Clement Desalle interview

Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Clement Desalle has for many years been one of the elite of the MXGP class. His battles with Antonio Cairoli four or five years ago were legendary, and he was strong enough to finish runner-up behind the Italian legend on three occasions (2010, 2012, 2013) and third in 2011.

Having started his GP career 11 years ago the tough Belgian is now considered a veteran of the class, and his 19 GP victories place him amongst some of the greats of the sport, but that world championship has eluded him.

With complete health, and very motivated Desalle sat down with David Bulmer and talked about what he hopes for in 2017.

MXLarge: Clement, how are you feeling coming into the season, are you excited?

Desalle: Yes, of course, I am really excited. I want to have some good results of course and I am working for that. I am excited. The winter went so quick, after new year, it just felt like a couple of weeks before the season would start.

MXlarge: And the pre-season races, are they important for results or just preparing for Qatar?

Desalle: You know, that is what I said. I want to keep it safe until Qatar, because last year I had a bad experience. I want to arrive in Qatar with the best feeling possible. That is my goal for the end of February. It is always good to race the International races.

MXlarge: How are you feeling, are you 100% fit?

Desalle: For the moment we are following the plan, I am really healthy, but it isn’t always easy, sometimes a small thing can happen, like you get sick or something. With this weather it is easy to get sick, if you go cycling somewhere and you get a bit cold or something. It is difficult to get everything good, you know. That is what I try for the moment.

MXLarge: When do you want to peak, in Qatar, or maybe mid-season, where do you try and have 100% fitness and as good as you can be.

Desalle: It’s a good question, because it will be a really long year, like 19 GPs. I want to have a good feeling, but I need to keep in mind the season is really long, but to go to the end, with a strong feeling will be difficult. I want this very much and I want to have some consistent results. This year I am really focused on the starts, you know, I want good starts. I am working on it, and it’s one of my biggest points for 2017. The top 12 are really fast and can win a moto, but you need good starts and you need to be fast of course. You need a good bike and you need a good physical condition. That will be the key, to get maximum points, and try and do the best possible.

MXlarge: You are a racer, and of course you want to win, but maybe top five early, so you are not losing too many points, and still be there at the end of the season?

Desalle: Yes, that is right, what you said. For sure I want to win races, but its not a disaster if you go 5th and 6th. Sometimes its better to slow up and get 8th or 9th, and get some points, than have a big crash or something. Its good to go on it when you can and win when you can, its always good, but the same time, with experience its good to think for the long championship. Two opinions, like you said. I need to think about all the races.

MXlarge: You have races years where there were just one or two guys winning GPs, but it seems like this year there are like 10 guys who could win a GP. Is that a good thing, how do you see it playing out?

Desalle: It’s a good thing, but it makes things harder. That is why the start is really important. It’s a good thing, but so many good riders in such a small sport, you have to fight harder and there is tension in the top ten.