Stefan Everts interview
The greatest Grand Prix rider of all time, Stefan Everts, continues to make changes to the Suzuki factory team in their efforts to climb to the top of the MXGP and MX2 championships.
It isn’t going to be easy as the team still struggles with budgets. Everts recently signed a handful of young talent, to boost the teams future, including young Australian riders Jett and Hunter Lawrence. Not to mention Zach Pichon, the son of one of Everts rivals, Mickael Pichon.
MXlarge: Firstly your first year as owner of the team. How has it been, has it been what you expected or tougher.
Everts: In some ways it’s been difficult and in some ways its been ok. I knew from the beginning it would be something that takes a few years to build a team around me like I want. I have in some ways a different vision or different way of doing it. In the last months we went through some changes internally, which wasn’t easy, but in the end I am here to bring a good result and try and get this team in a position to win and I feel these changes need to be made for that.
MXlarge: Can you mention what those changes are?
Everts: Basically, we changed a lot of mechanics and a lot of people. Also to have a new start with some people, and other small changes. It is slowly putting our identity into it, and it’s still going to take a few years. I didn’t that we would step in and have a fantastic season, so I am ok with it.
MXlarge: Obviously your biggest problem is budget I guess?
Everts: Yes it is, we have to compete against the other teams, and I think we have the smallest budget as far as the factory teams go. That is the way it is, and I am trying to invest in the young riders. That is why we have four MX2 riders.
MXlarge: Obviously these guys are not that expensive, and you have some real talents in there.
Everts: Yes, we have the Lawrence kids, Zach Pichon, he is also a very good rider. There have been promising riders in the past and many didn’t succeed. We have to make steps and to be honest I didn’t expect to sign the Lawrence brothers. That came as a surprise and a good surprise to be honest.
MXlarge: Working with Mickaels (Pichons) son, that is very interesting, because obviously you and Mickael have very different characters. Will Mickael be working within the team?
Everts: Actually we are very similar. We know that Mickael is an emotional guy, and he can be very explosive, Zach is different, he is very shy and that might take some time to get over that. Of course Mickael is involved, you can’t just take away the fathers and for sure because he was a good racer. I am sure there will be occasions that there are issues and we try the best for the kids and we will run the team how we want to run it.
MXlarge: Is it possible that Mickael will work with other riders in the team?
Everts: No, he will help his son, but it’s good to have him around and he can see what the other boys are doing. At the moment Zachery has an injury with his foot, but he had ridden the bike and liked it. He will be back in the middle of December.
MXlarge: There are rumors the Stewarts are looking around for a ride. Have you had any contact with the brothers for MXGP?
Everts: Yes, already in Charlotte we talked with Malcolm, not with James. We just don’t have the space and to step in for just a few races, that isn’t possible. There was contact, but that was it.
MXlarge: What about 2017? This year Kevin won a GP, Jeremy did really well, you had some nice moments. So many riders with potential though.
Everts: I have high expectations in the MX2 class with Jeremy. He showed a lot this year, and I think he is ready to battle for the championship in 2017. We are working really hard at the moment to get his bike better so he can compete with the others, for sure in the starts, that is a big focus. He was like 10 times on the podium this year, and I think we can really challenge for this championship. For Bas and Hunter, these kids have the time to grow and we just want to see progress. Same with Zachery in the EMX, I hope we can do some podiums and maybe even some wins.
MXlarge: Speaking of these young guys. It is clear the Lawrence brothers have a lot of talent, and the other young guys you have. That sounds like me what you will enjoy more than anything, is helping guys with talent. You did it with Jeffrey (Herlings), Jordi (Tixier) and Pauls (Jonass) and all showed good results.
Everts: Sure, I always like that. It’s a gamble to give kids a chance, and try and build them up. It was the same with Pauls Jonass, and he won championships, just as Hunter did. I need this and I also want these guys to move to the MXGP championship. That is why I pushed to sign Jeremy for 2018 and 2019, he one of the riders we can still afford, I still need some riders coming into MXGP. Maybe who knows he can do something great in 2018. If he can have a good confidence builder in 2017 and then make the step. We have seen it with Gajser and Febvre and hopefully my plan will fall into place. Same with Hunter, we want it to be long term. I mean it was the same with Brian Hsu, but it just didn’t work out with his family and mainly his father. That is sad to see, because he is a fantastic rider.
MXlarge: I remember standing next to you at the MXoN, and you mentioned how much you would like to ride that track. I mean the MXoN the atmosphere was so awesome. Maggiora was a really beautiful track, with some nice technical sections up the back. I imagined you would have been really good there. Does it still tickle inside as a former racer, and how is your pace these days? .
Everts: I would have been nice, the track conditions would have suited me well, it was my type of track. Physically I am just too weak. I can go fast for maybe one or two laps, but then my arms start pumping up. If I ride my pace I am ok, I mean I still have the technique and the speed, but not the fitness. I mean to get fit is hard and I don’t have the time and you need to maintain that fitness. Last weekend we did an enduro trip with the boys, also a team building week. Enduro riding is easy and I could keep up with them, and I could sometimes get up the difficult hills easier than them. Its different being on a motocross track though, it costs too much energy and after 10 years what do you expect.
MXlarge: How about the Redsand race. I know you have a good contact with them. How important is it for you guys to do that race?
Everts: We have been going there many years, the training school for many years. I know they are trying to do something special there. He has a great facility, with great dirt. it’s fantastic dirt and a really nice track. It is also good weather. Hawkstone Park is always difficult with rain and cold and sometimes even snow. The 16th until the 22nd, we are happy to be there with the MX2 team. We have difficulties for the MXGP guys waiting for material, and we don’t want to go there with just one bike.
Ray Archer and Gary Freeman images