Former MX2 World champion Pauls Jonass will be heading to the opening round of the MXGP championship set for Matterley Basin in England in a little over a week with a goal in mind, but also remembering that it is a 20 round series and all can be lost at Matterley.
A little forgotten in the drama of 2019—with Tim Gajser and Antonio Cairoli going at it—the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider finished sixth in the World and showed his potential moving into this season. We caught up with him as he trained in the French mud this week.
Firstly, where are you guys training, because it seems we might get a mud race at Matterley looking at the forecast?
Actually, after the race in Lacapelle, we decided to stay here in France, because it looks like Matterley might be a muddy one and we decided to stay here and try and find some, let’s say flooded conditions. A little bit muddy and hard pack to get the feel for the ruts and that is why we stayed in France.
I imagine riding in perfect conditions is the most enjoyable, but what is it like having to ride in muddy conditions?
I actually don’t mind training in the mud, and I really enjoy it, as long as it isn’t raining really hard, I like it. We have been practicing in all conditions anyway, from a lot of time in Belgium in December with cold and rain and then January in Sardinian and nicer conditions and hard pack and now we went to Belgium and I wanted to get some feeling for those hard muddy ruts and it is good to mix it up and be prepared for all conditions.
Anyone who is a fan, like me, we can’t wait for Matterley, because there are so many great riders lining up against each other and anything is possible. I mean 15 or even 20 guys have a chance of making the podium. How is that being one of those riders and heading to the event, more nerves, or anticipation?
Actually, no, there isn’t. It is always nice to go racing and I am excited for that, but the last few years, I have learnt it is a long season, and it is important to stay healthy for all 20 Grand Prix’s. That is really important. When I was younger, I put more pressure on myself for the first GP and that caused a lot of mistakes, but I have done a good job in the winter and I feel good and confident and the most important thing is the result at the end of the season and I know the results throughout the season will be really good.
Does that then make that first round more fun, because I would imagine for many guys a top ten result would be enough and a bunch of points?
You know when you watch the MXGP start list, there are many good riders and for sure, everyone is really excited for that first race and maybe pushing their limits, and anything can happen, but first race is still first race and there is that extra pressure, so it will be tough anyway. I will just go there, do my best and when you do your best the result is always good.
Everyone is talking about the big four, Cairoli, Herlings, Gajser and Prado, but do you feel a bit left out, as you also have a World title and many GP wins and finished well in your first year in the 450 class. Do you feel a little left out when people talk about the big four?
I am not listening to what the people are saying, and like I said, if you look at the start list for MXGP, there are really a lot of guys who can make the podium. Maybe 15 guys can make the podium, but it shouldn’t be the big four, but the big 15.
Does it feel better going to Matterley, rather than Argentina, with the changing of continents, the long flights, the different time zone?
Actually, I really enjoy those overseas races for the first Grand Prix, it takes some of the pressure away. You know, everyone is going there, you see everyone at the airport and in the hotels, but from the other side, it is nice to start in Europe, as the fans will be there and all the teams come there for the first GP.
Do you have a goal for Matterley, or you just go and do your best?
No, I have set a goal in my head, but I keep that to myself. Like I said, the main goal is to do my best and get a good result and get out of there healthy.
As you said about staying healthy. If you look at Jeremy (Seewer), who you beat in MX2, he has races more than 100 GP’s without missing a round, and he finished second in the World. So, as you said staying healthy really pays off.
Sure, staying healthy will help you get top five, but to be honest, for none of the racers are really happy with top five and more people remember those flashy GP wins than those top five finishes in the end of the championship.
So, you go into this year’s championship with the goal to win the championship, not finish second or third?
Yes, for sure. That is always the goal and that is why I am still racing.
A little more than a week before Matterley. What do you do this final week?
We will stay in France for a few more day and then head to Belgium and pack up for going to England. It has gone so fast. You feel you have so much time when the season ends, but it is here already.
Wait until you are my age, then it goes really fast.
I can imagine, because I am still young, and it still goes really fast.
See you in a week Pauls.
Thanks, Geoff, see you there.