Chatter Box: Rasmus Jorgensen

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Rasmus Jorgensen’s rise within the Grand Prix paddock has been quite rapid – he went from working with Thomas Olsen in the EMX250 category to leading Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s MX2 effort within just a matter of years. Jorgensen got that far by bringing many important qualities to the table and, bearing that in mind, it is no surprise that all three of his guys have impressed through the first two rounds of 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship. Jorgensen breaks down the results and his new role in this exclusive MX Vice interview.

MX Vice: Becoming a team manager of a factory team is obviously huge, but this must have been an easy way to do it. You already knew everyone and how they worked, so the respect was there. Did it feel like a big thing or was the whole process pretty seamless?

Rasmus Jorgensen: Yeah, it depends how you look at it. The whole project was a long time coming and it was a big one from the very beginning. It had to be done on the sidelines alongside the racing last year. It probably looked like it all happened quite quickly, as everything was ready straight after the Motocross of Nations. A lot of work went into it though. Our set-up was ready as soon as the building was ready, so then it was quite a smooth transition for me.

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Ray Archer

It was quite a smooth transition for me at that point. I knew all of the mechanics and the riders stayed the same, but it has been extremely interesting. It has been a challenge in many ways too – I would be lying if I said that it hasn’t been a challenge. It’s a big role to play in a team. It has been very, very enjoyable though. Well, up until this coronavirus!

When you knew that you were going to become a team manager, was there one thing that you knew that you wanted to do differently to make your mark? Did you already know how you wanted to do things before you got there?

Yeah, I would say so. I think that with me probably being the youngest [team manager] in the paddock, I wanted to work in a different way. It’s important to have a good relationship with the riders and know them well, so the stuff that I did with training the last few years I wanted to try to keep. I wanted to keep going on long bicycle rides with the riders and following them closely, like going to the gym with them.

I wanted to play the fact that I am that young as a bit of an advantage – I understand this generation. It has worked out great. There has been a lot more office time and computer work, but I have still taken time to train with the guys and go with them to the track. That was a big priority for me.

I was going to ask what the hardest thing about becoming a team manager is, but I guess it is that admin side and the office work that you have to go through?

Yes, I didn’t really know what to expect there and how much stuff there would be. I’m also really fortunate to have very good people around me. I have a woman in the office with me who takes care of all the bookkeeping, then I have a technical manager who takes care of ordering parts and the mechanics. If I have to point out something that has come as a surprise, it is all the politics involved. This has been a bit of a surprise for me. It is what it is – I think it is in everything. Where there is money involved, there are politics. You just have to get on with it.

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Ray Archer

Right, we are two rounds down and I feel like you cannot be much happier. You would expect Thomas [Olsen] to have better results, but you cannot ask for more given the situation, and Jed [Beaton] had two fourths that could have easily been two podiums.

Yes, I 100% agree. It was a weird situation for me to be in after Valkenswaard. I had tried to picture two guys on the podium and a good start to the season, but I was so extremely happy with how the first two rounds went. Being close to Jed last year, no one knew how difficult that year was for him both mentally and physically. To be a part of turning that around and coming out healthy, with him looking so happy in the team, was great. If it was not for a few hiccups, then he would have been on the podium at both rounds. I’m over the moon that he is third in the championship.

TKO didn’t have the results that we were looking for, but two weeks before England we weren’t even sure if he could race. He is seventh in the championship and has scored very, very important points. He has had another surgery on his hand now and this break has probably given him a bit of a second chance. He needed that operation, otherwise it would have been a very long year and I would almost go as far as to say it wouldn’t have happened. He was in extreme pain at Matterley and Valkenswaard. It was just damage control, which he did very well.

I say it to a lot of people, but I genuinely think that Jed is the most underrated rider in MX2. I think people do not realise how good he is and how also how good he can be. I feel like there is more to come – this is not his peak.

Oh, I agree. Is he underrated? Sure, right now and after the year that he had last year. I think that people forget really quickly in this sport. We also have to remember though that he was very, very attractive on the market when we signed him in 2018. I think that pretty much every MX2 team wanted him, because he had one podium and was fifth in the championship. We pushed hard to get him, so we signed him and then his bike broke in England.

That was one of the worst crashes I have ever seen, and he injured his legs very badly. He had a difficult year last year, but he managed to turn that around and so far I am very proud of what he has done. There is more to come, like you said, and this is only the beginning. He looks so good on the bike and calm, so I think the puzzle was just starting to fit together.

That is what’s funny. It would have been great if the season had continued and Jed could have built on that momentum, but this is such a blessing for Thomas. You literally have a split within the team. 

I know! I was so bummed for Jed, but so happy for Thomas. It was a really strange situation. I now have a chance to come back with two guys who are ready to rock and roll, which is obviously preferred. Let’s just hope that we do have some races coming.

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Ray Archer

Exactly. No one wants to speculate on what we are going to get, but I guess you just want to see a series? No matter if that is 12 rounds, 15 rounds or 20 rounds. What we need is to just get racing in. 

Sure. I want to go racing and that’s what we all want. Let’s try to save the sport, save the teams and go racing. Let’s try to get this whole world up and running again. There’s not much that we as individuals can do, so we just have to sit back and wait a little bit. It’s frustrating on one end for me, but at the same time you have absolutely no influence on what’s happening. That is quite calming, because no matter what you do you aren’t going to be able to influence everything. You can try to get as much work done as possible and prepare as well as you can for when we do go racing again. The only other thing to do is just wait.

Everyone I talk to seems to have a different opinion. Some people want Infront to push for all 20 rounds, because we need the full calendar. Other people that 12 or even 15 rounds would be fine, because that was normal seven years ago. Where do you sit on that?

I want to see a championship. I think the best thing to do is try to be realistic. The entire economy has taken a big hit, which will affect our sport and any sport where passion is involved. Our sport is built purely on passion. We have a lot of great sponsors, but as soon as they are affected by this then the first thing they cut down on is sponsorship. We have to take the fact that there will be a crisis after this into consideration – that could even be next year. The word that has to be used is that we all have to be realistic.

I think Infront need to be realistic on what the teams are able to do, in terms of overseas and many things. We would all love to do everything, but at the end of the day we have to see how bad we are coming out of this. Let’s try to save a championship this year, whether it is eight to fifteen rounds, and then I don’t think we should go later than the end of November, because of people changing teams or having to move to the 450F class. People need a break too. This sport is so tough, so the riders need a break to recover before starting up again. It’s tough.

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Ray Archer

Speaking of changing teams, we have your first big move as a team manager at the end of this year. Thomas is moving out of MX2 and Kay de Wolf is on his way up, but you need to decide who is going next to Jed. That is a bit of a tricky situation, because Kay will be there one day. It is just deciding whether 2021 is the right time or not. 

Yes, you are absolutely right. Had we had a normal season, we would have been able to see Kay develop. We only spoke about the two MX2 riders, but Kay definitely deserves a mention after his performance at Valkenswaard. It didn’t look the greatest on paper, but he absolutely dominated that second race before making a huge mistake on the last lap. He is young and will not do that again [laughs]! The way he was riding there he would be ready for GPs straight away, but you cannot make such a big decision based on one sand race at his home. He needs to go out there and get experience on a 250F.

It’s a very, very tricky situation. Going back to the financial point, will there even be the resources to hire a rider to take over at the level that Thomas is at? It is very difficult to say what is going to happen at the moment, but we are just going to keep optimistic. I can see that our future is very bright with Kay in the team, and Jed having another year. This is still going to be a long year and if we can get ten races in then we will know a lot more.

I guess that is another reason why we need more races. You need that along with every other team manager to make decisions for the future, otherwise you will be shooting in the dark.

Yeah, that is clear. I think many riders are out of contracts and this is a bad situation to be in for a lot of guys, even for a guy like Thomas who needs to move to the 450F class. It’s really tough. Nobody knows! I don’t think any manufacturer can sign a rider at the moment. We just have to wait and see. It is what it is. We all have to give and take a bit here to come out of this alive, then we can start building the whole thing back up again. I think that has to be the main goal.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer

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