Will To Victory - Stefan Everts interview

Posted on April 15, 2019

Sometimes a book comes out that really captures our sport, Roddy MacLeod has done just that with his book Will To Win. 

Looking into why our legends were capable of doing what they did and asking them questions to find out who they really are. 

Below is our first look into the book. Of course, buying the book is possible, and if you really love our sport, it is a must. A link is available below for you to do just that.

Stefan Everts Interview
Lummen, Belgium 
24 July 2018

Stefan Everts is the only rider in the world to amass ten world championships. The rider closest to matching this record is Antonio Cairoli with nine. For the next closest rider you have to go all the way back to another Belgian, Joël Robert, who secured six world titles between 1964 and 1972. Stefan’s run began in 1991 with a 125cc world championship and he was, at that time, the youngest champion ever at just 18 years old. He then put together a string of three 250cc world championships between 1995 and 1997. He finished his career with six straight championship seasons between 2001 through 2006. 

Six world championships in a row.

When Stefan finished his career in 2006, he wrapped up the title with two rounds remaining in Namur, Belgium. That season he won 14 out of 15 events making him the first rider to reach 100 grand prix victories, finally ending with 101. Twelve of those wins in 2006 were perfect 1-1 weekends. He then put in a dominating individual performance at the Motocross des Nations in Matterley Basin, England, where he squared off with, and squarely beat, the rising American star James Stewart. Not every champion manages to leave the sport on their feet.

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I was able to watch Stefan closely during his last three seasons and I saw a proud, powerful and intelligent man in complete control of his surroundings and preparation. At times calculating and cold. Ruthless with competitors. I also saw discipline, grace and humility. He made himself available to fans and media. In those days he was the picture of harmony with his environment. He controlled the paddock and, after the first few rounds each season, everyone else raced for second place. 

Today he lives with his family on five hectares of private land hidden amongst quiet farms near the Zolder racing circuit in Lummen, Belgium. I drove to Stefan’s house in the days following Loket because he offered to meet me there. I arrived early and waited outside the walled-off property. At the agreed time, I called Stefan on his mobile. He’d just finished working out and yes, he would buzz me in. The doors of the property swung open under an electrical command and I walked under the canopy of trees lining the drive to the prim home. As I approached, Stefan stepped through the front door and welcomed me inside.

We made a quick tour of the house including what he calls the "man cave". A large room in the annex of the house with a high ceiling filled with memorabilia from his career. Some championship bikes, mannequins wearing his helmets and riding gear, several large leather padded sofas, a DJ table and a glass plaque holding all his Motocross des Nations medals. There’s a lot of medals.

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The weather was warm and sunny, as it had been all summer in Europe, so we agreed to sit on the veranda in their spacious back yard beside the pool. We drank water and talked for several hours. We could have talked for days because there are so many aspects of his career. So where to start? I began with what was on my mind - how Stefan, and other champions, manage to force their will onto the other riders in the series. Ultimately, it is the champion’s mindset that shapes the season and Stefan’s method was domination. No better topic, and no better person, with whom to begin.

Will To Victory: The domination of the paddock. You can see it with Jeffrey Herlings this year. It comes to a point where the rider’s belief in his world championship becomes other people’s belief. I think everyone in the paddock this year believes Jeffrey will win. And I believe, when you were racing, most years everyone in the paddock believed you would win. The first rounds you see everybody is still going full gas because they believe they have a chance. They have their own vision of their year. And then, after some rounds, the order gets established. Or not, and the battle continues. And the best seasons are when nobody gives up. It’s a little bit of this I want to talk about, this domination of the paddock. How does one manage that? How do you get there? How does the idea go from your mind into the minds of everyone else?

Stefan Everts: I think, to start off, you are not working your ass off in the winter to have that goal to dominate the paddock. You think, "I want to win this championship" and be as ready as possible. At one point, like in the situation now with Jeffrey, everyone has been beaten before the start. Everyone is already racing for second place. They know that Jeffrey is from another league. But everyone is beatable, even Jeffrey herrings is beatable, but you have to find the way how and for sure its going to take a lot of hard work because the work he puts in is a lot. You are going to have to also put in a lot, maybe even more, and find that weak spot. But it’s true, that’s the way it is. You’ve seen that in many championships, and many big champions, that the paddock is already beaten before the race has started. 

For me, in my time, I wanted to control everything. I wanted to be in charge. That was my goal always. To control my riding, my bike, my setup, my rivals, tracks and control myself. Control my mind, control my confidence. It’s about being a control freak. Not everyone is getting to that point but I was lucky to get there. I could go to a GP and know in advance what to expect already, what was coming. So again, it was control about situations that were coming and, especially in my last years, I was most of the time right. And it felt good. That gave me a big satisfaction, to be the boss, you know, and control everything. To control the paddock, to control motocross. This felt good. I felt like a king then. Just for myself, not to play it outside to the people and act like that, but that was my satisfaction. 

Those are the first thousand words from Roddy MacLeod's lengthy interview with grand prix racing legend Stefan Everts for his book, Will To Victory. MacLeod spent 2018 following the grand prix series and produced the hefty 288 page, extremely high quality photo book featuring 15 rounds from the season, rider profiles and interviews with Stefan's father, Harry Everts, Joël Smets and David Thorpe. 

All with the goal to uncover their secrets to becoming multi-time world champions. 

You can purchase this exceptional book and read customer and industry reviews for yourself at www.willtovictory.com.

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