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Pictures taken during the interview with Monster Athletes Etienne Bax and Kasparas Stupelis during the FIM World Sidecarcorss Championship in Kyiv

If You Are Second, You Are the First Looser: Bax and Stupelis Interview

May 212019

Big time  in Bucha, Kyiv area, last weekend - the local track has hosted the 5th GP of FIM World Sidecarcross, perhaps the largest MX event ever in Ukraine. Monster Energy athletes Kasparas Stupelis and Etienne Bax have arrived among 30 other international teams to compete for the silverware and rip the track.

Kasparas and Etienne are super hospitable, cheerful and easy-going guys, but should we touch the topic of racing, they will expose all the discipline and ambitions they have. Finishing 1st is the only option, ‘cause being second means to be the first among the losers. That’s why #82 has got the title in 2015, and that’s why it has dominated during this weekend in Bucha, winning with an impressive 20 second lead.

We have visited their trailer-palace right before the race to have a quick chat. Below is a dialog about preparation, gear and travels of the champions. Congrats on the win!

when it all goes too well - it’s also a challenging part

Guys, thanks for having your time. To kick off the conversation - is it your first time to Ukraine?

Etienne: Yeah, perhaps Kaspars have even more visits than me, but I’ve been traveling to Ukraine since 2007, I think, - we had many GP’s in Chernivtsi. This is our first time together here in Bucha - it’s very nice, everything is brand new. You can see that people really worked hard to create it and it’s always nice to be a part of it.

So, how do you like the track? Do you find it challenging in any way?

Etienne: It’s a challenging one. I would not say it’s hard, but again - it’s new, so the challenge is to get used to it and find a good setup of the bike for this track. And hopefully… for sure, we can find it today to have a good finish tomorrow.

Speaking about race tracks, which one is your favorite to ride?

Etienne: Well, one of my favorite is, I think, Kegums in Latvia.

You’ve won the World Championship in 2015. Is there any additional pressure while racing the following season with a title of the reigning champion? Any challenges you’ve felt?

Kaspars: I think, it’s you to put the most of the pressure on yourself. For me - you did it once, you’ve achieved it, and the next day everything starts from scratch. It’s nice you have taken a title, but yeah, Etienne is not the one who rides under the number one - even though you can select the #1 plate for your team, if you get the title. He still rides #82, as you see - that take a little bit of pressure away, haha. Or just not everybody is looking on that, so I don’t feel like a lot of pressure about it. And, actually, we’ve parted our ways in 2016 for two years.

Why was so?

Etienne: Everything was just going very well, you know. And when it goes too well - it’s also a challenging part.

when you grow up in that kind of kitchen and those kind of weekends - you end up on that three-wheel

Tell us about your preparation, training and practices. How often do you practice? Is it just about the motorcycle training or some general physical workouts as well?

Etienne: We have many kinds of practices, but we are on top of the rest in terms of the moto-practice frequency in the week time. We have mechanics at the trainings so we can ride one or two times per week. And it’s a combination - between riding a motorcycle and physical workouts.

Any extra practice activity during the off-season? More trainings or more chill?

Etienne: For me, the off-season is a five-months full gas with arranging all the things and sponsorships, making sure that everything is ready for the next season, so it’s definitely not about chill.

What’s up with your bike? How do you feel it’s ready for the race? Any issues?

Etienne: Not that much of an issue but we’re just new here. Kasparas did ride here last year on the Ukraine Championship, but this is the first time for me.  
Kaspars: Yeah, the conditions were different - it was wet, colder and now it’s quite warm, so the track is not that soft anymore.  
Etienne: Normally, if we know the track we have the basic bike setup in the system, but now it’s not, so we need to create it from scratch. We need to find a good basic system now for the following years, so we come back more prepared.

Some more about the sport side of thing. How did you basically get here, to sidecarcross? How many years are you in the game? Any sport background? Kasparas, I know you’ve been into skiing.

Kaspars: Yeah, my winter preparation is the cross-country skiing, but getting into sidecarcross is the same as for Etienne. Our fathers were racing - Etienne’s father was a passenger. He was racing on a higher level than my dad, but obviously, when you grow up in that kind of kitchen and those kind of weekends - you end up on that three-wheel. Like that.  
Etienne: My father was a passenger for 30 years. I’ve started nearly 27 years ago. Going motocross since day one.

You have the largest trailer here in the park. How do you cope with travels, when you have so much stuff on the wheels?

Kaspars: You know, the bigger we get, the more professional we perform. Now our team is consisted of 3 drivers and 2 mechanics here, 3 mechanics back home preparing the bike for the next stage of the championship. All the gear travels back by the truck - we, together with the mechanics, fly. It’s not too bad. There were days when it was worse.

How many days do you spend on travel during the season?

Kaspars: Me a lot. The team is based in Cologne and whenever I have the chance, I try to travel back to Latvia to see my family and friends, for 2-4 days max, and than I fly back. Etienne travels just for races, I guess. For me it’s almost every week.

Thanks guys! Best of luck this weekend!