Interviews

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by Hannu Lindell

I'll never get
enough of
motocross
Heikki has an eye for detail; here he covers up tracks for a fast start.
"I will ride with an eye on the world championship ", is the first and fast reply of the ruling 500cc motocross world champion Heikki Mikkola when he’s asked the question: "How do you intend to defend your title?" And he gives the answer with a firm voice and a sudden gleam in his steely-grey eyes. “I will simply do my very best to maintain my title".

His sights have been set high, but Mikkola knows he can make it come true. Many times he has proved to himself and to others that he’s able. In 1974, when he became 500cc world champion for the first time; in 1976, when he took the quarter litre title for the first time and last year when he conquered the 500cc world championship for the time. In the history of motocross
he is the only rider who’s got the world title in two different classes". “I’ve worked out that the possibility to achieve my target in the 500cc class in 1978 is very good.
My physical condition is excellent. Better than at the beginning of last season. I consider fitness to be one of the most important factors in motocross; if you’re riding motocross at world class level, you practise one of the hardest sports which exist. This season I’ll be able to commit myself, from the outset, a full hundred percent.
The bike is another factor. Last year my Yamaha was already great and now it’s even better. I have plenty of reason to believe that Yamaha still has a technical lead on other makes and that this lead may have become even bigger than it already was. I don’t even use the
"I will ride with an eye on the world championship ", is the first and fast reply of the ruling 500cc motocross world champion Heikki Mikkola when he’s asked the question: "How do you intend to defend your title?" And he gives the answer with a firm voice and a sudden gleam in his steely-grey eyes. “I will simply do my very best to maintain my title".

His sights have been set high, but Mikkola knows he can make it come true. Many times he has proved to himself and to others that he’s able. In 1974, when he became 500cc world champion for the first time; in 1976, when he took the quarter litre title for the first time and last year when he conquered the 500cc world championship for the time. In the history of motocross he is the only rider who’s got the world title in two different classes". “I’ve worked out that the possibility to achieve my target in the 500cc class in 1978 is very good.
My physical condition is excellent. Better than at the beginning of last season. I consider fitness to be one of the most important factors in motocross; if you’re riding motocross at world class level, you practise one of the hardest sports which exist. This season I’ll be able to commit myself, from the outset, a full hundred percent.
The bike is another factor. Last year my Yamaha was already great and now it’s even better. I have plenty of reason to believe that Yamaha still has a technical lead on other makes and that this lead may have become even bigger than it already was. I don’t even use the most powerful cylinders on my racing bike which the development department has made available, because using these makes riding harder and overstrains the muscles. Personally I prefer a wide power range because I’m a weak and idle guy", Mikkola says with a smile in his eyes. Also I know all the Grand Prix circuits. During training I only have to focus on the state of the track and as a result there’s enough opportunity to prepare myself mentally for the races. Also I don’t have to worry about the machines; as far as that’s concerned I can completely trust my mechanic Heikki Penttilä, who was already a member of my team last year.
most powerful cylinders on my racing bike which the development department has made available, because using these makes riding harder and overstrains the muscles. Personally I prefer a wide power range because I’m a weak and idle guy", Mikkola says with a smile in his eyes. Also I know all the Grand Prix circuits. During
training I only have to focus on the state of the track and as a result there’s enough opportunity to prepare myself mentally for the races. Also I don’t have to worry about the machines; as far as that’s concerned I can completely trust my mechanic Heikki Penttilä, who was already a member of my team last year.
Above and below: Every year Heikki returns to Finland for a few months to recharge his batteries for the next season.