American racer Thomas Covington has scored his second Grand Prix victory last weekend in Mexico, adding to his 2015 GP win in the same country. After a slow start in Qatar, Indonesia and Argentina, the rider from Alabama came alive in Leon, Mexico, and proved to himself that he does belong at the very top of the MX2 podium.
We caught up with Covington after his long flight back home and as he settled into his comfortable home in Lommel, Belgium, he gave us 10 minutes of his time before getting a well earned rest.
Getting that second GP win—I mean you had won one—but I guess until you win two, it’s a little like maybe the first one was a bit lucky. Does winning two give you more confidence?
For sure, especially that second moto. It was one of the best moto’s of my career so far. Just in the fact I really had to work for it. The track conditions, well, it wasn’t a mud race. It is nice after having so much bad luck the first three rounds. It’s good to have something like that, just what I needed.
I spoke to Danny Laporte [former world motocross champion] about the track, and he mentioned it was a track that needed a lot of concentration. Obviously winning on a track like that, that is really difficult, that has to be the icing on the cake. I mean if you win on a track that suits you well, that’s easier, although it seems like Mexico is good for you. Does that give even more satisfaction, because you really had to be controlled and mentally strong?
I don’t really know, and I haven’t thought about that part of it much. I have done well in Mexico, and some people said the track was like a Southern Californian track—hard pack—but it really is something different. They watered it a lot on Saturday and it got some pretty weird lines in it. It dried out super hard for Sunday and its definitely cool winning on a brutal track like that. The main thing I am thinking now is to win on the gnarly tracks in Europe.
Winning two GPs—a lot of Americans have won GPs—you are the 34th American to win a GP. There are some pretty impressive names ahead of you. Broc Glover, Johnny O’Mara, Jim Pomeroy and Marty Smith have three wins, and guys like Ricky Johnson, Jeff Stanton and Tallon Vohland have four wins. Would it be a goal to pass those guys, and move up the all-time winner list for American riders?
I haven’t really thought about it until you mentioned it to me. I am not really a guy going for records or anything like that, I just want to go out and get the best results I can get. Not going for records, my main goal is really just the championship. That is all I am working for.
Now you are back in Europe, and all those ridiculously long flights are over and you don’t have to live out of a suit-case, does that feel good? Holland this coming weekend and then Italy for the GP.
Yes, I will ride the Dutch championship this weekend. Yes, for sure, you can get back into your normal rhythm, but it’s the same for everybody. I really enjoyed going home for a couple of weeks before Mexico. I have always liked the fly-away GPs. Even though the travel does kind of suck sometimes, but it’s the cool and unique things about racing the GPs. Coming back to Europe the season is fully starting. It will be nice to get back to my apartment in Lommel and get into a good routine.
You mentioned the travel, and you couldn’t have had four more different countries to visit. How did you find the experiences and was there a stand out as far as the cultural thing?
I think Indonesia. That was the one that stood out the most. Not necessarily in a positive way, but it was a new place and I had never been there before. The weather was unfortunate and unlucky. I will remember that one for a while. I have never ridden a track that was so gnarly. Qatar and Argentina, I like both those tracks and Argentina is my favorite Grand Prix of the year. Me and my dad spent a couple of days after the race going fly fishing. We will probably do that again next year. It was a trip of a lifetime.
Your dad and mum were in Mexico. How nice is that to have your parents there while the American national anthem is being played and you are on top of the podium?
Yes, for sure. My parents get over to several races each year, so it’s not that big a deal, but for sure nice having them there when the national anthem is playing and I am on top of the podium. That was the best moment of the weekend for sure.
Obviously, the talk about MXsports and Youthstream having the deal to run the USGP. With it being held at Gatorback, that seems like a track you would like. I am guessing you raced there a bit as an amateur?
Yes, for sure. I mean, I never had a huge amount of success there—I won a few amateur titles there. I really love going down there and the track is really awesome. It will be really cool going back there. I have a lot of memories there and spent thanksgiving [Mini O’s Winter Nationals] there every years since I was like five or six years old. It will be fun going there.
Saying that you have won Mexico twice, but having ridden Gatorback—it’s going to be warm that time of year, can you look forward to that already? Or is it too far away to think about?
It’s a long way away and I haven’t thought about it, but I was stoked when somebody mentioned it would be there. I am just trying to concentrate on these European GPs.
Last question. You moved up the standings with your win. Do you have a goal for the next few rounds, or just do the best you can?
I don’t have a goal. I am just going to try and get as many points as I can and hope for the best. There are plenty of races coming up in the next few months to get back to the front in the points.
images by J.P. Acevedo