I first rode the Suzuki a week after the Motocross of Nations and of course it was in Holland! First we went on holiday for a week to Turkey – I was due a birthday present from my girlfriend so she booked up some days there and we had some rest. After that I started my physical training and work; overall it was not a long break and I felt like I didn’t need it. One week laying on my arse was enough! I began slowly and built it up over one and-a-half months until I started riding again. We had a lot of testing to do.
I’m an active guy and it feels like life is only about training, training, training… When I have to stop then it’s normally a bit of TV, seeing some friends or family. Where I am based in southern Holland it is ideal because I’m close to the Suzuki workshop and central for quite a few tracks. Also for mountain biking. We don’t have any hills but in the local forest there are some nice trails. I also take the time to see private sponsors because some of those guys have backed me since I started racing and it is important to keep in touch. I appreciate them a lot.
Coming to Suzuki was a change for me. It was the first time back on a Japanese bike for two years and the biggest difference I felt right away was the weight. It was unbelievable; so much less and one of the main reasons why I feel so comfortable on the RM-Z250. The team has worked a lot on the engine and I’m pleased with the improvements they have made. I think we are in pretty good shape after two Grands Prix already.
I’m a factory rider now and I’m conscious of the fact that sometimes I have more things to do! Like in Thailand we visited a Suzuki dealer for signings and photos; so that is a bit different. Working with a team like Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe we have an engine guy, a suspension guy and quite a lot of people dedicated to specific jobs. In the beginning I thought it would be a bit strange for me because I’m used to just working with a single mechanic but I like the professionalism and the whole system in place.
As most people know the Suzuki MX2 project went through some changes over the winter and there was a moment where I thought ‘what happens now?’ We had to start talks again but once we found an agreement and I was talking directly with Suzuki then I was really happy because the people in the whole set-up are so nice and helpful. I found I could get some good assistance for my physical conditioning and that the environment around me was optimised for racing. After all, the bike can be good but it is still the rider that needs to go out and deliver. I think this system of support is one of the best things about Suzuki.
So 2014 is my last year in MX2 but I’m set for two years with Suzuki. This was something very important for me when I signed the contract because most of those who have to move for 2015 don’t yet have a ride confirmed for MXGP. For sure Suzuki is ‘not bad’ in MXGP! They have a very competitive 450 and, from what I’ve learnt so far, they can make a bike that handles really nicely for me. I’m not too worried about heading into MXGP because I rode the 450 in the winter and have some experience. In the beginning I really liked it but after about six weeks I was ready to get back on the 250! I’m not 100% ready yet for the 450. I need a different training programme and a bit more weight because I’m very light.
As everyone knows Jeffrey Herlings is the World Champion and he’s also from Holland but I really don’t mind that he takes the spotlight in terms of Dutch riders doing well at GP. I quite like being in the wings and he can take all the media attention. He is a double World Champion whereas I’ve had to cope with four years of injury problems. When you get injured then you always have to start again from zero and from the bottom. Last year, finally, I was uninjured and now you can see that in many motos and practice sessions I am always up there. It is a big difference compared to other years and I hope it continues through 2014.