Welcome to our web-exclusive weekly column: Transmoto's MXGP Insider, presented by Kawasaki.
Eric Geboers needs little introduction. The five-times World Motocross Champion and first rider to win World titles in all three classes (125cc, 250cc and 500cc) was known as "The Kid" because of his small stature. Geboers is also a major part of Belgian motocross history as somebody who is working hard to stop the closure of motocross circuits and he is also the promoter of the 2012 Motocross of Nations.
Transmoto: Eric, can you explain what is happening with Belgian motocross circuits against the fight from the environmentalists?
Geboers: Of course. Belgium is suffering as a huge amount of race tracks are closing down, and that reflects on races. Red tape is being slapped on races and that takes a lot of the enthusiasm from the people and clubs that work to try and run events, so those races are dropping off the calendar like crazy.
Which circuits are still operational?
Officially we can operate at Lommel, Genk and Honda Park. There are more tracks, but they are unofficial. But if something happened with insurance at one of the other tracks you might have some problems.
And how secure are these circuits?
Lommel and Genk are secure. They are in the proverb of Limburg and they have been working hard to get those two motocross tracks covered. But Honda Park has a permit that ends in 2019 (only seven years), which doesn't make it secure and no one is sure it's going to get extended and there are houses in the area and the people in those houses are often complaining. I mean I am part owner of the track and we spend a lot of money with lawyers on that.
Belgian doesn't seem to have a lot of potential future World Champions either and as you know, Belgium sits on its dry spell as far as World Champions goes (Belgium hasn't had a World Motocross Champions since Steve Ramon in 2007 which is the longest period without a World Champion in the history of the sport).
We are also unlucky that we lose a guy in motocross like Stefan Everts. It's a big problem and foreign riders are taking over. The first rider I see after Clement Desalle is Liam Everts. That is what I would say now. If you want to get a shot of adrenaline, then you need to see that guy ride a bike. That little kid will scare the sh*t out of you. I had goose bumps watching him ride.
You were around Ken Roczen when he was very young. Do you see any type of comparison?
I saw Roczen when he was 10. When we first went to Mini Olympics in Florida and Liam is now 6 or 7. If I am honest Liam is in front of Ken. I think around that age Liam has more. Stefan is really tough on him, but that little kid is also tough on Stefan, he has an attitude.
How is the preparation for the Motocross of Nations coming along?
The Motocross of Nations preparation is coming along well; there are some issues I am not happy about. There are some issues between Monster that I think we need to clear up. I feel very poorly about the organisation from Monster, because they want to control everything from tents, to t-shirts and we want to start the promotion, but we are waiting on them to do their part. They want to take full control of this event, but that is a machine that needs some oil.
Can you tell me about the Valkenswaard circuit, and your opinion of the sand there?
Valkenswaard is not a typical sand race, because it gets packed and not like a hard pack track, but much harder than something like Lommel or Lierop. They have moved the track a lot, making it more attractive and exciting corners. It's a tough race. A physical challenge. I would be surprised if I never won here.
Obviously being an Australian, I remember Jeff Leisk winning a moto and running out of fuel while leading the other. What is your memory of that day?
I remember. In fact, we had the same bike and the same tank. The setting was different, but we were doing fuel consumption before and I remember my fuel consumption was good, not a lot to spare, but I had enough to finish both races. I know Jeff's fuel tank was the same, but I remember his fuel consumption was worse than mine. He had a different style, but it's the same as Tanel Leok and Clement Desalle now in the Suzuki team. They had the same bike, but the consumption from Leok is much higher. I mean riders who are aggressive on the throttle use more fuel, and somebody like Clement he rides with throttle control.