Two rounds of 19 into the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship and the MXGP faction of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – overseen by Claudio De Carli since 2010 – have seen both of their riders scoop podium trophies: Tony Cairoli dominating the opening race at Losail in Qatar and Glenn Coldenhoff expertly guiding the works KTM 450 SX-F through the thick and treacherous mud at Pangkal Pinang in Indonesia to finish as runner-up a week later.
2017 represents the second term in ‘orange’ for the 26-year-old. The Dutchman combines a friendly character with poster-boy looks as well as an economic style and deceptive speed. Coldenhoff is attempting his third season in the premier class and has already tasted victory and now has two KTM rostrum appearances to his name.
2016 had its bright spots for ‘The Hoff’ amidst some struggles and moments of inconsistency but Glenn is looking far more settled and prepared for a stellar campaign in 2017 so we caught up with him to ask about the run-in to the fresh MXGP contest…
Dirt Bike Rider: 2016 was your first year on the team and it started out quite tough but then finished on a bright note [first podium on the 450 SX-F in Assen for round 16]. It was quite a journey and how did it lead up to Qatar?
Glenn Coldenhoff: I struggled in the beginning. The bike was unbelievably powerful from the very first moment and I found that in training I really liked it but then at the races I was having problems. I wasn’t smooth enough and couldn’t be; the power from the middle-to-top of the band on the 450 SX-F was unreal. We made some steps to get it better for me and we could see that we were improving. We made more progress in the winter and I have so much confidence in that bike now. I think it will be a good year.
DBR: What was the puzzle in getting the bike right for you?
GC: Well, Tony also got injured last year in pre-season and I was in a situation with a new team and a lot of testing to do and I don’t think we had that base of information to work with, certainly not compared to this year where we also have Jeffrey [Herlings] on the 450. We keep growing with our knowledge and the fact that there are quite a few guys out there on WP equipment is also positive for us because there is a lot of information. KTM have some good test riders and if they find new things then we also get to try them. I think WP made a good step as well this winter.
DBR: People regard this squad as the ultimate factory team: do you agree? And is there always a lot to think about and experiment on the technical side?
GC: I think so. I really believe in these guys and they do everything that I want and make any changes that I ask for. They keep working all the time. I think they have to be regarded at the ultimate team because they have been on top for many years and this season the line-up is really strong.
DBR: With respect you’ve tended to be a rider that starts ‘walking’ into a season and builds-up ‘running’ and then finally ‘sprinting’: is this something you wanted to change or work on for 2017?
GC: Yes, already last winter actually but last year everything was new and it was difficult to get everything going. But I had a great off-season and I have a lot of confidence. The bike, the team, the people around me: everything fits well. I don’t see why I cannot be up there consistently from the first rounds.
DBR: What gives you confidence? Is it the results sheet?
GC: Well, you always want to be on top but if I have a bad feeling at one race and finish sixth then this doesn’t mean much for me. I’d prefer to have a good feeling – that is the priority – because then you know you’ll be higher up the ranks. The most important thing for me is the feeling on the bike. If I am comfortable then I can be fast.
DBR: Is it bit scary to see riders with Grand Prix podium and winning experience all the way down to 20th place? It means you really have to be ‘on your game’ in MXGP…
GC: That’s true. I think 2017 is the strongest class we have seen for some time. Like you say, you only have to look at the list. I think from third-15th can finish on the box any weekend and the lap-times are so close. The difference will come down to small things.
DBR: Away from the 450 SX-F, tell me one of your favourites things about being on this team?
GC: The Italian food is always good! I like the way the guys work; they are really relaxed and no stress. They take things as they come whereas before I was always super-well-planned and perhaps too much. To enjoy the job a little bit more is a positive thing and has helped to calm me down a bit.
Glenn and the rest of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing crew will be back in action for round three of 19 this weekend with the Grand Prix of Argentina at the popular Neuquen circuit.