It’s been a year of change with Everts gone, and at the start of the season it was Josh Coppins who led the way, winning more than the others and taking a big points-lead. Then it all went wrong, and Ramon became the leader. We sat down with new World MX1 champion Steve Ramon and asked him about his championship season.
Racer X: Steve, it was really an exciting season. Josh looked strong early, but it seemed like many of the younger riders showed enough this year to make us believe that the coming few years are going to be exciting. What do you think?
Steve Ramon: The younger riders are doing really well. Of course Josh Coppins was really the strongest in the first GPs, but it's true that we lifted to his level. Maybe at the beginning he didn't have any pressure because he was the best, but the level of the other riders was going up, all the riders were going quicker and better, and then maybe there was more pressure on Josh. But like you say, everyone is riding the same level at the moment.
It was a good race, for sure the second moto, Kevin (Strijbos) was riding good. He is really good in the sand and Marc (DeReuver) was also riding well. I had a good battle with Kevin. I really wanted to win the second moto, but I didn't want to push too hard in the beginning, because I knew it would be tough at the end. I made a mistake, and then I got cramps in my leg and it was difficult and I slowed down, and when you slow down on a track like that, then it's really difficult. The whole circuit was just bumped everywhere. I couldn't find any lines. I was looking at some of Kevin’s lines and I know when he passed me I could look at his lines. It was difficult to know should I wait and look at his lines longer, or should I pass and try and make some distance. Then I made a mistake and I had to slow down and then I knew it was over for the victory.
When Josh got injured the press really felt sorry for Josh; it was like his world title was taken from him. You seemed to be the rider everyone felt didn't deserve the title. Did that make you angry?
I didn't get angry. What everyone was saying, it was true. I mean he was leading, he did have a big points lead, and if he didn't crash he would be World champion, but that is part of racing. After the third GP, because the second and third GPs were bad for me, I thought, It's over for me this year, it's going to be difficult. But I never really gave up. At the moment Josh got injured I didn't really know what was wrong with him, and for me the GPs after Loket (Czech Republic, where he injured his hand) didn't go so well. I made a big crash in Ireland and I was really not riding well. The problem in Ireland was I didn't jump the big double in practice, and then I did it in the first lap of the race, and I crashed. It was my own mistake and once again I hurt my hand really bad. When I finished the second race in Ireland I had so much pain, I thought to myself, this is not good, maybe it's over for me, but still I didn't give up.
Do you feel like you got lucky winning this championship?
You must know, okay, it made things easier for the championship with Josh out, but the last weeks before Lierop, it was really tough for me. I rode with a lot of pain. Many people don't know about that—it was difficult to get on the podium or get a win—but the points I scored were important for me, I knew that. I know how tough it is to lose a title by a few points—I lost the title in 2002, in the last moto of the year, by just four points. I didn't want that to happen again. I fought really hard in those last GPs and people might not realize that, but I know that for myself that I really fought through a lot of pain and that made me happy that I did that.
I don't feel like I am the man. I want to win a lot, I want to win a lot of GPs, and this year I was just consistent. For me it wasn't a great year. No GP wins, but I still got the championship. You must know, I also had my own problems this year. Everyone says if Josh didn't crash, or if Kevin didn't have his knee problem he might have won. People need to know I also had bad luck; I also had bad starts and crashes that were not my fault. In Portugal I had two crashed after the start, both times it wasn't my fault, somebody took me down. I've ridden with a lot of pain, so it hasn't been easy for me this championship.