Jorge Prado was one of the greatest stars at the 2019 Motocross of Nations, as he made his long awaited debut aboard a 450 and went head-to-head with a lot of the Grand Prix regulars. The rain ruined that spectacle somewhat but the weekend still served as a great indication of where he is at after such little time on the big bike. How did Prado rate his first showing? That information is in this exclusive MX Vice interview.
MX Vice: A big one for you and a big one for Spain, but most importantly this was your first race on a 450 and I feel like it went well. Fast in practice. Showed good speed. Showed good speed in the motos today as well. Battled with [Jeffrey] Herlings for a bit. All good things. I reckon you have got to be happy.
Jorge Prado: Yeah, it was an okay weekend. We can take a lot of positive things, also where we can improve for next year. That is great. I didn't ride so much with the 450 before this race. I didn't even make so many starts. I was quite happy with both starts on Saturday in the first moto. In the second moto I messed it up too much. Completely last. I think the speed is good. It's okay. We can improve on that too. Physically it's okay. Just put a few things together and then we can make big steps.
That's why we now have the winter to progress and hopefully next year I can come back strong. Racing… It was just good to come here. First moto I finished third after leading for more than half the moto. Afterwards I struggled a bit with the goggles. Something that I already improved in the second moto as I didn't take them off. We can also take that for next year. I struggled with the goggles in the first moto and had to go back to sixth or seventh. Fought back to third – that was a cool moto. I even passed a couple of riders in the last corner too.
It was okay. I was happy. It was a bit of a pity with my mistakes: Silly mistakes and rookie mistakes with the goggles and stuff like that, but I was confident for the second moto. In the second moto I messed up the start. It was just trying to fight and fighting with so many riders. The weather was so bad. It was hard. I'm not really mad – I think I can be quite happy. Not one hundred percent, because we know where we need to improve. We take it like it is and I stay positive for the next training sessions.
Was there one big thing that shocked or surprised you about the 450 this weekend? Maybe something that you did not expect?
No, nothing really. I maybe expected myself to be a bit slower speed-wise. Riders are fast. You need to be there right at the start. You have got to be there. That's something that I'm strong with – the starts – so I think that's a good advantage for next year. Even if we made a mistake in the second one, we need to improve. Next year we'll be alright. Need to get stronger. That's the thing.
I was thinking that a mud race on a 450 must be a lot more fun for you, because of having more power. It makes it a bit easier. Then at the same time you have got to muscle the bike around. Was it more fun to have a mud race on a 450 or harder work? Like you said, you need to get a bit stronger.
I didn't spend too much time training sand the last two years as I moved to Italy. We only rode hard pack, because that was my weak point. Only four days on the bike in the sand before this race and it's not that much. We made them good, but in these conditions it's difficult to find them. For not riding so much sand lately, it was alright. For sure we can improve on that. I didn't get that much tired, but the track was tough. It was tough just to ride it. I didn't ride so much sand, like my said, so my style developed into a hard-pack style a little bit. I need to change that again a little bit for the sand races, but it's something that comes quick. It was fine.
When you were battling with Herlings in that second race, was it something quite normal for you? Did it feel like any other battle? Did you know it was Herlings and think, "How about this? I'm battling with the sand guy!"
Yeah, I think I was in front of him for a couple of laps as he crashed. He was behind me and then I was trying to keep the position. He passed me and then I was thinking, "Maybe I can follow?" I stayed more or less… I kept the gap a couple of laps but then this guy the last laps he puts the throttle down, the hammer down and he just goes. It's good to know.
It's good to know that I can improve, but that we already knew that before the start. Having Jeffrey there for those laps… I could see how he arrived a little bit, even though the track was already hard. I had to focus on myself and not so much on the others. It was nice to see Jeffrey in front, in the back and around. He's the fastest guy. So, good [laughs].
I guess like every other factory rider you are going to jump into testing now. After the testing you have done recently and this race, is there one big thing that you feel like you need to work on? Engine, power output or suspension. Anything like that?
I think we can work a bit on everything. Firstly, I will take some holidays. It was a long season and it's been a while. I will go to Spain now tomorrow and spend some time there. Relax and get the batteries charged to start testing and training hard. I will train harder. Next year will be tough. I want to get ready and be the best I can for the first round.
Are you going to do the same programme as every other year through the winter and be in Italy a lot of the time? Are you going to change things up a bit?
I really don't know. Maybe we can still improve a couple of things? We speak with the team. We make the programme and it will happen. We already know where we need to improve, so that's good to make the programme.
450s next year. This is now the new chapter for you. I feel like you are excited for the new challenge, and I'm excited to see you take on a new challenge.
Yeah. I'm also very excited to take the new challenge and finally with the sixty-one. I like my number more when I ride. Even though this number was quite close. I'm very excited for next year. I think I needed this change to improve even more. It will be very challenging. I hope I do good. We'll see. We'll see how it goes. It's hard. There are many world champions in the big class and many people with a lot of experience. Very fast guys. I have a great team and good people around me, so I think I have everything I need to get to the top.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX