Pauls Jonass is riding a wave of momentum currently and it seems he can do no wrong. Does he evaluate his start to the season in the same way? Lewis Phillips, the MX Vice editor, caught up with the reigning champion to discuss his unbeaten streak, trainer change and much more. This interview was originally posted as a podcast.
MX Vice: Another 1-1. Those are becoming pretty regular for you. In a way, I feel like this was maybe your biggest victory. There are a lot of guys who were fast, maybe faster than you, but you proved your race craft, got it done and that’s what champions do.
Pauls Jonass: Yeah. Another 1-1, which was really good. Before the season if someone had said that I will go six out of six wins in the motos, I would not expect that. I am really happy with how things are going and how the season has started. Just really getting more confident after every single race. It is not easy to go 1-1 all the time, but I will do my best to keep the ball rolling and just to stay on the top.
Is there anything that you changed or can point to that happened in the off-season for a reason why you are so dominant this year? Is it just progression and that you have got confidence now? Another year older, another year with the team and you are just feeling it?
Yeah, with the team we have a new bike this year. They improved again. KTM did a good job. They improved again. I changed my riding coach, so now I’m working with Harry Everts, which is also the change from previous years. I’m just really happy with how everything went, the total package. The bike, the team and all the people around me. I’m really happy with the situation now. I’m feeling really good. I think when you are happy then the results are also there, so now I’m really enjoying the process and that is also really important. So, like I said, it’s been a great start to the season, just looking forward for next races.
I know when we did an interview in the off-season, you said that one of the reasons you switched trainers was because you wanted to be a little more independent and make your own decisions. Has that happened?
Yeah, for sure. Harry is helping me a lot, let’s say, especially mentally. He has helped me a lot with that and for sure with some small things with the riding. But now I’m on the track and I’m taking my own lines. I’m just being myself. I’m being creative on the track, which maybe last year I was not like that. I was taking always the same lines, not changing, but now I am just more checking the track myself, which was the main goal – just to be more independent. It is working out good.
You impressed me in the second race, because [Darian] Sanayei closed in maybe four seconds in a couple of laps. It looked like he was going to pass you, but you responded. I think you set the fastest lap of the race at that point and pulled away again. Was that a case of you reading the track and updating what you were doing?
Yeah, for sure. I felt really good. Maybe in the first laps of the race I pulled a little gap and then I just controlled the race. I was feeling good. I was feeling really good, especially in the end of the moto. When the guys came, I could push. I could go faster and that gives me extra confidence. When I will need, I will go faster. Let’s say like that. I’m happy with where everything is going, like I said.
These races have been close. That might mean that people are thinking, they’re really close to him and they are going to beat him eventually. Do you have more in the tank? If it gets closer, can you go faster?
Yeah, for sure. For sure I can go faster. Let’s say I’m on safety mode now. Not making any big mistakes, thank god. The season is long. If someone beats me in some motos, it’s okay. Main goal for me is to stay consistent. For sure I will try to beat everyone but, like I said, the season is long. We need to stay consistent. We still have seventeen GPs, which is a lot of racing. There are going to be many good battles. I’m looking forward for them.
You don’t care about the streak then? If someone beats you at the next round and you lose it at six motos in a row, you are not going to care. If you get second or third those are some decent points.
Yeah, for sure. It looks nice; one, one, one on the paper. For sure I want to keep that going, but it’s not going to be easy for sure. But, still, I’m going to do my best to keep those ‘ones’ going more and more.
What did you think of the track this weekend? Obviously you practiced here in the winter. It’s a great practice track. Was it a good race track?
Actually the race track, I was expecting there was going to come more passing lines and more options, but the track was quite flat compared to the one that we were here practicing [on]. Like today the track was a little bit bumpier so there came more passing lines, but still I was expecting it was going to be better for racing. Still it’s a great, great place and a great track. If they make some small changes for next year, there are going to come more lines and that is going to be better for racing.
Finally, two weeks until Trentino. What is your plan? Have you got any changes coming to the bike or yourself? Is there anything you want to improve?
We’re going to go back now, go back to Belgium. Take a good rest after this weekend and just continue working. We’re going to keep improving every weekend and just trying to be better and better every week.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer