Factory Suzuki rider Kevin Strijbos has returned to Europe after almost a month of training and riding in southern California. The 28 year old has come through one of the best preparation periods of his career in a bid to improve his third position overall in the 2014 FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship.
This time last year the Belgian was patiently going through recovery and rehab from a broken pelvis but now feels he is ahead of the game after electing to spend most of January in the USA.
“It’s been great and ideal for riding,” he said. “I only started to get on the bike two weeks before the GPs last season and I didn’t know where I was and what speed I had. Now I feel good and have done a lot; I hope it will pay off in Qatar.”
Strijbos was joined by members of the Suzuki crew including MXGP team-mates Clement Desalle and Glenn Coldenhoff and overseen by Sport Manager Joel Smets (the former world champion saying he had not stayed so long in the United States since training for the 1997 500cc season).
The group regularly toured the circuits around the Temecula region of the state. “The tracks are nice but they are also flat and smooth,” Strijbos explained, commenting while at the second Anaheim AMA Supercross. “A lot of people ride in the morning and head home at midday. So we tried to go later when the ground would be rougher. Anyway it has been good to work on speed. As soon as we go to Europe again then we will be in the sand.”
Suzuki also benefitted from the decision to crate the works RM-Z450s that allowed the riders to test as well train. “We shipped our bikes from Europe, which was great because it is more beneficial to do it that way than just use stock machinery,” Strijbos says. “We did some testing for the GP here in September [at Glen Helen] and that was another positive.”
There are rumours in Belgium that the size and prominence of Rockstar Energy’s presence with the factory team could be revised for 2015. Confirmation is bound to arrive when official photoshoot images are released or when Suzuki compete in pre-season events for the first time. At the moment Desalle and Strijbos are scheduled for Hawkstone Park [UK], Valence [France] and Mantova [Italy] “just to find a little bit of rhythm for the races,” Strijbos offers.