Jago Geerts has two objectives he’d like to try and address on the eve of the 65th annual FIM Motocross World Championship season.
Runner-up in the 2020 MX2 World Championship, the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team rider will try to become the first Belgian champion since Steve Ramon won the MX1 title in 2007.
Second on the 21 year-old’s list will be to try and knock KTM off of its MX2 throne. Going back to Tyla Rattray in 2008, KTM has only allowed for one other MX2 title winner, and that was Tim Gajser in 2015. It’s been all Orange Brigade since. So now it is off the hardpack Orlyonok circuit for Jago Geerts.
Situated near the shores of the Black Sea, the Russian circuit has been kind to Geerts, and it is will be here that he begins his hunt for the title he so badly wants. Although feeling the slight effects of a twisted knee he suffered last week at the Ernee, France warmup race, Geerts is confident, motivated and ready to roll.
Q: First and foremost, how is your left knee?
JAGO GEERTZ: It’s OK, but for sure it could be better. I crashed during the last preseason race in France and I hurt my knee. It was a really small crash, but I think the bike fell on my knee and I had a lot of pain, so we went to the hospital and they saw that I had stretched my ligament. It is not the best when you have an injury before the GPs, but we did everything that we could to recover as fast as possible, and we will see how knee is this weekend.
Q: Leading into the MXGP of Russia on Sunday, I know both you and the entire Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team had a great preseason.
JG: Yes, the winter preparation was really good this year. We worked a lot on the bike and also worked on the setup of the bike. I think we are, for sure, ready for this beginning phase of the GPs. Now and with this injury it is a little bit of a setback, but for sure we are ready and I have confidence in myself and in my physical condition and I’m real confident in the bike, so all of this is very important and we are very prepared.
Q: You placed third in the 2019 MX2 season and were the runner-up in the MX2 title fight in 2020. Can you go out and win the World Championship this year?
JG: Yep, that’s the goal. Last year that was also the goal, but it didn’t happen. I was close but I finished second. Now we have a new championship this year and it is going to be a very long season, so I will try to create a really good base at the beginning of this season. I am excited to start, and I will keep working my hardest, and hopefully in the end it all pays off.
Q: As you said, 19 grands prix over seven months is a very long racing season. Plenty of time to find a rhythm, though?
JG: Yeah, this weekend is the first GP and then we have one week off, and after that we will then have six GPs in a row, so it will be a really long and heavy season, and a little bit like last year. Last year was a really special season with the three GPs in one week. For sure all of this is more intense than it was before the coronavirus. It’ll be nice to go back to some of these different countries and different GPs again. Also, I think most of the GPs will be allowing fans back in again, and that’s a really positive thing. Last year at the places where we did three GPs in one week was nice, but the more traditional calendar like we will have in 2021 is what I like and prefer. This year we will be able to get back to the, let’s say, old calendar and that’s good.
Q: Belgium has not produced a world champion since Steve Ramon won the MX1 title in 2007. It’s been a long time coming for your home nation, hasn’t it?
JG: Yeah, it would be really good to have a world champion in Belgium again because motocross is not so popular anymore and a lot of tracks are closing. A couple months ago my home motocross track also needed to close because of the sound, so motocross is not doing so great at the moment here in Belgium. Maybe we can have a couple really good GP riders again and also have a world champion and things can change a little bit. Maybe the sport can become more popular and more people want to practice motocross again, and we can end up having some more new tracks.
Q: How are you looking at the competition for 2021? Who are you going to have to fight with to try and win this thing?
JG: I think the competition is really strong this year. Last year it was really between me and [Tom] Vialle, but now it will be extremely competitive. During the first half of this season there will be more riders fighting for the lead and for the championship. My two teammates, Thibault Benistan and Maxime Renaux, are very fast and very competitive. From there I think there will be five to six to seven guys who can win a GP or be really fast. I think it will be a really competitive and interesting season. We will know a lot more after Russia and after the first two or three GPs.
Q: Have you watched any of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross motos from here in the USA? If so, what do you think?
JG: I look at the results, and also watch the recaps a little bit. I haven’t really watched the full races because I’ve had really busy weeks with all the physio and with trying to get my knee recovered as soon as possible. The racing looks really nice this year. There are really a lot of riders who are fast like Roczen and Ferrandis and all those European guys that are out there. For sure, I will keep watching, and I find it all real interesting.
Q: What will make you happy when you’re exiting the paddock in Russia on Sunday night?
The track is really nice in Russia. It’s natural track with a lot of jumps. The ground is also really nice. It’s hardpack, but with a lot of ruts and a lot of bumps. The track suits me well. In 2019, I was on the podium in the MX2 class, so it suits me well and I’m happy to go there. Now, with my knee injury, it’s a little bit more difficult to say where I want to finish, but I will be happy when I can finish the two motos and I feel good and know that I did my best. The result is not so important this weekend. I’ll try to get as many points as possible, but we will need to wait until Sunday and see how things go before I can get a feel for where I will be this season.