Thanks to our friends at World Supercross, MX Vice was fortunate enough to have 20 minutes of chat with none other than British Supercross sensation Max Anstie of Team Firepower Honda, looking forward to his full tilt at the World Supercross crown, which begins on the 1st of July at Villa Park in Birmingham for the British Grand Prix!
Words: Ben Rumbold / Max Anstie | Images: WSX
MXV: Many thanks for talking to us, Max! I take it with your recent run of results in America that you’ve been talking to a few more people in the media, not so much flying under the radar anymore? How would you rate your AMA season so far?
MA: It’s been brilliant, I wanted to make the move to 250 because, apart from a couple of years when I was a teenager, I never really had the chance to learn Supercross on a 250 and then graduate to a 450. You look at the top 10 or 12 riders in the 450 class and they have nearly all won championships, first, on a 250, whereas I went to Europe and raced GPs before I could do that. So even though I’m older now, I still feel like I’m 18 or 19 because I am still learning the ropes of Supercross in this environment, with a view to moving up to a 450 again with that experience under my belt.
MXV: So is this a one-year thing, like a quick reset and back up, or are you still set to ride 250 next year? And have your results, until recently running 2nd in points to Hunter Lawrence in the East, made any changes to your plans?
MA: I have a two-year deal with my team, and this year I was treating as a learning year, not really expecting to be in this position, regularly one of the fastest qualifiers and getting on the podium several times. So the results are welcome but they don’t change anything, I will be on 250 next year as well, both for AMA and the World Supercross Championship.
MXV: It’s great to see that you are signed up to the WSX series again for 2023, and of course it’s now going to be in a massive football stadium, Villa Park in Birmingham, that the season will begin from. Football, Soccer if you like, is huge in the UK, so how big of a deal is it for you that we are finally getting a big-time dirt bike race into such an iconic stadium as this? Also, do you actually support a football team?
MA: It means so much to be in a proper football stadium. I don’t follow a team, because I soon found out as a kid at school that I was rubbish at it! Obviously through my Dad I got into Motocross, and I live in such a bubble, I train, I eat, I race, and have never popped my head up to look at other sports. Obviously, I know who Aston Villa are [The home football team at Villa Park], and I have friends who are Villa fans, so it’s fantastic to be going to places like Villa Park. You go to these places and it’s so cool to see photos of the regular stars who play and perform there, and to think that they could be adding photos of Supercross riders onto those walls is also brilliant for the sport.
MXV: Have you got much else planned while you’re back in the UK?
MA: Well my wife and I will have the baby so definitely seeing the family. But it’s also Silverstone Formula One the following weekend so we have got tickets sorted for that, I’ve never been before so it will be great to experience that. Most of the other rounds I will kind of treat as work rather than a tourist, especially where the food might be suspect.
MXV: The Arenacross series in the UK recently visited Birmingham and ran features on the local news in the week running up to the race, and the Arena was full to capacity on the night. Are you looking forward to that sort of build up and to see how many fans pack the stands?
MA: Absolutely, I did watch the Arenacross Tour on the Livestream and it was brilliant, and it’s great that it was getting some terrestrial TV time as well. If you think that when I won the Motocross of Nations in 2017 [Max won the event individually, defeating an in-form Jeffrey Herlings], it was the biggest Motocross event on the planet, held in England, and none of the mainstream British press or TV channels ran anything on it at all Monday morning! Here in the States, there are posters of Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, etc, in most petrol stations, they are seen as heroes, and to get some coverage like that in the UK would be amazing if it’s possible.
MXV: Of course, last year you had just the two rounds, at Cardiff and Melbourne, and you continued to race in Australia afterwards. This time you have six rounds, including trips to Asia and Canada. Do you think your experience with travelling to such races as Qatar and Thailand in the past will stand you in good stead for this WSX season?
MA: Oh for sure, I know that the Asian fans are especially passionate about the sport, that level of attention is something else to deal with, but certainly there will be things, like the food and managing jetlag, that I have ways of coping with because I’ve done it before.
MXV: You can revert back to your favoured #99 for the WSX series, have you done enough in the AMA to run that full time in the US as well?
MA: I honestly don’t think so, it is very tough to earn a “career number” in the AMA, you need to be either a National Champion, or top ten in combined Supercross and Motocross before you can even take your pick. So it’s unlikely I’ll ever get #99 over here, they just get given to you each year. It’ll be nice to run it for WSX, for sure.
MXV: We’ve spoken before about how much this series means to you, that it gives you the chance to be a World Champion, and it’s safe to say that you are really up for this one aren’t you?
MA: Well I moved to America when I was a teenager, and with all of the things that have happened, I feel like this opportunity to become the next British World Champion, alright it’s Supercross, but we haven’t had a World Champion since Jamie Dobb, and I feel like this is just made for me. Like all my training and work has come together for this chance, which I thought I might not get when I came back to the USA, to fulfil my dream of being a World Champion. It is on the agenda, it is really want I want to achieve and with my results this year I think I have a good chance to make it happen.
MXV: Fantastic, we’ll certainly be rooting for you over here. Thanks for talking to us and see you in Birmingham!
MA: See you there!