News 19 Jan 2017

Factory Husqvarna MXGP preparations on track for Anstie

Premier class rookie taking low key 2017 approach.

Source: Supplied.

Words: Adam Wheeler

Max Anstie is the unknown factor in the MXGP pack for 2017 as the third rider in the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team alongside Max Nagl and Gautier Paulin.

The former grand prix winner moves into the premier class after six seasons, five teams and five brands in the MX2 category and insists he has found the ideal home in the confines of the professional squad run by Antti Phyrhonen.

For the first time since 2011 Anstie comes in ‘under the radar’ and without the pressure of having to spearhead a GP racing effort as he had to with Suzuki, Honda Gariboldi, Steve Dixon’s crew and Jacky Martens’ Husky unit in 2016.

“Yeah, it’s nice although I am not treated any differently in the team; I’m not a first, second or third rider,” he explains. “Antti is very professional and fair. He makes plans for everyone and I know I am missing some experience to make the best 450 but I’m in the best place to learn.

“I’ve been battling to get up to this point; to be with a team this professional and where I don’t need to worry about anything apart from the riding.

“There is someone to help in every way, from my diet, to my program, to having every element ready. We are not just here to take part. And you should see the workshop; you could eat a meal from the floor. I think Kimi [Raikkonen, team owner] is even going to hang an F1 car from the ceiling!”

Anstie is currently riding with the rest of IceOne in Spain and in preparation for the Red Sands International race this weekend that he will enter with Nagl and Paulin.

He has been lapping with the FC450 in France and will head back to Belgium – where the team is based – before more events in LaCapelle Marival and Hawkstone Park. The 23-year-old says the transition from the 2016 FC250 to the bigger bike was smooth and the fact that he remained with the manufacturer – and was fully fit – has been an obvious advantage.

“We’ve done a lot of good work here,” he said. “It has been massive for me because since the [Motocross of] Nations I was able to get on the bike and begin working with the team straight away.

“That wasn’t the case in 2015 when I had to recover from a broken back, shoulder and the rest of it. I’ve been able to do things a lot more in my direction. I’ve changed brands every year so it has been much more easier [this time].

“From the first day I took my 250 setup to the 450 and have been able to work closely with my suspension guy and do exactly what we wanted to with the bike. Last year in MX2 I was not as strong and fast as I needed to be and then had the problem of testing during the season. So it has been nice to take our time and work on every area.”

Anstie immediately hints at his clear rookie status for the MXGP division and is not building up expectations but emphasises that his circumstances could be better for a maiden year with the ‘big boys’.

“Everyone always says that their pre-season has gone well so we will have to see,” he added. “Obviously I haven’t raced this 450 so some of our work has been a bit of a shot in the dark but that is when having such a professional team and some really experienced teammates come in.

“I’ve found that I can watch and learn from Max and Gautier. They are two big names and have ridden plenty of factory bikes so they know what’s what. I’m excited to see where we are.”