There are plenty of nice guys in the Grand Prix paddock, and on many occasions the nice guys just donít seem to cut it when the chips are down. You know when a rider finds himself with his back to the wall and needs to perform under pressure, itís usually the hard to deal with rider or the rider is that is a little unsocial who can dig deeper than the rest.
I could go through a long list of my favorite people in the paddock and many of them are too nice to dice, too good a person to actually be a contender in this the toughest sport in the World. To win in this sport you have to have a touch of selfishness.
You name them, Everts, Cairoli, Roczen, Herlings, Musquin, Pichon, Smets, all these guys think a lot of themselves and their self confidence can sometimes border on being cocky, or even arrogant. To win you need to be selfish, you need to think only about yourself a guy who doesn’t really care what others think and have a mental approach to your sport where you would possibly do anything to win.
I could also name a bunch of guys who are maybe too nice to actually win a World title. How about Rui Goncalves where does he fit into the equation. The Portuguese rider is simply a really, really good person. Brought up correctly by his parents, always polite, but Rui does have that X factor, believe me, he might be running around in sixth or seventh place in this year’s World MX1 Championship, but Goncalves has the potential to be a GP winner in the MX1 class, just as he was in the MX2 class.
Having struggled through tough times in 2009 and 2010, both due to injury and circumstances out of his control. His mentality and motivation was tested to the limit and the Honda Factory rider is slowly regrouping, making steps in the right direction and looking for ways to get to the front of the MX1 pack, just as he did in Portugal a couple of weeks ago.
While there is improvement you can always look at Goncalves with positive thoughts. He’s been around the top five at nearly every GP this year and in front of him are some riders who are riding very, very well. The Cairoli’s, Desalles, Frossards are on another level at the moment, but Goncalves is slowly building his speed and his confidence.
We sat down with Rui and asked him about his past and the present and as always we were excited to talk to a young man who knows what he wants and more importantly is working hard to get it.
Motocross Illustrated: Rui, I remember watching you in 2009 and you were so fast, then you had that injury to your shoulder and it’s been a long road back. Can you tell me about that?
Goncalves: In 2009 I was second in the World Championship and coming into 2010 I thought everything was going to be okay and I was getting ready, I thought it was going to be okay. But then I had to have an operation to repair my shoulder and it didn’t start as I wanted it to. I missed the first two GPs and obviously you know coming from being second in the World and then being outside the top ten in a races was tough at the beginning. It was such a short period and everyone was asking what is going on with Rui, but then I started getting good results and it was all good. Obviously 2010 is not a season I want to remember, apart from being in the bigger bike, which was good, but that first part of the season I couldn’t do much. I just needed to be happy with what it was.
Motocross Illustrated: I can imagine it’s really tough to get through that. What gets a rider through a period like that, because some guys struggle when the going it tough? I remember seeing you in Holland, a circuit where just 12 months earlier you dominated and you looked terrible.
Goncalves: That is the point where you need to be strong in the head, because that is the point where you can say to yourself if I can’t do this anymore, I can’t fight for this anymore and then for sure you won’t get back, you need to be patient and you can’t fight the nature of your body. My injury was difficult to come back at a good time. I rode just two weeks before Valkenswaard and as you mentioned I really struggled there. I had to trust my program and keep fighting. It was like I wanted to catch a train, but the train was already past and I need to chase it and catch it.
Motocross Illustrated: Going from nearly winning a World title, and then suddenly you are not even on the pace. I can’t even imagine how tough that is.
Goncalves: You pass from number two in the World to 15th guy in the pack, I mean, it’s tough, and mentally it’s tough, but I learnt a lot from it and I took it as a challenge. Every day you live and learn things. It just shows how strong you need to be in life, no matter how it goes, then you fight for something and injuries put you back, but you need to find a way to get back there.
Motocross Illustrated: And then you lose your ride with the biggest Motocross team in the World. How was that, not getting resigned by KTM?
Goncalves: You know, I had really good relationships in KTM, I worked five years with them, two years as a privateer and three years in the factory team and I built really good relationships. Those people who taught me a lot, they mean a lot to me. Stefan (Everts) was the guy who brought me to KTM and Pit (Beirer) has always been a great guy to me, and also Heinze Kinigadner, everyone was good.
Read the full interview below.