The 2019 Hawkstone International played host to a respectable crowd of British fans, all of which were ecstatic to see a British rider win the MX1 division. Max Anstie swept both of the premier-class motos, in what was his debut with the Standing Construct KTM team, and was obviously pleased with where he is at currently. That is expanded on in this exclusive MX Vice interview, which was originally posted as a podcast.
MX Vice: Obviously this was your first race with Standing Construct KTM and that comes with things like anticipation, nerves and all of that. People have questions. You kind of silenced all of those, because you went 1-1. Pre-season races don't come much better than that.
Max Anstie: I was actually a bit nervous coming in because I had not done any riding with anyone really, apart from my teammates. It was tough to know where we were with the bikes, with things like that, with how the testing and developing has gone. It was good. I felt like today I took the opportunities to win the races. I felt like there are still some things I need to go back to work on and do a little bit more testing on a couple of things to find a few more answers.
My starts today were not very good. Every moto I was coming through and actually I felt like I could have holeshot or done well. I know it is a weird start here. It is off the concrete. It is not the normal metal grill, but overall… A solid day. Really positive. Just solid riding. I felt like I kept everything together and did smart races. The last Superfinal, I went to come through and just got really unlucky with a couple of guys.
The first two races, I made good and quick passes. The last one, I went in the side of a couple of people and went off the track. They got a little bit squirrelly and I did not really have a lot of places to go. It was a little bit unlucky in the last one but, overall, good training and a good day. Looking forward to doing some more work this week to get on it for next week.
You mentioned that the start is weird here with the concrete and everything. I have never heard this before, but everyone I have spoken to today is starting to kind of hint that maybe this is not the best prep for MXGP? You do not do concrete starts. It is quite narrow in spots and you are not really going to face this again. Do you kind of feel like that?
I love riding back at home in the UK. I really do. This year the track was dry, but it was quite rutty. Do you know actually the most similar place to this was RedBud at the ‘Nations? Literally, as random as it sounds… Okay, RedBud had a few bigger jumps and things, but honestly it was just hard and slippery into soft berms. It is still good to do a race. It is still good to get the nerves out of the way and for me riding in the UK it is really nice to do, but it is stressful.
I have had a whole full day of it with everyone. I try to spend as much time as I can, but then we have only got forty minutes in-between the motos. I am running to the start trying to sign autographs and do that. It is a very busy day. To be honest, as long as you can come out of it healthy and safe… I felt like today I rode pretty smart. Even in the last race, I got to a point and then I had a couple of moments and went off the track. Got a bit sketchy with a few lappers.
I was like, "No, okay. This will do." As long as you can do that, then I think it is a good run-through because it gets your body, your mind and everything woken up into race mindset. You start waking up. So, overall, I think it was a successful day. I am really pleased for my teammate. He did really well in the Superfinal. I was super pumped for him. I am definitely looking forward to next week in France.
What about your off-season as a whole? Obviously, you are not on a full-factory team anymore. Did you feel a difference in off-season testing? You have got a few trick bits on your bike, so I guess that helps?
Yeah, it is better. It is way better. I can do what I want. I have made the plan with my mechanic and we have just got on with it and done what we need to do. I feel like I have taken the responsibility of making things right how I want them. It is solid. We have got a good team and good group of people around us. I think we proved it today. I do not think anyone expected Ivo [Monticelli] to go out and win the Superfinal and be right up there in both races, then for me to go 1-1 in my races… For the team, it could not go any better. Standing Construct KTM definitely did a good job today.
What about heading to Argentina? Obviously, you have got France next week, so does that leave much time for testing? Are you kind of done now as far as the settings that you are going to take abroad go?
I thought I was going to be, but there are still some things that I would like to clear up. There are still a few things. That is why it is nice to do these races. I have got time. I have got a few days this week and even here today I was testing. Each moto I went out with a different setting, actually, with the mapping and on the computer side of things. Each time was actually, in a small way… It was not a massive change. I was trying different things and trying to improve on a couple of things, so there is still more to do.
Still, after Argentina there are three weeks before Matterley Basin. There is definitely and it is just nice for me to ride with other people. Okay, I have ridden with Ivo, but that is the only thing. I have spent the whole time down in Spain really working on the hard-pack tracks. I really felt like from last year that was where I needed to improve and try to be more solid, so I have not actually done that much in the sand. It was nice today. I feel at home. I like it, but there are definitely some things that I can iron out on this side of things. I think my hard-pack set-up is going well, so we will see.
You say you were trying different settings in each race here. Is there one thing that you can tell us that you learned today that was kind of groundbreaking? Are you going to drive back tonight and be like, "Yes, we found that" and just be pumped?
No. We have got some things that I need to find, like for instance my starts today. I felt like we can improve there. I definitely should have had the holeshot. There are a couple of things that I think we can find. I have developed the bike completely myself my way and it has been really good and really nice to ride. The bike is working brilliantly, but the thing is there are so many different configurations and settings that you can run. I just think the bike is very nice and easy to ride.
I think now we are racing, I think I can start stepping up the bike in a way to be slightly more aggressive for racing if that makes sense. It is not like we need to go and reinvent the wheel. It is not. It is just that is what I learned today. We have got a very, very good base, but there are some things I can sharpen up. That is what is so good about my team now, we can talk about it and go, "Right. Let's figure this out." I went 1-1 and I felt good, but I am always trying to improve and always trying to see… That is what I am using these races for is testing.
I am there trying things and going, "Right, no…" By all means, we are like 98%. It is a couple of percent we are talking here. It was good enough to go 1-1, so the bike is fine. I am just saying that I can improve. I can improve in some areas when we go back to the drawing board with the bike with just some different settings that I have used already that I think would actually work better in race conditions, if you know what I mean. It is good. I am excited.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer