In 2002 Mickael Maschio and Kawasaki claimed the 125cc motocross world title after an epic battle – fifteen years later the Frenchman is back in the paddock with the Monster Energy Kawasaki MX2 Team.
Mickael, who started racing in 1988, never gave up during his career and finally reached his dream after 14 years hard competition when he beat Belgians Steve Ramon and Patrick Caps in the 2002 world series. A member of the legendary Kawasaki Racing Team under the leadership of Jan de Groot, Mickael returned to the 125 class after a couple of seasons in the 250cc series where his best ranking was sixth in 1999. His slender light build was suited perfectly to the KX125 and together with Jan he decided to return to the smaller capacity class for the 2002 season in an era where there were no age regulations. After winning four Grand Prix and posting top five results in nine of the 12 events he capped a perfect season by delivering a second world title to Kawasaki in the class after Sébastien Tortelli’s success in 1996.
A broken leg early in 2006 ended his racing career when he had just turned thirty and, as many other leading riders, ‘Mickey’ stayed involved in the sport with Team CLS Kawasaki as rider coach for one season before retiring.
“When I stopped racing I worked as a trainer with CLS – it was very interesting to work with young riders but I was travelling too much and that was a problem. I wanted to see my daughters growing up, so I stopped this activity and founded a company to refurbish houses together with my brother. At least I had a normal activity, just like 90 per cent of the population, and could spend my weekends with my family and our friends,” explained the likeable Frenchman who made a comeback to the MX paddock this season.
“Earlier this year I had the opportunity to see Stephen Rubini practising, and he impressed me a lot. I knew the family as his father was my training mechanic, and I offered him some advice and help; the relationship was so good that I came to Spain to coach him. He performed well there, even if he finally lost the win due to a small mistake with the yellow flag! Then I went to the French GP, the British GP and so on as I wanted to find a good ride for his future, and of course, I spoke with Kawasaki where I still know many people from my racing time.”
One discussion led to another and Mickael was enjoying being back in the paddock so much that he finally found a deal with Jean Jacques Luisetti, the Monster Energy Kawasaki MX2 team owner.
“During the past six months, I enjoyed a lot being back in the paddock, and after talking with my wife I took the decision to come back part time with the Monster Energy Kawasaki MX2 Racing Team. When Jean Jacques explained his new project to me, I thought that it was a kind of dream for me, Fred and Stephen as the new workshop is based only three kilometres from our home. Stephen, Fred and I have known each other for a long time and are living in this area, so we have the perfect conditions to work. I will take care of the training programme of the riders, and also work with Fred (Lavergne) to develop the bikes.
“It’s a great opportunity, and I’m really excited to work with Kawasaki again as I had my best racing seasons with this company. I raced for several brands in my career, but I got my world title with Kawasaki and we built a strong relationship, not only with Jan and Ellen De Groot but also with people from KHI and Kawasaki Europe. For me this company is different than the others – the human relations are stronger here than in any other.”
So don’t be surprised to see Mickael on the tracks next season alongside Petar Petrov, Adam Sterry and Stephen Rubini, each of whom will benefit from his great racing experience!