KTM has ruled the MX2/125cc world championship with an iron fist. Going back to 2008 when Tyla Rattray inherited the title from Yamaha’s Antonio Cairoli (yes, Toni won the small bore title on a YZ in ’07), KTM has lost hold of the title on only one occasion,n and that was in 2015 when Tim Gajser snatched it away on his Honda. But that was then and this is now, and with the 2020 FIM NX2 World Championship slowly winding down, the motocross community is looking to Jago Geerts and the Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha MX2 Team to see if the one-two punch can high-center the Orange Brigade.
A winner of eight MX2 motos thus far this year, Geerts is 21 points adrift of KTM’s Tom Vialle in what has come down to a two-rider fight for the 250cc world title. That fight will continue this week at the Mantova circuit for the MXGP of Lombardia, the MXGP of Citta de Mantova and the MXGP of Europe. Hosted by the Moto Club Mantovano and the Citta di Mantova International Circuit in Mincio Natural Park, the tripleheader Grand Prix will be a high-stakes affair for both the orange and the blue. Adding to the drama, late last week, word came out of Belgium that Geerts had hit the sand at the Olmen circuit and had tweaked something in is his left shoulder.
Q: How’s your shoulder?
JAGO GEERTS: Yeah, it’s getting better and better every day. I’m going to physio a lot and it feels pretty good right now.
Q: What exactly happened?
JG: I was training on Saturday and had a really big crash. For the first few minutes afterwards, I wasn’t really feeling that good. The pain in the shoulder came to me and we knew it wasn’t right, so we immediately went to the hospital and then we were able to see that I had a little crack in my shoulder blade; it wasn’t the shoulder blade itself, but in that area. It’s a lot better than it was in the beginning, so I think it will be okay for this weekend.
Q: You are about to head to the Mantova circuit in Italy for what will be the ninth, 10th and 11th rounds of the championship. What do you make of that circuit?
JG: I’ve ridden there a couple times already. It’s a pretty small and tight track. The surface is pretty good, it’s a little bit sandy, so it’s a nice track with a lot of jumps and most of the time it is good to race on. I think it will be good to do three races there and they can change the layout pretty easily, so I think it will be really nice.
Q: Thus far in 2020 you have won eight motos and been up on the podium in four others. Considering there have only been eight grands prix run so far this season, that’s an excellent track record. How do you feel about your racing in ’20?
JG: Yeah, I’m really happy with how the season has gone so far. Now with the injury that I have it will be a little bit difficult, but after a couple of weeks I think it will be okay and I’ll be back at my normal level again. For sure my goal is to do good at Mantova and to take some good points for the championship.
Q: Jumping back to Tyla Rattray in 2008, KTM bikes have won 11 of 12 125cc/250cc MX2 world championships. The last time Yamaha won it was with Antonio Cairoli in 2007. A long time coming, eh?
JG: Yes, it’s been a long time since another brand other than KTM has won the title, so for sure I will do everything to try and win it. Yamaha and the team I race for are really good. The team owner and team manager are great. Marnicq Bervoets is the team manager and I’ve known him a long time, as my dad was his mechanic when he was riding for Suzuki. It’s nice to have a good combination with the people and with the team, and I feel really good . The team is really professional and the bike is good, and for me everything is really nice.
Q: Going back to Rene Baeten in 1957, Belgians have won 52 FIM Motocross World Championships: 24 500cc, 18 250cc and 10 125cc FIM gold medals. All that withstanding, a Belgian rider has not won a title since Steve Ramon in 2008. Has the national sporting media in Belgium picked up on your title fight?
JG: Yeah, there is more and more media attention coming and that’s really good, because we need it in Belgium. There are not so many practice tracks around anymore. It’s good that we also have Liam Everts coming up now. Hopefully, we can get some more good results and some more attention from the Belgian media and the Belgian government.
Q: I remember watching Stefan Everts and Marnicq Bervoets race against each other at places like Foxhill and Valkenswaard. How do you like working with Marnicq?
JG: Yeah, we get along very well, and of course he has a lot of experience so he can help me on track and off track, and it’s a really nice advantage and he’s actually a very good friend of mine.
Q: Do you know what you’ll be doing in 2021 yet?
JG: Yes. It will be announced very soon. I’m really happy about it. I think it’s a good step in the right direction.