Catch Up: Valentin Guillod

An insightful chat with Valentin Guillod

· 10 mintues read

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Valentin Guillod had a difficult term in the FIM Motocross World Championship, following multiple injuries and an illness, which has left him in an awkward position for next season, as there are currently no teams even interested in acquiring his signature. It is a great shame that the gates may drop in Patagonia-Argentina on March 10 without Guillod on the line and, based on what is said in this exclusive MX Vice interview, it seems that is most likely.

MX Vice: Let’s talk about the season, which was obviously tough for you with multiple injuries and an illness. Just kind of wrap it all up.

Valentin Guillod: It was not the year that I expected, because really from last year, when I signed with Standing Construct and moved to Belgium in October 2017, I worked really hard to come back to my top level. I decided really to put one hundred percent of my effort into riding, physical condition, food, recovery and all of that. It went really well. All winter for three months I was working every day. Beginning of January, I was on the good way to be back riding in front. Unfortunately, I had a massive crash on January 19.

Valentin Guillod had a tough season aboard a Standing Construct KTM (ConwayMX)

You were ill, weren’t you, towards the end of the year? You got some kind of illness. Did you ever find out what that actually was?

After the second part of the season. I had the massive injury in January, got the surgery and everything. I worked really hard to come back, then finally I came back in Great Britain and actually it went quite well. I was back in the top fifteen and then in France back in the top ten. In Italy I was back in the top ten also, so that was quite good. I was really happy. I said to myself, "One more month to work and I will be, I think, most of the time in the top ten." Finally, we went to Indonesia for two weeks and actually I got an illness there. All of my season I was really tired. Even in the morning it was impossible to wake up or just walk upstairs. I was getting tired. It was really sh*t that I got that, because it killed my season.

Did the doctors ever actually say what that was? I know you went to try and find out what the problem was.

Yeah. Actually, we did not find out exactly what it was. We know it was a problem with the stomach and then also in the blood we found some stuff. We think that I got a virus from the food, the water or something like that out there. Then it just came like this and in one moment it left like this. It is a bit sh*t that we did not find out exactly what it was. 

I know you were putting in a lot of effort into coming out swinging at the ‘Nations and you wanted to have a good showing there. Then, just like your entire year, that did not go to plan either. I am guessing at that point you were just over it.  

Yeah. It was sh*t that at the ‘Nations I was not one hundred percent. I still had some pain in my shoulder blade. In the first race, I went for the holeshot but [Antonio] Cairoli slide in front of me and we both crashed and then we made a massive crash. I started last. I was just maybe ten or fifteen seconds from the leader. Actually, for ten minutes I was riding the same speed. I had the fifth-fastest lap time of the race. It means that I can still ride the bike good, even if I am not one hundred percent.

Then, unfortunately, the second race I did not have a good start and my shoulder blade was quite painful in the last fifteen minutes. We only had two riders for Team Switzerland, to be honest, so we were last, like twentieth. I did not want to take any more risks and break the shoulder blade again or stuff like that.  

Valentin Guillod had an impressive showing at the Motocross of Nations (ConwayMX)

Are you actually back to one hundred percent now after the illness, the shoulder and everything? Are you completely fine or are you still feeling that a little bit? 

No. After the ‘Nations I came back to Switzerland and I relaxed for three weeks, then the shoulder was all fine. My stomach and stuff like that are also fine. I was good after, let's say… The beginning of November I was fit again.

I am guessing that time that you were meant to be relaxing was quite stressful for you, because obviously you still do not have a deal for next year. Where are you at with that? Are you still talking to people?

Yeah. It was quite a difficult time. It is like I did not exist. Nobody has contacted me. To be honest, I had some top ten finishes this year after one broken leg and losing time on the bike. I was, for sure… In the first five or six races I had a lot of pain on my leg, but I was doing good races. It is really strange that people totally forgot about me for the moment. I had some contact to go race in the USA and stuff like this. We will see, but for sure at the moment I have nothing.

I do not know what I am going to do next year. It is sh*t to say, because three years ago I was beating [Jeffrey] Herlings. In 2016, my first year in MXGP, I finished ninth and now I have just had two bad years. It is like I never raced in the world championship. Nobody knows me. 

There have not even been any smaller teams that have talked to you about just doing European GPs or anything? There has been absolutely nothing from anyone in the MXGP paddock? 

No, absolutely nothing. That is quite strange. It is really strange. Now we are excited to fight to maybe go to the USA. My goal from the end of October was to start to practice supercross back on a 250F. My goal was to race well in Paris and Geneva. Geneva was good, but unfortunately on the first night in Paris I had a massive crash with another rider and I got a bit knocked out. So, for like two minutes, I was sleeping next to the track, so it was quite a massive crash.

The plan was not to train after that. For ten days I was staying relaxed at home, for sure a little bit my head. Then ride supercross in Geneva and I tried to do my best, but without practicing it is not easy to make good results. I actually saw that I can ride well in supercross with not many hours on the bike. I was hoping to make a podium or win like I did in 2014, when I won the supercross in Geneva, but it is like this.

Valentin Guillod currently has his sights fixed on a supercross career (Jey Crunch)

Have you had any contact with any teams in America? I know at one point there was a rumour about you talking to Rock River. Was that true? Did that ever lead anywhere?

No.

You have not had any contact with any teams in America at all?

Not yet. I asked many teams if they wanted to sign me or stuff like this, but I did not make any good results the last two years. They are a bit scared to sign someone who did not make any results. I really wanted to make it well in Geneva to show what I can do on the bike. Unfortunately, it did not go as I expected. Now I keep taking contact to there and see. I think I will wait for the moment someone gets injured and replace him.

You would not consider going to California, buying a KTM and then doing the 250SX West rounds as a privateer? Have you considered that at all?

Yes, I was thinking about doing that. To be honest it is already starting, the first race, in less than three weeks. The racing in Europe, the supercross in Europe, it is okay if you do not have many hours. You can do like I did in the top ten. It has already been one month that they have been practicing and the tracks are a completely different style compared to here. It is bigger. It is faster. It is sharper in the turns. 

I think that first I want to do it like this, but it will be too short on time and it will bring, I think, injuries if I go straight there and do not take time to make it. I think the injuries will arrive fast. Now I am thinking about maybe doing the 250SX East championship, but to do the east coast I need a team. It is a lot of travelling and stuff like this. Right now, I am speaking with some people in the USA to see if we can find one solution.  

It sounds like you would rather race in America than MXGP, then? I guess if an MXGP team comes to you though, you would be more than happy to do another season in Europe?

Yes, for sure. Even they propose me, some teams in MXGP, I will take that proposal to have a ride. But the thing is that I would like to go to USA, so that I do not have any regrets at the end of my career. I did the world championship. I won some GPs. I was battling for a world title in 2015. I did some top-three races in MXGP in 2016 and then, if I go to USA, I can say I tried all I can do. No regrets. 

Valentin Guillod is a three-time Grand Prix winner in the MX2 division (Yamaha Racing)

Do you feel a bit disappointed that you did not get another shot with Standing Construct? It sounded like you and Tim [Mathys] were getting on well. Obviously, he saw the struggles. Did you think that maybe you would get another shot? 

Yes. I feel disappointed to not continue with Standing Construct KTM in 2019, because if I did not have that broken leg and the virus then we would have had a great year. In January we were ready. Yes, we have great contact together, and Tim Mathys gave me great changes to come back to a top level. I didn't make it. He wanted to do a proposal after Ottobiano; I told him I only did three races, so I want to show more and better results. I asked him for more time. Unfortunately, I got the virus and the results never came like the proposal. He signed [Glenn] Coldenhoff and [Ivo] Monticelli. It is like poker. I played, and I lost, but thanks to them all for the 2018 season and the great job.

Finally, what is the plan from now on? Are you going to continue riding that KTM that you have got in France and Switzerland to prepare for supercross? Are you going to start trying to call people? What have you got planned?

Now for sure I am really, really happy. Thanks to KTM for giving me one bike until the end of December. So, for sure, I will keep practicing in supercross. Now I am taking contact to look with the USA guys at what kind of solution and if we can find a deal. So, for sure, I keep training every day. I train to practice on the bike and maybe hoping to go to USA to ride on a 250F for the supercross. Why not?

Even if there is a proposal for the 450F, why not? For sure 450F in supercross is like another world. It is a really high level, but I am not scared to go there to race on 450F for the outdoors. It is quite open in my mind. I do not know what to do or what it is going to bring me, the future, but I am open to race in any class. It is just strange to arrive at this point, but I will not give up. I want to thank all of my sponsors, who keep supporting me, like Alpinestars who gave me fresh gear to race and practice with, 6D, 100%, KTM Switzerland and Tissot. My fans, family and friends too.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

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