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Calvin Vlaanderen - Podium

Calvin Vlaanderen - Podium

Jul 3

  • Interview

For Monster Energy Yamaha factory rider Calvin Vlaanderen, the opening round of the double header in Indonesia turned into a dream come true as after a couple of years of being off the podium, the South African/Dutchman worked hard, put together consistent results and was rewarded with a podium finish.

His 4-4 results might not be the same as his Grand Prix victories in the past, but when you are lining up against two five time World champions in Jeffrey Herlings and Tim Gajser and the defending champion, Jorge Prado, who also happens to be a three time World champion, then you know you have your back to the wall.

Add to the fact, these three have around 200 GP wins to their names and then that challenge of finishing on the podium is made all that much more difficult. Vlaanderen though is pretty old school, and putting the work in and knowing that it will only take hard work to challenge these guys, then that podium is made possible.

We caught up with the tall, blonde Yamaha rider and asked him about his weekend.

MXLarge: Firstly, congratulations, it has been a while since the last one and I can imagine it isn’t easy getting on the podium with the opposition you have, three guys that are nearly impossible to beat, but you, did it?

Vlaanderen: Yes, thanks very much and yes, it does feel really good. Like you said, it was two years ago I was on the podium, with the win in Sardinia and I tied for a win in Lommel. Last year I had one race win, but my best wasn’t enough to be on the box. To finally be on the box feels really good. Like you said, I am battling all multi-time World champions, with Jorge, Jeffrey and Tim. So, to be up there, it just isn’t easy, and you have to be really good in both motos and I haven’t been good in both motos this year. I have been a couple of times in the top three, but only on one moto and the other moto not, so that is why you have to be consistent there and today I was, so I am really to put it together. I am getting closer to them, and I am showing that to myself and everyone else.

MXLarge: You are the fourth guy now behind the big three and I don’t know if you have been the fourth guy in MXGP before (in the points) and it is tough. Romain is obviously out, and Jeremy is struggling a bit, but what makes the difference, just hard work and grinding it out?

Vlaanderen: Every year I make steps and improve and if you look at the results over the last few years, I have just gotten better and better. Now, coming into a factory team, it has given me that extra boost that I needed. I have the people behind me, a factory bike definitely helps, the last percentages together, to be able to fight up front. That is definitely the difference.

MXlarge: We have talked about the big three, Prado, Gajser and Herlings and they are clearly pushing each other to another level, which means if you want to catch them, or get close, you also have to raise your game. You mentioned the current team and people around you has helped, but it must be frustrating and fun all at the same time, this challenge to catch them?

Vlaanderen: Yes, I mean, I am battling the fastest riders in the World and if I take a step back, I am super blessed to be where I am, but, as an athlete, you always want more, pushing and pushing to be up there. As you said, they are fighting for the title, so they are giving everything each race and I need to be one step better to fight for the podium. It is tough, its tough. I mean, Romain is injured, and he is another guy who is always there. I feel I am better than the guys behind me, a little bit better and I am in between those guys and the front guys.

MXLarge: You had a bit of a battle with Jeremy, I am not sure who started it, but I did see Jeremy block you trying to pass, which I guess is okay, but it did look a little dirty. I don’t know if it is dirty or what, but who started that and what did you think of it?

Vlaanderen: It is racing at the end of the day, but to be honest, I didn’t like what he did. You can block pass somebody, but you don’t have to stop. It was like he intentionally changed his line to take me down and that isn’t necessary. I passed him cleanly, there is nothing wrong with that. You don’t need to put somebody on the ground to beat them.

MXLarge: You think maybe Jeremy is a bit frustrated as you seem to have taken his spot a little. He doesn’t look comfortable at the moment.

Vlaanderen: I get on well with Jeremy, no beef with him. I didn’t speak to him after the first race obviously and I don’t understand why he tried to run me wide like that. If I was him, I would have let me pass, try and catch on or follow, learn some things. It is racing at the end of the day, and I am not complaining. Racing hard is fine, but don’t intentionally try and put somebody down.

MXLarge: This whole experience of Indonesia and the fly-aways, do you enjoy it, are you looking forward to the week between the races?

Vlaanderen: Basically, I will chill, try and recover from this weekend. Spend some time with the team, we will go to Gili Island on Wednesday, Tuesday night we had a team dinner, with the whole team. So, just chill out, spend time with the team and time with my girlfriend. Just take it easy and get ready for the weekend.

MXlarge: What makes the difference with the factory team, I mean, obviously they are more organized and that type of thing, but are there curtain things that stand out for you, from being a privateer?

Vlaanderen: There are a lot of things that stand out for me, for example today, I didn’t have the best start yesterday, because the mess is a little different to what we ride back home. It was a bit aggressive off the line. So, with mapping, the came to me and said we have a video of the bike, we see on the data that it was too aggressive, so we are going to tame it down a little bit. Do you agree with this or not and I was like yes and today, I had two good starts. It is small things, so before, I didn’t have these types of people around me to do these things. That is just one small thing, but these small percentages, they make the difference.

MXLarge: Motocross of Nations, have you heard anything?

Vlaanderen: I haven’t heard anything, but its going to be a good team, which is for sure.

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