Fired up and 100 per cent healthy, former MX2 World Champ Pauls Jonass is ready to lead GASGAS into the 2021 MXGP Championship, starting this weekend in Russia.
Since moving up to the premier class in 2019, the Latvian has climbed onto the MXGP podium multiple times, proving that he’s just as capable on a big bike as he was on a 250. Following on from a year of injury in 2020, Pauls is well and truly back and loving life on his MC 450F.
Here’s what the Standing Construct GASGAS Factory Racing rider has to say on his pre-season training, those gate prep dancing skills, and the year ahead.
Firstly Pauls, how’s your Bongo cha, cha, cha? (Check out Pauls’ dance moves here!)
Pauls: “Ha, it’s good thanks. Always nice to keep training fun!”
Seriously though, you seem to have your starts dialled..
“Yeah, we’ve been putting the work in. Everyone knows how important starts are. I feel good, let’s see how things go this weekend.”
How’s everything after your super-long off season? Everything suggests you’re now fighting fit, 100% healthy, and ready for round one?
“Yeah, I’m 100 per cent healthy now. A lot of good work has been done both on and off the bike so I’m feeling good and ready to go racing. It’ll be my first race in a while, well over a year in fact, so it’s been a long time. I actually feel better than ever on the 450 right now. With the Standing Construct GASGAS team, we’ve been working really well together, and I can’t wait to start racing.”
As you said, you’ve been away from the race track for a long time. Racing is your job, but it must have been hard to keep your motivation where it needs to be?
“Fortunately, for me I’m not a rider that needs motivating. I know what needs to be done and you could say that the hard work and training comes easy to me. The hardest thing was not knowing when we were going to go racing because of a few delays in the schedule, but it’s the same situation for everyone. I have a really good base with my fitness so it was easy to alter my training to be ready for Russia.”
Going back to your Instagram post, you genuinely seem to enjoy your training. Will we see a little pre-race, gate prep’ dance in Russia this weekend?
“We’ll have to see! I just like to keep the mood light during training days, and I like to create some fun for my followers. We’re racers, but also real people at the same time. People need to be more positive and enjoy moments more, it’s fun for sure.”
So, a new team, bike, and a fresh new look for 2021! You must be buzzing about your changes for this season…
“Absolutely! A whole new look for me this season, which is exciting and for sure I’ll be aiming for some good results this year, for the team and GASGAS, as well as the team’s sponsors. I just want to repay everyone for their belief in me this season.”
Unlike some of your MXGP rivals, you opted out of competing in any pre-season races. Why was that?
“The original plan was to race some of the more ‘classic’ pre-season races, but they were cancelled unfortunately. Then with not knowing when round one of MXGP was going to be, I made the decision with the team to simply focus on MXGP and not race any smaller races. The season ends in December which is a long time from now. I have a lot of confidence in myself and my ability, so I’m not worried at all about not racing ahead of round one.”
Do you think it will take a few races to ‘shake the rust off’ before we start to see what Pauls Jonass is really capable of this year?
“I guess we will see. The goal is to put some solid results together through the opening few rounds and have a consistent start to the season. It will be important to stay healthy, then build as the season continues. Mid-season with many back-to-back races is where many points can be made up, or lost, so being strong, being there every week and being smart will be really important.”
How excited are you for your home GP in Latvia?
“My home GP is always a special one. It’s never been this early in the season so there will still be a lot of the early season excitement surrounding it, which will be nice. I missed it last season and there were three in Kegums, so to be racing in front of my home fans again will be a great feeling. I’m really looking forward to it and if I can be running up front then that will be perfect.”
Finally, we must ask, what are your expectations for 2021? Do you see yourself returning to your 2019 level, or maybe improving on that this season?
“At the moment I feel really good in myself and also on the bike. I feel better than ever so I just need to be smart and stay healthy. If I can do this, and put together strong results early in the season, then I can keep building and building and I really believe that I can improve upon my 2019 speed. I was on the podium then in my first season on a 450, so I know I can do it, and I think 2021 can be a really good season for me on the GASGAS.”