Jorge Prado had a puzzling start to the 2021 FIM Motocross World Championship. It was not bad, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it was not quite as spectacular as fans have come to expect from him. It turns out that there was a reasonable explanation for that though – he is still dealing with the aftereffects of having COVID-19 in November last year. That is quite crazy, of course, but then it is actually surprising that more riders have not been struck down by the long-term effects.
Prado is quite open when discussing the issues that he has faced and what he has done to combat the problem, so this MX Vice interview from the Grand Prix of Czechia is fairly insightful. There is an interesting titbit about his struggles with making the race bike comfortable in a race setting. This interview was originally posted as an MX Vice post-race podcast, presented by FLY Racing, and is available on all major platforms.
MX Vice: You were a lot better today. Your first victory and first podium of the season, which is a big surprise. This is good for you though. This is a bit of a breakthrough, and your season starts today.
Jorge Prado: Yeah, the fight and war starts now. It is great to be back on the podium and directly on the top of the box. That is a place that I think I should have been a couple of times already. It was rough. The road, it is not easy. After getting COVID last year, I have struggled with the health a little bit this year. I was focused on getting healthy after Oss; I did many check-ups on myself. I was struggling with the lungs. I still had pieces of COVID in the lungs that made me not breathe. I am starting to get a little healthier, and I feel that a lot on the bike. I am very happy to get my health back. Physically, we need to work on it. It is still a long season and it’s just started. We are going in a good way.
This goes back to COVID last year then? This is not a new thing or different virus. You are one of the people who has longer effects from COVID, huh?
I got COVID quite hard last year. It effected my lungs, and I suffered a lot. In a normal day it’s not a problem – I do not have any issues. When you add in the intensity of the racing that is very high in this class, especially the second motos… Even the first motos. At Oss, in the first moto, I was sat on the starting gate and just could not breathe. I was blocked. My lungs were blocked. Luckily, we managed to get all this fixed in one week and understand the problem. COVID is something quite serious. If you do not take care of it then you can get what I have. I am trying to get healthy with the lungs. It was not so nice. It was tough last year – COVID came at the wrong time and hit me hard. I am fighting with it.
What have you got to do now then, like take special medicine or have more rest days? Did the doctors give you a plan to follow to make this go away over time?
Well, you know, I did all these tests on my heart and everything. I just wanted to check everything – I did not know what was happening to myself. I just knew I could not breathe. With some doctors, I am just trying to get myself healthy. It is a long process, but I feel it day-by-day. That is positive. I am happy that we discovered the problem and are fixing it.
This explains why the second motos were always worse at the first couple of rounds then.
A part, yeah. I could have been better at Matterley – I am not blaming that I could not breathe enough. I just was not better than that. The COVID effected my riding, but I also made a couple of mistakes. The crash in Russia was my fault, for example, and the crash in the second moto was my fault too. There are some things that are just my fault – they should not happen. I was already fit at the beginning of the season, but we need to figure out how to get even stronger and especially in the second motos. This class is no joke. Especially in the second motos, these guys are still pushing hard. I just need to try to stay with them and keep up with the good rhythm.
Seeing as this is our first interview of the season, are you happy with everything aside from that? That is just the one issue that you are dealing with, right?
Overall, I am very happy. We are working hard this year and trying many things. We are trying to get the race bike perfect on the weekends. We are working on it and pay a little more attention to that on the race days, so we can get it perfect for the motos. I think that we have a good set-up. I am feeling good.
Were you slightly disappointed with the second moto today? Do you feel that you could have won it or was that just the best that you could do?
That was just the best I could do. I could not have done any better, because otherwise I would have done [laughs]. I just gave it my all. The track was very rough and once it gets very physical, like it was, then you must really hold onto the bike. The braking bumps were so big. I am struggling with it a little bit. You need a lot of power, which I am missing a little bit. We are feeling good though. I pushed very hard in third so that Glenn [Coldenhoff] could not pass me. I am happy.
Turning this into a positive, it sounds like you are not 100% yet and you still won today. If you can keep improving now, which it sounds like you will, then this could be really good in a month or so.
Yeah, I am 20 years old. I can get better and improve physically. I can get faster. I know that we can make a big improvement still, especially on the fitness side. I am still not 100%. I thought that I was at the beginning of the year, but reality hits you hard once you start racing. You must keep working and find the small things that will make you grow. I have said it many times in this interview, but this class is very tough. The guys are very strong. I just need to keep working hard to stay in good shape.
We are going into Lommel now. What are your thoughts on that? Are you going to do anything special to make sure that you are ready for it?
Lommel is a place that I like. I have won at least once every year that I have raced there. I have very good memories. It will be a good weekend – I am feeling better and better in the sand. We struggled a little bit last year but this year we found a good set-up. I am happy with the team effort that we are putting in and I think Lommel will be a good weekend.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer