Glenn Coldenhoff | MXGP Rookie
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While the best American riders focused on the start of the Supercross series, the European Rockstar Energy Suzuki team sent their three MXGP riders to the United States for a month of training. Unfortunately, our paths didn’t cross with Kevin Strijbos, Clement Desalle, or Glenn Coldenhoff until the last weekend of their stay and even then we only managed to see one of them at the track. During Tuesday’s open practice at the re-opened Pala Raceway, we met the young Dutchman Glenn Coldenhoff for the first time and discussed what racing is like on the other side of the planet, what he thought about his time in SoCal, and what he expects of Ryan Villopoto…
His final MX2 season and his rookie run at the MXGP class…
I think 2014 was a good season. I won two motos, so that was definitely good, and had three podiums but unfortunately I had a pretty bad injury. I messed up my knee and it was pretty bad, I was out for four months. It's always hard to come back from injury, but at the last race of the year in MX2 I did pretty well. It was the Motocross of Nations in Kegums, and I finished second in the MX2 class overall. I did some good racing again, and I could have been way better in the championship without injury. It happens and you can't do something else about it.
I'm twenty-three now, so I have to move up. I think if the age rule wasn't there, I'd have done one more year in the MX2 class. It is a nice challenge and the 450 class is going to be real strong. Villopoto is coming over, so it is good for our sport. Many riders are going to the 450 class, so it will be a strong class.
It is difficult to say, because I didn't even do one race in the 450 class. This is the first winter that I have been on one, but I am practicing with Kevin Strijbos, who was third last year in the championship. Of course the tracks are different here, but you can compare a little bit. I think I should be fighting for top-ten positions, that's the goal.
On his time in the United States…
Normally every winter we go somewhere where the weather is good. Spain is good and I've been a few times to Italy, they have some good tracks there. We search for good weather that we can practice at, and this year we got the possibility to ship our bikes. I think this is a great opportunity and we have done a lot of hard work I hope pays off this season.
This is only my first time in the US, but I already really like it. I follow the AMA SX and MX, so I think for every European guy it is a dream to come over to the US and race here. It's living here. You see it every day on the track, even on the Monday it is busy on tracks, and that for sure you won't see in Europe. Like Milestone a few weeks ago on a Monday, I don't think in Europe there are even tracks open on a Monday.
I've been here for four weeks, but today is the last day of riding. It was definitely good. The weather is always good, the tracks are real prepared, and I quite like it. The people are so relaxed here. And with the watering system here, it is so great. Compared to Europe, it is way different. We made a lot of hours here on the bike and that's why we came. We had a good time.
I've been to many places and got a tour of FOX. It is such a great company and I didn't know that much about it before, but they'd showed everything and there is some sick stuff coming, like it always is. I'm always happy with a sponsor like that and I got some gear here, so I didn't have to bring all my stuff from Europe. I also visited some workshops for teams, like a friend is a mechanic at Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki so we went there, then factory KTM and Husqvarna. It was very cool.
This was my first time watching any Supercross, and it was a great show. So many fans and something unreal, everybody working together to get a great show. During the opening ceremonies I had goose bumps everywhere. It is a great event and I would like to do it.
On traveling the world, experiencing new cultures, and riding different tracks…
I think sometimes it is good to travel all of the world, but it also kind of hard. You see so many places, but on the other side it is hard for teams to ship all the bikes. I'm lucky now to be with a good team at Factory Suzuki and we have good support, but it's hard for small teams because they can't go everywhere. It costs a lot of money.
In France the crowd gets so crazy and it's always so many people. The feeling I get in Supercross, people will get in France for the French riders. It is something unique, and Italy is good as well, especially now with Cairoli and Villopoto.
I've been at Glen Helen many times for practicing, and it is always different than a race. But Monday Suzuki America rented the track and we were completely alone there, so we did some real good practice there. I think it is going to be really nice for the GP, that's for sure.
I think the biggest difference between Glen Helen and Bulgaria, which also has steep hills, is that the tracks here are so much faster than in Europe. In Europe it is tight and a slower speed. I think that is the biggest difference compared to here.
On Ryan Villopoto…
I think on the races like Qatar and Thailand, they are quite similar to tracks here and he will for sure be on the gas. I've seen him ride here, and he is unreal on those types of tracks. But some are so different, like Italy is so slippery and I think he is going to have a hard GP in Lommel. Those guys like Cairoli and Strijbos can ride sand so well, and I think here there are no sand tracks. I think those will be difficult for him.