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Kay De Wolf interview - Back On Top

Kay De Wolf interview - Back On Top

Jul 1

  • Interview

Nestaan Husqvarna rider Kay De Wolf has without doubt put his mark on the 2024 MX2 World championship, starting the season with three straight GP wins, building a huge points lead and while bad luck, his own mistakes and many other issues, it had been a bit of a rollercoaster heading into the MXGP of Lombok last weekend.

In really tough, warm conditions, and with one moto being dry and the other muddy, the red-headed Dutchman came out swinging, to go 1-1 and really put his stamp on the opening Indonesian round.

Always confident and with a really good team of people around him, De Wolf not only won the GP, but made a big step in becoming the first MX2 World champion from The Netherlands since, THE Dutchman, Jeffrey Herlings won the title in 2016, nearly a decade ago.

De Wolf, always polite and well spoken chatted with us after his win and he talked about the win, the bad luck, possibly racing a 450 for The Netherlands in the MXoN, and of course, his dream to race in America at some stage of his career.

MXlarge: Congratulations. I mean, Benelux guys have won every Grand Prix in 2024. What is that about is there something in the water in The Netherlands and Belgium?

De Wolf: Well, at least the water in Belgium and Holland is better than here. I don’t know what they were thinking about that second moto, but I think they really like the water here (the track was unfortunately over-watered by some over-zealous local track workers in the second moto). I don’t know what was going on, but it was ridiculous. Still, we made it 1-1, which was good.

MXLarge: You won the first three, built a huge points lead, but it’s been up and down since then, so getting this win and putting it back on track must have been good, but that points lead must make it a lot easier when times are tough?

De Wolf: Yes, my points lead has been good from the third round. Even after that, we went to Portugal and I was really struggling, been on the ground in every single session. I was struggling there, but then we went to Lugo and the riding was really good. I didn’t get on the podium, but still go my points lead bigger, and even the round after that, we went to France and I think I got back on the podium and I kept making my points lead bigger, so it was a good beginning of the season. I am feeling really comfortable with that points lead.

MXLarge: But it did get a bit messy with some of the rounds, didn’t it?

De Wolf: Yes, I had a few tough GPs, with people crashing in front of me, at the starts, and in the qualification in Maggiora, a stupid crash. We didn’t do a sighting lap there, because the bike would be really heavy (muddy track again). I don’t think that was the biggest problem from that crash, but Mikkel was behind me, and he said my rear wheel just started spinning, because it was a bit of a blue groove underneath the mud. I just spun on the take-off, hit a kicker on the jump, threw me over the bars and Mikkel went into my bike, which bent my handlebars pretty bad. It was a tough qualification there. We just had some bad luck, so going 1-1 again feels pretty good.

MXlarge: You seem to be very good under pressure, because there have been many races where you have had to battle either your team-mate, or somebody else and you always look in control and not stressed. Do you have somebody you speak to; a lot of riders have mental coaches.I know from seeing it with my own eyes, that Ruben was very good for Jeffrey and helped him a lot with the mental approach. Do you have somebody or is it just Ruben who helps you with that?

De Wolf: Yes, Ruben is helping me a lot, he is really good with this, and he has so much experience. We just want top three in every moto, top three is gold. If we are in the top three it is amazing, and we say that every time we go out on track. If you keep telling yourself you have to win, that puts on too much pressure and that is a lot of pressure and to win. It might not look like it when I am racing, but there are many things going on in this World, many people watching, so if you keep putting that pressure on yourself, to win, and for me, top three is realistic at the moment. After my first three wins, I had some difficult ones, but still increased my points lead and we are looking at the big picture and that is what we focus on.

MXlarge: The closer we get to the end of the season, you will have to think about the championship, or do you just not allow that to get into your head?

De Wolf: No, we don’t think about that. We practice all week and so many things can happen. I can tell you, practicing before coming here to Indonesia, I was pretty lucky while training. I went to a normal practice track. I was riding the 450, doing serious motos on that bike and there was a guy who had crashed behind a jump. I jumped on top of his bike, which could have been really bad, but lucky for me, I was okay. I saved it and didn’t crash myself. That can always happen, and it doesn’t need to be my fault.

MXLarge: I have spoken to so many motocross riders about the elements of a race weekend. Way more involved than probably any other sport, when it comes to your body, the bike, the track, the weather, nutrition, how was your training, sickness, just numerous things that can happen in a season. So much has to be correct to have success.

De Wolf: Yes, and for sure, I am 100% sure, there has never been a rider, who hasn’t gone through a season, who gets through a championship, without one GP without pain. I cannot believe there has been a rider who goes through a season without some type of pain, at a Grand Prix. There are so many things going on, as I said about my experience last week. Managing those races where you struggle and have pain, I think I have managed that really well this year.

MXLarge: What is it with red-heads and tough conditions like this, because guys like Ricky Carmichael, or Tyla Rattray were great when it was tough conditions and warm?

De Wolf: I don’t know, my fitness is really good, and I don’t know what it is. I am working a lot with Ruben, working really hard and that is paying off on days like today. All the work you do and then jump on the bike for a few hours is no problem. After the first moto I felt really good and was already feeling good about the second moto. Some guys were telling me they were struggling with the heat, but I really didn’t have any problem with it. We have to go through it, so complaining about it doesn’t help.

MXlarge: I read somewhere that the Dutch had already picked the team, which would be you, Jeffrey and Calvin. It seems pretty early to pick a team, but have you heard anything?

De Wolf: Seriously, I haven’t heard a thing (MXLarge also spoke to Calvin for an interview, who had also heard nothing). I said to our team-manager from the Dutch federation, I am up for everything. I am up to ride the 450, if they want to put Rick (Elzinga) on the 250, I am riding the 450 a lot.

MXlarge: Obviously you are quicker on the 450, but does it feel better than the 250?

De Wolf: Of course, quicker, but I am feeling really good on that bike and if I compare myself to Mattia (Guadagnini), my speed is good, and I am up for riding that thing. If I need to save my country, well, not save my country, but you know what I mean, I wouldn’t think for a second if they asked me to ride the 450 for my country.

MXLarge: American, we keep hearing you want to go, but are you in negotiations with anyone for the future. What is your idea about racing in America in your future?

De Wolf: It is a dream for sure. It is still in the back of my mind, but I still have a contact for Grand Prix in 2025 and I have to see what the possible plans are. Maybe go there this winter and so some supercross riding and see how I feel on the whoops. I would love to do that this winter and see if I enjoy it and if I can hit some whoops sections, then I am up for the challenge and if that works out, I need to make that dream happen.

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