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Mitch Evans has dealt with a lot in his short Grand Prix career, from the highest of highs to fighting through injuries and setbacks. The recent Grand Prix of Portugal, round six of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship, would fall under the former though, as he battled for the win and ultimately ended up visiting the overall podium for the second time in six rounds. Are his sights now set on winning a moto? Evans discusses that, plus so much more, in this exclusive MX Vice interview.
MX Vice: You have kind of come full-circle since Argentina. You were probably at rock bottom with injuries and struggles, then now you are back on the podium. Not just a podium… You kind of proved today that you can win one of these things. All good things.
Mitch Evans: Yeah, definitely. The podium in Argentina did not quite sink in and I probably did not appreciate it as much as I appreciate this one, just from having a few tough weekends. We are finally getting back on top of the injuries and picking up my fitness again from the training that I missed out on when I had the injury. Feeling good. Starts are getting a lot better, which is helping a lot. All smiles in this camp. We know what we need to work on. We are just looking to keep progressing throughout the year and hopefully get a moto win before the year is out.
You say your starts have gotten better. Have you got a new part or new engine configuration? Have you done something to cause that?
Yeah, in the break Livia [Lancelot] and our head mechanic did a lot of testing and found a good package. That has helped a lot. I changed my technique a little bit, so it is paying off. We got all things worked out. They can still be better, but they are much better than what they were.
When you got out front in that second moto and actually realised where you were, did you kind of have an "Oh shit" moment?
Yeah. When I went around the outside of him I kind of said to myself, "I do not know if I want to pass him just yet. I do not know if I want to lead." I did anyway. I just thought, "I have just got to put my head down, not worry about him behind me and just try to hang on for as long as I can." He ended up getting around me and I just thought I needed to stick with him, follow his lines and learn as much as I can. All weekend I was sort of a little bit off the top guys, so I am really happy with that last race. My speed was there, which I am really stoked about.
You were up front for a good few laps. I do not know if it was half the race, but it was probably close to that. Did you surprise yourself at all? After you had settled in two or three laps were you like, "Hang on a minute, they are not right on me." Did you think you could do it?
I came around the pit-board area every time and it said plus 1.2 seconds, but I knew on the track it is a bit of a yo-yo effect. I just kept saying to myself, "Just focus on me, focus on me and ride how I want to." It was awesome to not have to cop roost, because there are a lot of rocks on that track. It was a good feeling. I felt at home doing it. It was not a surprise at all.
You got to follow [Jorge] Prado for a fair few laps as well. Did you pick anything up? Any lines that you did not know were being used?
Yeah. Definitely picked up on a few different lines and also carrying momentum into some turns, which I can go back this week and work on that as well.
Moving forward then, this is another step up. Two podiums in six rounds is probably way above what you expected. What is next? If you get third overall in France, are you going to be stood there like, "What the f**k? I need to be higher than this?"
No, not at all. A podium every weekend, I will have a smile on my face. Just as long as I am getting closer to the front guys every weekend I will be super happy, whether that is a fifth and I am two seconds off the lead or whatever. Just as long as we keep progressing, improving my qualifying times and keep improving my starts. Looking forward to France. My "home" GP if you want to call it. Good track. Looking forward to a good crowd there.
You mentioned at the beginning of this that you are getting on top of the injuries, but it kind of sounds like you are not fully on top of it. Are they still nagging a little bit?
Yeah. My knees are all good, but I decided to do a French Championship round the weekend after Arco and hurt my thumb. That is still giving me a lot of trouble. It sort of started coming good but I re-hurt it in the qualifying race last weekend in Mantova. It is not too bad. It is just strapping tape every race, but otherwise everything else… The biggest thing is I am back into my normal programme during the week and that has given me a lot of confidence. I can feel my fitness improving each week.
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