between the races so recovery will be easier, there will be no early mornings for flights and wondering where you’ll stop for the next meal. We’ll be able to establish a routine. Everyone will be sharper and because they know it is a quick, one-day hit then I think the intensity could be even higher than normal.
Gautier Paulin: Racing three GPs in one week is very different and the one-day makes it less physical. It’s a totally new situation that we will have to adapt to, but that’s fine for me. I’m positive about the tracks even though I think we’ll see some changes. I hope we’ll some variation, even if we do stay in just three-four countries. The main thing is to be back racing for the sponsors and for the fans. I’m feeling healthy and happy with the bike.
Ben Watson: I’m excited because we have been so long without any racing and with so many questions. The biggest thing will be going from one timed session straight into the two races; it’s half the amount of bike time compared to usual.
Shaun Simpson: The morning Timed Session could be pretty manic: everyone will be wanting to get a lap-in. We’ve not raced in three months and many riders will be wanting to show what they are all about. The goal will be to get a decent gate pick, get a decent start and stay out of trouble for some good points and look to turn the screw. I’m already in good enough shape to race now if needs be but we still have a couple of weeks to work on a couple of little things to be super-organised for Latvia.
Arnaud Tonus, Monster Energy Yamaha MXGP: There is time to recover. In practice we ride more than we will at the GP. I think it is pretty cool – just to have a race and a calendar is something really positive – and nobody will have an advantage. When it comes to focus, adrenaline and the racing itself then this has a different impact on the body compared to a training day. We’ll have to pay special attention to recovery because the tracks where we’ll have those three GPs are tough!
Ben Watson: Physically it won’t be too bad.
Thomas Kjer Olsen, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna: It will be really interesting to see how it will be. I’m not sure if it will be tougher or not, the days will be longer. Three days in a week is a lot and it might be difficult to recover from the last one but we save a lot of time by not having to travel back and forth. Mentally it might be a bit easier to be honest. Even though they want to change the track I think it will largely the same kind of challenge. We have to do what we have to do in these times.
Jorge Prado: The tracks are sandy or soft surfaces so that good for me and I only raced once at Faenza, on an 85, but there was so much rain and mud that we kept on the bottom part! From what I can remember there are quite a few up-and-downs so it will be interesting to race it properly for the first time. Hopefully the GP in Spain will happen and that will be good for me. Hopefully we can do the whole series.
Jeremy Seewer: It might be a mystery but once the gate drops you have to go for it; you cannot think ‘ah, there’s another race on Wednesday let’s go at 90%’. I rode three times a week for training but the motos are a lot less intense and don’t have that same level of adrenaline. There are physical similarities but mentally it is way-different. It brings an interesting new challenge to MXGP.
Words: Adam Wheeler
Pic: Infront Moto Racing