Interviews 12 Oct 2017

Catching Up: Kirk Gibbs

Checking in with the former national champion, presented by Maxima Racing Oils.

It’s been a relatively big year for KTM Motocross Racing Team’s Kirk Gibbs, who entered the 2017 Motul MX Nationals championship coming off a serious leg injury to take second in the standings, and being the only rider to defeat eventual champion Dean Ferris (CDR Yamaha). His performance saw him selected to represent Australia at the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in Great Britain, where he assisted the country to sixth overall while also placing sixth in the Open division. With his season now at a close, we tracked down the 2015 Australian champion to get the latest on his happenings.

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

It’s been quite a big year for you with motocross and also the MXoN, how have you perceived it all?

It was pretty good, the start of the year obviously didn’t kick off that well coming off an injury. It took a bit to get the ball rolling, we were doing things here and there with the bike, so it didn’t start off the way I wanted it to, but we always knew that were going to be under prepared a little bit. By the time the second half came around, I felt like I really started riding well, especially at the last two to three rounds I started getting everything in order and was more prepared and felt better. Right towards the end of the season I felt a lot more confident, and then obviously going over to the Nations I had a decent ride over there. I’m happy with the way I finished off and it would be good to just have a good off-season now, stay fit and healthy and build up for next year.

Throughout motocross Dean Ferris was obviously very dominant, was it tough to be able to stop that dominance during the championship?

Yeah, for sure. But in saying that, since he’s been home, he hasn’t really been injured – or had a big injury – that’s slowed him up and kept him off the bike for long periods of time. He’s got a really solid program, but as frustrating as it was, sometimes you have to sit back and look at the bigger picture – he’s riding at a level that’s world stage. When he went over to America, he showed that. As frustrating as it was, you got to give credit where credit is due, and yeah, he is definitely riding amazingly. I was just happy that those few races that I was on, I could steal those races and I was the only one to do that.

You must be super happy to actually get over to the MXoN this year, but also to put in a really, really solid performance as well.

The biggest thing was just getting there to start with, so once we got there and everything was happening, I was trying to embrace it and take everything in. The track couldn’t have been any better on the Saturday, the track was like glue – the dirt was so sticky and the ruts were so good. Our tracks here a little bit tighter, and because everything is fast over there, the ruts flowed so nicely. I had a ball on the Saturday, and on the Sunday as well. There was a lot of rain on Saturday night, so it made the conditions a lot more difficult, but hats off to the crew there – they did an awesome job getting the track prepared. I’m really happy with the way I rode, there are a couple of little things that I probably could’ve improved on. I didn’t get to ride the whole time I was over there – I was there about a week and half before the event – so I had to shake the cobwebs out pretty quick. All in all, I’m reasonably happy and hopefully I can keep going back in the next couple of years. I really want to go again.

Doing so well on the world stage, has fuelled a desire to race overseas full-time or are you quite content racing domestically here in Australia?

Obviously going over and doing decently, I’d love to go race overseas – you’re only as old as your body feels. I believe I could go over there and still be decent, whether that opportunity comes with a good bike and a good team, that’s probably the biggest and hardest thing at the moment – there’s more riders than rides at the moment everywhere in the world. If the opportunity ever comes – a good opportunity – I’d definitely love to go. If I can put in some good races here and there and get noticed, well then it may happen.

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

Your plans for 2018, are they locked in or are you still finalising it all?

Yeah, we’re still finalising everything at the moment. I can’t really say too much.

I know you were at the KTM Australian Junior Motocross Championship in Horsham last week, what was it like going to that event and to where it essentially all started?

It’s good, it’s always good to see some young kids. It’s obviously where everyone starts, and it’s good to see how seriously some of them are taking it. The junior Aussies are a lot bigger than when we did it back in the day, they’re getting a lot more support and obviously with KTM, they had their truck there – the KTM support, everyone who rides one can get it and all the boys are there helping them fix it. Yamaha had a truck and things like that, it just goes to show it’s bright for those kids – hopefully some of the top guys can keep their heads screwed on and stay healthy, there’s some bright futures for some of those kids.

What’s your plan over what is basically an extended off-season for you, are you still going to ride or attend any events?

I’ll still come to some event for KTM, so I’ll be down at the AUS-X Open and going down to Kembla – they have a two-stroke cup on at the end of the month, so I’ll be down there helping the KTM guys and supporting them. I still want to keep riding up until mid-November, I’m going in to get the rod out of my leg. I’m looking forward to that, that’s only six weeks off the bike, but I can walk out and I’m not stuck on the couch. I can train or stationary cycle a week and half after I get out of hospital, so I won’t be confined to a couch or anything like that. It will keep me off the bike for six weeks, which will be good – it will give me that down time off the bike, and yeah, I’ll come out fresh for next year.

Yeah awesome, thanks for your time mate and well done a solid year.

No worries, thank you mate.