Conrad Mewse dug deep on Sunday in Mantova to help Team GB climb the third step of the 2021 Motocross of Nations podium and takes home a bronze medal and a sack full of confidence as his reward.
There’s a lot of pressure on the MX2 riders at the Nations. It’s not always fun mixed in with the big bikes, and history has shown that MX2 is often the team’s linchpin – you need your 250 guy to pull out good qualifying and solid races to have a realistic chance.
The sun was shining on Saturday, leaving the tight Italian circuit perfect for the Qualifying Heats. It was the first time since 2019 that the MXGP paddock had a full two days of racing. Fitness, racecraft and a cool head would be required from Mewse to help deliver a good gate pick and then translate that through to the points-paying motos on Sunday.
The Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee rider showed he had all three as the Nations rookie got off to a flying start with a third place in the Qualifying Heat. He used his 16th gate pick to put himself inside the top 10 and then worked his way up to third at the chequered flag. His efforts helped the British team secure fourth gate pick.
“I put pressure on myself,” said Mewse. “I wanted to do Team GB proud, and I think that brought the best out of me.”
There were concerns heavy rain would arrive on Sunday and arrive it did, completely changing the circuit’s dynamic. The torrential rain hadn’t let up for the opening moto, and Mewse made a mistake in the early moments of the race that left him outside the top 20. He had a gruelling moto and was unable to make headway.
To highlight the mountainous battle he faced, nine-time world champion Tony Cairoli – who also had a bad start – failed to push forward. Mewse finished just one spot (and one second) behind the MXGP legend, taking the chequers in 22nd.
The rain had faded by the second moto, but conditions were still treacherous. Unfortunately, it was another difficult start for the 22-year-old who found himself unable to get to the front of the pack at the gate drop. However, Mewse did stay out of trouble and was holding down 19th place after the opening lap. He could not make his way forward in those early minutes of the race, but as the laps clicked off, crucially, with Team GB locked in a battle for third place with MFR, he started to cut his way through.
Mewse passed MFR’s Timur Petrashin for 14th place on the final lap – perfectly setting up Team GB for the day’s last race.
A scorecard of 9-5, when compared to the other MX2 riders, put Mewse in sixth place for the MX2 Classifications. A result he should carry with pride. Although Mewse may be disappointed with his first moto, he won’t let that get him down. He was excellent in qualifying and had a solid second moto with a clutch-pass on the final lap, ensuring Team GB had that third place within sight heading into that final race.
“It was an unreal feeling to be up there,” Mewse exclaimed after the team got their fourth consecutive Nations bronze.
“It was a lottery out there, but I feel like I showed what I can do in a proper race yesterday [Saturday]. Today was a lottery and tough, but we got it done! I had a really good feeling coming into this.
“I think that most people know that I have the speed, and my team did a fantastic job today – I rode the same bike in both motos, and the team dealt with the quick turnaround incredibly well. This is a good step forward.”