Red Bull KTM’s Ken De Dycker is currently working to get his career back on course after a torrid 2014 plagued by the effects of a broken wrist.
The 30 year old is due to ride the 2016 pre-production 450SX-F again in Rome in the coming days and claims he is still trying to find his way back to full fitness on the bike.
De Dycker badly snapped the bones above his left hand last winter. The Belgian not only missed the first five Grands Prix of the season but was a shadow of the resurgent rider of 2013 (who went on to finish third in the final MX1 championship and win the MX of Nations) due to the fact that he would lose feeling in his fingers less than half way through MXGP motos.
An operation after a surprise podium appearance at Lommel for his home round in August curtailed the year and he has been eying 2015 preparation since that date. “I had the operation to remove the plates after Lommel and Claudio [De Carli, Red Bull KTM MXGP Team Manager] told me to take it easy and just get ready for riding before the tests,” he says. “I have been testing and riding in Rome and will go back again in a few days.”
At one stage it looked as though De Dycker’s position on the factory KTM team was in jeopardy, particularly when Tommy Searle was signed to sit alongside world champion Cairoli on the 350SX-F.
Now into his 12th term in the premier class the former national champ will still be the Austrian’s principle representative for the 450cc machine in what will be his fourth campaign in ‘orange’. De Dycker has already had some track time with the lighter ’16 version.
“It is quite different actually,” he comments. “The chassis, suspension and even the engine changes mean that it is a completely new bike to ride. I would not say the feeling of turning the bike is different…but the reduced weight is very noticeable.”
De Dycker’s main goal now is to improve the resistance of the troublesome wrist, now free of metalwork. “It is not 100% but I am building up to that. I don’t think I will have that problem [of the hand becoming numb as in 2014] but I am still trying to get strength in my hand and fingers.”
At the age of 30 there is little doubt that ‘Keeno’ cannot afford to suffer another term of injury, particularly if he wants to retain his status as a works rider.
Returning to the form that notched six podium finishes and two moto wins in 2013 and put his name back at the forefront of MXGP has to be the benchmark…although he admits that it might take some time to come around.
De Dycker will wade through a comprehensive warm-up for the FIM series by competing in all three rounds of the Italian Championship beginning on February 1 in Sardinia and running for three successive weekends.
“I hope I can do it,” he says referring to the bid to becoming a GP force again. “I have to lose the feeling of being scared [due to the effects of the injury] and it might take a couple of races. There are three of us in the team now and being with Tony is a big help because he has been the best guy for a couple of years. I hope the Italian races will be helpful for that and I will be in good shape for Qatar.”