At the end of 2014 Jeremy Van Horebeek was cresting a wave of success. The Belgian was runner-up in the world with twelve podiums in MXGP and his first win in the premier class. 2015 was a turnaround and a troubled campaign with ‘89’ struggling with the weight of expectation and a rookie teammate on the works YZ450FM that would go on to take the title. 2016 is then a year of reestablishment for one of Belgium’s brightest hopes in Grand Prix motocross. In his third year with Yamaha and currently sitting fourth in the standings it was time to check on ‘JVH’s progress and how he buried a harsh career blip…

Jeremy, 2016 is about trying to find a way back to the peak of MXGP. Happy so far?
I’m really happy at the moment and I feel well. After last year I re-grouped and I have my life back on-point. It is the best feeling – to enjoy racing again – and to go out every time and not be bored with it. Last year I was ‘over’ racing, riding, training, everything. I just wanted to do something else like spending time with friends and try to get a clear mind for another season. It feels good to be so fit and now I just want to race.

What happened at the end of last year? Did you need a long look in the mirror?
It got to the point where I was hesitating about doing the Nations but then Michele [Rinaldi] and the rest of the team staff pushed me to do it: to try and re-group at the end of the season and before the break. The Nations went quite well and straightaway I felt like ‘OK, we are back on our way to the top’. I then told myself: ‘right, time away, friends, partying, do what you want to do and do it now because on November 1st we start work.’ I did that with a new trainer and being with Hugo [America] is a case of the right guy in the right place at the right time. I felt good after the first month but it did get heavy and pretty painful some days. Mentally it was also tough but then I thought about 2015 and whether I wanted that to happen again so I kept digging. To know that I can give everything I want in every race from the first lap to the last now is really good.

So a complete turnaround in motivation…
Yes. I guess and I am taking a different approach because every point is worth something and I have to enjoy being on the bike and not go over the limit. I might have been able to go faster in these first few rounds but I didn`t do it. I have a podium finish already and last year I had to push for half a season to get that! This time it came easy.

In 2015 you had the misfortune to have a guy next to you who ended up being world champion but then you also made a mistake by letting the pressure of being world number two get to you…
That is fair to say…and it is fair that Romain was World Champion because he rode for that and won GPs. People say maybe it was easier for him because others had injuries but I feel that everyone has to stop that bullshit because riders are back now and he is still winning. My mistake was putting too much pressure on myself. I said: “I have to be world champion…” whereas now it is more like “I would like to be world champion…” It is a different approach and the goal is the same but we will see how it goes. We will know a lot more in a few more races.

Did you turn the Yamaha around for 2016? It seemed last year you couldn’t get a decent start for love nor money…
I turned it around completely! I think it is the best bike I have ever ridden; it is smooth and comfortable. It maybe has less power than the Honda guys and some of the others and this might still affect us on the starts but we are still working. We had some improvements only the other week. The team did a great job on the bike and I think everybody can see this with my riding.

The 2014 Grand Prix of Czech Republic saw you pressurise Tony Cairoli and go on to take your first win in the class. Do you think a moment like that again will ‘unlock the floodgates’?
The plan is to stay consistent and to try and win when I can. It would be really nice just to win a couple of GPs this year. I have this set in my mind. I think it needs to happen soon.

Finally some people would say that your best season came when you were effectively alone in the Yamaha set-up and had all the resources at your sole disposal. Does having a teammate – Romain – next to you mean a change of mindset?
Last year I was struggling and he had good results. After analysing that I put it behind me and now it is like I am on my own in this team. With regards to material and support that will never be a problem in a factory team. We have the same bikes and everything we want. I pretend that there is nobody next to me. I have no trouble with Romain but for me it is like he is not there because it was a mistake last year to focus too much on him. I’m not worried now that he leading the championship because I know they are more on the limit than they are used to. They can do what they want…and I will do what I need to do.

Courtesy of Monster Energy

 

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