by Filippo Ceccucci

Stefan Everts

(a new adventure with the Husqvarna 4 stroke)

Interview: Multi-time World Champion Stefan Everts - Photo 1 of 6 I met Stefan Everts during his first tests with the Husqvarna four stroke in Castiglione del Lago, the same track in the center of Italy that saw the 500 MX World Championship in ’97 and ’99, and where the Italian Grand Prix will be again, next 9th of April. How did I came to this point, but, mainly, how did HE came to this point?

It’s strange, but the love between the driver who’s probably the best in the World and the bigger Firm (Honda) that produces bikes in the world wasn’t so strong, and now, for sure, is over. During the summer of ’99, David Grant, Everts’ manager, had his first contact with the MV Agusta – Cagiva Group, that owns Husqvarna. The Italian Firm (by now only the name and the colors are Swedish) grabbed the occasion, and put a red carpet under Stefan’s feet (probably a dollar-green one, more than a red one…) and let him completely free of choosing the class to race in. Everts choose the 500class, why? We’ll try to find out.

Stefan is working really hard with the Husqvarna and Marzocchi technicians: he works real seriously, checking everything perfectly, and wanting to be ready for the first race of the World Championship in Spain (after the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix). Husqvarna changed a lot in the frame: now the front fork is more vertical, for the engine they choose the 570 rather than the 620, because it’s easier to use (Yves Demaria used it all season long), the gearbox is still only four speeds.

Filippo Ceccucci: “I am with Stefan Everts, in the beginning of his new adventure with the Husqvarna four stroke after his previous four World Titles. How do you feel on your first steps with the new bike?”

Stefan Everts: “We’ve been testing quite a lot, we started very early, which I though was very important, … we needed to have the time, … everything takes time to build, and so far every test has been very positive. I’ve been changing quite a bit on the bike, mainly the chassis, because the engine was basically OK. We need to decide what set up for each GP, so I can change along the engine set up. But now the most important thing is the suspension, that’s why we have been trying a lot with the front fork and the shock.”

Interview: Multi-time World Champion Stefan Everts - Photo 2 of 6FC: “Is this the first time you are driving a four stroke?”

SE: “That’s true, this is the first time I’m driving a four stroke. I’ve never driven a four stroke, and it’s even the first big move in my career and I’m very positive about it. Husqvarna came to me and asked me to drive for them, it didn’t matter what class, I could choose. It was interesting to me to do the four stroke and not the 250’s any more. I had more faith in their four stroke, as it already won the World Championship with Jacky Martens in ’93 and it had good success in the past. This is why I wanted to change.”

FC: “So you think that the four stroke is the future of motocross? In the open 500 class what do you think about the smaller Yamaha or KTM versus the larger Husqvarna or Husaberg?”

SE: “Husqvarna has a lot of competition like Yamaha, KTM and Husaberg, and for sure all of Japanese competitors will follow very soon. I think that this is very good. I believe that Yamaha is one of the best bikes at the moment, but I also believe that Husqvarna can build a much better bike, they just need to have the right Team behind it and the right rider. I think that so far we are improving a lot. When we introduce the new bike in March, people will be surprised. The new bike will have not only a new look, … we have put enormous work into this bike, and I am very happy with the team’s input.”

Interview: Multi-time World Champion Stefan Everts - Photo 3 of 6FC: “When you were riding a 250, you had the opportunity of racing against Joel Smets and Andrea Bartolini who were riding four strokes. What are your impressions?”

SE: “Well, most of the time I was beating Joel Smets in the Belgium Championship with my two stroke, but mainly I think it depends which track you’re riding on. One track might be better on the four stroke, on another the two stroke is better. The thing that we want to achieve is having a bike that’s competitive on all of the tracks, that’s my goal.”

FC: “How many years is your contract?”

SE: “Three years.”

FC: “So you wanted a contract that permits you to work for a long time with the bike, the Factory and the Team?”

SE: “Yes. Everything takes time to be developed, you can not do everything in one year only. In the first year we’ll do the changing, in the second the bike will come in production and hopefully will be a winning bike.”

Interview: Multi-time World Champion Stefan Everts - Photo 4 of 6FC: “A three year contract means that you definitively decided to stay in Europe for the rest of your career, and not follow you former opponent Sebastien Tortelli.”

SE: “Yes. I decided already in ’95 that I will stay in Europe and race only in the GPs. Hopefully in the future I will race in some AMA Nationals, for sure not in the year 2000, but in the years later, when I hope I’ll race in some AMA Nationals with the Husqvarna four stroke.”

FC: “How is the competition between you and the other riders such as Tortelli, Windham and so? I’m thinking to the Brazilian Motocross des Nations, were you riding for Belgium or just to demonstrate to everyone that you are the fastest?”

SE: “I raced first of all for myself and the rest for my Team. The most important thing is that I won for myself, for my confidence, and also to beat everybody, there were some big talking before the U.S. GP, some people didn’t really like, so I had to prove myself, and that’s what I did.”

Interview: Multi-time World Champion Stefan Everts - Photo 5 of 6FC: “What are your impressions of the U.S. drivers, in comparison with the European ones?”

SE: “It’s just a completely different style, you know, American drivers are more like Supercross drivers, their way of living motocross is a completely different mentality. I feel that riders in Europe are more friendly with each other, like talking to each other, they’re more close than American riders. For me it’s all the same. I try to improve this sport, I’m trying to satisfy the Companies that trust in me as sponsors or so, I try to do the most of my things as good as possible and I don’t care for the rest.”

FC: “But, for example, when you went to Unadilla to race in the AMA National in ’97, you were as fast as the best American riders. In ’98 Tortelli and you were at the same level, and in the beginning of this season Sebastien was incredibly fast in comparison with the best Americans in the AMA National. Aren’t you curious to try this challenge you too?”

SE: “You know, every year is different, things go up and down. In ’97 I had a great year and Tortelli was as fast as me, but didn’t have the consistency. The next year we were about the same, but I think he learned a lot from me and was much more consistent and used the ’97 experience, and also surprised me. You know, that’s racing. I’m not as a robot, I’m also human, I can fail too. I can do my mistakes, which I’ve done, but that’s doesn’t mean I out of the world: I have to use these experiences to continue and to bring the positive things with me and leave the bad things down.”

Interview: Multi-time World Champion Stefan Everts - Photo 6 of 6FC: “What do you think of the level of the 250 MX World Championship this past season, without you, without Tortelli. Frederic Bolley won, but do you think it would be a completely different story if you were there?”

SE: “I think that the level was, on the first half of the year, not so high. In the second half of the year, when Beirer and Bolley were racing each other for the Championship the level came up and they became faster.”

FC: “And how about the 500 GPs of this past season, do you think that Joel Smets lost just for the failures of his Husaberg or do you think that Andrea Bartolini was faster?”

SE: “Well, you must admit (I DO NOT! 😉 ) that Joel lost 90% because of his bike, it failed too many times, and you know from the past that Joel is a very strong contender, very consistent, that’s why he won three World Championships. On the other hand Andrea this year became very consistent in all the races and that’s the why he won the Championship in ’99.”

FC: “Who will be your best challenger for next year in the 500 GPs?”

SE: “I think all the top five of the ’99 World Championship. Of course there will be some other riders that will have some good weekends, but I think the Title will be between the ’99 top five and me, I hope.”

FC: “Thank you very much, Stefan, and good luck!”

SE: “Thank you, and best wishes to all the people and readers.”


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