Interview: Dave Kooiker – a forgotten talent ready to return in 2024

In Motocross if you miss a season and aren’t an elite rider, you can quite easily get forgotten about but young Dutch talent, Dave Kooiker only just turned 18 years old at the weekend so has plenty of time on his side despite missing the 2023 season through injury.

Kooiker recently got back on the bike and now has plenty of time to prepare for the 2024 season as he hopes to line up in the EMX250 series.

We caught up with Kooiker to discuss his recent injury, plans for 2024 and more…

GateDrop: Dave, let’s reflect on this year. Can you remind us of the injury you suffered? I think it’s fair to say we didn’t expect you to be out for the whole season but that is how it ended up. You must have been gutted to miss the full season…

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Kooiker:  Yes, it was very tough watching the others race at home from the couch. At the beginning of January I injured my foot badly, it turned out to be worse than expected at first. It has been a long journey recovering, loads of physiotherapy and training, but apart from that I have learned a lot and mentally gotten stronger and now eventually gotten back on the bike again.

GateDrop: You know what Motocross is like, one year with no results and all of a sudden you are a forgotten man within the paddock. You must be very motivated for 2024 to show what you can do?

Kooiker:  Yes, I’m really fired up to show what I can do again. Physically I’m feeling stronger than before and now I’m spending as much time on the bike as possible to have the best version of myself ready for the 2024 season.

GateDrop: The good news is you’ve now been back on the bike for about a month or so. What bike are you currently riding and how does it feel to be back on the bike? You’ve got plenty of time to prepare for the year ahead which is good…

Kooiker:  Yes, finally back on the bike again! You only realize how much you have missed it when you ride your first laps again. At the moment on riding on a bike of my dad and I’m just happy that after all the hard work I’m back in the track again and getting up to speed again.

GateDrop: Have you got any plans for the 2024 season yet?

Kooiker:  No, at the moment I don’t have my plan ready. WZ Racing told me I could stay next season, but as you know in motocross nothing is sure until there is a signature on the contract. We haven’t figured everything out completely. We are still looking for what would be the best option for my career.

GateDrop: If it was up to you, what championships would you like to ride for the 2024 season – EMX250 again or MX2?

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Kooiker:  The best scenario for me would to do another year in EMX, as I only turned 18 just this month. I would like to get the race rhythm back and get used to riding up front again. Next to that it would be amazing to race a few MX2 races to gain experience in that class and get ready to move up ideally the year after.

GateDrop: In terms of getting a ride for the 2024 season, how difficult is that especially with a year of no races? Worst case, if you don’t get a ride, would you do a season as a privateer to race outside the Dutch Masters?

Kooiker:  It definitely isn’t easy, I’ve been out for a long time with a heavy injury and people first want to see if I’m still able to perform at the highest level. I would do a season as a privateer if it ends up being like that, I need to ride as many races as possible to ride myself into the picture again.

GateDrop: Throughout your career you’ve worked closely with Herjan Brakke who seems to be a great trainer. What kind of things have you learnt from him and will you continue to work with him?

Kooiker:  Yes, I have worked with him since I was 6 years old, we stopped training together after the 2022 season. He sure is a great trainer and has taught me many things and I’m thankful for the work and effort we put in together.

GateDrop: What are your goals for the 2024 season?

Kooiker:  My goal is to become champion in the EMX250 series.

GateDrop: Your little Brother, Dex is starting to make a new for himself. It must be cool watching him race and improving all the time. You must also be able to help him?

Kooiker:  It definitely wasn’t easy for me (laughs(. I really hated to be at the races and not being able to race myself but it was also nice to leave the house and see some people and friends again. I give him my advice and that’s all you can do from the side, cause on the track you need to do it alone. It was really nice to see him take the 3rd place in the EMX85 championship at Loket.

I would especially like to thank my physiotherapist and the guys from Stadtmüller Orthopedie/Podologie for making special soles for my riding boots, helping me back on the bike as soon as possible. Of course I want to thank all my sponsors and the other people that have helped me through these hard times and getting me back on the bike. Now let’s work onto a good 2024.

Interview: Andy McKinstry