The grass outside Evgeny Bobryshev’s rented house on a private estate in Menifee looks suspiciously green. It is January in California and while the burn of summer is far away, the weather is still consistently fine. Closer examination reveals the thatch of turf to be disappointingly plastic. Inside the abode and ‘Bobby’s’ wife Elena is keeping small daughter Eva entertained in a residence that the Russian family have commandeered for the better part of two months and have celebrated Christmas as well as welcomed the new year. Evgeny is outside clearing the small pool of leaves. Trainer Stephan Nüsser has also been staying and guiding ‘777’ through a strict new regime.

There seems very little that’s ‘fake’ or half-baked about the whole set-up.

Bobryshev wears the expression and a demeanour of a man who has gone through the mill to find new limits. The former MXGP Grand Prix winner has always been a picture of strength and formidability but this ‘2.0 version’ – relatively fresh from revalidating his potential in the FIM World Championship thanks to a solid but winless run in 2015 – is a statement of intent for what should be his best push for glory since 2011 and when the factory Honda was a regular fixture at the front of motos in the premier class.

The appointment of Nüsser (a former trainer of Paul Cooper, Stephen Sword and Josh Coppins) is the first signal that Bobby wants to add some silverware to his point-collecting approach and enhance his resurrection as a ‘force’ in MXGP after three years perturbed by injury. Relocating to California and temporarily uprooting his family from their bases in Russia and Holland was another gesture. In 2015 his calm and progressive re-entry into the winner’s circle (he scored four podium finishes) was a counterpart to the high expectations and inconsistencies around teammate Gautier Paulin. Avoiding injury and drama the likes of which saw his left leg snapped by Clement Desalle in Italy in 2014 was an important step for Bobby who now has a positive base to build on for the first time in four years.

Acquiring a tea kindly made by Nüsser’s other half Lenny Karsmakers, we sat down around a sturdy looking dining table to get Evgeny’s evaluation on his progress and prep. After Paulin’s experiences in 2015 and the fact that Honda claimed just one Grand Prix win there are questions hovering over the competiveness of the CRF450RW to dethrone Febvre’s Yamaha, tackle Cairoli on a fettled KTM 450SX-F, Desalle on the new Kawasaki KX450F, Nagl’s FC450 and the Strijbos-Townley dynamic on the Suzuki RM-Z450. With the Frenchman working mainly on the east coast with Aldon Baker and Bobryshev pounding the miles out west, the two Honda athletes are leaving little in doubt for their respective pushes this term. Knowing Paulin’s capabilities ‘21’ is always going to be a threat over a weekend and then through the course of eighteen but having seen the depths of Bobby’s structure and commitment then it hard not to think Gautier will be glancing over his shoulder again and that fans will not have to look beyond the red Honda camp for a dark horse in 2016.

OK, so explain the thinking behind being in the U.S. for two months?

…and with Stephan! I decided to make a change. For many years I’ve been based in Sardinia during the winter and I was getting bored with the tracks. So a new place and good weather. The tracks are a bit flat here but you can ride and cycle every day and use some of the mountains for performance training. It has been working well.

After a few dodgy years without much luck how did it feel to get to the end of 2015 and seal third place in the world?

Like you say I had a tough time with injuries. One of which was my mistake and the one from 2014 was not my fault. I took a different view of the races last year and was calmer and steady. I wanted to keep going all season and not rush. It worked well but the problem was at the beginning it was difficult for me to get ‘into’ the races because I’d been out of proper competition for seven months. I was struggling and lost some points. By the end of the year I was thankful things had gone well and I was getting back to my level. Now I can finally prepare in a good way for 2016. There was no big ‘drop-down’ in my career because of injury. I can feel my potential is in reach when it comes to riding style and the physical side.

Is it nice to think about the ‘next step’ and finally being able to get better? In the past it has always seemed like a process of recovery for you. Now you can look onwards…

It is quite funny how the body works. It is almost like it doesn’t have a limit. You think you find a threshold but then you go over it. This is happening with me at the moment. I get to a point when I think ‘I cannot do any more’ and was tired every day but then find I am able to push on. December was really tough with training but now everything feels easy. My cycling has improved so much and I could keep my momentum and rhythm much more on the bike with my motos. So there is still work to be done.

If I look at your career then 2011 was special – your breakthrough – but then you almost seemed to fade away. There were podium appearances and some good rides but I’m sure people were thinking ‘what can this guy really do?’…The story is not finished…

[smiles] When everything was going to shit then people start to forget you; I think this is normal and seems to happen everywhere but there were so many problems after 2011 with injuries and developing the bikes. I couldn’t make a proper year. I knew I could be ‘there’ but the weekends didn’t really come. Mentally it was tough to go through year after year like that and I was low. I just kept looking ahead because I believed it would come good again. Last year was better than 2011 and it was like a stone had fallen from my shoulders. I’m a bit fresher, and more motivated and having Stephan with me means that I like the training.

In review, 2015 was a year of consolidation and you were solid if not spectacular…

The main thing was consistency. I could have pushed hard sometimes and taken more risks to maybe have third instead of fourth or even win the moto but I was looking at the risks and the possibilities of crashing and not scoring points.

You had very good reasons to take that approach…but it is also kinda boring! I’m sure you, as well as your fans, must have thought sometimes ‘go on, go for it’…then again being third in the world is something to really appreciate…

It is a bit boring, like you say, and when you are a racer you just want to keep going forward and catch the next guy but you also need to know when to take a lower gear and make it to the finish line. When you think about the other side of it – the risk and the crash – then it beats going to the hospital!

To read the rest of the interview from the latest OTOR click HERE

Recommended Articles