The transition to the premier division was supposed to be fairly easy for Jeremy Seewer, as he was set to slide across to the Suzuki World MXGP awning and pilot the same machine that he tested at points last year. However, Suzuki withdrew from the FIM Motocross World Championship at the end of September and left him scrambling for a seat in the competitive class. The five-time Grand Prix winner eventually found a home with the Wilvo Yamaha MXGP squad and is now preparing for his debut aboard the YZ450F.
MX Vice: It was a bit of a bumpy road to get to the Wilvo Yamaha MXGP deal, with everything that happened at Suzuki, but are you happy with how it all worked out?
Jeremy Seewer: Yeah, I am happy. It was shocking news with Suzuki and stuff. We were settled and set up for the next year and stuff, so it was not easy to find something where everything fits. It is not just having a ride! There are many things with the helmet, gear and sponsors. The whole package needs to fit. I am really happy with what we have now, as everything has come together really well. I think that we have really made the best out of the whole situation. I am really happy with the whole Wilvo Yamaha MXGP team.
How did you feel when you found out about Suzuki pulling out? After talking to you the last couple of years, it seems that it takes a lot to unsettle you. You were pretty relaxed even when you were losing points to Pauls Jonass. Was there a point where you hit rock bottom?
We had a meeting with Suzuki and nobody really knew about it until that evening. It was the Thursday evening after the last MXGP round and they just said that the team has stopped – that was it. I have to say that with the whole situation, it actually took months to fix the deal until everything was clean with Suzuki. It was not easy to get out of that whole situation. I have to say that I was really calm though. I never had a sleepless night or anything like that. The main reason that I was able to stay so relaxed and normal was that I have good people around me. My manager is just so incredible with the stuff that he does. I trust him one hundred percent. With my parents and sponsors in Switzerland, I have so many people behind me even if I do not have a team. It is really awesome and helped me a lot.
Seeing as you were under contract with Suzuki, did they try to keep you on the bike somehow? There were obviously those JGR rumours, so how close did that come to happening?
It did not really come close, but I had a contract on the table to go to JGR. This is true. It was not the way that I wanted to have it. I mean, it was a good contract, but it was not my intention to stay on the 250F Suzuki any longer. I have done it the last few years and I know what we were dealing with, so I just needed something new. This is why going to America did not happen in the end. Even if I was pretty open to turn everything one hundred and eighty degrees, it obviously did not happen in the end. This is just how it was.
It was not like you were worried about doing supercross or anything like that then? It was just that you felt like you had gotten everything you can out of that 250F and are ready to move up now.
Yeah, it was the other bit of the case. Suzuki did not actually push hard to keep me, so I had no reason for that, plus you know what we have struggled with the past few years and why we lost the championship to Pauls that hard. It was clearly my decision then to say that I would not stay on a Suzuki 250F. I am ready to move on with a 450F, so everything came together really well with Wilvo.
I know there was talk of you doing something with [Stefan] Everts as well, like some kind of privateer team. Did that come close to happening?
Not at all. Like I said before, I would have the background and people around me to go private and make my own team. That would have been the worst-case scenario though, if I could not find anything. When I say that I mean a proper team. I’m a two-time vice world champion, so I am not going to ride for a B team that I am not happy with. If that was the case and I did not find anything that I was happy with, then we could have made our own team and taken the materials that were left over from Suzuki. I am happy that this was not the case, because it would have been a lot of work and a lot of stuff to worry about.
Considering everything that happened, you have really landed on your feet. Wilvo Yamaha MXGP is a great team and you even have a two-year deal! Having that security must be huge.
Yeah, it is awesome! Yamaha Europe were really waiting there with open arms. They were happy to deal with me and I was happy that it worked out in the end. I have a contract with Yamaha Europe, not with Wilvo, I am just riding for Wilvo. It feels amazing. I have a sponsor, iXS, who we are going to have in the team now also. A big company in Switzerland, the main company for motorcycles, runs that iXS company and have Yamaha too. It was actually a dream for everyone in Switzerland to see me on a Yamaha! It just never happened, because I have been on a Suzuki all my life. This is another point that just fits perfectly. I would have never thought that this would have got to a point where it all fits together.
One of the things that seemed perfect about the Suzuki team was the way that you got on with Hunter [Lawrence] and Arminas [Jasikonis]. It was like a family, but then it seems that you have found that at Wilvo Yamaha MXGP as well. It is a tight-knit crew and there is another Swiss rider beneath the awning.
Yeah, it is true what you say. It was just a dream team with Hunter and AJ. On the track we did our business and helped each other. It was so helpful to have them, then away from the track we could enjoy it. It was just a perfect mix, but now I am on a new team with new people. I am really happy with Arnaud , Shaun [Simpson] and all of the mechanics. We have already started to have a lot of fun and it is all fitting together. I think that it is going to be really nice, plus I am still in touch with Hunter a lot. We go out practicing a lot together, me on my Yamaha and him on his Honda, but it does not matter. It is the same with AJ – it does not change. We are still going to stay friends and stuff.
Some people obviously struggle with the YZ450F. Some riders love it, but others hate it. Did it take long for you to get comfortable on it at first? You were obviously on a Suzuki for your entire professional career.
No, it did not! That was strange. I jumped on it and the only thing that was strange for me was the noise, because of the engine that is in the opposite direction. Handling and things like that felt very good from the beginning. I tested the bike before I signed the contract, of course, and I was really positive about it. It may be a bit true what they say, people have loved the Yamaha or hated it, but I think that they have done something pretty special with the 2018 YZ450F, which is an all-new bike. I do not have so much experience, especially on a 450F, but it feels pretty good.
Is there one thing that you are eager to improve or fix during these final few weeks of testing though? Is there something that you are still working on?
I mean, it just started for us. I have done some days on the bike, last year and then just today I was riding as well, but I think it is going to take the whole season for me to keep improving the bike and suspension. I am not going to be two hundred percent ready at the first GP, just because my experience is not that high and I am starting at zero. We had ten years of experience at Suzuki and everyone knew what I liked. Now it is zero, so we have so many little things to improve on the bike and suspension. There are just so many little things. I am trying to bring them together as quickly as possible, then we’ll see where I end up at the first GP.
You mentioned there that you tested the Yamaha before you signed the deal, but did you test any other bikes or come close to signing with another MXGP team?
No, I did not. We spoke with many others, of course, and there were some options if it really did not work out, but there was not anything interesting enough to go out and test the bike. If Yamaha did not work out, we could have gone and done it with some guys. That was not the case though.
You have proven that you are already quite good on a 450F, so what are your expectations for this season? What results would you be happy with? Do you have a particular goal in mind?
The pressure has been really high the last few years, so at the moment I am just trying to keep it low. I have nothing to show at the moment. It is my rookie year and I’ll just try to do my best, but of course I want to be in the top eight to start with. It is a really tough class. Whether you are in seventh or fourteenth, fighting for positions is going to be so tough. I am really curious to see what it is going to be like. If I get good starts, then I think that I can be in the top eight. That is what I think about. We will see when the races start.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Suzuki Racing