It was not too long ago that Kevin Strijbos was at rock bottom, as he was on a privateer team and struggling to break into the top ten. However, Strijbos has seemingly rebounded now, as he has just finished his best season in a while. Although he has enjoyed a reasonable amount of success this year, the race leaders have overshadowed him for the most part – hence why I believe that he has been under the radar.
Perhaps you could argue that he was not as strong as last year, as he won one moto in 2012. Although he failed to top the podium at any point this season, he was a consistent threat for podium positions, which is something that he has struggled with since 2007. It seems like he is always moving forward, which means that he could be even stronger in 2014. Perhaps the Rockstar Energy Suzuki rider could rise to the level of his superior teammate next year? If he could do that, he would be very close to where he was before his dip in form, all those years ago.
Fortunately, Kevin Strijbos will be staying with the Rockstar Energy Suzuki outfit in 2014. It is obviously the best place for him, as he has enjoyed his most successful years with the squad. You would think that he is now nearing the end of his career, as he has been around for ages it seems. Astonishingly, next year will be his tenth season in MX1. But, Kevin jumped straight into the MX1 class when he entered the professional ranks. So, he is actually only twenty-eight years old. Although he is nearing the end, Strijbos surely has a couple more years left in him to achieve some of his personal goals.
Kevin Strijbos is certainly an accomplished rider, as he has five GP victories to his name. But, it has been six years now since his last GP victory, which happened at Lierop (coincidentally) back in 2007. So going into Lierop this past weekend, Strijbos wanted to return to the top of the box at a track that he has fond memories of. The GP of Benelux was a bit bittersweet for the Belgian, as he had two goals heading into – he wanted to secure fourth in the standings, and win the GP. Although Kevin managed to achieve one of those goals (he ended up fourth in the championship), he just missed out on the overall victory by one measly point.
In the hours leading up to the two points paying MX1 motos, it looked like the GP win could be obtainable for Strijbos, as he was impressive on the Saturday; the Belgian had the fastest time in the pre-qualifying practice. In the opening moto on Sunday, Strijbos rode great early on, as he attempted to sprint away from the field. The Belgian later admitted that he should have paced himself, as he exerted himself too early in the moto, which is not good around a track as tough as Lierop. Eventually, he recovered for second, so he had a shot at the overall going into race two.
Intriguingly, Kevin Strijbos made a similar mistake in moto two, as he failed to sustain a pace for the entire forty-minute moto. In race one Kevin went too fast, too early. But in race two, he went slower in the early stages, in an attempt to save energy. However, he lost too much time, because of that – he also struggled to build his pace again. Eventually he did regain some positions at the end of the race, as he moved up from sixth to second, in just five laps. It was a great ride for him in the end, however it was only good enough for second overall – two seconds were not quite good enough to beat Shaun Simpson.
Kevin will now be able to relax and enjoy a couple of weeks of rest, as he wasn’t selected for the Belgian Motocross des Nations team. Some would argue that Joel Smets didn’t make the right decision – Kevin himself feels like he should be on the squad. But it’s hard to argue with it, as Ken finished one spot ahead of Strijbos in the MX1 series standings. Strijbos’ time to represent his country again will come, especially if he keeps progressing like he has been.
Words by Lewis Phillips