Ken De Dycker interview

Ken De Dycker burst onto the world motocross scene back in 2004. Surprising the likes of Joel Smets and Stefan Everts with some solid rides in the German based Sarholz Honda-team. I still remember the first time I interviewed the tall Belgian. He has just had a battle with Belgian legend Joel Smets, and neither was really happy with each other.

De Dycker wasn’t going to back down, despite the fact Smets was already a multiple world motocross champion and a big name in the sport. I knew right then that the next 10 years would bring some magic moments for the likeable rider from Neerpelt in Belgium.

A Motocross of Nations victory in 2013, not to mention five GP wins, his first coming in 2007 at the Grand Prix of Sweden, and his last in 2010 at the Grand Prix of Germany.

His happiest years probably came with the CAS Honda team in England, where he rode in 2006, and 2007, but he would also race for the Factory Yamaha, Suzuki, and KTM teams throughout his career. His best result was a third-place finish in the 2008 FIM Motocross World Championship season riding for the Suzuki Factory team.

For the 2010 season, he switched to the Yamaha team and remained there for only one season, achieving one GP victory.

In 2012 De Dycker rode for the factory Red Bull KTM team partnering Antonio Cairoli. It was his best season for some time putting in good consistent results, finishing on the podium several times and finally ending a creditable 5th in the world championship.

The 2013 season was an even bigger success seeing him finish 3rd in MX1. He’s established himself as a reliable back up rider for the then eight-time world champion Cairoli. He competed for Red Bull KTM in the 2014 season.

Injuries and lack of factory support in 2015, 2016 and 2017 saw his results drop and the motivation to race Grand Prix motocross final disappeared, this his retirement announcement this week.

De Dycker represented his country in the Motocross des Nations on many occasions, his first at the 2007 Motocross des Nations in Budds Creek in America. In his first race, he recorded a second position behind Ryan Villopoto, and was the first open class rider. In his second race, he could only manage 11th overall against the MX1 riders, and second out of the open riders. This was good enough for him to take second individually in the open class and help Belgium to third overall behind the USA and France.

He followed this up the following year at the 2008 Motocross des Nations at Donnington Park, Great Britain with a more consistent performance of 8th in his first race and 4th in his second. This time out he filled the MX1 berth and again finished second in class behind France’s Sebastien Pourcel. For the second year in a row it was once again good enough to put Belgium third behind the USA and France.

He made his return in the MXoN in 2012, held in his home country at the sandy Lommel circuit. He returned to the Open category and was partnered by Clement Desalle and Jeremy Van Horebeek.

Aboard his KTM he recorded a 3rd in his first race and a 5th in his second. This gave him third in the open class behind Jeffrey Herlings and Tanel Leok, it was good enough to help Team Belgium to second overall behind Germany.

For the 2013 edition in Teutschenthal Germany, Belgium opted for the same team as the year before, but this time de Dycker swapped positions with Desalle to take on the incredibly competitive MX1 class. The Belgium team went into the final race with a slender advantage over USA, at the first corner disaster struck when Desalle went down injured without completing a lap. De Dycker had a bad start and found himself back in the pack, but, in one of the most memorable moments in MXDN history he charged through to take a remarkable 2nd position behind Antonio Cairoli. This meant that Belgium could drop Desalle’s DNF and claim a slender 3-point victory – their first since 2004. It also meant that Ken took 3rd overall in the MX1 class.

MXLarge: I guess this time always comes. How do you feel having made the decision to stop?

De Dycker: I feel ok, I am happy that it’s all over. All the travelling and not being at home, I didn’t like it anymore.

MXlarge: You had a great career, won a bunch of Grand Prix’s. What period of your career did you enjoy the most, or have the best results?

De Dycker: I think, like, the days with CAS or at the beginning was good, because you had less pressure, but the good results, like in the des Nations and everything. That was nice, but hard to say, but over the years I had a few of them.

MXlarge: I know when you rode for CAS and I was their press guy at the time, it was always a really nice atmosphere, a family atmosphere. Everyone got on and everyone was happy. Can you explain to me that period?

De Dycker: That is the nicest thing about motocross and the most thing I liked, the big family and big friendships around the paddock, and not having something like that, that is what makes the motocross less interesting.

MXlarge: The last years you have had a lot of injuries, and once you are out of a factory team, it seems like it’s impossible to race up front. Was that what it felt like, no factory ride and riding in privateer teams was really hard work?

De Dycker: It’s a little harder work, but still no problem. If you can train and motivate yourself, you can race at that pace on that bike also. That isn’t the reason, its more the injuries after injury, and that took me away from it.

MXlarge: I remember you came into last year enthusiastic and had worked hard in the winter, but then you got injured. When did you make the decision that you had had enough of GP racing?

De Dycker: This winter I started riding again and I wasn’t getting faster than the 125cc guy or the MX2 rider, that was in the Jtech team, and from then on, I thought it was just going to get better, but it didn’t much. I changed to the Honda 24MX team, but I never got the level and I didn’t have any results.

MXlarge: Why Assen, why not race in France and finish there?

De Dycker: Actually, I thought about it before I started training this winter. I already knew I was going to stop, even if I had a factory ride for next year, I still would have stopped. I want to experience the other things in life. It wasn’t about Assen, and if I didn’t have a contract for my gear, I would have stopped after Lommel. I am over the travelling, that is why I decided after Assen I would stop and not go to France.

MXlarge: So, you have retired, are you excited, do you know what the future will bring as far as a replacement for motocross?

De Dycker: There is relief, it feels weird. Yesterday I was working at the house the whole time, and today I don’t really have anything planned. It’s weird, that there won’t be a race this weekend or I won’t be training for something. I don’t have anything lined up, I still want to race in Belgium or Holland, close by, nice tracks just for fun. I am looking for sponsors to do that.

MXlarge: So, you will still do the Dutch championships maybe?

De Dycker: Yes, I think so. I will do some races; just which ones I like and depends on what bike it will be. If I don’t have a good bike, then I can better not race in the sand in the Dutch championships, there isn’t any point in that.

MXLarge: Looking at the MXGP class now. I as a fan am often blown away how tough it looks. Not just for the slower guys, but also for the top guys. It is so competitive and so cut-throat. How do you see it compared to all your years of racing?

De Dycker: It seems like, the level is for sure higher and more riders doing the same speed, and not everyone is consistent. I think it’s much higher than when I was at my top level, from five or six years back.

MXlarge: Last question. How would you like to be remembered by people?

De Dycker: I always, even now, sometimes I think, I am the guy who I am, being there and having time for people. For me that is the most important, that I was nice to everyone and had time for everyone.