Motocross vs Rally with Tonus & Van Beveren
Earlier this month approximately 30 super talented young French riders from both on-road and off-road motorcycle racing disciplines were privileged to join their heroes for 1-week on a bLU cRU training camp. The camp took place in Pôle Mécanique Alès Cévennes, France, and ran over the course of a week where riders such as Johann Zarco, Romain Febvre, Jonas Folger, Lucas Mahias, Benoit Paturel, Arnaud Tonus and Adrien Van Beveren, just to name a few, spent time with the kids on the track, and also shared their knowledge and experience on being a top motorcycle rider.
Two of the most flamboyant riders, although competing in different disciplines, are Adrien Van Beveren and Arnaud Tonus. Both riders started racing motocross at a young age and while Tonus stayed true to his roots and is now a star rider in MXGP, Van Beveren took a different track and ventured into Enduro and Rally style racing.
We thought it would be cool to get both Van Beveren and Tonus together where we could dig a little deeper into what inspired them to take the paths they took and to find out how different they are.
Is there a mutual ground in Motocross and Rally / Enduro?
AVB: I started to ride with Arnaud in mini verte the French Championship of motocross. The starting point, or base of Rally riding is motocross. The goal is to ride off-road as fast as possible. I think for me here at the bLU cRU camp in France, it's a big advantage to learn some further skills and technique in motocross.
AT: I remember riding together, but not battling. Like he said, the base is similar. On my side, I don't get too many opportunities to ride Enduro or in the wild which is a shame because I would really like to do that and I think in terms of cross training there is a lot that Enduro riding can teach us, in terms of speed and using your eyes. There is a lot to learn from those guys, they are always riding at such a high speed. In terms of physical training, I would say it's pretty similar. Us motocross guys also do some endurance training such as cycling and stuff.
So if the base for both sports is Motocross, how did you chose your direction?
AT: For me it was easy, I started in motocross and stayed in motocross, only I did a bit of supercross for some years, and this is completely different but now I am back in motocross. Adrien is really one of the few guys that has gone into something completely different, something new, it's something you can only learn in time and with experience. It's very rare that you would start Rally riding at a young age.
In terms of training, for Arnaud it's on a track, you know the layout and you do laps, for Adrien it's a different skill in terms of navigation and changing conditions
AVB: It's different for sure, for me, in all honesty, only 10% of the race can I use 100% of my technical ability. If I am on a motocross track and I can ride a rough track, like in the sand, really fast, this doesn't help me so much for the Rally. But in the sand dunes, or like 'camel grass', it helps a lot to have a solid base in motocross and it's in this 10% that makes the difference for me in Rally, and can put me on top during The Dakar. It's a big advantage for me to have grown up motocross, I still do it a lot. I still do Le Touquet, it's good to help with speed and rhythm. While it doesn't help a lot during the Rallies, when you are at the peak of a sport and there are 10 riders, for example, battling for the win, everything is important and I feel my background in motocross is something that can help me win.
You spoke about navigation and in all honesty this is something that I am still learning. Coming from motocross, it is completely new to me and it is quite different to focus on riding while paying attention to the navigation, or looking at a piece of paper in front of you and trying to find the track. But I will keep practicing, and one day I hope that it will be perfect, and this will be a massive advantage for me to have the motocross skills combined with good navigational skills.
Arnaud, you said that you would like to have more opportunity to ride in the wild, doing Enduro or Rally
AT: Yeah, I find what those guys do really impressive. They're constantly adapting, they have no idea what's around the corner, it's always new. It's something that we could maybe learn and practice more, sometimes on the first lap or two of a race you need to change your lines, find new lines, so we actually need to learn how to adapt. If we could practice that, it would be an advantage.
AVB: Rally is something different to Enduro and Motocross. Enduro and Motocross are more similar than you think. You can learn the track in Enduro and be really fast. In Rally, it's always 100% new. Whereas in motocross, I feel like I could ride only 6 times a year and still have the same speed. I don't think you ever lose it. Because of Rally, when I go and do motocross now, I feel so comfortable and so at ease in my mind because I know the track, I know my skills, it's just easy, there is no pressure.
AT: I understand what he means when he says he feels comfortable in motocross, and that is mainly because of my experience in Supercross where I had like 8 minutes to learn a track and have all the obstacles dialed. I needed to learn the track perfectly in four laps and be ready to do a fast lap on lap five. Then when you go back to motocross, especially in the GP's the tracks have been on the calendar a while and they are still the same. I have a good memory of most, there are only a few tracks a year that are 100% new.
What does a day training on the bike look like? Do you do moto's or concentrate on one specific obstacle or section?
AT: On my side, I try to reproduce the same intensity as what I would need in a race, so I do moto's.
AVB: I try to find places which replicate sections of the Rally, like I go to deserts and stuff. There is also something new for me when I go back to motocross from Rally, I feel comfortable with the speed and the risk. In the past, a small mistake would be on my mind for a while. Now, I feel I can make a small mistake and I worry less about it. I feel really comfortable riding motocross now, I know I only need to have my eyes on the track, whereas in the Rally, my eyes are going up, down, up, down, up, down between the map and where I am riding. I need to control and think about much more than just riding the bike.
How do you deal with the heat?
AT: The hardest thing for us about riding in the heat is maintaining the intensity. Your body becomes tired more quickly, hydration and everything is not a big deal, we only race for 30 - 35 minutes. I think for Adrien it must be a lot more difficult.
AVB: For us, it's important to have the right gear. During the night it can be 5 degrees and on the same day, we can be in the dessert in 40 degrees. It's hard to prepare for those various conditions, but I do the best I can. When I ride motocross in the heat, it is still quite hard because it's always intense, the intensity is consistently high. I always wear a heart-rate monitor and in Rally my heart-rate is normally between 135 &148 whereas in motocross it's about 167 - 170.
Arnaud, do you wear a heart-rate monitor?
AT: Yes, it depends on the condition of the track, I think in the sand it is higher but it's normally higher than 175 average, so quite high.
AVB: But you can train this, like if I do around five training sessions in motocross before Le Touquet, I have my rhythm and breathing more under control.
And in terms of food, do you eat differently?
AT: I think in Rally you can afford to be a bit heavier, but in motocross I try to stay as trim and as in shape as possible. I maybe lose about 1 - 2 kilo on a weekend, but then I have a week to get ready for the next one.
AVB: I think we both eat healthy food. I think both disciplines would eat similar things and prepare in a similar way. It's always good to eat fruit and vegetables. But I don't need to be as slim as possible. I lose about 5kilo riding in The Dakar. The old school method for Rally racing was to be fat and strong, but I try to stay in shape because I don't think being overweight is healthy for a person, but I feel like my body is made for this type of racing because I was never a really slim kid anyway. I can easily do more than 4 hours on the bike and still feel like I can keep going. Sure, I need to eat but I never feel weak from not eating.
AT: I eat pretty strictly on a race. I make sure I eat 2 hours before and I check my weight after every session. I lose about 1 - 1,4 kilo after every session, even after practice. I do this to control how much water I am losing. We have much more time to do this at a motocross race than they do in Rally.
AVB: Yeah, it's not that we don't look at these things and that we don't care. We do, we know it's important to eat right. It's different to motocross, but we still take care.
We have seen a lot of motocross riders make the switch to Enduro after their glory days in motocross, Arnaud is this something you have considered for when you are done racing motocross?
AT: Yeah you never know, it could be something really fun and interesting. Like Adrien said, you have some people who are made for that kind of thing. I don't think I could ride 12 hours without eating. I'd be bones in that time. I need to eat. I am not built for it. 3 hours, okay, I will live. But 12hours, I don't think I am made for it.
AVB: I chose to go to Enduro. At 16 years old, I had a goal for myself to win the Le Touquet. I kept doing motocross for experience and to help me win Le Touquet, and then after I achieved that, I went to Rally, which interested me a lot. I got to do my first Dakar at a younger age than most, I was 24 years old and I finished 6th. I chose to do that, I chose to go early because I feel that Rally is a discipline you have to take time to learn, and starting young will put me at an advantage. The average speed is much higher in Rally than in motocross, so you have to be smart. In motocross, you can lose the corner and live. In Rally, you can lose the corner and be 100m down a cliff.
For Arnaud, the MXGP series is 19 rounds, but for AVB, it can be weeks and months in between races
AVB: Yes, this is something quite difficult to deal with, but I have gotten used to it because Le Touquet has been my goal for a long time, so I train hard for the entire year and then I need to be fast and strong on one day, and you need to win on that day.
Arnaud, do you think your flexibility in terms of mental power needs to be stronger than Adrien because every week you need to be like that, or Adrien, do you think it's more difficult for you because it is more of an endurance thing?
AT: I think it's different, there is positive and negative. Like for Adrien, he has time to refresh for the next race but at the same time, if he has a bad race, he has a lot longer to wait before he can fix his bad result. For us in motocross it's also hard to keep racing and go so long, mentally. You want to do it so bad and you love it but there is so much involved like stress and adrenalin, you can also be over it, not mentally, but physically as well. It's really hard to find a balance and not over train.
AVB: For Arnaud it's 19 rounds a year, but for me in The Dakar, it's 15 days, and in those days you can have a super good result. If you win one stage, the next day, you will start first. So you start first on a special stage, and you have no track in front of you, while the guy that starts fifth, he can see but then he has the dust. So there is a bit of risk. I think it is important to be consistant.
On talent vs hard-work
AVB: If I am honest with you, when I was younger, I was not a super talented rider. I had to work a lot. A serious amount of work.
AT: I was okay in terms of talent, I was always told I was a talented rider, but I still had to work. My Dad was a rider, so he made me ride all sorts of conditions, sometimes deep sand, sometimes hard-pack. I was riding Supercross on a 65cc as well.
AVB: I will interrupt Arnaud, and I will tell you that he was super talented! In the French Championship, he was the rider you looked at. I still think the same now when I see him ride, he is so fast and smooth. He also has a good mentality, and also super talented. That is what worked for me, I have a good mentality and I try to understand what will make me better, and I will work hard. I don't think I am super talented, but I am talented.
AT: I want to know how you can pass guys in The Dakar with the speed and the dust and everything.
AVB: It's not always difficult, but sometimes you can go for 300km on the back of one guy and never be able to pass. Mostly because of dust.
On the #YamahaFamily
AT: I think these events with Yamaha are really nice and you can definitely feel the family spirit, and that is something special that you don't see with other brands.
AVB: In Yamaha, the riders aren't chosen by podiums, they're chosen by their spirit as a rider. It's like a Yamaha spirit and it makes the brand really strong.