Romain Febvre has endured a turbulent campaign in the FIM Motocross World Championship. Although the issues that he has encountered have now been identified, they aren't exactly behind him. The good news is that ‘461' knows what needs to be fixed in order for him to move forward with the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team.
MX Vice: The result probably was not what you wanted today, but the riding is a ton better than it was a few rounds ago. I guess that, from that point of view, you are happy?
Romain Febvre: Yeah, I’m happy about my riding for sure. Since Germany we went back to the settings of the engine and suspension. We went back, but like a really big gap. It seems to work. Only for the start it is still difficult to get a really good start compared to the other one, but I think for sure it is much better. Like the second moto, I don't know, I started really far and then came back to fourth, but again missed the podium. It is not really like the podium is the goal, but it is just to try to win some motos and just do better with the guys on the front. It has been a while, so this is my goal.
That was a change that you made just before France and it made you much better. Since then, have you changed anything at all? Have you just been trying to keep with the same settings and keep some continuity in your programme whilst moving forward?
Yeah. We went back with the bike and since then we and I did not change anything more. It is only some small adjustments, but nothing really big. Not so much. The suspension is working really good on every kind of track, so that’s really good. The engine also on the parts we know that we are missing it is for the start, but this is difficult to manage. It is not only a question of power and everything. It is still very difficult, but I think we will not have one update of the engine until the end of the championship. Like I said before, I really need to be focused on the start to take a good start. Saturday I took a really good start, but if I miss some small things then it’s done. It’s really difficult, but riding it is much better.
I remember talking to you in Switzerland last year and you said at that race that you were going to be doing some testing to make the bike better on the start, but it might compromise other parts of the track. Has this whole process just been one massive circle since then and you’re now back to where you were at that point last year?
Not so much, because last year from Switzerland on I think from Assen to ‘Nations we changed the bike to improve the start. We had some compromises on the track, but we tried because we have nothing to lose on the championship. So, we tried. Already last year at the last few GPs I didn’t know I could, because the bike was really difficult for me to ride. The start was better though. Then this winter we still kept trying something different. Then I said, I need to ride like this to take a good start. Then with the whole winter, like two or three months, I will normally get enough experience with the bike and be ready for the championship, but since Qatar I had the good starts but I struggled to ride. We went back and now it is better, but just we need to improve the start.
You said you had those settings on at the Motocross of Nations last year, but obviously you won there and rode great. Do you know what the reason behind that was? Was it just because it was a special event?
Yeah, not really. No, it is not because of ‘Nations being a special event or something. We just went like I said from Assen to Glen Helen; we changed the bike, the engine, then at ‘Nations to be sure we went back. ‘Nations I rode really good, so we knew that we need to try this kind of setting on the track but improve the style. It’s [a] difficult job for them to improve both. It’s why we are struggling a little bit for the start, but anyway we are trying our best.
I’m guessing that your greatest hope now is that when you get to race a 2018 bike that will kind of fix all of these problems?
Yeah, the 2018 bike is really good. I rode already one year ago, so last winter with it with the Japanese guys. They came over in Italy and during my break we had one or two days of testing. It’s really good. It’s handling even better than it is now, so, it is a really good bike. They changed everything. They start again from zero. The chassis and the engine – everything is new. They did a really great job. We are looking forward for that for sure. The engine is completely different, like I said, so hopefully we can find the piece that we are missing now and we’ll see for next year.
Do you know when you are going to get to race that? Loket, maybe?
I cannot say. I don't know, but not in Loket or Lommel. Maybe later, but it’s not sure.
Now that your settings are kind of where you want them to be, apart from the start, and you’re still not finishing on the podium, are you frustrated or do you know that with a start you’d be on the podium and battling for wins?
Yeah. Now I feel for sure that if I take a good start or at least start with the guys on the front so you have the pace, you can keep the pace and then use less energy. Like I said, the second moto I was maybe fifteenth or something and then came back to fourth (close to the third place). I have the speed for sure, but I need to use a lot more energy than them because they start on the front and they just can keep their space. I need to push all the moto to pass everyone. So, for sure, if I start on the front I feel that like minimum the third place is my place. After I don't know. I have not so much chance to battle with Jeffrey [Herlings] or [Antonio] Cairoli now. I don't know. I cannot say, but I think with a good start I could do something better.
How is your confidence now? Has that taken a bettering through this whole process?
Yeah, the confidence is good. It is always the combination between confidence, bike and speed. It’s always together. Now for sure it’s better. Before I had also the confidence, but I just could not ride like I know. It was more difficult to accept that I cannot ride fast, because after the race like Latvia or something I was not tired. I just could not ride. It’s really difficult to ride with the bike. I make so many mistakes. It’s why. The confidence has been always there. Now, for sure that I ride much better and my speed is good, it’s even more.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Monster Energy Media/Ray Archer