Admittedly, I believed that Jeremy van Horebeek was going to struggle this year, as I thought that he was not ready for the switch to MX1. Why? Well, we will get to that in a bit. It is now quite clear that I had no reason to be concerned about his ability during his transition to the premier MX1 division, as he was really quite impressive – more so than he was on the 250f, in my opinion.
I was very surprised to see that the Kawasaki Racing team had picked him up following 2012, as I did not think that he was going to find his way onto a top tier effort straight away. In the MX2 class last year, riders like Tommy Searle overshadowed him quite frequently – he did not have much of an impact. In fact, van Horebeek garnered the most attention for adhering to team orders, rather than his finishes. So, because of this, I thought that the Belgian would have to prove himself on a 450f before landing on a factory squad.
However, the decision to sign van Horebeek was a good one evidently, as he really came into his own this year. I think that this is because he did not have the distraction of his best friend being on the other side of the rig, and he didn’t have the pressure of team orders either. I do think that being back on a Kawasaki must have helped him, as well – it was a bike that he has past experience with, and fond memories of. In fact Jeremy first caught my eye when he was on a 250f CLS Kawasaki back in 2010.
Admittedly, it was a slow start for Jeremy van Horebeek in the MX1 class this year, as he did not break into the top ten until round four in Italy. But a broken finger hindered him at the beginning of the season, which is actually much harder to ride with than you would think, evidently. Honestly, the Belgian was a different rider from the fourth round; he dropped out of the top ten in just three races following the GP of Trentino. There was a seven round span in the middle of the season (Portugal to Finland) where Jeremy finished inside the top five in at least one moto, which was when I started looking at him in a different light.
Although he seemed to tail off a bit at the end of the season, he did achieve his greatest race finish in moto two in the Czech Republic – a second. Jeremy later matched that in the second moto at Matterley Basin, also. Some may argue that his season was lackluster, as he failed to climb onto the overall podium. But the speed was there for everyone to see; I am sure that it will happen soon enough for him.
Perhaps his results tailed off in the second half of the season, because the pressure of trying to decide what squad to join in 2014 began to mount? Jeremy was one of (if not) the hottest properties heading into next year, as his solid rides opened the eyes of most. It is quite clear that he will not be returning to the Kawasaki Racing team, as they have already replaced him with Steven Frossard. Although it has not been officially announced yet, I believe that he will be filling the spot left vacant by Frossard beneath the Monster Energy Yamaha awning – I expect to see this announced in the coming weeks. Whether this would be a good switch or not remains to be seen, as the YZ450f is a troublesome machine, and one that not every riders gets along with.
However, before he can get accustomed to his new steed, he has the Motocross des Nations to overcome. Interestingly, van Horebeek will be dropping back down to the smaller 250f for this event, which was certainly a wise choice when looking at the bigger picture. I am slightly skeptical about how he will fare (individually), as it must be a hard switch after getting used to having all of that power available on the 450f. If he can put together some solid rides, he could help his team land on the top of the podium, which would be a great way to end a successful 2013 season for Jeremy van Horebeek.
Words by Lewis Phillips