Josh Gilbert is the man of the hour. Promoted to the Buildbase Honda team after some great rides in the Maxxis ACU British Motocross Championship, he jumped into the MX2 class at Matterley as the only British wildcard entry, and he made an immediate statement.
I sat down with 20-year-old Josh after the second race to talk about his MX2 debut.
Dirt Bike Rider: Josh, this is turning into a breakthrough year for you. You won your first British championship at Blaxhall a few weeks ago.
Josh Gilbert: I was close but missed the win by 0.3 seconds. I was joint on the overall, but Martin Barr had the better second race, so he got the overall.
DBR: Tell me about the decision to jump into MX2, a lot of people might have tried EMX250 first, but you’ve jumped right in with the big boys.
JG: I’ve done EMX a few times before here, when I was in the youth and first in the pros in the British championship MX2, so this year speed wise it’s been going well and I got given the opportunity so I took it. I can’t thank my sponsors enough.
DBR: Was that Buildbase or some other sponsors?
JG: Yeah Buildbase have been great, I’m riding for them now rather than the satellite team. But I’ve always had good support from them and they’ve helped where they could so I can’t fault them. The same goes for my private sponsors, they’ve helped massively, and I wouldn’t be doing this without them.
DBR: You’ve come in and made an immediate impact – 17th in timed practice, 14th in the qualifying race then points in both races with a 17th and 19th.
JG: Yeah, I can’t ask for much more really *smiles*.
DBR: Especially in the second race, I was watching you battling with Bernardini and holding your own, certainly not holding him up. What did the pace feel like out there?
JG: I felt like I hold my own quite well. The pace, the tempo, it’s a lot higher compared to the British, but it was like that when I went from the youth class to the adults, each level you go up the tempo rises.
DBR: Were you expecting it? A lot of riders talk about the intensity at the start.
JG: I felt like the end of the race is where the intensity is. I coped quite well with the beginning part and felt like I could go with them. It wasn’t until the end where they upped it again and I didn’t have much left if I’m honest. It’s just where I’m not used to the extra five minutes and it was hot today. I’m not saying that as an excuse, I’m just not used to it.
DBR: What will you take away from this weekend?
JG: I’ve never done two solid days riding since the youth, as in the youth days we did qualifying and three races on Saturday and three races on Sunday, whereas the British and MX Nationals are all on one day. To come back and do two full days definitely took its toll in that second race. I think it’s something I’ll get used to as I do more.
DBR: Is the plan to do a few more?
JG: Yeah, we’re going to France, I want to keep at it and see where we can get.
DBR: Did you feel strange lining up with guys like Jonass and Prado who you maybe looked up to a couple of years ago?
JG: I was a little bit nervous before free practice but once we got the first couple of laps out the way I was fine, I just rode my own race. I didn’t really think about them too much. A couple of the riders that I passed were amazing when we were on 85s so that felt good.
DBR: You’re on the Buildbase Honda team now since Natzke left, is that just for this year?
JG: It’s just for the remainder of this year. We haven’t spoken about next year yet, but I expect soon we will. I’d like to stay, I think they’re the best British team, but I’d like to do some more GPs and see what happens.