Thomas Kjer Olsen interview
19 year old Danish rider Thomas Kjer Olsen isn’t wasting time when it comes to producing eye catching results. The 2016 EMX 250 champion made light work of moving into the MX2 class at the end of this year, finishing with 8th place overall in his debut GP in Switzerland, and then claiming a very solid 5th overall in the deep sand of Assen in Holland. In Assen he was just one point off the podium.
We caught up with the teenager and asked him about his plans for 2017, his relationship with riding coach Rasmus Jorgensen and his involvement in the Redsand International in January.
MXlarge: We spoke with Rasmus a week or two ago, and he was pretty excited about the working relationship you guys have. How did that come about?
Olsen: Yes, for sure, it’s been a great relationship so far. It started out with Rasmus not riding anymore and he started coaching a little bit. I was kind of struggling at that time and I knew I needed to make a change and I needed a coach, and when I had the opportunity with Rasmus, it was like I knew I had to do it. It was either keep riding the way I was riding, or make a chance, and he really helped me with my training program and everything, and we get along really good. We haven’t had any bad moments and we have been together a lot, so it’s going really good.
MXlarge: I think your performance in the EMX was amazing, but it’s when you moved up to the MX2 class, and it wasn’t even like it was a major step for you. Was there difficulties in moving to MX2?
Olsen: I think I made it easier for myself. I could have moved up earlier this year, but the opportunity I had was to do the EMX, but at the start of the season I already felt I was ready for MX2. I felt so ready and it was the right time for me to move up. I had already raced a lot of the guys in the MX2 class, and I wanted to move up and do well, not just ride around.
MXlarge: You have a European championship, and when you see other guys like Tim Gajser or Romain Febvre, who also won titles in the EMX, it seems as though if you can get an EMX title it really shows your talent. Does that give you confidence when you see other EMX champions doing so well?
Olsen: It does a little bit, but it isn’t like you are good in the euros and it just happens in the MX2 or MXGP. You still have to put in the work, and you see it with those guys you mentioned. They put in a lot of work. I am on the right track, but I need to keep working hard and keep doing what I am doing. Sometimes I do look back, and I had the same team as Febvre, with Bodo Schmidt, and now I am with Husqvarna, so I am on the same road as him, but I am trying to keep my head down, and in this sport, it can go wrong so easily. I am just trying to follow my training and do the best I can.
MXlarge: The opportunity to get a factory ride, pretty quickly in your career. I mean everyone says you need the right bike to perform, and you step in and you have the right bike. Is that critical?
Olsen: For sure, and that is what I wanted when I moved up to the MXGPs, I wanted a good bike, a good team. Basically Rasmus told me if I do what he knows I can do, and win the European championship, he will get me the ride, the right ride for the GPs. And he was right, I won the European and he got me a good ride. That is important to have that good base going into the GPs. I have worked with the team a little and they are really nice. It’s amazing to be in a team that wants it as much as I want it.
MXlarge: At 19 years old, do you have some goals for the short term?
Olsen: I haven’t though too much about it. It depends how my 2017 season goes and how the offers are. For sure two years in MX2, but I am a big kid and I am not afraid of the 450s at all, but I will see when I get there.
MXlarge: I understand you will do the Redsand International in January and also that they have helped you in the past. Can you explain that for me?
Olsen: Basically, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to ride in Denmark, and we didn’t know where we were going. We spoke to the guys at Redsand, and the tracks there are really good. Bumpy and good weather, so it was good and they wanted to help me a bit with my accommodation. I got a lot of time on the bike and it really got me on the right track for the season and I really appreciate them helping me.
MXlarge: Tell me about that place. Somebody told me it’s red sand, but is it red sand or red dirt?
Olsen: Its actually red dirt, but the rip the track really nicely, so it will be really rutty, kind of like a good GP track. Last year they had three really good tracks and they watered them every day, it was pretty nice.
MXlarge: How will you enter the pre-season races. Is it important to get momentum straight away?
Olsen: The pre-season, I think its important to get a good base, but I don’t need to be top straight away. It’s a long season, so you need to take care and no over do it. I will take it easy, but still do the best I can. I want to be maybe inside the top ten at the end of the season, that is my goal, but I was already top five this year, so I think I already belong there. With the right work I will be good I think.
Images MXGP, MX591