Roger Harvey interview

Roger Harvey the general manager of the HRC efforts on the Grand Prix level knows that sometimes change is needed, and recently the HRC efforts went from Martin Honda to Gariboldi Honda.

We sat down with Roger and asked him about the change, and also about the 2016 season, and what he expects from the 2017 challenge.

MXLarge: Roger, firstly, why the change from Martin Honda to Gariboldi Honda?

Harvey: Basically, they have been very successful the last two seasons, winning the MX2 championship in 2015 and backing it up with the MXGP championship this year. Tim works well in that environment, and Bobby is an HRC rider, and it just made sense to do it that way.

MXlarge: Will that mean anything different for Evgeny, as far as how it’s been for him the past few years?

Harvey: Well, Bobby is based in The Netherlands, so not at all. If we have testing in Italy for example, the guys just come there anyway. And the workshop situation doesn’t change much in that situation, we test near the workshop, wherever that might be.

MXLarge: Looking from the outside, it seemed like Gariboldi and Martin were not run that differently. Is that the case?

Harvey: The structures are pretty similar. I mean this year Gariboldi was an HRC supported team anyway, and Tim’s contract is with HRC. Everything just fit to move that way.

MXlarge: With the changing of the teams, does that mean there are some changes with sponsors? I know both teams didn’t always have the same sponsors.

Harvey: Some sponsors yes, slightly, because HRC have some long term agreements with some sponsors, and we take them to Gariboldi, and that is fine, it’s all been cleared and set.

MXlarge: Can you mention who those sponsors are?

Harvey: Not at the moment, because we are still negotiation with some of them. But you will know soon enough.

MXlarge: Obviously the new bikes were ridden last year, and from talking with the riders, it seemed that they were well received. Tim mentioned at the SMX that he liked the bike straight away. How has the team found the bikes?

Harvey: Everyone is very pleased. Obviously Bobby rode them in a few races at the end of the season, and he had a challenge to get the bike how he liked it, but first impressions was everyone was excited with the power, the handling and the complete bike.

MXLarge: Is that why Bobbys results went off, because he was working on things on the bike?

Harvey: They did go off a little bit, but that is also a characteristic a little of Bobby. He has viewed that and is addressing that. There was added work for him, but it wasn’t the bike why his results changed. That is how his season went, his results at the end were not as good as his results at the start of the season. Next year will be even tougher, because it’s a long calendar. Now in motorsport it’s the longest world championship series in the world, it’s longer than MotoGP, and in a sport as physical as motocross, it’s difficult.

MXlarge: Talking about the calendar. Maybe the teams are happy to see San Marino out, and dropping the series to 19 races. We have some really nice events though. How do you see the calendar with Argentina and Mexico being two weeks apart?

Harvey: To be honest, it’s fine. The travel, it’s a space of a week, but to stay out to Argentina and then travel to Mexico, that is expensive, so travelling back to Europe in between isn’t going to cost a lot more. it swings and roundabouts and I am sure it’s difficult to put a calendar together for any championship and I think everyone will welcome we have one round less.

MXlarge: There are a lot of exciting races. It’s funny, I was thinking about it the other day, and three of the best rounds were Assen, Switzerland and Charlotte, all at the new type of facilities. That says something about the way people look at the series now.

Harvey: Yes, but I think some of the old school circuits also brought good racing. I think the whole season we had some awesome racing and the way 2017 is shaping up, it’s going to be even better. I mean the non-traditional circuit are turning in good racing and good atmosphere. At Assen we were fortunate, because the amount of rain we had, it might not have been possible to race, only maybe Lommel.

MXlarge: I nearly get bored asking this question, but it’s so true. Because between then and now, there have been era’s dominated by guys like Stefan Everts and Antonio Cairoli that haven’t always brought great racing. Even the way the GP’s are presented now by Youthstream, it’s just another level in my opinion. The effort and budget the teams are putting in also, everyone is putting a bigger effort in. You are an old school guy, raced in the golden era of Thorpe, Geboers, Malherbe and Jobe, that 500cc era. How does this era compare to that?

Harvey: There are a bunch of good guys now, and next year there will be even more. Era’s past you also had several good guys, and not just one who was better than everyone else. I mean now, who would you put your five euro on to win it. There are a number of riders capable of winning. The television coverage from Youthstream now is brilliant, and you hear from industry people in America now commenting on how the MXGP series is shown and how good it is and how much they enjoy watching it. Also manufacturers have stepped up to the plate and it’s what FIM wanted, a global series. FIM have said it for ages and now YS want it also. Obviously from europe the European manufacturers are investing more, and the Japans are also getting involved more. You see a lot more Japanese engineers over for the races.

MXLarge: I remember in the 1970’s or 80s in Australia we were really into the AMA series, because it was more known to us. With internet it seems to have opened up the Grand Prix series more, with those really cool video’s Youthstream are doing. I don’t know how it was in Europe back then, but it seems like it’s pretty level with interest. I mean America is a bigger market, so a bigger audience, but you have a lot of American companies involved in your team, with FOX and FMF and others. Have you noticed a bigger interest from the American industry now?

Harvey: They do put a lot of emphasis on MXGP now and they can see the benefit from it. Not only the coverage. I mean the interest from America has just grown and grown. You have supercross in America, which is what a lot of people watch, maybe less watch the outdoors, but we have that calibre of riders and the American people now know how good this series is. Look at the Motocross of Nations, the Americans are always there, but not pulling it off anymore.

MXlarge: Herlings vs Gajser battle. I have a poll on mxlarge and like 2000 people have voted and around 44% think Gajser will win it, and 43% are going with Herlings, while the other riders in the poll have just 13% of the votes between them. If I talk to riders or team managers, they all feel Herlings is special, but he makes mistakes. Is that what is going to make it interesting, if he can dominate, or will he make mistakes?

Harvey: I don’t think anyone will dominate. If I am honest, I think we will see different winners. I know working with Tim, I have seen consistently and maturity coming into his riding, but you can also see that with Jeffrey. They both makes little mistakes here and there. Romain, having won it and not won it, he will come back stronger I think. Clement Desalle, he can come in there, Tixier we saw him win a world championship, but not perform on the big bike. I think we will see a few guys potentially win.