Mitch Evans interview - Super Start
Posted on February 11, 2020
Australian Mitch Evans might just be the dark horse in the 2020 MXGP championship. The HRC rider showed in the three pre-season races that he has something a little special as he scored a handful of runner-up finishes and ended his pre-season preparation with a race win in the super-final last weekend.
While it is just the pre-season, many are looking at the Aussie as a possible top ten guy in the MXGP class, and maybe even a podium guy on occasion. Setting goals is something that Evans does, and he goes into the opening round in Matterley Basin with high hopes of a top five finish, and set-up a strong 2020.
We caught up with Evans today and asked him about his pre-season, his enjoyment of being on a 450, his newly formed relationship with Tim Gasjer and a special lady who has turned up in his life in Europe.
MXlarge: Firstly, congratulations, you did bloody well mate?
Evans: Yes, thank you very much.
MXLarge: Tell me, those pre-season races, they can really go wrong for riders, sometimes you see guys really struggling, but you had a really good run this year. How was it for you last year on the 250?
Evans: I did those three last year and I did okay in the first one, terrible in Ottobiano because it was snowing and I had never ridden in anything like that, and Mantova was okay, I just struggled with my starts being on the 250. This year we had the bike pretty good and I only had a couple of days on the new bike, but we had the starts really good straight away. I knew if I got good starts, I could run with the guys up front and my fitness is good.
MXLarge: Can you tell in practice your starts are good, or just in the racing?
Evans: I guess when you do practice starts, you think it feels good, but you don’t really know with other guys until you race. I remember last year that was a big problem for me and they felt good in practice, but then we got to the races and they felt bad. You don’t really know until you get to the race.
MXLarge: I mean, that has to be the most pleasing thing from the three rounds, because you and Tim were just about first and second in every race.
Evans: Yes, exactly, and this new bike is really good for the start and we have focused on that, and it showed in these Italian races.
MXlarge: Winning that super-final on Sunday, you beat two guys with a bunch of World championships. Can you get your head in the clouds a little and think about that, or you have to stay focused?
Evans: Obviously we kind of laughed at that, because together they have like 12 World championships.
MXLarge: And a shitload of GP wins, like 120 something GP wins.
Evans: Yes, and you know, it is pretty cool to think about it, but you have to remind yourself it was just a pre-season race and it isn’t a Grand Prix and not everyone was there. It is cool to achieve that this early in the season.
MXlarge: Now you have had that sort of pre-season, you must be super confident going into Matterley?
Evans: It is only a pre-season race, but it definitely gives me a lot of confidence. I know how my body feels at the moment and I am not even close to being 100%, I am a lot happier with the position I am in this year, because this year I have a lot of building left to do and get stronger and fitter and this time last year my body was already burnt out.
MXlarge: That is something I wanted to ask you, because obviously in the MX2 class you are thrashing the bike to death and it is wide open, but on the 450, you look so comfortable and in control. Was it good to have that MX2 year and it actually makes you appreciate the 450 even more? How is it for you?
Evans: Yes, I mean it was good to do a year to see all the tracks and see how everything works, but I knew deep down I am more suited for the 450 and I think my riding style isn’t too out of control and I want to be smooth and that helps when you ride fast on a 450. I always wanted to be racing the best in the World on the big bikes and to be running up front already is pretty cool.
MXLarge: When you are following Tim, say in that super-final, do you push hard, or are you not giving it 100%?
Evans: I actually woke up with the flu on Sunday morning and it was like, okay, we will get through the first race, see how that goes and then do the super-final and focus on the start and the first couple of laps and if I start to get tired I will back it down a little. Once I passed Tim, I felt really good and I guess there was no backing off now, and I felt way better physically in the second moto than the first moto. Any race you give it 100%, that is for sure.
MXlarge: I remember speaking to you in Argentina last year and it was the first time I met you. Now I am not a racer, but I have spoken to a lot of World champions and elite riders, and you sometimes see something in a rider, that impresses you, and I remember walking away from our first talk and thinking there is something Chad Reed about that guy. Did you hear compliments like that from other people?
Evans: No, but that is pretty cool, thanks for that compliment. I get some comments on Instagram and that type of thing. Nobody has compared me to anyone like that, but I try and steer away from reading those comments and doing my program. I have a good group of people around me to keep me focused and I try and keep my head clear and focus on the job.
MXlarge: Your girlfriend was over from Australia for Mantova. Is that a big help having her around?
Evans: Well, actually, she lives in Paris. I met her in November. She dances at the Moulin Rouge and it is a pretty cool we found each other. We were both in the same position, struggling a little over here, with nobody outside our work and now we met and have an escape from our work. It has been a big help for both of us.
MXlarge: How did you meet?
Evans: Her roommate, is actually a family friend of mine, I have known her since I was born. So, we are from the same town in Australia and she said whenever I am in Paris let her know and I can stay at their place. So, when I went to the Paris Supercross, I hit them up. I dragged her along to the Paris supercross and the rest is history.
MXlarge: I was watching the live stream from Italy, and I saw she was pretty excited that you won that race, and you mentioned that it was a good way to impress your girlfriend. Was she impressed?
Evans: Yes, well, the cool thing about her, before she met me, she knew nothing about motocross, and she is still trying to learn it. It was special to have her there for my first race win in Europe. She was more excited than me. Very special to have her there and have another Aussie there to hear the National Anthem. I can’t remember the last time the Australian anthem was played at a motocross race.
MXlarge: My guess it was Dean Ferris at the Belgian GP back around 2012 or 2013.
Evans: There you go. For me it was really a special moment and we were singing it together.
MXlarge: Do you get emotional during that anthem?
Evans: A little bit, and it was only a pre-season race. It made me hungry to hear it at a GP now.
MXlarge: Whenever an Aussie win, and they play the anthem, I usually end up in tears, so I hope you can make my cry in 2020.
Evans: I might be joining you mate.
MXlarge: I have a question about working with Tim. He is one of the nicest guys in the paddock, and I can imagine great to work with.
Evans: He is a nice guy, it is really good, we get on great from the stat and he can get on with anyone. He is a bit quiet, but once you get to know him, he opens up and has some jokes and it is great to have somebody like him in my first year as a factory rider.
MXlarge: Last question. With that really good pre-season, how do you now go into Matterley, not putting too much pressure on yourself and taking it as it comes, without a goal?
Evans: The goal is still the same, to finish top five there and get two good starts. I know if I get two good starts I can run with those boys and that is still the goal. I actually would like to finish on the podium, that would be really cool. I have finished on the podium at the opening round of the championships I have contested the last three years (in Australian and Argentina last year) and it would be cool to keep that going.
Bavo Swijgers images and HRC