The 2019 MX2 World Championship might seem as though Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Jorge Prado is a heavy favorite. The defending champion is young and hungry, but a long list of riders are looking at Prado and trying to work out how they can defeat the Spaniard mentally. For Prado, it is just do the same thing he did in 2018, and walk away with another title.
“Well,” Prado said. “In the beginning of the 2018 season my goal was to be consistent and I didn’t think about being World Champion. Now a few months after getting the title, the hard work we put in, yes for sure, it paid off. I am an athlete, so I don’t need to go to parties to have fun. I take my sport really serious and that is why I am probably World Champion at 17, because I take it seriously. Of course I am now 18, so I will get my driving license and that will make it easier. But I will still train and give the best I have.”
British rider Ben Watson of the Kemea Yamaha Official MX2 team might just have improved enough in the winter to cause the Spanish world champ some problems. One thing is for sure, Watson is going to Argentina to score big points. Finishing top five in 2018 saw a huge improvement from the Englishman.
“When I found out that the first round was in Argentina again,” Watson said. “I have that feeling that I can go there the same how I felt at the start of 2018 in Argentina. I went back to a track I hadn’t done well at. I went there with a factory bike, and a lot of people looking at me and seeing what I can do with the extra support. I qualified third and had two fourths in the race and one of the best weekends of the year. Now I can go there with a completely different mind-set.”
Rasmus Jorgensen, who trains the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen and Jed Beaton feels his riders have the potential to unsettle Prado. Despite being fully grown men compared to the still growing Prado, Jorgensen and his riders are working overtime to get where they need to be.
“The only thing, Prado is a small guy,” Jorgensen said. “I have two riders in the 80kg club, so maybe 15 kilos more than Prado. I tell the riders, we can’t change these things and we try to be better in all areas. We are all training hard, and a guy like Thomas, having become third last year, he wants to improve and battle Prado for the title, or Watson. In general we try and improve all areas. Starts are important with our two heavy guys, so we are doing a lot of starts. That is one of the strong points of Prado, he is always there in the start. Thomas is a heavy guy, and sometimes struggling in the start and Prado could be 10 seconds gone, you can’t do that with Prado.”
As for Thomas Kjer Olsen, he sees the long 19 round series and knows that pushing too hard too early doesn’t help for the later rounds, when the riders need to be at 100%.
“It is 19 races and a lot of travelling,” Olsen said. “You have to stay in shape throughout the season. I put everything into 2018 and the season was finished. My plan is to do a little more work in the gym, and get in better shape. Last year I was really ready going into the first race, but this year we will take it a little easier and build up throughout the season.”
Now, with just a month before the MX2 riders fly to Argentina, many are down in Spain training at RedSand, and some are in Sardinia racing the opening pre-season races. One thing is for sure, when they all arrive at that first round in Patagonia, they will all be looking to make the best start of their season possible.
Author: Geoff Meyer