Sometimes you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately for Max Nagl, that seems to be the case at the moment as he has been released by Rockstar Husqvarna and is currently struggling to find a ride for next year.
Second to Cairoli in 2009, leading the championship in 2012 until he was injured, won the MXoN with Germany and a top ten guy every year including third last year, Max has been a consistent threat to win for the last eight years. We sat down with Max at Assen to get his thoughts on the situation.
DBR: Max, you’re sitting eighth in the championship with a race win in Ernee, how do you feel the season has gone so far?
MN: So far, let’s say the worst year in the last five. Last year I finished third in the world championship and 2012 we had the win at the motocross of nations, and that was great years but somehow this year it doesn’t go, no podium yet so it’s a bit disappointing.
DBR: You won a race in Ernee this year, was there anything different that day?
MN: No, everything was the same as always, just a good moment, a really good start which is important and then pushing really hard.
DBR: You’re eighth in the championship and only ten points behind van Horbeek so there’s still a chance to move up the table. (Note, after this interview, Nagl passed van Horbeek in the championship.)
MN: Yes, there is always the chance to climb up, which is always the goal, but actually if we say 6,7,8 or 9 makes no difference, only 1-2-3 counts and the rest……. After 2 weeks, nobody speaks about them anymore.
DBR: The vision of Youthstream is to have all the top guys riding in MXGP but there seems to be a problem now with riders like you, Strijbos and Bobryshev being overlooked as younger riders come from MX2. Is the problem that teams want younger riders?
MN: I think it’s budget, pure business reasons from the teams. They try to save money now, I don’t know their reason why but they’re trying to save money. They cut down many MX2 teams for next year and some MXGP teams like KTM and Husqvarna reduced to 2 riders only in Europe and in the U.S. , but it’s difficult for the good riders to get a proper contract.
DBR: For someone like you that’s been a top ten, or even atop 5 guy for the last 5 years, do you feel angry or frustrated? Or is it just business?
MN: Actually, I’m really frustrated! I’m a good rider, I’ve had good results in the past and I’m always nice with the teams, never any problems with the teams and then I don’t get a ride. It’s difficult to understand for sure.
DBR: You’re still only just 30 years old so presumably you want to race for a few more years?
MN: Yes definitely 3 or 4 more years.
DBR: It’s still silly season even though a lot of teams have their riders. The latest rumour is that you’re going to Factory TM. Can you comment on that?
MN: I’m in talks with TM, that is true. All the other options I had was impossible for me because I have to bring money. I don’t have any private sponsors. There are some riders in the paddock that have from home, or other persons, a lot of money so they can go to a big factory team and say I will race for free and still they have their money. But I have a family, a house, everything that I need to pay for and no sponsors from Germany or outside motocross, so I need to earn money from this sport, it’s my job. That’s why it’s so difficult for me to find something.
DBR: In Formula 1 and MotoGP, some teams have a paid driver and one who brings a sponsor and pays to drive. Do you think this is the way motocross will go?
MN: It looks like it at the moment. It’s going this way for next year already, for sure. Most of the teams, 1 earns money, 1 brings money but I hope it doesn’t continue like this. We are much smaller than MotoGP or Formula 1, they are everything in the millions but our sport is still small and there’s not that budget from outside, to ride without help from the team.
DBR: That’s why it seems strange to me that manufacturers spend so much in MotoGP. For the cost of 1 rider you could fund the best MXGP team in the paddock, especially a manufacturer like KTM trying to break in to MotoGP.
MN: That’s why they cut down the budget for the off-road part. That’s why they just have 2 riders in each motocross team because they need the money for MotoGP. It happened already once before, and then when they stopped it was growing again in motocross but now they go the same way again.
DBR: You’ve been selected for the German MXoN team, do you think the track at Matterley Basin will suit you?
MN: Yeah I like Matterley but I heard they’re going to completely rebuild it so I don’t know what it will be like.
DBR: You won the MXoN in 2012, do you think you can be podium contenders this time?
MN: No, not podium. We are not such a good team like before. Dennis (Ullrich) isn’t doing GP’s any more just some German races so his level is not that good anymore and (Henry) Jacobi is still in the GP so he knows the riders, so maybe he can do good.
DBR: Thanks Max, good luck and hopefully see you racing MXGP next year.