Ken de Dycker is in a very interesting position currently; he is not expected to win. Does that sound peculiar? The situation is somewhat bizarre. The Red Bull KTM team is (and has been in recent years) considered to be the definition of excellence; everything about the team is completed to the highest standard. So, why is it that Ken de Dycker (a rider that in the past has stood on top of the podium) has been hired to protect his teammates perfect record?
What I find strange about the situation is that Pit Beirer (the KTM Motorsports Director) did admit in the press release that Ken de Dycker was hired because he would not challenge his teammates (Antonio Cairoli) position as the defending champion, and he would not disrupt the harmony of the team. Do not get me wrong, I admire his honesty; but normally, a team would deliver the usual spiel about a rider shooting for a title. This is why it was a surprise, when the announcement was made at the tail end of last year.
I am now beginning to wonder what role Ken de Dycker will play in the MX1 FIM Motocross World Championship this year. Will we see the same situation that we saw with Jeremy Van Horebeek and Jeffrey Herlings last year? Where one rider will shamelessly let their superior teammate by? I do believe that what went on between Herlings and Van Horebeek last year was mainly because of their friendship away from the track, rather than team orders. But, it does sound similar to what is mentioned in the press release referenced earlier.
What if Ken de Dycker and Antonio Cairoli are engaged in a fierce battle for the lead on the final lap? In all honesty, I do not think that any team orders will be enforced. Although, Pit has stated that Ken will not disrupt the dominance of Antonio; I do not think that they will expect Ken to give up a race win, because in the grand scheme of things a moto win won’t mean a lot, will it? However in the latter stages of the year, if Toni is in the position to win the title (which he surely will be, it’s Antonio Cairoli!) team orders could be a factor. But, they would be for any team in the paddock.
Without going off on a tangent, I do wonder what Red Bull KTM would do if Antonio Cairoli were to succumb to injury. Effectively, the team are putting all of their eggs in one basket. I do think that Ken de Dycker will be a podium contender for the duration of 2013. But, in all honesty I do not expect him to be a title contender. If something were to stop Antonio from winning the title, KTM would not have another title contender to fall back on. Some of the other factory teams have two title candidates beneath their awning, which would surely give them a better shot at success if something were to happen to either rider.
So, back to the subject at hand, can Ken de Dycker win? Initially, I thought yes, of course he can. However, just think about how many title contenders there will be in the MX1 class this year. Where exactly will the riders like Ken de Dycker fit in? Ken could have a consistent presence on the podium, undoubtedly. But so could ten other riders. What separates him from his rivals? If everything goes his way, he could have a breakthrough ride and walk away with a moto win, no doubt about it.
Ken will be overlooked by most in the build up to Qatar, but that is only because of the influx of rookies moving into the class. I would put Ken down as ‘the best of the rest’ in the second tier, at the moment. However, he could end up battling with the title favourites; I would not be surprised.
Most definitely, I can see Ken de Dycker having the best year of his career this year, for a few reasons. I do think that we have heard more about Ken and his winter preparation in the off-season; perhaps this is because of the use of social networking sites. His fitness has been an issue in the past; previously he has struggled to last the duration of a forty-minute moto. However, Red Bull KTM have him on a great program, undoubtedly (one that mirrors his superior teammate, Antonio Cairoli); hence why the lanky Belgian might be one to watch this year.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Picture courtesy of KTM Images
Pit Beirer has explained to MX Vice that Ken is expected to do as good as possible this year; it is the team’s goal to help him achieve the best results of his career.