When I was 4 or 5 tried a small motocross bike for the first time and I crashed immediately
Jan Mohr is 25-year-old rider, born in Austria. He studies Psychology in Prague and competing in the German IDM and World endurance championships. In October he took part in the last BMU race for the season and he set a new track record at Serres racing circuit. That was his second time riding on that track. With his big smile and friendly attitude towards others he won not only the two races at Serres but the hearts of many motorcycle fans and riders
Text: Yordan Yochev
Photos: Racebg, Dino Eisele
Hi, Jan! How are you?
I am in Prague right now, because I am studying here. But tomorrow I will go to Austria for some events and for week and a half I will be home, then I will go back to Prague.
You are a student in Prague, what do you study?
Yes, I’m studying Psychology. It’s quite interesting.
Can you implement some of the knowledge at the track?
Yes, but right now we study general things, a lot about human mind, how we percept things, how we react to things and it’s for sure a good base but it is not specific like Sport Psychology. This is what I would do later.
А question that I'm sure is of interest of motorcycle fans in Bulgaria and Greece - аre we going to see you again in Serres next season.
I hope, because I really liked the event in October. It was so nice to be there, because I know Ilyan and Kaloyan, my mechanics from the IDM for 3,5 years and they are really good friends of mine. Also, their friends and everybody from Bulgaria and Greece was super nice and friendly to me, it was a pleasure to be there and I would love to come again next year. We have to see how we can arrange it - if we find time, if I can get my bike there because it’s 20 hours’ drive and it’s not easy to get there but we will try to manage it.
I suppose it depends on the championships you are competing in.
Yeah, it depends on a lot of things but for sure it is on our mind and we are planning to do it. I think we can do it in April as normally then is the season opening in Serres. So, if everything goes right and I am riding in Endurance and IDM Championships we will have Le Mans in the middle of April and then the first race in IDM at the beginning of May, so we need to see whether we can arrange it. If not, we will come in October.
People are excited about you because you are humble, you don’t look down on the others. At the same time, you are riding that motorcycle brilliantly, it’s pleasure to watch you – some of the other competitors even came to take a photo with you.
That’s awesome, what I felt when I was down there was that the people were very open. A lot of times it is the opposite. When you come to a foreign championship and people are like - ah, who is that guy, we have to beat him. For sure everybody wants to win, this is normal, but also with Martin Choy, who is supported by my mechanics in the IDM, we have a good relationship, we even went out to party on Monday in Sofia. Everybody is very friendly, very interested and open and it is beautiful.
Tell me about your fastest lap on track, do you think that you could go below that record? Did you do any mistakes while you were pushing your bike to the limits?
Actually, in this particular lap I didn’t do any big mistakes. For sure it was not a bad lap but we were already below the 1.17th in the warm up because we put new tires as the conditions were so good. But then in every lap I had somebody to overtake and somebody was in front of me, so I couldn’t finish the lap but on the data we were on course for 16-th for sure. That’s the only thing that was a bit upsetting for me for this weekend because I know we could have done it but that also gives me a reason to come back.
So, without a traffic you can do 1,16?
Yes, but you know, it is always like if I say now I can go for 1,16 and next time the conditions are not like this…it depends on a lot of things but for sure I think is possible.
Is this your second time you ride at Serres circuit?
Yes, I was there last year in April but with a bike from a friend of my mechanics which was a Kawasaki and I didn’t know the bike, the track and the tires were also new, so this was like groving in. And with my bike I just felt a lot better and I think also the conditions were better and we found a pretty good rhythm very fast.
Is this the bike you compete in the IDM championship?
No, it’s not. This is my private training bike that I use for practice. Now we will try to do some track days in Spain in winter to stay in shape with it. I bought it in 2022, from the team that I ride in the IDM but it was fully stock. And then we changed the brake calipers, the brake disks, because the brakes were fading with the original ones. We’ve also changed the exhaust and the radiator, because both were getting too hot. And for the race in Serres, we’ve changed the suspension and the rear shock. But that’s it, the electronics are stock (original ECU) and the forks are stock, the swingarm, everything.
Electronics are stock as well?
It’s a stock dashboard and ECU. We just made a flash which gives us a little more option to work with but it is still the original ECU.
What are the plans for the next year, which are the championships you are going to participate?
If everything goes like we wanted to, we would go for German championship - IDM again with BMW and also for the Endurance world championship in stock category like Martin does.
You know Martin from endurance championship?
Actually, the first time I met him was in Serres in 2022. I know him because Kaloyan, my mechanic, is also Martin’s mechanic in BMU and met him there. Then he crashed in practice on Friday and broke his right hand and then his team in Endurance called me to step in for him and this is how we get to know each other and got to ride together.
What are your goals in IDM championship?
For sure the goal is to get back on the podium which I did last year and we were fighting for top 3 in the championship until I had my big injury. And yeah, the goal is to go ahead where we stopped last year, so fighting for the podium and going for the top five if everything goes well.
Could you tell me more about this injury, how it happened and are you fully fit right now.
The injury was quite big, I broke three vertebras in my back and also my foot. It was in Schleiz, a German track which is quite scary and dangerous because it’s half road racing - you go through the fields and regular roads and I crashed on the worst place to crash on this track. I was fighting for the podium, I was fourth and I didn’t even try to overtake the guy in front because it is a very dangerous part of the track and I was just too close. He closed the throttle a little bit and I just hit him with 270 km. Then we started tumbling and I was going through the gravel and grass with 270 km which was very nasty. So, I am very lucky to be in this shape and to ride again because it was not clear that I can do it.
I am sure it was super tough even on psychological level to accept what happened and move on.
First, when I was in the hospital when I had the surgery, everything was okay, because I was happy just not to be dead and not to be in a wheelchair. But then in the last race of the IDM, I was on the grand stand, watching, where I’ve witnessed a friend of mine crash and die. That was one month after my injury. And then, last year in September and October, a lot of racers died, one guy in the British Championship, one guy in the Spanish championship, my friend in the German championship, one guy in the Supersport 300 World championship and it was giving me bad thoughts about: is this safe to do and should I continue. However after a few months passed I got this desire to go on the bike and get in shape and for sure it paid off.
What do your parents think about your racing career?
They are super supportive, they supported me from the start and are still there, if they can’t go to the race, they are watching it. They invest in it, try to help me and support me the best possible way. Without them I wouldn’t be here today. And still, they say it’s my decision if I want to continue or not.
How did your relationship with motorcycles begin?
Actually, it came from my father. He was a rider, just doing track days for fun with his brother - they did some motocross as well. I was growing up from the beginning with bikes and when I was 4 or 5, I tried to ride a small motocross bike for the first time. I think I crashed immediately after 10 meters. We did some motocross together with my parents and with my uncle, I was doing some national races but then I had one crash on a motocross where I was knocked out for 5 minutes. I woke up in the ambulance - it was very scary, I was maybe 10 years old. After this I was getting very nervous before every race start and decided just to do it as a hobby. And then when I was 14, my father bought a road bike again to go on the asphalt race track and I was just watching him and he said: “Do you want to ride it?”. It was a BMW 1000 RR. It was very powerful but I wanted to ride it and I did. It was like the nicest feeling a 14-year-old can have, going 250 km on a racetrack. It was very special. Then we did a few track days with this bike and I was starting to be pretty fast. On my second track day I was as fast as my father and we decided to go to the German Junior championship. This is how it all started.
What was your motorcycle in the Junior championship?
This was a KTM RC 390, very shitty bike for racing (he laughs). Back then it was without slipper clutch and every time you shift down is like t-t-t-t-t.
Yeah, my Honda is the same. Tell me about your riding style, where do you think you can improve and do you use the rear and where do you use it?
Yeah, actually, I can improve anywhere, you are never good enough and never riding perfectly. Mostly, I can improve my braking because on the exit now I feel really good, the midcorner is ok, I need to get a little better with used tires but I can squeeze the fresh one really good, so for sure the braking is the thing I am working on because I struggle a little bit to pass guys and brake really late.
And what about the rear brake – do you use it and where.
I started to use the rear brake 2 or 3 years ago. Before I was riding in IDM without rear brake - not even touching it. But then I’ve started using the thumb brake on the handlebar and this changed my riding completely. Now I use it in every corner - I always brake additionally with the rear brake and also, I am using it to stabilize the bike when I change direction. For example, you have the triple chicane in Serres, like turn 6,7,8 I think and I always push it there, release it, push it, release it, just to make the bike more stable otherwise it will get out of shape. And also, with the 1000cc bike I use it a lot on the exit to control the wheelies. With my training bike I rode in Serres I am riding without wheelie control because on the stock electronics it’s not working well. It’s like this - when you have a wheelie, it cuts it down completely. So, I switch it off and control the wheelies with the thumb brake.
Do you use it in the middle of the corner just to turn the bike more?
Actually, I am using the front and the rear together. I release the rear when I release the front. I use them both from the beginning until the end of the braking. It’s pretty crazy because I adapted to these the last 2.5 years and now, I really struggle to ride a bike without a rear brake. For example, in the Endurance world championship we don’t have thumb brake and in the right corners I really struggle to use the foot brake, so I have problems to get the bike into the corner, change direction. I think every fast rider should use the rear brake, because it just helps you a lot to control the bike.
Do you have a coach?
I had, I was working with Max Neukirchner, he is German rider, he was riding in WSBK. I met him in 2018 and he coached me for one weekend and now I started to work in his riding school as instructor, so I am teaching with him. When he is attending the IDM races, he takes a look and gives me some tips but he actually helped me a lot in 2018-2019 and now he tells me that I am doing it pretty right.
What should a competitor do before a race start in order to cope with the pressure?
I think that is very difficult because every person is different, and for somebody might work to relax and try to calm down, another one needs to push himself. For me it is kind of a mix - I need to be relaxed before the race, to not get nervous, but then before the start I am listening to some music, trying to push myself a little bit to get to the mode. For sure it’s important to find the right level of activeness - if you are too calm, you will not push from the beginning, if you are too nervous, you will make mistakes. So, you need to be in the middle.
Do you have a favorite song that you listen before the start?
Yes, I do actually. This is a very interesting story because normally I was listening to some rock – AC/DC, Metallica. For the first time, when I did my comeback race this summer in the IDM, from the moment I started the warm up I didn’t know which song I would play. And then I just decided to try something new and I played one calm and emotional song. It’s not famous, it’s Brazilian song. Charlez Oliveira, he was UFC Champion, and had that song while walking out into the arena and this is not a typical song I would listen before, it is very calm but it was very emotional, I was listening to that song and I was not nervous at all. This song calmed me a lot and gave me motivation.
Who is your favorite MotoGP rider and why?
If you asked me 2 years ago, I would say Valentino Rossi for sure, because I grew up with him winning and he is open and nice personality, that’s why I like him. Now it’s hard to tell. For sure I like Jack Miller, he is just nice and straight forward guy and also, I am impressed by Francesco Bagnaia how he is managing to be so calm and still push so much and always be on the limit this is very impressive.