It has been a long road for Jorge Prado. After sustaining an elbow injury in the off-season and suffering poor luck at round one in Argentina, he started the season with a thirty-one-point deficit to Pauls Jonass. Twelve rounds later and the pair are now tied in the stands, however, as Prado has been chipping away at that gap every single week. That is discussed in this exclusive interview from the Grand Prix of Asia.
MX Vice: I feel like, like Ottobiano, a win in Indonesia is a big deal for you, considering what happened last year. You did not go 1-1, but I would say today was perfect.
Jorge Prado: Yeah, it was a perfect day. I was all weekend pretty… It was not really, really sick, but my nose and throat were kind of hurting. It was kind of blocked and difficult to breathe. It was a hard weekend. Track was rough. Not really bumpy, but big ruts and really, really hard. I think now the hardest one. It was a track that in the past I would not say would have been good for me, but I trained a lot this year to improve in these kind of conditions. I felt good already on Saturday. I think on Saturday it was better for me than today, because today was quite hard. I had a good starting position, two good starts and was second in the first one.
Pauls [Jonass] was riding really fast. I knew second moto I had to give it my all and fight every single lap if he was there. I think he made a small mistake. I think he crashed or something. But anyway, I got a holeshot and put some really good laps in. I could make a gap between myself and the next riders, which was good. I had a bit of space for let's say… If I make any mistake or something. I kept riding pretty consistent, pretty good and I felt good. A track with pretty big jumps, I would say. On Saturday in free practice the triple step up and triple step down were kind of big, because we did not get so much speed. I enjoyed the weekend. Now same points as Jonass. He got the red plate, but it is good.
Going back to the beginning of the first moto today, Pauls passed you just before the finish and then you got him back. I could not really see from where I was, but he then randomly dropped to third. Did you make contact? Did he make a mistake? What happened after he passed you?
Yeah. He passed me and after that I did not do anything. He just crashed and made a small mistake. We were really close. I braked too really hard, because I did not want to hit him. He kind of fell and went into my front wheel. I kind of also braked a little bit there, then he came back pretty strong. So nothing happened… He just crashed.
Once he passed you, it looked like you maybe went for it for a lap and then after that you kind of settled down. Was that because, with your illness and stuff, you knew that it was important to save energy for the second moto?
No. I was fighting. He was riding really good. He was fast. I think on this kind of track he is pretty good, because it is so hard. I think for his style it is good. Difficult to stand up. He was riding good. I could not do anything. He beat me the first moto, but the second moto I got him back. So, good.
I have heard from a few guys that before your second moto the way they watered the track was not good at all. The faces of jumps were apparently really slippery. What did you kind of think of that?
With this kind of dirt it is difficult to say if they could have done something better. I think for the MXGP guys it was better than for us, just because they fixed some places for us. They did not have, I think, a perfect machine for ripping, so it is a bit smaller and the dirt got big pieces. So, for us, it was not perfect, but at the end of the moto it was coming better. Of course in the faces and landings it was really, really, really hard, but I think it is better hard than with ruts or kickers.
Obviously you are tied in points now, which is great. Everyone kind of looks at that and thinks that it has been so close this year, but I think it is important to remember that the first round was horrible for you. You have been kind of catching up since then. If you take that out of the equation, you have actually been the better guy. If that race had been normal, then you would have a thirty-point lead by now.
Yeah. By now I would have been thirty-something lead, but everything counts. So I am now on the same points as him. I will try to keep doing what I am doing and that is being consistent. I am really happy being on the podium every single weekend, which is the most important thing for the championship. We are fighting now for the title. I do not know how many races are left, but we still have some races to battle for sure.
Based on what you said earlier about hard-pack tracks; I am guessing your goal is to get through Loket and maybe tie in points or sneak a win, then you are really looking forward to Lommel?
Yeah. I like Loket a lot. It is a good track for him too, I know. I enjoyed riding there last year. It was my first time there. It is a track that the jumps are really small over there, but the design is pretty natural. I think it will be better to have more tracks like that in the GPs, because it is really nice to ride. You need to have good lines, good flow and it gets bumpy. It is a nice track. I like it. After that, we have Lommel. Lommel is a track where it is just physically really difficult. I would not say perfect track for a sand guy, but just the strongest will win. This year I feel pretty strong. I think on this kind of track I can do again the same as last year. We will see. He is also good and strong, so it will be a hard championship for sure.
This does not change anything for you, does it? You have been close for a few weeks now, so it is not like you are suddenly going to feel more pressure or anything? You just need to keep doing what you are doing.
Yeah, I am just coming to the weekend. I really do not think about this so much, because there are still so many races. Probably at the end maybe. We will see. I just need to do what I am doing, to not make mistakes. The most important thing is to be focused.
Finally, we have been in Indonesia for a while now. How excited are you to get home, get back to normal food, a bit of normality and onto your regular programme?
Yeah, really happy. I think this week I ate for lunch and dinner the same for seven days. I am already tired of the same food every day. You need to be really careful where you go. We basically always eat at the hotel or if we know a really good place out of the hotel, but you need to be careful with everything. Even on the track here with the big snakes. In Europe you do not have snacks around the track. You can walk normal. I am really excited to go back to Europe. It is a long trip and I will try to relax.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer