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Romain Febvre at the 2016 MXGP of Argentina

5 Minutes with Romain Febvre

Oct 042016

Standing behind the starting gate and alongside 2015 MXGP World Champion Romain Febvre while he and his mechanic readied the works Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team YZ450F for the final moto of the 2016 season at Glen Helen Raceway, I couldn’t help think about how much the 24 year-old’s fortunes had changed in a year’s time. The overall winner at the 2015 Glen Helen USGP, it had been a fantastic, breakout season for the native of Epinal, France, the class rookie stacking up eight Grand Prix victories and fifteen moto wins in a resolute march to his first FIM Gold Medal. 

And the 2016 season started off in much the same fashion, the No. 461 rider placing second to new MXGP newcomer Tim Gajser at Qatar, and then winning big at rounds two and three at Thailand and Valkenswaard, Holland, respectively. But then two big things happened: Tim Gajser caught fire, going on a moto winning rampage, and then at round eleven, Febvre got of big in a qualifying crash at the MXGP of Great Britain and was forced out of action for two Grands Prix. When he returned to action at Loket and the MXGP of the Czech Republic, he fared well with a podium score, but for the reminder of the season, never really returned to the form which made him a threat at each and every GP. As we all now know, it all came right for Febvre and Team France at the recent Motocross of Nations at Maggiora, Italy. 

The star of the show that Sunday, it was Romain’s smooth, methodical riding which allowed the French to keep the Peter Chamberlain Trophy in their homeland for another year. A few days out from the inaugural running of the Monster Energy Riders’ and Manufacturers’ Cup at the 61,673-seat Veltins-Arena soccer stadium in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, we made contact with the MXoN ace and got his take on 2016 and beyond. Finishing off ’16 on a very positive note, Febvre will now look to an off-season of testing, training, and at times, racing to make a run at Tim Gajser and company come 2017..

Q & A

Romain, have you been getting ready for this weekend's Monster Energy Riders’ and Manufacturers’ Cup race in Germany and what do you think about racing in a stadium?

Yes I will be ready, I'm now testing and riding in Italy to set up the bike for supercross because it will be in Stadium so will be like a supercross. It's difficult to judge the race because nobody can say how it is going to be. But racing in the stadium, I like it especially for the public!

As defending MXGP World Champion, you started off the 2016 season with a lot of momentum. You were runner-up to Tim Gajser at the opening Grand Prix at Qatar and then won the next two races at Thailand and Valkenswaard, respectively. Then came the qualifying crash at round eleven at the MXGP of Great Britain. From that point forward, you missed two GPs and took a while to get back up to full speed. Taking a step back, what did you think about this season?

The 2016 season was good and bad. I was ready beginning of the season to battle for the title and I had the red plate. After few races I lost it, but was still close to Tim. Then the crash in England happened! After that crash and missing two rounds, it was difficult to come back. Once I did get going again, I came back good. The last four rounds we tried something special on the bike and with the engine for next year to see if it would work. It didn’t end up working like we wanted it to, so the results were not so good!

On a brighter note, you’re season ended with a fantastic performance at the Motocross of Nations at Maggiora. All things considered, a good weekend in Italy for you?

The Nations. Again a good weekend! So from what I said before, after the trip to USA for the last two rounds of the series, we changed the bike and we went back to what I had before. That’s why the feeling came back and it's why in the Motocross of Nations I was good like that. Nothing more that! It was good to end the season like that. Mentally is also good!

Beginning with his big win at the season-opening Grand Prix at Losail circuit, Tim Gajser was an immediate threat to win the ’16 World Championship. Did you expect him to be so good so quickly?

Yes, Tim Gajser came on very strong in 2016. I knew he would be strong because I had already watched him ride before the season even started and he was good. No, it was not a total surprise to see him up at the front, but his consistency surprised me a little bit!

What’s your take on Jeffrey Herlings moving up to the premiere MXGP classification for 2016? A long time coming, huh?

It's good that Jeffrey Herlings is going to move to MXGP. He should have moved up before. He's a good rider, for sure, so I am excited to see what I can do against him!

For the 2017 MXGP season we will see the class rookie Herlings, defending champion Tim Gajser and a rejuvenated Romain Febvre all racing one another. Furthermore, veteran racers such as Clement Desalle, Max Nagl and Toni Cairoli will also add a lot to the mix. Could all add up to one hell of a season, couldn’t it?

Next year will be a good fight - like it is every year. And if everyone stays healthy, it's going to be a good one!

A number of people involved in the sport believe you will bounce back very strongly in 2017. What are your thoughts?

For 2017 I will train like I did this year and try to be even more ready. For sure I’ve got the best bike, so we see what I can do.

For both the good and the bad, just how is it being a professional MXGP racer and traveling the world? It looks glamorous and fun, but it can't be ALL fun all of the time, can it?

I love being a professional rider. It was my dream. I like to travel around the world! The only bad thing, let’s say, is the food. For example, when we go to Thailand, the worst thing about it is the food because you need to take care of everything yourself because you can become sick so easily. After the races, I also like to stay home and have a good time with my girlfriend. Sometimes it can be difficult to always travel, but it's my job.

I was around the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team while you guys were here racing in the United States. I was really impressed with its professionalism and overall presentation. How is it being a part of the team and its inner workings?

With Yamaha we have very good communication between all the guys. I love working with them. It’s easy for me! On my team, "Team Rinaldi", I like every single person and they are like my family! I'm excited to start the next season. I love racing and I’m going to have some rest before the winter training and from there I’ll keep going.

Romain, as far as your racing career goes, what’s you plan for 2017 and the years beyond?

My plan is that I already signed with Yamaha for three more years – for 2017, 2018 and 2019 - so I will stay here with them to race in Europe. Maybe one day I’ll be coming to race in the U.S. It's always been in my mind, but it is not easy to make such a big decision.