Jorge Prado had a busy time of it at the Grand Prix of Turkey, the eighth round of the 2021 FIM Motocross World Championship, as he claimed pole position in qualifying in an impressive fashion and then led both motos. Prado led 22 laps at Afyonkarahisar! Although he did not win, he moved to second in the championship standings and trails the championship leader by just 13 points heading into the Grand Prix of Afyon. Prado is certainly trending in the right direction.
Prado has, of course, dominated headlines in the summer break. Rumours surfaced that he was negotiating with Yamaha, which sent everyone into frenzy, and it was also revealed that he is not going to represent Spain at the Motocross of Nations. Prado openly discusses all of those hot topics in this exclusive MX Vice interview. Not only that, he talks about his fitness quite candidly. There is so much to digest in this lengthy chat from the Grand Prix paddock.
MX Vice: A very good day. First of all, qualifying was unbelievable. I thought you were going to go 1-1, but you were on the podium. You are second in the championship now as well. A positive day all around.
Jorge Prado: It was a great day. I was feeling good with the track in time practice. I was like, “The track is so bad.” It was just… If you got out of the rut then it was full of mud. How can you build new lines like that? It’s not possible, because there is no sense to get out of the good line. The track prep was not really perfect with this dirt. The track got a little bit better, because it got drier and we got some more options. I think that if they prep the track good with not too much water, rip it good and take a bit more care of the track than they did then we could have a very nice track with multiple lines. Getting back into my day, it was good with a very good time practice. I was feeling good already straight up. I got the holeshot in the first moto; I got a very, very, very good start. When did they pass me?
It was near the end. It took a while.
Four laps to go, maybe? It was something like that. It was a pity. I was thinking that I could maybe get that one, but it was a little bit stressful too with all of the adrenaline after four weeks off and getting back to the races. I started first and was first in time practice – it makes you a bit tired. Too much adrenaline and I was a little bit tired in the end. Not really tired, but I just could not push that extra to make the win. I was happy with a second place. Coming into the second moto, I was feeling that pressure from the first moto. I was not 100%. Even though I was maybe not feeling 100% though, my riding was good. Physically, I was also feeling good. Better than expected! The track was quite okay again in the second moto. I was first for 15 minutes, more or less, or maybe a little bit more? [Tim] Gajser passed me – he had a couple of lines that were very good. Obviously, when you start first then you always ride the same lines and cannot see multiple lines.
That is what I was going to say. You led for so long in that first moto, so it must have been stressful. You had no idea what the guys behind you were doing.
That is true. That is also a bit of a disadvantage that I had today. I could not see many options. Jeffrey [Herlings] passed me in the first moto, so I could see his lines a little bit before the second moto. I could see Gajser riding a bit different in the second moto, so I could learn again. I touched with Tony [Cairoli] and we lost some time there. Jeffrey got behind us, Tony crashed and then I actually think I had Jeffrey. I made a small mistake when I passed him back, in that right corner after the pits, so he just rolled the outside and jumped. I missed the jump, so it was just my mistake. It was a pity, because it was on the last lap after leading for 15 minutes and being second for so long. It was a pity that he passed me on the last lap. Things like this happen in this sport and that also gives me some extra motivation for Wednesday. I just want to try to keep that first position until the end, and I think that is possible. We will see how it goes.
I did not see what happened between you and Jeffrey on the last lap, but I heard people screaming and shouting. Was it close? Was it just a normal pass?
Just a normal pass. He passed me after the finish line. You have the start in the left corner, he passed me on the inside there and I kind of cut him to the inside. I cut his line in the braking and went to the inside, but he just changed the line. I thought he was close in the right corner after that and went fully into the rut. I lost the bike, my legs and everything completely out of the corner. It was not something crazy, but I just could not jump the double after that. I lost so much time, so he passed me. I feel a bit bad because it was my mistake. It was not really that he passed me there. It was more that I made a mistake and he passed me. It was good and fun racing. I need to say that it was fun racing.
What gear did you start in today, first or second? Did you feel like the altitude had an impact on the bike at all?
The KTM guys did a good job and the bike is running well. We just started like normal.
I feel like I should not be asking this question.
You can ask this question! I am starting in first. Do you think that I am going to give you my tips?
You start in first, that is fine. We are all friends here! It is all good.
Yeah, exactly. You have more than two gears, like you can also start in third. It just… I will just leave it like that.
It is not like anyone else can try to do what you do. You are half as light as anyone else in the paddock.
I do not think it is because of weight. My teammate is more or less the same weight and I think there are other guys who are more or less the same weight. I think they are like three kilos more or less, and I do not think that it makes a difference. Maybe they need to eat less and they will get good starts? If that is the reason then they can do that!
Seeing as we are clearing things up, I feel like we should do this. We have done a lot of interviews and I know you would not lie to me. There were a lot of rumours in the break, are we going to see you in ‘blue’ next year?
I have a contract with KTM until 2023. I will just leave it like that. I am happy where I am, so everything is alright.
People get carried away, saying you are unhappy, but you have said that this feels like family all along. You have been so happy here. I guess that nothing has changed?
I feel good – that is it. I feel good with the team, the bike and the brand. That is important.
I am glad that we cleared that up. This track is no one’s favourite, even though there is a nice big sign that says this is the best track in the world. Thoughts?
It is also not my favourite track, just because it is so simple. It is just flat. There is nothing special on the track – there are some tables and some jumps. You just need to turn. There are not so many places to pass and if you need to pass then you have to be aggressive. The dirt is alright, but it is nothing special. I do not know what is good about this track. It is just a normal track, I think, and nothing crazy. It is not crazy bad nor is it crazy good.
How did the month off help you with your fitness and stuff? Do you feel a lot more physically fit and ready now?
I feel quite good. I was working on my fitness, but yeah… It is hard to say, “I was working on my fitness and I am better now” when you see that they got me on the last lap. It has nothing to do with that, because the rhythm is high. If I was maybe making some bad lines where the others were gaining, I have to do double the effort to stay in front if I am riding bad lines. I do not think that was the case either.
You set your fastest lap of the race two laps from the end of the second moto. People can say what they want about your fitness, but clearly you are good.
Oh, yeah? I did not know that! I always forget to look to the pit board.
Just speak to me and you will be fine.
Yeah, if you say that then you can see that the fitness is not too bad.
You do not lie to me and I will not lie to you [laughs].
That is fine! We are all professionals and train to try to be at 100%. We try to be the best that we can. I try to be the best that I can every day and try to train as much as I can. I am 20 years old and that is something that you forget. I cannot battle. Well, I can battle. I am doing that. Jeffrey and Gajser have a different heart and body. Just to have the same shape as them… I need to figure something out to be as strong as them at the end of the motos. You know what I am saying? For example, the older you get the better in shape you get. You are just getting fitter, right? You come to an age where you go down again, but they are just in the perfect time and at the perfect age to be destroying bike.
I cannot really hold it sometimes. I think that I am not bad for 20 years old. I am quite fit for 20 years old, but it is kind of difficult physically. I am talking about physical. We are very lucky that motocross is physical, but you also have a part that is technical. There is a part that is mental. You also need to be very focused on the track and very creative. This all combines. If you are just talking about the physical side then of course they are fitter than me. How can I be fitter than them if they train as much as they can, are just older and at a good age? Anyway, I think that I can be even fitter than what I am right now. We just need to keep going.
The Motocross of Nations – that came out as well. You have been in the headlines a lot! You chose to not do it and it is not just you. It makes a lot of sense. It would be seven race weekends in a row otherwise and you have got a championship to win. You are second in the championship now, so you are right in this thing.
How many points behind?
I think it is 13. You are second, definitely. It is either 11 or 13 – I think it is 13 though. I think it is a smart decision and, obviously, you do too.
Yeah, the date of the ‘Nations is just at a very bad time. Everyone knows it. Everyone! We are racing for the world championship and that is our main goal. I am second in the championship, like you just said, and I have never been second in the MXGP class. I have possibilities for the championship and for the title. I need to take that weekend off. It is too much racing and stress otherwise. For me, the ‘Nations is not a super important race. I always like to represent my country, of course, and it makes me feel very proud, but just at a different time like after the season. Just put it somewhere else! Not in the middle of seven races in a row. Come on! Six races in a row is already crazy. Why?
It is different for everyone too. Jeffrey is going to go there and The Netherlands will probably win. With Spain, the best you could hope for is a fifth. It is different for everyone. The world title is still the most important thing.
Exactly. I am focusing on the world title.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer