Dirk Gruebel, the team manager at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, has enjoyed a successful start to the season with his three riders. Jeffrey Herlings, Pauls Jonass and Glenn Coldenhoff have all met expectations at the very least and are poised to enjoy more success in the coming weeks, so now seemed like a perfect time to catch up with Gruebel and discuss everything that has gone on.
MX Vice: Obviously another great weekend for your side of the awning, with Jeffrey [Herlings] winning. A little tougher on the MX2 side of things with [Pauls] Jonass and I guess it is kind of tough to manage those weekends, because you have got one rider who is disappointed and another who is on top of the world?
Dirk Gruebel: Of course. Pauls struggled, but he never liked that track really. Instead Jorge, he had his first GP win last year here, and he really likes the track. He also gets to terms with it pretty quick. Yesterday Pauls was riding stiff and just not really feeling comfortable, not finding his rhythm and unfortunately he also crashed in the second one and the result is not what he wished. But he still has the red plate, so he can go home happy as well.
One thing I really wanted to ask you was at the beginning of the second moto, it seemed like something was going on with Herlings’ bike? There was a lot of people running around quite franticly. Was there a problem there and what was it exactly?
Yeah. He said the bike is cutting out a bit, so we took some connectors off and just blow some air in and tried to solve the problem. It seemed to work. Luckily it did work. It was a little bit of stress. It is not the best thing before the start for the rider’s confidence, but it was all fine afterwards.
Was there ever a time where you thought that maybe he was not going to make the start or have you had this kind of situation before, so you knew that you had it under control, how long it would take and all of that?
We had in practice similar problems, but the material is much older on a practice bike let’s say. It is pretty fresh here. With the washing and the water, it is always the devil and sometimes it just goes wrong.
With Pauls, I spoke to him earlier and said that it is a good thing that his streak has ended. Everyone was talking to him about it and that obviously goes into the back of his mind, builds pressure, even if he was not thinking about it. From your perspective, do you think that is maybe good for him? Now he can just focus on the bigger picture?
One hundred percent, totally agree there. We talked on Friday. I said, “Listen, it went so smooth so far, but do not expect that it goes forever like that." Also it is a bit of a wakeup call and it keeps him sharp. He knows how to handle that, so there is no problem there.
Is that working well for you, having one MXGP contender and one MX2 contender? Last year you obviously had Prado and Jonass fighting with each other each weekend and it got a bit tense at times.
Not for my nerves. They are pretty tense. Now we have two guys in each who can win a GP or even a title, let’s say. It didn’t improve the situation, only keep him calm in-between the two teams. We act like a unit and there are no hard feelings. If the other guy is winning, the better guy wins. It is all fine.
I know Herlings got some new parts in the break to help with his starts. Obviously that worked. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? What it did exactly? Why you only just got them now?
We were testing a while ago. We are constantly improving his starts. We found out that he is a little bit inconsistent with his RPM getting off the gate, like so many in his field already, we installed a light now so he sees which RPM he is on. It seems to work for him. Luckily the first holeshot – he is pretty happy about that.
Everything seems to be going great for you at the moment. Is there anything that you know that you need to fix? Anything that the guys need to work on?
No, there is constant improvement. We keep testing at home with small stuff. We are on a pretty high level at the moment, but it is always something to improve of course. We work on that. We cannot just stand still and sleep, then the other guys are going to catch up with you.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer