By Lloyd Ramsay
While Searle and Rattray were battling for the MX2 title this year not much was said of their KTM teammate from Portugal, Rui Goncalves. Despite damaging his ACL past the halfway mark at the Nelspruit GP in South Africa he continued to ride and finished a very respectable 5th for the season. Now that the top 3 names have either moved class or countries some new faces will be on the podiums. The 23 year old plans to be one of those guys who gets to do all the champagne soaking in 2009.
Goncalves: I am on contract to KTM still. I have signed a 3 year deal...so the plan is to stay with KTM.
You have just had your ACL reconstructed. How is it healing up?
It's healing up really good, now its like 11 weeks and yeah, so now its been really, really good. I've been working out on that knee to try to get it back to where it was from the beginning. I mean like, strong and healthy and coming down here to South Africa for training has been helping me very much. The weather is awesome here so...its a good place.
Rattray, Searle and Cairoli have now left the MX2 class leaving the top 3 spots open. Who are going to be the riders at the top replacing them?
Um, there's a lot of guys who are going to be out there fast. As you can see MX2 class is really a competitive class and for sure there is no doubt there will be a whole pack of riders that gonna want to fight for the first places. I think its good to just not worry about anyone and just do my own thing. Work hard as I can, I have a new trainer Russell White who is been helping me really much. We just kinda work on our goal and work as hard as we can and putting some hours lately on the saddle on the bicycle. Just try to get back my fitness as strong as possible and get into the season as fit as possible.
You were telling me about a scary crash you had at a GP this year where you landed your bike stopped but your body kept flying through the air. What happened?
Yeah well that was in the beginning of the year when we were in Spain I had a big crash there. It was kind of scary. I high sided before the take off and just took the whole jump without the bike and went up in the air just kinda without the bike. Was scary and I hurt a bit my shoulder but was fine after 1 week I was back riding. Could have been much worse.
Your French is pretty good for someone from Portugal? How many languages do you speak?
Yeah, Um well I speak like 5 languages, which is pretty good. I mean at school I was not so good at languages at all but with traveling around and being in different countries I just start to and I feel it more and more wherever I go I just start to get the accent from that country. Just try to get...try to understand people and try to get as much as I can from the country and I enjoy this because its something I know that stays with me forever and it can help me in the future.
For sure, Stefan Everts has been great for the team, been helping us a lot with technique and riding skills and lines on the tracks and stuff. So for sure its nice to have him in the team, see that someone like a 10 times world champ is there helping us.
What is the Motocross scene like in Portugal?
Well as you can see there is not a lot of Portugese riders doing GP's. This year it was just me and apparently next year there's some other guys might come race GP's. But thing is the culture of Portugese is OK, but the thing is the guys put it themselves in the mind that its kind of difficult and tough coming without the experience coming to the races internationally apart from the Portugese GP. Now its like...me I left home when I was 16 when I first came to Belgium and start doing my own thing and focus on one day being a GP rider and try to qualify, work my way up to where I am today so for sure there is a lot of guys in Portugal that if they just work hard and focus on one goal they just might get signed.
Do you have your own website?
Yeah, its www.ruigoncalves.com
Do you think it is good to hit a low point with an injury because you can always bounce back better than before? Kind of like how James Stewart came out so strong this year after his knee operation?
Yes for sure, ah you never look for an injury to break down in the season but I mean...it happened to me during the season and I struggled for 5 GP's to get the championship finished. The Doctor advised me to go straight for surgery, I said I wanted to finish the series so... But also the thing is like now it came to a point where I also changed my training program. You know I hired Russell White who has like...has been ah...just so good to me. Just, with the training like this I believe that I just got to go to another level. I just gotta step it up, step it up my fitness and its so good also like for the rehabilitation of my knee its working with him, he knows what he's doing, he knows what's good for me so its going to be good to come back strong next year and stronger that I have ever been.
Well just a little iPod, I like to listen to music but I'm not specially the guy who just carries the iPod wherever he goes you know. I also like to listen to whatever goes on around instead of being in my own thing. But for sure a little iPod and some game on the phone or whatever. But nothing really special. Or carry some book, been reading lately the Lance Armstrong book.
What are your goals for the 2009 MX2 season?
Well finishing 5th last year (2008) my goal for next year is the world title. Thats what I've been working for since I got back on my training program and it is possible. There is still a lot of work, we have been...we gotta do still really, really long rides and much training just to get me ready for anything for next year. The end of the day I think, I hope that everything comes together and Im working for it 100% with my trainer so I want to get into the season to fight for the championship.
Who out there do you want to thank?
First I want to thank my parents, I mean they are having a hard time not being with me and traveling to all races. Without them that would not be possible I would be racing GP's. They did it all for me back in the past to get me where I am today. Obviously I want to thank my team Red Bull KTM for supporting me and even through the past season where I was little more down they always supported me and believe in me and they know I have the ability to ride up front and fast. And I want to thank my trainer for what he has been organizing over here in South Africa for me and its a pleasure to work with a guy like Russell you know. He just gives it all, he knows what support is and just puts all what he got into sport and thats what is important.