One of the riders who are making a name for themselves in World Supersport 300 is Koen Meuffels, 24-year-old rider from the Netherlands.
Competing for former rider Arie Vos’ KTM Fortron Racing Team, Meuffels is facing his first season in WorldSSP300 and so far he’s already scored some remarkable results, including the win grabbed at the first 2018 round at Motorland Aragon. This was followed by other results and also some bad luck, like when he had a strange high-speed fall at Assen during the last lap. “Speedy Koen” is currently laying 8th in championship standings with 49 points, which went into his pockets after Aragon win and two more top-5 finishes (Brno and Donington Park).
We interviewed Meuffels to speak about his season so far, his career and his life outside racing.
Did you expect to win at Motorland Aragon, at your debut in a World Championship?
No, I didn’t. This is my first year in a new project with KTM and I really didn’t expect to win. My aim for Aragon was top 10 and this win was definitely a surprise for me and the team. It was fantastic.
At Assen you had a strange fall during the last lap, when you crashed at high speed at the final chicane. Can you explain us what happened there?
I was fighting for the win after being among the strongest during all the weekend, but I touched somebody (Walid Khan, ed) at the second-to-last corner and there I lost my brakes. I got to the chicane at a very high speed and when I realized what had happened, I jumped from the bike not to crash against the wall. It was a big one, but I was OK and the suit was in perfect conditions as well. Only the bike had a lot of damage.
What about the races after?
At Imola I crashed following a touch with another rider (Manuel Bastianelli, ed) while I was fighting for the podium, all this despite a disadvantageous rule change. Two weeks after I finished fifth at Donington, a track I didn’t know, while in Brno I scored fourth place. Finally, in Misano I was stopped by a technical issue.
You had never raced at Imola, Donington Park and Misano. Which one do you like the most?
It’s hard to say, every track is different, but I admit I really like Misano. Some corners are very nice and its layout, with many corners and not so many straights, perfectly suits KTM.
Are you happy with your season so far?
Yes, because I didn’t expect to be in the front in all races. Sometimes we have been unlucky, but we’ve always been in top 5 and we hope to do the same at Portimao and Magny Cours. We want to be on the podium again to have a strong finish of the season, because the last races are the ones people remember more.
You come from KTM RC Cup Benelux. How hard is it to jump from there to World Supersport 300?
The bike is slightly different, but the main difference concerns competition. KTM RC Cup is tough, but here it’s even tighter. For example: if you wait for the right moment to overtake someone, two othr riders overtake you in the meantime and if you go wide, six more riders pass you! (laughs). It doesn’t take much to lose many positions…
You started racing when you were 13. Why so late?
Nobody does racing in my family and so I remained outside that…Till I saw a minimoto! There I started asking my parents for one and after insisting very much, they finally bought it to me.
Can you tell us about your career?
I started on minimotos in Belgian Championship, where I also raced against Bo Bendsneyder, Livio Loi and Robert Schotman. In 2011 I contested Dutch and Belgian Honda NSF100 Trophies and the year after I switched to big tracks by participating in Moriwaki 250 Junior Cup, where I finished third and was the best rookie. Since Moto3 was too expensive, in 2013 we decided to go to Supersport and I have to say that the start was drama: I weighed 41 kilos and was just 1.58 metres tall and we know that it’s not the right body structure for Supersport (laughs). After two positive seasons in Dutch ONK Supersport, I joined Arie Vos’ Fortron Racing and with them I scored some wins. Arie Vos is fundamental for me: it’s with him that I debuted in KTM RC Cup Benelux last year and in World Championship this year
About World Supersport 300: what do you think of all these rule changes?
Obviously I don’t like it, but I can’t change it, so I try to give my best in any case. When we are not competitive I try to be the first KTM rider in the rankings, but fortunately we are always in the front and so we can aim for something bigger.
What do you do outside racing?
I spend much time on bikes: I’m the coach of young talented riders in Dutch Racing Academy and I train a lot on minimotos and do some trial. Furthermore, I work in a phone shop and fortunately they’re all very understanding about my situation, since they let me go when I have to race. Yeah, I have a lot to do (smiles).
Photo Credit: racesport.nl