BY JIM KIMBALL
It may be that the average American motocross fan may not be familiar with Belgium rider Jeremy Van Horebeek, but many of us hardcore fans know his stats. Beginning his European motocross career in the mid 2000s, Van Horebeek has competed for factory KTM, factory Kawasaki, and most recently the Monster Energy Factory Yamaha MXGP Team. Several highlights of the Belgian’s career have been winning the 2013 Motocross of Nations racing the MX2 class, and challenging for the MXGP Championship in 2014 – where he would eventually finish 2nd to many time champ Antonio Cairoli. Since then, Jeremy has continued to finish near the top five every year. Although 2018 started out great with a 4th overall at round one of the MXGP Championship, injuries would slow his progress, until late season, where he would regain form. Unfortunately for Van Horebeek, Monster Energy Factory Yamaha had notified him that he would not have a spot for 2019. As with several other prominent MXGP riders, and 450 riders in America, it’s a difficult time to be employed. I was able to catch up with Jeremy Van Horebeek at the Red Bud MXoN where he was the top finishing Belgium. While I have had the luxury of meeting many of the worlds top riders, I wish I had met Van Horebeek sooner, as he was very friendly and open.
JEREMY HOW MANY MOTOCROSS OF NATIONS HAVE YOU RACED AT? This weekend is going to be my tenth one, the first one was in Budds Creek way back. I do not remember the year, but it may have been in 2007 and it was great. I was still really young, and I did not know what to expect. But now you know, it has been ten times for me racing the event. It comes much more naturally, and I am not nervous anymore. I enjoy it every time I am able to compete for Belgium.
I AM REMEMBERING ONE MOTOCROSS OF NATIONS THAT I WAS AT AND YOU HAD MOVED DOWN TO THE MX2 BIKE AND WON YOUR CLASS. Yeah, when we won the Nations in 2013 I went back to the 250 class and we won as a team. Later in 2016, I went back from 450 to 250 again for the Motocross of Nations in Italy, and I won the 250 class that day.
LET’S MOVE TO YOUR 2018 MXGP SEASON WITH FACTORY YAMAHA. 2018 STARTED OUT PRETTY GOOD, RIGHT? Yes, I was really ready for the season. I started off the season with a fourth in Argentina, and then we had the second race in Holland. I was second in the first moto, but I had a big crash in the second moto. So, as I said, I was definitely ready for the season, but then I got injured at my second race. It was a little bone in my wrist, but it is a critical bone, and was dangerous to further hurt it. So, I struggled a lot the whole season with pain. Then with the training and stuff I had to do, it made it a rough season, and a very difficult season. Like everyone else in this career, there are very tough times. So, it was a tough one to swallow, but now it has been a few weeks and I am feeling really, really good. I had a top five last week again in Italy, so I think I am in the shape of the year now at the right time.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH THE FACTORY YAMAHA MXGP TEAM NOW? It’s been five years now. I was second in the World Championship in 2014 with Yamaha and I was top five in the World Championship several times. I had several great years there, and many podiums. It was awesome, we had a great time together. I had really had a good career with them.
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU WILL BE LEAVING THE YAMAHA TEAM. Yes, I have to leave the Yamaha spot. I don’t know why exactly. I guess because of my bad season this year. So yes, I have to leave them and at the moment, I have not signed with any team yet. I don’t know what the future will bring.
Maybe I will get some calls from an American team for next year. I don’t know. It would be great if I have something.
MANY GUYS WOULD CONSIDER YOUR ‘“BAD SEASON” IN 2018 A GOOD SEASON FOR THEM. IT SEEMS CRAZY THAT YOU ARE IN THIS SITUATION. Yes, it seems crazy in many aspects, you know. But now young riders bring a lot of money to “buy themselves” in a team. Young riders, they sign for not much money. You know in MX2, many of the guys have to come over to MXGP. There are more riders than we have teams, so all those things make it difficult to find factory MXGP rides. This is why at the moment I cannot tell you anymore. We will see what happens.
THE YAMAHA GUYS TOLD YOU PRETTY LATE IN THE SEASON RIGHT? Not so late, but when they told me, it was not the right timing because it was a tough season already with injuries and stuff. Mentally, it was a tough one to swallow. I got sick after that, and had many, many problems, but I am happy that it is done. I am feeling happy and good and I am starting to get in the top five spots, which is quite normal for me, so yeah, it is good.
THERE ARE SIMILAR SITUATIONS IN THE AMA SERIES WHERE THERE SEEMS TO BE MORE 250 SPOTS AVAILABLE, THAN THE 450 CLASS. The only thing in the U.S. is that I don’t think they have the 23-year-old riders. I know 450 is the main class, but if they have spots in the 250 class, they can go there, so it does not matter. We cannot do that, so that is the biggest difference, I think in Europe it is much, much worse than in the U.S.
AT THIS POINT JEREMY DO YOU THINK SOMETHING WILL WORK OUT? At the moment, it is not looking bright, you know. I have no real contacts or anything for next year. Maybe I will get some calls from an American team for next year. I don’t know. It would be great if I have something. It does not matter where it is, so we have to wait and see. If I have to, I could race in the U.S. for the outdoor nationals, but I do not know if it is something that can be done or not, I don’t know. I don’t have any talks with any teams or anything, so we will have to see.