News: Kawasaki Racing Team – MX Vice
Kawasaki has confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen and Antti Pyrhonen will run their factory program in the MXGP class from this day on, finally. The announcement contains many intriguing details worth noting as the 2022 FIM Motocross World Championship approaches. Räikkönen has pledged to be more involved with his team this year now that he is no longer competing to Formula 1. Having the motorsport legend in the paddock will be great for Kawasaki as a manufacturer, as well as the sport as a whole.
It has always been a concern that Kawasaki is withdrawing support from the FIM Motocross World Championship, but this announcement confirms that a new company has been formed in Japan that will focus solely on its factory racing efforts around the world. This will also include using the factory race team in the Grand Prix series to develop and innovate, discovering improvements that will be added to production bikes in the future. It’s a promising time for Kawasaki
Words: Press release | Main Image: Bavo Swijgers
The Kawasaki Racing Team will again compete in the FIM Motocross World Championship with a strong squad in the premier MXGP class, the 2022 series begins February 19-20 at Matterley Basin (UK).
2021 was an epic end to the season as three riders battled it out to the final round for the title and with the silver medal, led by the slimmest of margins, Romain Febvre gave Kawasaki their best result ever. the first MXGP class. The 30-year-old Frenchman will once again be the leader of KRT after signing a new two-year contract directly with the Japanese factory which will now be even more involved in the new project as the reins of the Kawasaki Racing Team pass. to Formula 1 legend Kimi Raikkonen and former Motocross Grand Prix winner Antti Pyrhonen.
Both have been involved in the sport for many years and are celebrating their tenth anniversary in MXGP this year. In fact, their first season together was on private Kawasaki machines and they are now back in “green” to lead the Factory Kawasaki Racing team assault with the full support of KMC Japan and KME. Englishman Ben Watson, longtime training partner of Romain Febvre, will enter his second season in the MXGP class after a solid year of learning in 2021; the young British talent is set to enter pre-season racing this weekend on the island of Sardinia and a week later in France.
Steve Guttridge (Race Planning Manager – Kawasaki Motors Europe – KME): “In October 2021, a new company and legal entity known as Kawasaki Motors Ltd – KMC was established in Japan to focus more directly on the Kawasaki motorcycle business, which includes our factory racing team projects . The new company and management will be strategically involved in using Kawasaki Racing Team’s MXGP racing business, as well as their own research and development in the MXGP arena more directly than in the past to bring innovations into the future KX production models for our worldwide customer base to use in their own racing endeavours. The Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP has a huge and complex role to fill; we believe the team will continue to help us make great strides towards our ultimate goal of becoming MXGP World Champion.
Kimi Raikkonen (Team Principal – KRT MXGP): “It’s no secret that for me one of my great passions in life for many years has been motocross, but this team is not what you might call a hobby. It’s very serious, very focused and we aspire to be the best we can be. Now that I have retired from racing, I will be able to devote more time to this project; not on day-to-day issues, but more from a strategic perspective using my experience of how teams work and what creates success on the global stage. Everyone, myself included, is thrilled that Kawasaki chose us to be the factory team. I know the chances of success are always greater with direct factory support, so this translates into a great opportunity for us as the new Kawasaki Racing Team in MXGP.
Antti Pyrhonen (Teammanager – KRT MXGP): “Since I joined Kimi’s team ten years ago, we have never stopped working hard to achieve the best results in the MXGP class and, after achieving good results with many victories and podiums , we now have the opportunity to work closely with a prestigious factory.. We have already been working on this new project for several months and of course we are delighted to have this opportunity to join Kawasaki and lead the Kawasaki Racing Team. The MXGP class is the pinnacle of our sport and we know how competitive the series is, but we look to this new challenge with optimism as we have two strong and fast riders to enter this new chapter with a factory behind us.
Romain Febvre: “It certainly hasn’t been my best winter since I started racing. It’s always frustrating recovering from an injury while your opponents are working on the slopes, but that’s the way it is; injuries are part of our sport. My recovery is going well and I can’t wait to get back on my Kawasaki. The championship will still be long and I will do my best to start the race as soon as possible. 2021 has definitely been a great season for me; I felt so comfortable on the KX450-SR and fought for the title until the very last round. Signing a two-year factory contract with Japan has been good for my confidence, and it’s another boost to be involved in the new project from day one.
Ben Watson: “There aren’t that many factory races in the MXGP class, so I’m very proud to have been selected by the Kawasaki Racing Team for my second year in this championship. It’s a new chapter in my career. and it’s great to work closely with Romain; we know and appreciate each other because we’ve trained together in the past. I learned a lot during my rookie season and I’m confident for the season to come because I’ve seen how strong the team is after sharing time together for a few months already, it’s really exciting to be part of this new challenge.