“I ask for health, I don’t need luck”

After an ideal preseason with a visit to Spain to train (in Castellón) and compete (in his native Lugo), the MXGP World Championship kicks off this weekend in Argentina and Jorge Prado (22 years) He faces his fourth season in the premier class of motocross with the same goal he has had since he arrived: to win the title. He tells AS that he has prepared better than ever for it, that he hopes to avoid the problems of previous years and that he hopes to be competitive from the beginning with a modified GasGas.

—How has the preparation for the World Cup gone?

—I have to say that I am quite happy because this year I have done what I think can benefit me the most to be mentally happy and get a good physical preparation. The team gave me a little more freedom, I was training in Spain for two weeks before Christmas and another two after New Years. I’ve been living in Italy for five years, always training on the court, and a change of environment was good for me. I like being in Spain and training here, something I’ve never been able to do before. So it was a dream to train in Castellón for four weeks, it was all very easy because being in Belgium those months are very hard, there are days when you can’t ride because of the weather. Later, we were in Sardinia and I am happy, the bike is improving and I feel very good physically, we have changed a couple of things in the program and Joel Smets (four times 500cc world champion) He is also helping me in the preparation.

—It will be his fourth year in MXGP, each time he has gotten a little better until signing the podium in 2022, does this time have to be the final one to fight for the title until the end?

—Well, I’m 22 years old, if this isn’t it, maybe I can also win it at 23, 24, 25… I still think I have time. If people take at the end of the season and see my rankings, they don’t really get an idea of ​​the level I was at. If they see that I was sixth in the first, fifth in the second and third last year, they say: ‘If he is improving, now he will have to try to win’. But already in my first year, until I caught COVID, I was fighting for the World Cup; In 2021, I was second in the championship until the blow with Herlings for which I had to have surgery on my arm; and last year, I was fighting for the title all year, but it was a difficult season with a totally new bike that hurt us. The bike was not competitive enough to win, in fact I was the only rider in the KTM group to win races and have podiums.

—And that took a prototype…

—Yes, it was completely new: chassis, suspension, engine… When there is so much change, it may work well from the beginning or it may be necessary to obtain more information to get all the performance out of the bike and try to improve. A change is not always for the better. We are at such a high level that it is difficult to be sure that a change will go yes or yes for the better. This year, with all the information from last season and everything I told them that needed to be improved, we are trying to put the bike at the right level to fight for the title.

“I feel that the bike is much more competitive than last year”

Jorge Prado

“Are you confident of being fully adapted to her then?”

—After all the modifications we have made, I feel that the bike is much more competitive than last year and I feel more comfortable. Now it’s a matter of setting it up once the races start and I hope I can feel 100 per cent with it.

—Looking back a bit, what have you lacked to be able to fight for the MXGP title in previous years?

—Discarding last year, that perhaps with the 2021 bike I think I could have taken the title and I feel that it was out of my reach to be more competitive due to the situation I was in, the other years I had a bit of bad luck . It’s complicated… The season is so long and motocross is such a dangerous sport that you can even injure yourself while training as it happened to me last year (dislocated a shoulder). So many things can happen in a year that it is very difficult to become champion and be in one piece all season.

—And personally, what do you think should be improved?

-In sports you never know what the limit is, every year you aspire to get a better version of yourself, and this year the same. Years go by and you are gathering information about the training that benefits you, you are doing a mixture of everything that can help you. I have one more year of experience and I believe that the steps I am taking in physical preparation are the right ones to be better than last year, because that is my goal, to always be a little better.

—After F1 and MotoGP, the MXGP calendar is the most demanding with 19 grand prizes. Is maintaining your physical condition all year round the real key?

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—Of course, and also, in those championships they only shoot on weekends, we don’t. I arrive on Monday after a race and I get on the bike, and on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, and on Thursday… There are so many days of training that there is a good chance of hurting you. The most important thing is to stay focused, be physically fit and after whatever happens, because many times it doesn’t depend on you.

—Once the season starts, with so much training, do you have time to rest?

—Well, very little… In preseason, nothing (laughs). We hardly have days to rest because we train in the morning and in the afternoon, I sleep, and the next day again. Then, with 19 appointments, there are a lot of flights and this year, since points will also be given on Saturdays, there will be almost 60 points-scoring tasks and that will make the season tough.

Jorge Prado, with GasGas at MX Lugo.

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Jorge Prado, with GasGas at MX Lugo.GasGas

—Do you like that points are going to be distributed in the qualifying races?

—I am in favor of having a race day, I don’t like it being two days. A one day race format would be much more comfortable for teams and riders, but I’ll adapt to whatever. Now, it will be a very explosive 20-minute sleeve in which riders who on Sunday can’t keep up in 40-minute races, maybe they will in this one, and that can make it a bit dangerous. It will be a good experiment.

—It will be necessary to measure well the risk that is taken in that race.

-Yes, exactly.

—At 22 years old, do you consider that you have already reached the appropriate point of maturity that is needed to be MXGP champion?

-I think so. I am a pilot who fails relatively little, who makes a lot of effort on a day-to-day basis, who always gives one hundred percent and that shows in the long run. I feel like a driver that when the race comes he gives that extra that makes him win. I think I’m 100 percent ready to take the title this year.

—In addition, he has the experience of three years in the premier class.

—Of course. The 450cc is a motorcycle that has gained respect over the years because it has a lot of power and we are at the highest level of motocross, there is no more. The riders competing for the title are very tough and are there in all conditions, so consistency is the most important thing. And I think I’m at that point where it doesn’t matter what the race circumstances are, I can win on all types of terrain, I always feel competitive.

—Speaking of drivers, Seewer, Febvre, Herlings, Renaux… The level of demand will be very high this year, although Gajser, the current champion, misses the start due to injury.

-Yeah. I think the rival to beat is going to be Herlings, and Gajser would also have been, although the other three can also give a lot of trouble in any race.

—I suppose that one of the races marked in red on your calendar is the one in Madrid. Do you feel more and more supported and recognized by the Spanish public?

—Yes, the Madrid race is the one I have marked on the calendar because it is my favorite. I’ve always been good at it. The fans are incredible, it is one of the events with the most spectators and they all carry the 61 flag (laughs). So, it’s even more amazing. I love competing in Spain, that the fans can see me and I hope I can take the victory in front of all of them.

“I can win on all types of terrain, I always feel competitive”

Jorge Prado

—It must be a brutal motivation to go out and see the entire public devoted to you.

“You can’t even believe it. In fact, when we go on a motorcycle, it is difficult to hear the environment outside, you hear the riders around you more than the public, but in Madrid, with the amount of people there… Every time I started first, I passed in front of the stands and they collapsed, that’s cool.

—Do you notice that the interest in motocross is growing?

—Yes, yes, I noticed it a lot in 2021, at a Nacional appointment in Calatayud. I saw that the grids of all the categories were full and when I competed in Spain years ago they were empty, they had to join two categories to have enough riders to form one. The work of the Federation, the MXGP of Spain, my two titles, having Spanish riders in the lead… all of this makes the children want to ride a motorcycle and you can see it in these races.

—The greatest satisfaction would be to lift the title at the end of the season, but what is the least you ask of 2023 to be satisfied with your year.

—If I can’t win the World Cup because I wasn’t good enough to win it, I’ll have to accept it. But since I believe that I am, the only thing I ask for is a lot of health. I don’t need luck, just that it’s a normal season in which I can train to the maximum, compete, enjoy what I do and not get injured. I ask that, good health (laughs).

—We will have to go step by step, so what is the first objective that is set?

—Take the red plate (of the leader) as soon as possible, and we’ll see from there.

—It would be nice to come to Madrid with her…

-Awesome (laughs). Also, it would look good on the GasGas.

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