Marc Freixa, the king of the United States Trial
LAURA RODRÍGUEZ – Seven years after hanging up his boots, Freixa returned last year to the top competition winning the American Trial in his first race. The current champion of the AMA, Montesa-Honda official team tester, fulfilled his dream to add a title after staying at the doors of being champion of Spain Championship twice. Now, the Catalan returns to American terrain to try to revalidate it.
How did you decide to return to the competition after seven years?
The more I enjoy riding my motorcycle, the longer my life will be. So when it was given to me the opportunity to enter Montesa-Honda as a tester and race in the United States, I did not think so long about it.
How did this option come out?
I have got a call from Miquel Cirera -Team Manager of HRC Trial – who had spoken with Martin Belair, the Brand importer in America. They considered the possibility that I would dispute the AMA Trial and I, of course, thought it was a great idea. Both are extraordinary people and have helped me a lot.
Was it easy to carry out the plan?
No. In fact we already knew it was going to be a difficult project. The Americans are very closed and a little reluctant to have foregin riders in their infrastructures. Despite that, we got it. After seven years without competing, I couldn’t imagine this second chance. It was a dream for me.
What Marc Freixa did before starting this ‘second chance’?
I became a coach. I spent some time in Gas Gas working with young riders. I also competed in some races and made backpacking test … although whenever I could, I would take the bike. I’ve never dissociated myself from this world, but now I’m doing what I really like, to try out bikes and compete.
You stayed more than once at the gate of being national champion and, now, you get a title. How it was?
More than good! When I was competing in the Spanish Championship I could never win the title because Doguie Lampkin took him and, just when I left, they made the rules that ‘no foreign riders’ could compete. It was a pity! But in the end, what I like is to be on top of the bike.
And competing better!
Of course. So now I am back to work hard, to prepare well the races. Last year I ended the days completely destroyed. You can imagine! Seven years without competition…
Despit that, you took the title!
Yes, and it was not easy. I’ve had two strong competitors, although the others did not too much.
What do you attribute it to?
It is clear that the highest level is here, specifically in Catalonia. The best in the world live nearby, so one day you can go to train with one and another day with another. That enriches a pilot a lot and makes your level up. In America, it doesn’t happen because the distances are enormous and each one trains where and when he can. In addition, the pilots themselves are not promoted. So I think they, themselves, also should push on this discipline offroad.
Do you think it is possible that the American Trial reaches the level we have here in Catalunya?
I do not know if it is possible to reach it, but at least approaching it for sure. In fact, from one year to another I have already seen a change. For example, I now see videos hanging with the back wheel, as Bou does, and before they did not. This has been to see me.
Do you think you’ve been for them like a mentor?
At least, I was the first!
This is your second season at the AMA. Do you have in mind to compete there for a long time?
I have a contract until 2018 with Honda America, so at least another year is assured. Then we’ll see. I am very happy with the team and with everything we do. I am 37 years old, but I was told to me that I could compete up to forty and more … so I delighted -laughing-!. The truth is that now I am in amoment when I feel strong.
What does it mean for a pilot to be a tester?
A great responsibility! It is very complicated this work because in the end you are the one who has to make sure that everything works. I’m not going to lie to you, there’s pressure.
And be the one of Montesa-Honda?
It’s a privilege. The fact that the best team to work with and the best rider trust in you, is priceless. I am very happy with the work we do. They are a very professional team and, at the same time, very close. From the beginning, everyone helped me a lot. For example, I learned a lot from Toni Bou.
What does it mean for you to set-up the bike of Trial star?
It is not an easy task. He is a demanding rider. In addition, it perfectly know the bike because he is riding from many years with the same bike, so he notices any small change. Step by step, I see what he likes and how he likes it, so when I try something, I think about whether he will do well.
So many hours on the bike. What can you tell us about the Braktec product?
I have tried Braktec material for some time now and the last brake assembled seems to me very interesting. With it you achieve a very dry braking and it works very well. Now we’re going to put it on the American bike and I’m sure it will go very well during on race.
The new Trial caliper has been developped for a greater durability. Did you note the change?
Definitely. I’ve been testing the new caliper for days and it works great. It is true that it lasts much longer.
You have run the first four races of the American Championship and now in June you play the last four. What are your expectations?
So far this year they have lowered the level. The zones are usually very easy, so the competition is greater because more pilots can pass them without problems. Despite that, I hope to fight to win.
Do you think you can revalidate the title?
It will be difficult. Americans do not like ‘foreign outside athletes’ win. At the minimum mistake you are immediately penalized. They look at you a little with a magnifying glass for being outside, but still we will fight. The atmosphere is nice and there is good relationship between the riders, so we will definitely enjoy the bike.