Many years ago, English boxer Ricky Hatton had a song his thousands of fans would sing before each World championship fight – there is only one Ricky Hatton. In the motocross world, we are sure there is only one Max Anstie and the latest version of Max Anstie is starting to look a lot like that young kid who raced side by side with Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings in their junior days.

The son of Merv (himself a former GP winner) is a young man who has suddenly found his mojo in the world of motocross, and while his six MX2 GP victories are impressive, and for sure his stunning 2017 MXoN 1-1 result is a high point until now, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider isn’t looking at just being one of the crowd and resting on his past glory.

When he made a plan in his mind back in 2012, he gave himself seven years to reach what he believed to be the best Max Anstie possible. And while many of us in the media or fans watching his at times rollercoaster career unwind, he remained confident that his goals was reachable.

The last time we saw Max Anstie he was living every riders dream with a 1-1 in front of his home nation at the 2017 MXoN. Photo by: Juan Pablo Acevedo

When he started working with Antti Pyrhonen, a former GP racer, who now runs the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory team, something clicked. Pyrhonen, a very stable and relaxed man from Finland gave Anstie the peace to perform at his best.

We were lucky to sit down with Max today and do this interview.

Max, how has your winter been?

Its been good. As far as winter preparation goes, we are in a good place. I mean its gone as smoothly as possible. We still have a few weeks in Sardinia and three pre-season races to go. We have been testing and developing the new bike and you know, stepping things up and elevation our level from where you finished the season last year. I have been able to step up on the physical things with my team trainer, yes, things have been good.


It’s funny, but when you say improve everything from your last race, its going to be hard to improve on the MXoN performance.

Well, that is the thing. We are on the new Husky, 2018 model and its slightly different and we have been stepping up in those areas and its given us much more room for improvement. The bike we had last year was a fantastic bike, but I felt we were at the limit of that bike, and now we are able to go above and beyond where we were. Of course, we need to go racing and we still need to iron some things out. Things are positive at the moment but building on some things I was weak on and wanted to improve. I wanted to sharpen up in all areas. I didn’t know what to expect in the 450 class and now I know, and I know you can’t underestimate anyone or the tracks.

Max (99) will once again be teamed up with Gautier Paulin (21) for 2018. Photo by: Juan Pablo Aceved

Tell me, going into MXGP, its nearly a different sport to MX2, just crazy how intense it must be. I can imagine you can feel very vulnerable going in against the MXGP guys?

Yes, I mean, it is a big thing, coming in, some massive names and I have respect for everyone in that class, because you are lining up guys who have all won GP’s or been on the podium. So many guys who are very fast, it’s the cream of the crop. Something that helped me was my team, the Ice One, with Antti, with my team trainer Tommy, with all the guys we have there. They have been able to unlock or free me to just go racing. I don’t have to anything other than what is important, to go fast. That has been a massive part of freeing me up and as the season progressed, I would be doing the Tuesday, or Wednesday or Thursday, and I would be fast and I would do my 30 minute motos and I would be doing really well, then I would come to the weekend and try to hard and make a mistake or crash, but the team had the confidence, we know you do it during the week, now settle down and become normal on the weekend and I think that is how it got at the end of the season. It felt like the weekends were just like during the week, I was doing my starts, hitting my marks and that relaxed me and abled me to focus on going fast. Then things fell together, we got some podiums and by the time Matterley Basin came around, I was at the top of my game. I was ready then to take on the world and do what I needed to do. You know, at Matterley, I felt like I was just doing my motos, and I have had harder training motos than at Matterley. Of course, the pressure the mental side of things, I needed to keep it together. I mean for one moto, if I thought about it, here I am, at Matterley Basin, in front of all these fans, all the family and everyone who was there. Considering I was there when I was 11 or 12 and thinking I will never be at this level in my whole life, watching James Stewart and Stefan Everts riding around there, had I thought about that, I probably would have made mistakes, but I keep it together. It was great I was riding, but the team were a massive, massive part of it.


It seems like Antti has given you a peacefulness, even talking to you now, you seem so much more relaxed and not as ADHD. You seem way more relaxed. Has Antti helped you to another level of concentration?

Like I said earlier, they just take away all the crap, and just, you know before the first race at Matterley Basin, I was stressing, what tyre do I need, what about the bike, and Antti just said, Max, go and look at the track, and do what you need to go fast and I will do the rest and I just shut up and concentrated on my job. I love thinking about going fast and learning. The guys think I am obsessed with it, but I don’t want to think about everything else. I don’t even think about my training, Tommy tells me what to do, this team is the next generation. Even the way we train, Gautier and I, we train together, we do everything together and I have a lot of respect for him and he is somebody I always looked up to in the MXGP class. We both push each other and we both want to beat each other.

Max finished 9th in the 2017 MXGP World Championship, but showed he was becoming a contender with five moto podiums and an overall podium at the season finale. Photo by: Juan Pablo Aceved

We have all been waiting for this Max Anstie to arrive. The kid who battled Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings, the two guys – before Ken’s accident – the two fastest riders in the world (Antonio Cairoli is clearly the smartest). We all knew you had the talent, but it’s taken a while for you to reach this level. You belonged with those guys, but then all of a sudden, at the end of last year we all saw a different Max Anstie, podiums, and finally Matterley Basin was like your home-coming party. Do you feel like, you know what, Jeffrey Herlings, I can beat him?

Put it like this, I was like a little chimp and I was out in the wild, and I was trying to figure myself out and Antti and the team turned me into a gorilla. Now I am able to do my work, and of course I have huge respect for everyone. I think that is the main thing, it doesn’t matter who I line up against and of course Jeffrey Herlings and Ken Roczen have had great success, while I have been trying to figure things out.


Scottish riders and Irish riders have won Grand Prix’s in the premier class in the last two decades, and of course James Dobb, Tommy Searle and other English riders have won in the 125/MX2 class, but it’s now 21 years since an English rider won in the premier class, when Kurt Nicoll won in 1997, and your dad was one of the last English riders to win a GP, with his victory in 1994. Is that something to look forward to, getting England another GP win?

At the end of the day, my dad reminded me he has a GP win. In fact, I finished ninth in 2017, and even after Matterley, he keeps remining me that he finished 8th in the world and has a GP win. Of course, I want to do that for England, and all the fans, and I want to do it for myself. Its nice, because Kurt Nicoll has been a part of my life, and I know him from when I rode in the states, and I had a good relationship with him, and of course my dad was one of the last to win one for England, but I want to win more than one.

Max ended 2017 celebrating his performances on the podium. Expect this to continue in 2018. Photo by: Juan Pablo Aceved

If you look at English motocross and for sure after your MXoN performance. The current Arenacross series, the MX Nationals, the Maxxis, and a lot of good young talent in MX2. You look at Conrad Mewse, who seems to have all the talent, but is having the same difficulty as you. How is it for you, because you will be leading these guys into the next era?

I feel like the British championship is good and we have some cool tracks. Conrad, he is going really fast and he will figure it out. What people don’t understand, when you go from the amateur class to being a professional, you need everything in your favour, you get to 18, 19 or 20 years old, there are a lot of things that need to be right. The right people and a whole load of puzzle and you need to fit with a team. I fit great with the Finnish guys and you have to be happy with your life style, even down to the food. I got engaged and my fiancé is so good in everything, she is amazing, and the food is on point every day. She does my washing and all the little things.


How important is that, because being in love and being happy, that is the most important thing in life. How much has that helped you, having that stability?

Massively important and I think that is why, when you look at some of these kids, and you guys from the outside, you might say they haven’t figured it out, but there are a whole lot of things you just don’t have control of. You have to get it right and it takes years. I had an idea how I wanted to do it, and I remember in 2012 saying to my mum, it’s going to take me six or seven years and I will get to this image in my head and I am getting there. My personal life is great, and my fiancé is amazing, and you need to have something stable, and calm, and positive. Our lives are so stressful, and we don’t have time to do shit and to perform regularly, you need to have it all in order. Going back to the British guys, there is a lot of potential there, and even Jamie Dobb is helping Conrad out and some of the younger guys, and its great we have people like that and I like to help Conrad and to be honest, he can easily have a better MX2 career than me and I tell him that. He is getting there and for sure, there are so many factors involved.


Dan Lamb is a 12+ year journalist and the owner of MotoXAddicts.