CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING YOUR SEVENTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. Thank you, but I take every season as new and am always motivated to do my best. One day, when I lose this motivation, I will stop and do something else. I race because of the passion. Ever since I was a kid, this is what I have wanted to do. When I no longer have that passionate feeling, then I will stop. For me, this is not really even work. I have the privilege that I can ride my motorcycle and earn money by doing it. Many people have to work in a foundry from 7 in the morning until 6 at night.
WAS IT EASIER OR MORE DIFFICULT TO WIN THE TITLE THIS YEAR? Actually, it was a little bit easier, although at first I thought it was going to be more difficult because of guys like Gautier Paulin and Clement DeSalle. Paulin seems to have gotten much more used to the 450. DeSalle has been good the past few years, and my teammate Ken De Dyker was also very strong. But, I was always consistent and usually never missed the podium all year. So, always getting on the podium has been a big advantage to winning the title again.
THE EUROPEAN MEDIA ALWAYS PREDICTS THAT YOU WILL BE BEATEN FOR THE
CHAMPIONSHIP. IS THAT TOUGH TO HEAR? Yes, often they say that this rider or that rider will beat me and win the championship; however, I am always very consistent and usually will not make mistakes. At some races, the other riders may be faster than me, but in the other races, they make too many mistakes and lose all those points.
DO YOU HAVE A TARGET ON YOUR BACK? I think that it may create more pressure, as the other guys are always trying hard to beat me. It is harder for me to come up with new things to stay ahead of them. I hope that I can continue to find these new things for the future—to win more GPs and championships. I think that Jeffrey Herlings will come to the 450 class in a couple years, and that should be very interesting. For the future of the sport, I think it’s great that there will be more competition.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO RACE THE KTM 350SXF? I love this bike, and it suits my riding style perfectly. A few times I tried the 450, but I just prefer the 350. I was born with the 350, and I put a lot of work into it. I helped with the development, so it feels a little bit like my baby. I want to keep riding this bike and do more winning. I did ride the 450 at the very last GP to test some new parts on it. Normally,
at the end of the season, I like to try new parts for the following year. We had a lot of new parts for the 450, so I rode it at Lierop. I didn’t feel that comfortable in the first moto and made some mistakes. We made some changes for moto two, and it felt a lot better. Still, the 350 is the bike that I prefer. At this point, I plan to race the 350 next year, but we will still do some further testing.
WILL YOU EVER RACE IN THE UNITED STATES? It would be nice to come to the U.S. and race, but I haven’t felt the best on U.S. Supercross tracks. I couldn’t train in Italy for Supercross. I wasn’t born on that style of track, and while I was able to get a contract to race in the U.S. a few years ago, I think that it was too late and I was too old. You can see kids winning Supercross races at the ages of 16 and 17. I had to make a choice, and I didn’t feel that racing the U.S. Nationals was good for me.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 2014 SEASON? There are always other riders working on things to improve. This year we had Paulin, DeSalle, De Dyker and even Bobryshev coming on strong near the end. If they do not make as many mistakes as they have this past year, 2014 will be a real fight. Hopefully, like in the past, I will be ready for the battle! ;
By Jim Kimball