Just four weeks after claiming his tenth FIM World Championship in Namur, Stefan Everts reached another landmark. His victory in the sands of Lierop, Holland, this weekend took his total Grand Prix wins to one hundred! In between Namur and Lierop, Everts, who rides for Intur Sports Rinaldi Yamaha, actually tasted defeat for the first time this season, at the hands of Josh Coppins in Ireland. But the “King of GP Motocross” bounced back on Sunday. The 33-year-old, who retires at the end of this season, looked untouchable in the soft stuff.
Stefan Everts: Thanks. It was pretty hard, to be honest. Last week I started to feel a bit more relaxed [after a busy few weeks]. Then I started to feel very tired towards the end of the week. I didn’t have any doubts about my riding, but I had some doubts as to whether I’d be fit enough for two 40-minute motos in the deep sand. I knew Lierop was going to be physically the hardest race of the year, but at the end of the day everything went well. I felt better than I had expected.
The last few weeks have been a bit mad for you, haven’t they?
It’s been very mad. First there was winning my tenth championship at Namur, then there have been interviews and a lot of other stuff to do.… Okay, it was my own decision to do all these things, but I’ve been working on a photo book, a biography, a DVD, and planning my big farewell party. And I’ve been trying to do all this in between my normal routine.
Did you take too much on?
Yes and no. I’ve enjoyed doing a lot of those things; I’ve not done them before, but on the other hand, to do all that and still be able to rest and to train well has been very hard.
Has it affected your performances?
Yes, I think it has a bit. I was riding well in Ireland. To win the second moto and the GP I needed to pass Josh, but he was pushing hard at the end and I couldn’t. I didn’t expect that. At Lierop my technique in the sand made a difference. I had a bigger advantage there. But in Ireland Josh was very strong.
You still lapped up to third place in Ireland! Were you just three or four percent off your best then?
I would say about five percent.
Has any of this sunk in yet?
No, it hasn’t. I think that maybe after a few months or years it might, when I am missing everything about racing. I’ll appreciate it more then.
Before the season started, I was keeping it to myself most of the time. Then I said it in an interview and it ended up on the cover of a weekly magazine – that I wanted to win one hundred. When I saw it I thought, Oh no, what have I said? But now I’ve done it!
You must look back now and think that riding the 125 class as well as the MXGP class for part of the 2003 season [when the GPs were contested as a one-moto format] was a great move?
Yes, I do. I won eight 125 GPs that year, and then I did all three classes at the final round and won a 500cc GP too. That helped me a lot. To win eighteen GPs in one year will never be matched.
So even if you didn’t agree with the one-moto format at the time, it served you well that year!
[Laughs] Very well!
Are you going to miss schooling your GP rivals in the sand, just as you did again on Sunday?
Yes, I think I will. I just find it a pleasure to ride in the sand. It’s such a great feeling to find that timing in the sand, to have that technique. That’s one of the things I’ll miss the most – to be at one with my bike.
Is it something you can teach?
At the end of the day, you have to understand the sand, understand how to use your body and ride your bike in the sand. That’s something I can’t really teach. I can give some tips to help.
Is it more a natural ability you have then?
Most of it is, I think, yes.
What is left to motivate you for the rest of the season?
I hope I can ride well at the Motocross des Nations. At the last GP at Ernee [France], I’m just going to try and enjoy the weekend. Yamaha have organised a lot of surprises.
Can you say what sort of things?
[Laughs] No, they’re a surprise!
Are you expecting to win your last GP?
I don’t know at this moment. I’m just going to try and get everything together for one last try at the Motocross des Nations.
If you could choose between Belgium winning the Nations or Stefan Everts winning the overall, what would you go for?
If I am really honest, then I would choose to win the individual. It’s something I haven’t done yet against Ricky [Carmichael]. And I’ve won five MX des Nations with the Belgian team. That’s if I had to choose.
You’ve raced at Matterley before. Is it the sort of track you could be competitive on?
It’s possible, it’s possible. We’ll have to see.
Kevin has been having a hard time with injury [he crashed at Namur] and his results haven’t been the best. Maybe racing the 250F will motivate him, as it’s something different. Steve [Ramon] also had a big crash, in Ireland, and his results aren’t as good as they were a few weeks ago. We’ll have to see. At the moment the other two guys are not at their best.
So after the Nations, what have you got planned?
I’m racing the Superbiker [Supermoto] event at Mettet in Belgium and the Weston Beach Race in England. Then I go to New Zealand for my last race, and then it’s time for a holiday.
Before we sign off, I know you always have a big free end-of-season party for your fans in Belgium. What have you got planned for your final party?
It’s on the Saturday after the des Nations, and it’s going to last all day. It starts with an official celebration at the City Hall near where I come from, in Neeroeteren. From there we go to the local track. I’m going to have a museum open with all the bikes from my career and some 250 other items, like trophies. The tent we’re using is almost 500 square meters. It will be set up year by year. The idea is, you’ll walk through my career. There’ll be stuff for kids too. And there’ll be a quiz to see who knows me the best. The winner gets a hot air balloon trip right there and then! There’ll be a rodeo-style motocross bike—the winner of that also gets to go in the balloon. We’re going to have circus acts and other guests, including a tribute show. Then Praga Khan [a top Belgian music act] will play, and we’ll have a DJ to finish it off.
It sounds great. I won’t miss that.
Cool. The museum is going to be very interesting—I’ve been working on it all year. I’m the only one who knows where to find all the stuff that has been given to me!
Would you say you’re a bit of a “hoarder,” then?
I never throw anything out. I think people will be quite surprised as to what I have!
That must drive your girlfriend, Kelly, mad!
Yeah, it does, we’ve got stuff everywhere!