Evans: Back in the mix
Unfortunately for Team HRC’s Mitch Evans, 2021 was a complete write-off in terms of racing, as the young Australian was side-lined with a lingering wrist issue. It was meant that instead of lining up alongside former world champion Tim Gajser in the MXGP championship, he was back in Australia recovering and preparing himself as best he could for a return in the 2022 campaign.
With next year fast-approaching, and a start-date of February 20th on the horizon, we caught up with the #43 to see what he was up to now and how he was progressing after one of the toughest years in his career.
Where are you, and what have you been up to recently?
I’m currently in the south-west of France. I’ve finally moved here, after almost two years of looking for a place. I’m pretty happy to be back in the area, after staying here when I joined Livia’s (Honda 114 Motorsports) team in 2019. I’m setting up the house and just trying to get into a routine again. I’ve been riding and there are a lot of good tracks around here, a lot of physically demanding tracks, so I’ve been enjoying it a lot. Its good to be back in Europe building a base for next year.
How are you feeling, physically and mentally?
At the moment I’m feeling really good. I’ve been working a lot on my mental state when off the bike, so I’m in a good head-space right now. I’m trying to enjoy everything and be grateful, and trying to make the most of every day. Physically, I’m in a good position. Fitness-wise I’m a little bit limited by my wrist but it is getting better each time I’m on the bike so I’m going to keep working hard and it’ll be 100% before I know it.
How difficult has it been, missing a whole year of racing?
It’s been really difficult to miss a whole year of racing. 2021 hasn’t really happened for me, it has just been a blur and it’s been really difficult to sit out and watch. 13 months is by far the longest I’ve had off the bike, and even before that, I had a break of about four months, so it feels like it’s been a really long time since I raced. Thankfully though, you never forget how to ride a bike, you just lose the fitness and intensity, which has never taken me very long to get back so I’m looking forward to that.
What did you do in that year off?
I travelled back and forth to Australia a couple of times, spending around a month in hotel quarantine so that wasn’t too much fun. But being in Australia, I was able to catch up with friends and just go on a bit of a personal development journey. I found out a lot about myself, and it was a bit of an eye-opener for me. It was the first time I had to look outside of motocross to try and find fulfilment and even then, I wasn’t able to, because motocross has been such a big part of my life up until this point. This really brought into focus what was important and has given me some fresh motivation for next season.
Were you able to keep training to any degree?
During the time-off, I was still able to train; cycling, running, rowing but after every surgery I wasn’t able to use my wrist for about six weeks in the gym but I was able to keep my legs, core and right-side of my body fit. I still have a big imbalance in muscle-mass as it’s been difficult to keep my left-side as strong but that is the goal now to get everything equal. I am glad I was able to do some things though as that helped get me through a lot of time in these 13 months.
Were you able to watch the 2021 MXGP season?
I was able to watch the 2021 MXGP season. It was difficult to watch as the second moto would normally start after midnight in Australia so most of time I’d have to try and watch second motos in the morning or catch highlights, but I wanted to support Tim and Team HRC and he did such an excellent job throughout the year. It was tough though, to see all the action because I knew I should have been out there, so I didn’t watch as much as I normally would have. It was a very challenging season with a lot of high-intensity action, and was that another reason I struggled to view it because I felt deep down that I could have been up there with those front guys and battling, so to be sitting at home and seeing it on the laptop, I’m sure people can imagine how hard that is. I believe if I have a good winter, and I’m 100% healthy I can battle with those guys on any given day and that’s what I’m looking forward to trying to prove.
What are your plans for this 2022 pre-season?
My plans are to stay in France as long as I can to get ready here. Now that I’ve got my base setup here, I’ve got really good tracks, I’ve got a really programme so I’m hoping to do most of my work here. I’ll go to Sardinia at some stage with the team, for testing and do the Italian Championship races and then come back to France and finish off before the start of the season. I haven’t really looked at the calendar as at the moment, the important thing is taking it taking day by day and getting better each time I ride.
What are your goals for the start of the 2022 MXGP season?
My goals for next year are consistent top 10 performances. I want good starts, good motos and slowly getting back into the race rhythm. By the time of the first MXGP gate drop it will be about 15 or 16 months away so I’m sure people can appreciate that nerves will be a little higher than normal and I don’t want to set the bar too high in terms of results. I just want to play it smart and build as the year goes on.
What do you have hoped to achieve by the end of the season, in a perfect world?
In a perfect world, I’d hope to have achieved a couple of overall podiums and a couple of wins at the end of the year. Just being a top guy every weekend. If my wrist is pain-free, I know I can be that guy so it’s all going to come down to my wrist as the rest of my body is perfect. I’m in a better mental state than I have been in my life so I can’t wait to get started. I’d also like to thank the members of Team HRC for sticking with me and checking-in and seeing how I’m doing. It hasn’t been easy with this injury and travel and the global restrictions that have been in place so it was good to get their support throughout.