The Grand Prix of Indonesia was the most eventful of the season for Red Bull KTM’s Jorge Prado. Although he took yet another overall victory, the competition really made him work for it and his own mistakes didn’t help either. Prado discusses all of that in this exclusive MX Vice interview from Palembang, as well as his four-year deal with KTM that will take him into the premier class. All of the major talking points are talked about below!
MX Vice: Another GP win, which is obviously normal, but they made you work for it this time. It was definitely tough, but you came through in the end. Talk us through everything that happened.
Jorge Prado: It was a hard weekend, especially because of the conditions and the weather. It was hot and humid. I just made it a bit difficult for myself with a crash in the first moto while leading after a perfect start. I had to get back to first and that made it so that I had to use quite a lot of energy. I got that first-moto win and then second moto I was feeling good. I started third, more or less, something like that, but then got very quick to first. I was actually feeling even better than the first moto, but suddenly I just started to make some mistakes.
I got, I think, twice out of the track before the finish line and then everybody was starting to pass me. I got back to seventh. For sure it is the first time this year that so many riders passed me, but I got them back and went back to second. With the weather like this, just to race it is tough and if you need to fight it is even more tough. Like I said, I used a lot of energy first moto but that was not a problem for the second one. The thing is that I had to go from seventh to second and pass so many riders on a track that is very small and does not have so many lines for passing.
There are many, but not easy ones. You really had to push in one line to make a pass. The track was a bit hard, like rough. I just could get to second. At one point I thought I maybe could get Thomas [Kjer Olsen], but I was just on the limit of my energies. I maybe could try a bit more, but I did not want to risk it and make a crash. It was okay for me to get second. Overall, I am happy but not one hundred percent satisfied about that second moto. It is what it is. I did my best.
When you went back to sixth or seventh, did you start freaking out? Like get arm pump and start thinking, “What is going on?” Did it all get to you a little bit or were you still quite calm?
No. I was not laughing on the bike, but I was like, “Three laps ago I was first. What happened? Why am I seventh?” I was like, “How did I get in this position? I was first. How did I lose the first position?” I didn’t win it. Once you are first you don’t win it until the finish flag, but it was looking very good and then everything was looking very bad because I was seventh. Everybody was passing [me]. I was like, “If I was feeling good and everybody is passing me, there is something wrong here.” I just said to myself, “Come on. You won the title last year. You are fast. You are strong. Let’s get them.” I just started to slowly get better, better, better and start pushing forward.
I think I have asked you this before, and it is kind of stupid, but can you see the fun side of that moto? Was it quite fun getting everyone back and making passes? You are always out front and doing the same thing, so was there a little bit of that?
Yeah. It was fun. It was fun, but it would be more fun if I could get to first. Thomas was pushing hard those laps. Like he said in the press conference, and it is very true, once you are first you use half the energy that you use whilst you are fighting, like he was as well in moto one. It was fun. Sometimes you pass. I prefer the not fun races. It is still fun, because I always enjoy riding but, like you said, I am a rider who starts pretty good, so I don’t have so many opportunities to pass people. That is why I’m also not the best guy passing.
Surprised you made so many passes? Like you said, the track was quite small. There are not many passing lines, so are you surprised you managed to make so much progress after they all passed you?
Yeah, it was good. It was not like Russia, where in the first moto I got from fifteenth to first, but it was good. It was okay. I tried my best and it is what it is. Second, more points. I extend the points lead a little bit and it is another victory, so good.
What about the first moto when Tom [Vialle] was pushing you? You were doing some quite good lap times and all of that but when the gap on your pit board was not going up, were you kind of like, “Hang on a minute. What’s going on here?”
I knew Tom was there and I didn’t want to get away. I just wanted to save some energy for the second moto. I was just… I wouldn’t say cruise control, but I was just looking to the situation where I was. I’m first. I’m riding good. Just stay in this pace. This pace I didn’t use so much energy, so let’s stay like this. Try to finish the moto like this, but it wasn’t the case. At the end I used a bit more energy than what I expected with the crash and then coming back.
This track is interesting. What are your thoughts on it as a whole to race on? If you could make one change, what would it be?
Honestly, in the free practice it was just incredible. The grip was… You could go so low in the corners and it was just perfect, but it is a tight track and the lap times are very short. We did 1:28 in the free practice and 1:28 as well in time practice. That is way too small. You have Matterley [Basin] and the lap time is 2:10. I don’t even remember, because I didn’t race there this year… It’s a pity, because it’s a nice track.
Most of the tracks are around 1:50 or 1:55. Even Kegums this year we were riding I think at around 2:00, so it is a very small lap. That means that you also make many laps and, in one point, it’s just too many laps. You enjoy it, but it’s way too many laps.
Were there any sections out there where you could do anything different? You are the most talented guy out there, so was there anywhere on the track where you could do that and gain half a second each time?
I think I was gaining a bit in the waves, because I passed Tom there in the second moto. I also felt that I was doing those waves quite okay. The first section of waves I was doing pretty good. In the second [set] I just started a bit slow, but then I was gaining some time. That is where I passed Tom on the outside in the second moto. The rest… It was a fun track. I would not change so much. Maybe for sure if it was my track [I would] have different lines. I like to play with the dirt. It is what it is. We all need to race in these conditions.
What about comparing it to Pangkal Pinang? Obviously, this has replaced it. They are similar. Is it any better or worse? Is it really just the same thing?
If Pangkal Pinang was not muddy then, honestly, it was a nice track. A bit tight as well, but the dirt was quite cool and a bit soft. Probably because of so much rain. Probably this is even better, because the dirt stayed better. I didn’t expect that they would keep the dirt so good all day. I expected it to get way harder. They did a great job on that of putting water down. It was good.
It has been a big week for you. You signed a four-year deal with Red Bull KTM. You are going onto a 450F if you win. I am no psychic, but I feel like you are going up to a 450F next year. How did the whole deal come about? Happy with it?
Yeah. This deal came pretty early in the season, maybe after round four or five we started speaking. Honestly, KTM came to me together with Claudio [De Carli]. They both wanted to make me happy. They really trust in me. They came with the offer and then we started speaking. We signed two weeks ago, the big contract. I’m very happy.
I’m very happy that they keep trusting in me. I won my first title with Claudio. Hopefully this year we can get it again. It’s tough to win. Hopefully everything goes good until the end of the season and we get another title. That’s my goal. I’m very happy. 450F will be a tough class. For sure, if I win this year I cannot stay in this class because of the rules. If everything goes well, I will need to move up anyway. Very happy.
The 450F is a bike that I have never ridden. Maybe one lap on Tony’s bike, but it was just to play a little bit. I never tested this bike. I will need to get a bit stronger and bigger arms. Just bigger. Like Claudio said, we will get it. I also need time. I’m eighteen now and nineteen next year. My body is not probably… Guys who are eighteen or nineteen are a bit bigger than me, but still I work hard. I’m working very hard every day when I go training.
Hopefully for the 450F we can get a very good programme. For sure we will need to start early to get a bit bigger and stronger and get comfortable with the bike. It’s a bike that you also need to do a lot of testing on to get a very good set-up. I’m not stressed about it. Hopefully I get used to the bike and that it fits me well.
Everyone knows that you love KTM and KTM love you. When you are open like this, do other teams and manufacturers, even from America, start to show interest? Does everyone just give up because they know that really there is not much of a chance of you leaving KTM?
Honestly, I only got it from KTM. Probably because my contract, the one I had, still goes to 2021. The only thing I know is I was talking with KTM and it’s the brand that I really trust. For sure there are other brands out there that are very good, but most of my career I’ve been with KTM. Since I was eleven-years-old, so you can imagine for seven years. It is quite a long time. I am feeling very comfortable in this family. I’m very happy with the relationship that I have with them. Hopefully in these four years we will get some good results and I will work very hard for 450F class.
When you were talking to KTM, how much did America come up? Was there even a chance of you going? Did you talk about it?
I could say that we did not even speak about America, because I already had in mind since last year when I won the title what I wanted to do if this year goes well. At the moment it is going very good and hopefully until the end. I need to say that, because you never know. A small crash and then you get injured. After Argentina everything was going well, then I crashed. It is not easy. Riders are very fast, for example, Thomas and some others. America really didn’t come up. I spoke with Claudio already before and he really wanted me, so I’m happy here and hopefully for the next years.
If you win your title, you have got to go a 450F. If you don’t and something crazy happens, like a tsunami or something, would you consider staying down? In your mind are you ready to go to MXGP no matter what happens?
It is 450 time. It’s a tough one. If I don’t win the title because I get injured, it’s a different situation than if I don’t win the title because the other guys are going faster than me. It depends the situation. If the other guys start improving and they start beating me, that could maybe be a reason to stay another year on a 250F. That would mean that I’m not ready to pass but, at the moment, I’m showing that I’m pretty strong and I keep working hard. Let’s hope I can pass for 450.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer