Dirk Gruebel has proven to be an extremely informative interview on MX Vice over the last twelve months and this chat from the 2019 Hawkstone International is no different. Gruebel opens up about his new signing, Tom Vialle, and provides some perspective on what Jeffrey Herlings is facing currently, as well as a refreshed timeline. This interview was originally posted as a podcast elsewhere on MX Vice.
MX Vice: Today didn't end well for Tom Vialle, obviously, and there was a bit of a black cloud over the entire day. Ignoring the way that the results went though, I feel like he showed a little something. There is definitely potential that you can work with.
Dirk Gruebel: The biggest struggle today was the track, first of all. He didn't know the track at all. It was the first time riding this morning, then a very short practice of course. He did not put in the fastest lap times. He was twelfth in timed practice and then he struggled with the gate picks – some people stole his gate. He prepared a good one and then other people took it away, but that is not happening in GPs anymore. Here the concrete start is a bit old-school and old-fashioned. On the other hand, they still allow them to put some dirt on.
He tried without. He tried with dirt. He is not used to that. This young generation, they learn everything on the grid like we have it now. It is hard for them to adapt, I think, so he started with a bad start and made up some good positions in the first race. He struggled, had a little crash and went down again. It was not too bad. Second one, more or less the same story. Couldn't make up from the start again and finished fourteenth. Riding-wise was good. You can see he looks good on the bike and there is something more to come.
Third race was really unfortunate for him. He crashed in the first lap straight away, went down hard, hit his belly a bit and his stomach, so he retired, but he has another preparation next week in LaCapelle. I think Argentina he will show something else again. We need to give him some time. He is young, so he needs to grow into the position. [It is] going well.
Looking at the whole experience with Tom as a whole, through testing and in Mantova, are you happy with everything? Is there something that he has kind of struggled to adapt to, like a skill you are trying to teach him that is just taking longer than maybe you expected?
No, actually he picks up things pretty quick. He knows what he needs for the bike and we have been satisfied with testing. He needs to grow. He needs to build up more muscles. He needs to get a bit more strength. He needs to get used to this quick first couple laps and then settle in. It is different than the European races. For everybody the first year is a bit of struggle. We had the same with Jorge [Prado] in 2017. You see in 2018 it was a completely different story, so he has time to grow and we will give him the time. It is all good.
You have not got much time, and Jeffrey is not here, but we always have to talk about him. Is there any news with that? Is he moving along with his recovery as expected? Is everything going to plan?
He had the latest checkup last week, Friday, and everything is according plan. Looks good from the doctors, with what the scans show, but we need to wait another three weeks for the next scan and then we can tell more about how the healing really goes. We need to take it from there. He definitely needs time. We shouldn't rush things, because it is a stupid injury to have for a motocross rider. You need your legs for the landings. I don't want him to come back too early and have, let's say, the same struggles that Brian Bogers had last year and break it again in practice with one stupid landing. We should avoid that. It is too early to say.
Everyone is obviously hinting that he wants to be back for Matterley Basin and obviously if he does that then the championship is still alive. If his next checkup is in three weeks, is that even realistic? For him to be on the line at Matterley, is it going to need some kind of miracle?
It is a little miracle to be on the line in Matterley, that's for sure. If you look at it in a realistic way there, it's going to be hard to beat the date. Let's see.
It's a stupid question, but I get asked it all the time. Jeffrey posted a story of 108. We all know that he likes to stir the pot and get people talking. I just say, whenever someone messages me about it, that it is just Jeffrey and you will see him in MXGP at some point this year. You are on the same wavelength, right?
We have got contracts. He is assigned to do MXGP. You know him. He likes to be hot in the press. He likes to stir the pot. That was the right time to do it, because there was nothing happening and no races. Just photo shoots from everybody left and right. At the moment he has no planning for that. Like I said, first he needs to heal up and then we make plans.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer