We sat down for a chat with current EMX300 champion Mike Kras before the 2017 series kicked off in Teutschenthal, Germany.
Mike talks about how sand riding is no longer his friend, the “really big” British Two-Stroke championship, Britain’s Brad Anderson and more.
Dirt Bike Rider: Mike, you’re the 2016 EMX300 champion, and red plate holder going into the new championship that starts this weekend, how are you feeling?
Mike Kras: I feel pretty good. I like having the red plate – it gives me a good feeling. I like the track, I’ve been here three or four times, it gets really rough and technical which is better for me. Because I’m from Holland people say I’m a sand rider but I don’t have the fitness now to be a good sand rider now. This year we have Lommel and Ottobiano but those tracks are not in my favour, I need tracks like this, hard packed, technical and fast so that fitness isn’t such a big issue.
DBR: You’re riding for a British team GL12 Racing KTM, are you based in England.
MK: No I still live in Holland. Racing is only part-time for me – I have a full-time job in the metal industry. Last year I got a call from Bob [Buchanon, GL12 owner] and said he wanted to do the 300 championship again with me and Lewis Gregory. I had a deal with KTM for bikes and parts so for me to come Bob had to switch which he wanted to do anyway as the Yamaha is getting a bit old. And especially with me having bikes and parts is easier and cheaper for him, so it’s a win-win situation for both.
I still live in Holland, my mechanic Tom has the bikes and all the parts, KTM sends everything to Bob and he sends it to Tom. The only time I go to England is for the British championship, everything else is done in Holland and Bob comes over about once a month for a meeting and training.
DBR: The British two-stroke championship has gone well for you so far, four races and four wins.
MK: I don’t want to jinx myself but the EMX300 is a little bit higher. Especially with Brad Anderson and Yental Martens. Last year we were maybe 30 seconds in front of the rest. With Brad not riding the British and Yental not riding also I think they expect me to win, which is also what I want.
Last week at Hawkstone I was 3.3 seconds faster in qualifying so in the race I don’t want to get ahead of myself too much and maybe crash just before the European championship start. I had a comfortable lead and I could control the race. If Brad and some others were doing the series it could maybe go higher but it’s really nice to have a full gate of two-strokes, not so many guys are riding two-stroke but the British championship is really a big deal now, you can see it is the most packed class so this is good.
DBR: You’ve raced at a high level for a long time in MX2, MXGP and for Holland in the MXoN before you had a big injury in 2014. Is your plan to stay with the two-strokes or would you like to be back in MXGP?
MK: Not really, I have a full-time job now and I need to earn money so it’s impossible to move back to racing full-time. To make money you have to be on a good team and they expect results.
For me this is the perfect deal, it’s only five races in EMX and four in the British championship. I only have 20 days holiday so for Europeans, I can go Thursday, Friday and Monday and with five rounds that’s already 15 days used. To do even the European GPs would mean more time off and earning less money so this is the maximum I can do.
DBR: Is it difficult to combine working full-time and riding at this level?
MK: Yes! Like I said the sand is no longer my friend because I don’t have the fitness. To be fit you have to ride Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. Now I can only ride at weekends and this year we have lots of bad weather in Holland so I have a practice bike that has done 20 hours and a race bike with five hours! So, from December I’ve done 25 hours.
When you are a full-time racer you have to do this by January so you can see the difference right there. I’m not fit enough to do a big series anymore.