Interviews 31 Mar 2020

Fast Thoughts: Kirk Gibbs

Two-time New Zealand champion on 2020 MX1 title victory.

For the second time in his career, Altherm JCR Yamaha’s Kirk Gibbs clinched the New Zealand MX1 Championship upon its conclusion at Taupo earlier this month. As he also did two years ago, Gibbs made the most of his pre-season across the Tasman by bringing home the number one plate, however, this time around he will have to wait an extended duration prior to the MX Nationals gates drop in Australia.

Image: Supplied.

Difficulty of winning in NZ…

Cody Cooper makes it hard in MX1. He is an experienced and determined racer that knows how to get it done in NZ. He knows the tracks extremely well, is an awesome starter and still carries good speed for the full 20 minutes. This year, I think I had a little bit of speed on him, but my starts at round one weren’t so good. I worked hard on those and, once I was able to be a consistent top three starter, the race results came a little easier. Racing Cody in New Zealand is a challenge and he is still a great rider.

Clinching the 2020 title…

I had a seven-point buffer going into the last race and that was because I won the first moto of the day, which not only gave me some extra points, but also some confidence to run his speed at Taupo. I was confident going into the last race as with seven points, I could still finish third and secure the championship. Because the depth isn’t that strong in MX1 in New Zealand at the moment, I knew I just had to get a good start, stay out of trouble and that would be enough to get the championship.

Riding for the JCR and CDR Yamaha teams…

I guess it started from the relationship both Josh [Coppins] and Craig [Dack] formed several years ago when Josh was racing for CDR. A lot of the team sponsors carry over and it makes an easy transition between the two race teams and both work together to get the best results for us. Craig came over for a round this year to see how things were going and worked with Josh, so its really a unified team and a great environment to be in.

Image: Supplied.

Differences between JCR and CDR Yamaha YZ450F race bikes…

The bike I race in New Zealand is virtually standard. We can’t run race gas in New Zealand, the motor is standard apart from an exhaust system, but having said that, the only difference is I run a GYTR head on my Australian bike and some race fuel. A standard 450 is so good these days, you don’t need a lot of things done to it to be competitive anywhere in the world.

Attraction to New Zealand…

Because I don’t do supercross, doing the New Zealand nationals makes sense for me and it’s the same length as the guys that do supercross. The fact that working between CDR and JCR is seamless and the timing is perfect for our season, then I’m always happy to do them. It also works as preparation for our MX Nationals. The tracks in NZ are great to ride and well-prepared, the intensity of a 20-minute race is good and the people treat me well, so I love going over there.

Looking ahead to the MX Nationals…

We just have to take the information as it comes and be ready when things are good to go. The isolation break has probably done me some good as I had a big three-month block of training prior to New Zealand and now after the two-week break, I will probably do something similar again and have another three-month block that will take us to the end of June where hopefully we might be able to race again.

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