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Monday Conversation: Marc de Reuver

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This interview with Dutchman Marc de Reuver is a little bit different from our normal Monday Conversations, as it was done in two pieces. The first portion was conducted after Saturday practice at Southwick, where de Reuver scored the second-fastest time, and the second portion was conducted at the end of Sunday, following a come-from-behind third-place finish in the first moto and an early exit from moto-two that was at least partially due to fatigue.

Saturday, after practice:

Racer X: Obviously, coming in to this event, you know you’re good in the sand, but the first time you tried to race here, it wasn’t great. How do you see this playing out?
Marc de Reuver: [Last time], I came like Thursday night/Friday morning or something [before the race], and the humidity.... It was so hot, man! I had water and cookies. I was not prepared at all. Then I thought, When I come next time, I want to be prepared well. So I saw that we had two weeks off [from the GPs], but I had to do a Belgium Championship race, so I had to wait four days. I did the race on Friday—it’s like on a holiday in Belgium—and Saturday I flew out, Sunday I came in here. I’m adapted to the time difference, but the heat, of course, I’ll never get used to. But it’s better [than last time], you know?

You have the Honda factory bike this time, too. Did you bring your suspension settings from Europe, or are you riding a purely American bike?
At home, I also have the same bike—the exact same bike. Same suspension, same engine, only this bike is so powerful, and it’s so loud! If you came with that bike in Europe to a practice track, they’d shoot you with a gun, man, the track owner [would]. He’d lose everything when you come with a bike like that. So we put, like, a Europe muffler on—a longer one—but it’s still loud. And we put on a heavier flywheel to tone it down a bit. It’s still a little bit too fast for me, but I can handle it now. And it’s my own suspension. I brought my own suspension.

  • Marc de Reuver
What do you think about this track compared to the sand tracks you’re used to back home?
You know, we have the same bumps. The brake bumps are really big, the only thing is we have those brake bumps, and when the corner comes, out of the corner you have these long, pulling bumps. They’re slow. Here, you just have the brake bumps, and after that, pin it again. That, we don’t have. The rest of it’s the same. I like the sand. It’s quite sandy. It’s fast, but it’s sandy. It’s good.

What do you expect from yourself tomorrow? What would be a good result for you, knowing that you’re this fast in practice?
I hope to be on the box, man. I hope to be on the box; on the podium. That would be a real highlight for me this year.

So why not just come over here to race full-time?
I’m not going to do supercross, man.

Why?
I spoke with the mechanic for Ben Townley, and he told me when Ben is riding supercross training, he crashed like two or three times pretty big. I’m not looking for that. I already broke my back once—my neck—and I’m not planning to do that twice.

I think you guys can do supercross....
I can, I can. Like, I can do Anaheim, but I’d need a week to practice on that [track]. I just can’t go out there and go “bwaapp” and jump all the triples. I need time for that, you know? I did a supercross at Anaheim, and I was fast; I was one and a half seconds off [Chad] Reed’s time, and for me never riding supercross.... But, I had like five or six hours practicing on the track, you know? So everything was familiar. I can’t just go in there and do it.

So, let’s sum it up: The box tomorrow, and if not, you’re going to be pissed, right?
Nah. I’m happy anyway that I’m here, you know?

Sunday, after the event:

Racer X: So the first moto went pretty well, except for the start.
Marc de Reuver: I messed up the start, yeah, but also on the line, I made my rut, and what do you call that thing to the back? I ended up really close to the gate, so I had to dig the rut more, and I had no play to roll forward. I messed up the start completely, and I was like twenty-fifth in the first corner, and I came up well. [Andrew] Short was a little bit too far [ahead], but I was so tired, man. I was done. It’s like hot air you breathe here. And it’s not even hot, they told me!

Two or three years ago, it was so hot here that a lot of guys, including Chad Reed, shaved their heads after Saturday practice just to make it through Sunday.
Really? Yeah, that was it. In the second heat, I thought I had a good start, and then Cooper bumped me out. That’s the other thing: They’re so aggressive on the start. It’s the first corner, you know? It’s just the first corner. In Europe, it’s more like if you’re fifth in the first corner, you stay fifth. Nobody’s going to bump you. They all want to get through the first corner. Here, I think I got hit four times in the first corner. But okay, I came out eighth or ninth, I crashed, and I was done.

It looked like you were working your way forward again, but not nearly as fast as you did the first time out there.
No, man, I was tired. I’m honest, I was tired. I couldn’t do it.

Was the track a lot rougher than you’re used to?
No. The track makes you tired because it’s so fast. We have the braking bumps, like I said, and then it’s wide open. The bumps are heavier in Europe, but it’s slow. Here, you just pin it all the way, that’s the difference. Your heartbeat stays so high, you cannot relax. That’s the only difference.

That was something the GP guys talked about at Budds Creek last year—that the pace was different and the track was different because of it.
Yeah. Here, you have those long corners all the time, and if it’s a tight turn, you have a berm right there. But it doesn’t matter, it’s the same for everybody.

You made your goal at least in the first race, grabbing a third place, and it looked like you were actually gaining on Short.
I was so tired, I almost threw up a few times. I was so tired.

Did you swallow sand or something?
Yeah, that also, but I was just so tired.

Do you feel like you want to come back and do this again?
Yeah, of course. I want to have a good time, and I had that. I would never want to miss this. This was so nice.

What are you going to report back to your guys at home?
Same as I did to you: I don’t like James Stewart. He makes a goon rider of me, and I don’t like that. There’s nobody in the world—it can be the triple Stefan Everts—who can stay with him here.

I think he won the first moto by about fifty-six seconds.
I’ve never.... He was one minute and six seconds ahead of me, and I’ve never gotten beaten in the sand by more than thirty seconds by anybody, ever. And he was just playing, man! I don’t understand that.

What about line choice here?
Here, you can take all of the ruts, you know? Just pin it. In Europe, you really have to pick your line in the sand because there are big bumps in front of the jumps. But it doesn’t matter.

So we’re going to see you again in about a month, right?
At the des Nations? You’re coming, right?

I’m coming. Want to have some beers?
Sunday night, for sure. Maybe Saturday night! I don’t know. I hope we qualify!
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