What has been up with Conrad Mewse? Well, we have the answer. Following some mediocre showings at the first three rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship, where he only managed to acquire six points, Mewse has been told to take some time off and regroup ahead of a return to competition. Jacky Martens, the team manager on the MX2 portion of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, spoke to us exclusively earlier today.
MX Vice: The big news today, the Friday before the MXGP of Leon, is that Conrad Mewse isn't actually here. It is pretty obvious why, as the results just have not been there. From your perspective though, what went into the decision to bench him?
Jacky Martens: At the end of the season last year he was tired, so we gave him some time off. We did testing at the end of September until the middle of October, then he had a break of three weeks. Everything went very well; he had good speed and everything. He then went home to have some rest before we started in December, as we always do in the wintertime. Everything went well. We were happy with everything, testing went well and he did good physical training with Rasmus Jorgensen. He had a good feeling with it, so everything was just perfect. It looked alright.
We had the first race in LaCapelle and he showed very good speed; his skills were good. He was third or fourth I think. Everything went very well, so from our side we thought that he was ready for the season. We went to the first GP in Qatar and immediately he was very stiff and scared, so we asked what was wrong. He said that everything was good, the bike was nice and the team was good. The only thing that we were worried about was why he was not the Conrad that we know.
We then had Indonesia and, after twenty minutes, he pulled out. Luckily I was in the pit lane, because I sent him back out. I asked what he was doing and he said he didn’t like the track, so I sent him back out. When he pulled out he was like thirteenth, but now he was seventeenth. That cost him four points. Argentina was after that and, again, it was not the Conrad that we know. I could see that he was scared.
For me, I started to be scared. It looked dangerous! He was trying hard, but nothing was going well. We spoke together with the team and Conrad, where he said that the confidence is completely gone. When he is in Belgium he feels really good and when he is around the base or in England he feels really good. We decided to give him some rest and let him find himself in his life.
Yeah, I don’t know why or how. It has happened. We decided that he should not go to Mexico, because I am scared to watch him whilst he is racing. If something happens over here then it is not good, you don’t want to have it. That is why we decided. The next race is Italy and we now have like four weeks off. He is still practicing and following the schedule of Rasmus, so I hope he can find himself and is coming alright.
He is not tired again, like the end of last year then? It is not that he has a virus or anything like that?
No, nothing! I don’t know. The people around him were a little bit like ‘he trained too hard’ and stuff like this. I don’t like this. We have built so many young riders up and the other two are doing very well. Everyone then started to be involved, as we are a factory team. We need results! We are not going to push him so much that it makes him scared or anything. We have given him the time off to go to a, how do you say, sports…
Yeah – that is it. I hope that for Italy he will be back.
You have a contract with him through the end of 2018. Are you worried at all that he’ll never shake this confidence thing and this might be him forever?
I don’t know. We know that, I don't know how to say in English, he was scared, but now the interest for racing is maybe lost. I don’t know exactly what is going on now. For sure, we need results. We have given him the positive [energy] from our side that we believe in him until the last minute. I don’t want him to have an accident, because he is pushing outside to do better. He is a kid, eh? First, I don’t want to speak too much. Everything was perfect until LaCapelle and afterwards we don't know what is going on.
If he comes back in Italy and hasn’t gotten any better, what would you do? Tell him to take more time off? Would you ever consider terminating his contract or are you behind him?
No, no, no. You know, there has to be a reason. I have never stopped during the season with one rider. When there is a problem, it has to be serious.
This is not serious enough yet though, because we have only had three rounds?
Exactly. We want to keep him, because he has potential. But, for some reason, it is lost. For us there is no intention to stop, but it just depends on how everything goes and works out. I hope that in Italy he is back where we want him.
Finally, would you ever consider putting him back in EMX250 for a year? Do you think that would help?
No. He said to us that when he is out of England and does not have that home feeling, he closes himself. That is the reason. Every top rider has had this moment once. When you make the step from junior onto national to international and then to the FIM Motocross World Championship, you have this feeling that is like, ‘Woah’.
Conrad even dealt with this during his first year in EMX125, right?
He has said that when he started on the 125, he started to get this feeling that he has now. We hope that he can solve it. We are an honest team and there is not one hair on my head that says we should quit, because he has had some difficult moments. All of the young riders that we bring have one difficult moment, but then grow up to be good riders. We believe in him and there has to be a serious reason for us to change our mind.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Husqvarna Motorcycles