The big Dutchman bows out of world championship racing.
Two days of heavy downpour made for an unpredictable track in Assen. The manmade track inside the ‘Cathedral of speed’ was heavy and wet in some places but surprisingly dry in others. In timed practice De Dycker managed a solid 16th time, while Graulus recorded the 23rd fastest time. Graulus had a bad start in the qualifying race but could make his way up to 21st when he collided with Sven Van der Mierden. The 24MX Honda rider went down and lost so much time to get going again that he decided to pull out of the race. His team mate had already pulled out in the first lap due to technical gremlins.
Even though the Assen region in the north of Holland was blessed with better weather on Sunday the track conditions remained every bit as challenging. Hardly any surprise given the packed race schedule with five classes. Keeno got off to a great start in the opening moto. Circulating just outside the top-10 early on De Dycker gradually lost ground and was forced to pull out with a clutch problem. The popular #9 rider decided not to go out anymore for the second race, effectively ending his MXGP career on the spot. While the final curtain on Keeno’s career was little heroic the lanky Belgian was without a doubt one of the most important European riders of his generation. De Dycker made a name for himself with his speed and unique style on-track. Although he never won the world title, Ken collected one MXoN win with Team Belgium and several MXoN podiums, he scored five MX1 Grand Prix victories, finished third overall in the World Championship twice and captured MX1 titles in Great Britain, Germany and Belgium. His laidback attitude and sense of humour made him a big hit with fgans in Belgium and abroad.
Damon Graulus suffered a terrible start in the opening lap, yet bounced back well to claim 17th. In the second race the former Assen EMX250 winner circulated in 14th place to cross the line 18th.
Ken De Dycker: “That’s it, that’s all! Not a lot more I can say at this moment. After my DNF in the first moto I was very disappointed and decided to call it a day. Mentally this season has been very demanding, because of all the small problems I encountered, having to change teams during the season and so on. After competing at the highest level for 15 years things have come full circle for me. I will contemplate what to do next but I’d like some time for myself to reflect first. To be honest I haven’t enjoyed the riding as much as I always have and that’s a pity. A big thank you to everyone who has supported me all this time no matter where they are from or how they’ve helped me!”
Damon Graulus: “I’m quite pleased with my weekend. Physically I was feeling strong again for the first time in a while. Only my thumb injry bothered me but we know for many months that I’ll need surgery as soon as the season is finished.
Unfortunately I had a bad gate pick after going down in the qualifying moto. My first moto was a bit better than the second. I was caught up at the start but managed to come back to 17th from dead last. The second moto was okay, but it took me a while to get into the groove. Next weekend I’d like to finish the season strong in France.
Marc Boone, team owner and team manager 24MX Honda: “It’s sad but we understand and respect Ken’s decision to retire from MXGP earlier than anticipated. Especially when the level in MXGP is higher than ever before it was a huge challenge for him to reach his highest level againe. We thank Ken for his efforts and professionalism and like to wish him all the best in whatever his next for him.”
Next weekend the 2017 FIM MXGP World Championship will wrap up in Villars sous Ecot France.