Kevin Strijbos will join the Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 ranks for the third time in his career for the 2013 FIM Motocross World Championship alongside Clement Desalle. And overseeing the training programmes and progression of both athletes will be former Suzuki team racer and ex five-times World Champion Joel Smets.
Strijbos, who blazed back into wider consciousness this season with three podium results in the premier MX1 class, sixth position overall; and the MX1 British Championship title, will again steer the works RM-Z450 alongside fellow countryman Desalle
The 27 year old emerged onto the international scene as a Suzuki rider with appearances on the European stage racing the RM125 and then into Grand Prix as a 16 year old piloting the works RM250. Strijbos gave the RMZ450 its first ever GP win in 2005 and clinched two championship runner-up slots in the MX1 class before he entered a tough period where injury kept him largely on the side-lines. Riding for a privateer squad in 2012 Strijbos enjoyed a career re-birth and proved that the most experienced rider in the paddock still had a lot to offer.
“I’ve had a good year and I feel I still have something to give,” said Strijbos, who also rode the factory machine for several select rounds in 2011 as a replacement for the injured Steve Ramon and Desalle. “I’ve proved that I get on well with the bike and did OK last year when stepping in for Steve. Going back to the team really feels like home. I know the people, the place and the way to work and for sure I hope it will be third time lucky for me!”
With Desalle set to enter his fourth year in ‘yellow,’ Strijbos almost ‘part of the furniture’ and Smets well aware of the professionalism and workings of the Belgian crew after his two years competing with Strijbos on the RM-Z in 2004 and 2005, the trio will form an exciting and potent group at the heart of the Rockstar Energy-backed collective.
“When I stopped Grand Prix racing I needed to step away for a while and mentally refresh but after a while we started our youth development programme in Belgium and we made some decent progress with young riders,” said Smets. “As well as doing things like the Motocross of Nations I learned a lot in that time about coaching and putting my ideas across and now I’m excited about the challenge of doing it at the highest level again. I have always kept in good contact with Sylvain and Suzuki and we were talking about a role similar to this for almost a year, so it is great to make it happen and I really hope I can contribute again to an extremely good team.”
Said Team Owner Sylvain Geboers: “With Clement and Kevin we have two different riders with two different approaches to the championship and, importantly, we all know each other and the best way to work, so I’m happy Kevin is back on board and showed in 2012 that he can still run at the front of a series that has a lot of talent and fast riders.
“With Joel coming back into the frame we have a strong nucleus in place and I am hopeful of a memorable season in 2013.”