For Kaven Benoit, this past season has been a complete disaster and an absolute contrast to last season. A year ago, he and his fellow Team Canada members were getting ready to take on the world in Italy. As you may remember, the 2016 MXON was sort of an International coming out party for him, as he ran up front in both of his motos. By the end of day, everyone knew who Kaven Benoit was. Well, things have sure changed. After injuring his ankle back in January at a SX in Germany, and only racing three times since then, Kaven’s riding is now on hold while he heals. To make matters even worse, he suffered internal injuries in a crash in July. Although he’s now fully recovered, his previously injured ankle is still not right. Basically, this past season is one that Kaven will want to forget as we move towards the off-season. However, one race that he will never forget is last year’s MXON in Italy. To get his thoughts on that incredible race, as well as to see how he feels about Team Canada’s chances this weekend, we gave him a call for this week’s MXP Chatter.
MXP: Hey Kaven, how are things, and what are you up to today?
KB: I’m not doing too much actually, and things are not very good. To be honest I’m having some issues again with my ankle so I have to get that sorted out soon.
MXP: Oh no! We thought your ankle was doing much better and you would be riding soon.
KB: It was getting better, I started to ride a little and also started to road bike a bit. I was feeling really good and thought I was past the injury, but just recently it started to hurt again. I went to see my doctor and he is going to do surgery on it again in a few weeks. Something in there is not right and it needs to be fixed. He tells me, though, that once we fix this problem then I should be good to go. It’s obviously pretty frustrating to still be dealing with this problem. It has definitely been a year to forget.
MXP: For sure, especially when you think where you were a year ago. We suppose that is just the nature of the sport and being an athlete. You have good years, and sadly you have bad years.
KB: Yes, it’s been very difficult to sit here and not be able to do anything, especially knowing what happened last year around this time.
MXP: Well, we want to get some insight on Team Canada, and we thought who better to talk than the rider who led the team last year in Italy. We’re only a few days away from the MXON. What is the team going through right now? Are they nervous? Were you guys nervous last year?
KB: I don’t think they’re nervous since all three have raced this event before. Tyler and Shawn were also there last year and Colton has a lot of experience. I’m sure they’re feeling anxious, but not too nervous.
MXP: This is the second year in a row that Kourtney Lloyd is the Team Manager so the program this year looks pretty much the same as last year.
KB: Yes, she knows what everyone needs when they’re at an event like this. Last year she did her research and made sure we were looked after. Renting a house for everyone is the way to go and I’m glad she did it again this year. To be able to have your own room, to be able to eat good food when you want, the bikes are there for the mechanics to work on, it just feels like home, and I think that was one big reason why we all felt so comfortable in 2016. Hopefully the team feels the same this week.
MXP: We know she takes a little flack from some people who feel like renting a house is too big of an expense, but it really is the way to go. Especially when you consider how much it would be to get hotel rooms for everyone for a week; that is not cheap either.
KB: Exactly, and like I said, to have someone cooking good food for the team all week is so important. You’ve been to Europe and have eaten at the restaurants there, it’s hard to get decent food that you’re used to. When you’re on vacation it’s okay, but when you’re there to race against the best riders in the world, you need to eat good food.
MXP: We saw some photos and videos of the team riding yesterday in England. Tell me, last year when the team went testing during the week and you were able to ride with Team USA and a few other teams, to see that you were as fast as them during practice, did that help with your confidence heading into the weekend?
KB: For sure, one of things you have to overcome as a rider when you go to an event like the MXON is the unknown stuff. You’re always wondering how fast you are compared to everyone else and you don’t know until you get on the track. When we went testing and our lap times were the same as the Americans, that gave us a lot of confidence and we knew our speed was good, even before we got to the track on Friday.
MXP: Last year when you first arrived at the track in Maggiora on the Friday, what was your first thought?
KB: I was just amazed and I couldn’t believe that I was there. That track and facility is so impressive that you really have to see it to believe it. I remember that I was just telling myself to stay relaxed and take it all in. The track this weekend in England looks a lot different than Italy last year, but I’m sure when the team arrives and everything is set up, it will be pretty awesome.
MXP: What are your thoughts on the track for this weekend?
KB: I think it looks like it a pretty good track with nice dirt. The layout looks great, and considering it just sits in the middle of a field, I think it’s going to be an awesome event. One of the things I noticed was how big the jumps are on this track! The riders are definitely going to be getting some serious airtime.
MXP: Let’s go back to last year and the opening moto of the 2016 MXON. You got one of the best starts of any Canadian rider in history on the world stage. Do you remember what was going through your mind while you were sitting on the starting line?
KB: There was definitely a lot of things going on in my mind during those moments. The one thing I do remember is that my mouth was very dry and that only happens when I’m really nervous. But, then I started to just remind myself that I was there for a reason, I was fast enough to race with those guys, and that I was on the same equipment as everyone. Once I started thinking those positive thoughts, I felt great and really wanted to get the racing started. Regardless of where you’re racing you have to believe in yourself, and last year in Italy I just really had a lot of confidence. I just knew I could get a good start and battle with the top guys.
MXP: Well, you most certainly did. Do those riders race any differently than say Davi Millsaps or Matt Goerke?
KB: No, it’s pretty much the same as anywhere. You have riders that are more aggressive and some that aren’t. The field is just deeper, obviously, at an event like the MXON, so you don’t get a rest and you’re always going as fast as you can.
MXP: Last year was definitely a great result for you and the rest of Team Canada. With the success of last year, sitting at home and having to just watch the race this year will be very tough for you. What would you like to say to the team as they prepare for this weekend?
KB: They don’t need me to say anything as they all know exactly what to do. I just want to wish them all good luck, and I hope they can have a good race and build on the success of last year.
MXP: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Kaven. We hope the surgery goes well and you’re able to get back on the bike soon.
KB: Thanks for calling. Hopefully everything goes well and I’ll have no more issues.