INTERVIEW JEREMY DELINCE
18 June 2010
Some motocross riders hit the international scene with a bang. You can't miss it. With a dash and a flash they are firmly in the international spotlight. Two recent examples that readily spring to mind are Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings. Others, though, slide onto the stage more gently, through the side door, as it were. Antonio Cairoli felt the disappointment of not qualifying for a GP burn shallow in his eyes on a number of occasions in his early career. Grant Langston equally so. Many others created an even smaller, stealth fighter-like, radar profile before they raced themselves into the consciousness of the motocross community at large. Examples of this abound.
Jeremy Delince (pronounced "Duh-lance"). Chances are that a greater majority of the motocross community will strike a blank expression when hearing the name. The name does not ring any major bells and he has not graced any magazine covers yet. Many of those who have followed his progress, however, are of the opinion that the quiet, unassuming Belgian has found his niche since moving to the MX1 class at the beginning of 2010 and that the definite breakthrough can surely not be far off. The first inkling of this came at an icy season opener in Lommel, Belgium, on Valentine's day. Though the air may have been freezing, Jeremy warmed his fans' hearts with a scorching first race victory, which saw riders of the calibre of Steve Ramon and Ken de Dycker trailing in his snowplume.
As if his supporters needed any more convincing, pulled a few extra rabbits out of the hat at the third round of the ADAC MX Masters series at Aichwald, which made even the most jaded of German fans sit up and take notice. The ADAC series is well-established and attracts entries from many of the GP elite, and was with no small measure of surprise therefore that the pundits studied the results of the qualifying session Group 2. There, clear as daylight, stood the name of one J. Delince on pole position. A glance further down the list revealed names like Ken Roczen, Rui Goncalves, Arnaud Tonus and Florent Richier. These are not insignificant names in motocross terms, with serious top 5 world championship talents amongst those. Jeremy's performance took some doing, therefore. Moreover, his lap time was within a second of the fastest lap posted by fellow Belgian Clement Desalle in the other group, so in terms of sheer speed, he was near the absolute top. (As an aside, the reference to Desalle is perhaps entirely appropriate. Like Jeremy, he is a Wallonian that was not that well recognized outside of his closest circles, until he stepped out of the shadows in 2009 and astounded the motocross community with a string of stunning results, including a GP victory).
Against this background we thought it advisable to seek out Jeremy, delve a bit into the history and pulse him on his feelings about the whirlwind of events over the last few months. The young man, with a fine command of English on the chat line, was happy to comply. Despite his recent successes, he remains modest as ever, and was generous with his time. Once he got into his stride, the information flowed freely.
Q: Jeremy, let us start at the beginning. How did it all start?
A: I was born on 26 July 1990 and got my first bike when I was three and a half years old. I started racing six months later.
Q: And how did it progress from there?
A: Well I just progressed through the classes. I started on a PW50, moved to a KX60 when I was 6 and onto a Honda 80cc when I was 8.
Note - true to the character of the man as we got to know him, Jeremy does not spend a second boasting about his results. It is only once we had prised a resume out of him that the total picture becomes clear. He won the JMS youth title in 2000. In 2001 he raked in the IMBA youth title (this is comparable to a European championship for amateur federations). IN 2002 he clinched the JMS Belgian 85cc senior title. He repeated this feat in 2003, and in a particularly successful year, he also won the World Mini Trophy and the MasterKids events. He repeated his World Mini Trophy successes in 2003 and 2005, with third and second respectively.
Q: Jeremy, it seems that there were more successes in your early career than you elaborated on. Apart from that, I simply have to raise one point. When I got to know you, it was absolutely striking that it was your mother that was spannering on your bike and handling your pit board. How did this come about?
A: (Laughs) Yes my dad did not like to be a mechanic, so my mom did it, and he only washed the bikes. She was very good too, and I never had problems with the bikes (he beams).
Q: The race that brought you to attention this last week was and ADAC masters event. This was not your first race in Germany, though, was it?
A: No, I went to in Germany for the first time in 2002 as soon as I was old enough for the ADAC Junior Cup. The series was very tough with many strong riders there. At my first try in Reutlingen was first reserve after the qualification session, but I was so proud about that! The ADAC was always a strong series and just to qualify was already an achievement for me.
Q: When did you make the move to bigger bikes?
A: I moved onto a 250cc KTM in 2006 with Georges Jobe. I progressed quickly on the bigger bike, but an elbow injury kept me back for some time. I kept working hard year after year, and tried to improve all the time.
Note - It was time to pull the results sheet closer again. The history shows that in the 2007 -2008 period, Jeremy was third in the Belgian Joel Robert Trophy (JRT) series, and started to make his mark on the main Belgian MX2 championship series. The 2009 season delivered a number of highlights. Jeremy finished second in the Belgian MX2 championship series, won the JRT championship and scored European Championship podiums at Markelo (Holland) and Villars-sous-Escot (France). To top it all, he guided Belgium to victory in the Coupe D L'Avenir (junior nations cross) and in so doing, finished second in the individual rankings for the event.
Q: Let's get to the 2010 season now. Much to everyone's surprise, you suddenly moved to the MX1 class in the colours of a Swiss team. How did this come about?
A: Dominique Slegers from Doma racing brought put me in touch with the RBS Yamaha team. Things went really quickly after that, and I was happy that we could make a deal. I ride in the Swiss masters championships and I am very happy with the team. I had good support from the Mikkola team and other sponsors before, but this is in another league. I am in a professional team now. Up till now my parents had to sacrifice a lot to keep me racing, and it's great to have the opportunity to take some of that load off their shoulders. I still remember each and every sponsor that has helepd me in the past, and I am grateful for their support.
Note - Jeremy did not disappoint his new team. After a somewhat nervous start at the first Swiss masters event in Frauenfeld, he clicked into gear in the second heat, and rode to a majestic victory. At the time of writing, he has clinched a couple of victories in the series and is lying third in the Swiss championships.
Q: Why did you decide to go onto the MX1 bike and how did the transition go?
A:I changed to MX1 because it became too expensive to have a competitive MX2 bike. It's also a bit late for me to get into the GP's in the MX2 class (at age 19!! - ed), but for the MX1 class I'm still young, so there is scope to develop. In the beginning the changeover was not easy because the difference in power is big compared to the 250, but I trained more than in previous years and now I'm feeling good on the bike. I still like the 250, but on the 450 you don't need to attack everywhere and this suits my riding style. The tracks in Switzerland are different to what I'm used to and sometimes it's difficult to pass. I was not always riding relaxed and smoothly, but it is improving all the time and I had a few heat wins and one overall victory already.
Q: Let's get now to the most recent event that got people to sit up and take notice - the ADAC Masters event in Aichwald. Were you surprised to qualify in pole position, and how did the race day go for you?
A: Yes, to be honest, I was surprised and very happy! Going into the race, I thought I would be happy to qualify in the top 10, but to qualify ahead of such well known GP stars made me so happy. I finished 10th and 8th in the races for seventh overall. I still miss a bit of experience in the races, but my speed was competitive.
Q: And what does the future hold for you?
A: I would like to get to the GP's in the MX1 class. At the moment I focus on my job for the team, though, which is to do as well as possible in the Swiss championships.
And there we had it. Before he knew it, the dreaded interview was over, almost like a painless tooth extraction. The interaction left us with a pleasant after-taste. Here we have a pleasant, approachable young man who knows the value of hard work, has gone through the struggles to make it to the races, has no inflated opinion of his own abilities, yet possesses the drive and ambition to get to his ultimate objective - a chance to make his mark in the world championships. From this side of the table we have little doubt that he has the wherewithal to make something of it. If only the cards fall his way, the MX1 GP paddock may very well welcome a valuable new recruit in 2011.
IN RUTS, OR .....
....IN SAND, JEREMY IS EQUALLY AT HOME
WHEN THE BELL RINGS AT 11, JEREMY GOES OUT TO PLAY A BIT
A BEAMING RIDER WITH HIS GLEAMING BIKE
Prepared by Tinus Nel