H.E.P Suzuki rider Max Anstie always pulls something out of his bag of tricks when least expected. Just when you think life will be tough, the likable Brit pulls off a surprise. He does it over and over again—he has made a career out of it. Remember Matterley Basin in 2017 and the flying redhead going 1-1 at the MXoN, or his GP victories against Jeffrey Herlings in the MX2 class.
How about his battles with Herlings and Ken Roczen in the days of 65cc bikes and European championships? How about his moto win at Lommel in the MXGP class last August and, now, he has done it again: holeshotting the second moto of the second round of the AMA Nationals and then finishing third in just his fourth race back after a 12-month lay-off from injury.
Yes, Max Anstie once again showed us what a talent he is and you should not be surprised if he does it a few more times more during the 2020 Lucas oil Pro Motocross Championship. His 15-3 results came after running top ten in the first moto before a crash. In his second moto, he grabbed a third-place after he lost the lead when he ran into a lapped rider, slowing his progress and a possible moto win.
Despite being off the bike for nearly 12 months, Anstie is now ninth in the AMA 450 Championship points and just 11 points off the third-placed man, Justin Barcia. Barcia has 59 points, Jason Anderson 58, Adam Cianciarulo 51, Blake Baggett 51, Eli Tomac 48, Broc Tickle 48, and Anstie 47.
After the race, Dan from MotoXAddicts joined Max in a post-race Zoom call and we transcribed Max part for you.
How was your day Max?
I had a lot of fun, honestly. I didn’t know what to expect coming to the first Loretta’s. I am coming off an Achilles injury where I wasn’t sure how I will feel racing. You can do stuff practicing and I can do things, but testing in California at Glen Helen and Pala, and then we come to this track, that is completely different.
Racing in these conditions, in the mud, how did it feel?
Obviously, I have raced in these types of conditions and I knew what I wanted to do, but with this bike I didn’t have experience. I just wanted to make small steps from last week to this week and we went out in practice and I knew how I wanted to feel, and I wasn’t feeling it, and we made some changes.
You were running well in the first moto until you crashed. What happened?
I wasn’t too bad, and I was 8th or something and I ended up hitting Cianciarulo and going off the track. The bike was upside down and I thought, oh great, this isn’t going to be a good moto. I picked it up and was steady and it was a tough race for my foot, just dragging your legs everywhere and trying to push your way through and I hadn’t done that (after his injury), and I was nervous.
And the second moto was perfect for you.
The second moto I pulled the holeshot and I settled in and I kept a good flow and was doing fine, and I kept my goggles clean and not make the bike too hot. I was quick in the sand, but one of these lappers he just went completely across the track and crashed right in front of me. I had to stop, and I wasn’t going to ride over him or go right or left and then I lost some seconds.
It got a little crazy at the end of the moto. What happened with you Zach and Marvin?
I was fast in the sand before the finish, I was like, this is my spot to set Zach up on the last lap, but then Marv came out of nowhere and messed me up and passed me. I mean, I finished third, in my second rider for the team and I was happy with that. You don’t want anything to happen in these mud races. Hopefully next week we can find out where I am, see how the bike is and go from there.
I am guessing your goals were achieved today?
I got the holeshot and led a lap and goal achieved, I led three laps and Ied longer. When I was riding around in that second moto, I am not silly, and I know it was more difficult and more European style. As far as it goes, I walk out of here, and if you told me two weeks ago, I would get a third in moto, I would have been surprised with that. It is hard to place myself when training at Glen Helen and Pala, but I have a great mechanic and team chief and I want to see what it is like next week. I have done enough races and I am happy where we are at.
What did you think when you saw it was going to be a mud race?
Today, I thought, okay, my foot is going to hurt, but that is about it. It is always an opportunity and I am not bothered if it is raining or dry. I have done enough races in the dry, it doesn’t matter to me.
How would your fitness be now after 12 months off the bike?
I am definitely not as good as I was at the end of my GPs, when I won last season, but that is just me fitness-wise. The doctors told me I wouldn’t feel good for 12 months and its been 8 months. I have only ridden on dry tracks. I am not 100%, but I am going to build, and the bike will build and the fastest we run the better. I am happy I am in the race. I generally didn’t have any idea how the bike set-up would be.
Did you learn something from today that might help you next week if it is dry?
It is just taking what you learn from the bike. I didn’t feel how I wanted to feel, but I wasn’t stressing about it. We changed things this week and we are just getting knowledge of the bike. I heard Zach say he is riding the same bike as last year and he is changing two clicks or something. I am not on a bike that is familiar and its those small things that matter. Everyone is good, everyone is fast, but if you feel comfortable you go four or five seconds faster.
So, are you looking at staying in America, or heading back to Europe?
I would like to be. I have lived in Belgium for four years and it’s a lot nicer living in California and I want to be here. It is the way it goes with deals and teams. I had great opportunities in Europe and stuff, but when I was a kid my Dad training me to come to America and I rode here when I was 16, I started my career here. Not many guys can get back here, maybe I am too old or it isn’t something you go, going from the 450 back to the 250, and I told a lot of people in Europe, if I don’t do this now and give it a go, then I would regret it. I didn’t’ know much about the team and I did some testing for supercross and got injured. For sure I want to stay, and we are working on things and I want to be here and do supercross next year. I know it won’t be easy, but I would rather be here than in Europe at the moment.