Interview: Kay Karssemakers on his MX2 GP opportunity with Hitachi KTM

It was recently announced that Kay Karssemakers has inked a deal with the Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee team for the 2022 season. After Conrad Mewse parted ways, the team were on the look out for a replacement and ended up giving Kay Karssemakers an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

During his 65cc and 85cc days, Karssemakers posted some great results and showed incredible speed at a young age so there’s no doubting his talent. Since moving up to the 125cc injuries have played their part but last year was a good season for Kay Karssemakers finishing fourth in the EMX125 championship.

We caught up with Karssemakers to discuss his huge opportunity to race the MX2 World Championship in 2022 and more.

GateDrop: Kay, you’ve landed a ride with the Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee team – how did the deal all come around and was it a surprise to you?

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Karssemakers: Yes, it was definitely a surprise for me! I knew that my manager Ebert Dollevoet was talking with this team, but I never expected that it would come to a deal for this year. Really happy with it!

GateDrop: I believe before this deal came around, you were planning on running your own team in the EMX250 series – is that correct? If so, it must feel even better to secure a good team?

Karssemakers: Yes, actually this year I would ride the EMX250 with a team I had set up by myself. That was also well organized with some nice people and sponsors around me. But to get this opportunity in MX2 in such a big team is of course super. I am really happy and grateful for this opportunity and the confidence that the Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee gives me!

GateDrop: Obviously the EMX250 class is the more natural route after the EMX125 series, but it seems like this was an offer to good to turn down?

Karssemakers: Yes, that’s actually it, but you can’t turn down an opportunity like this. Grab it with both hands and go for it with the full 200%! It has always been my first goal and dream to go to the GP’s. And that this is going to happen sooner than expected, at 17 years old, is really nice.

GateDrop: The deal is obviously coming quite late but so far how has your preparation been for the 2022 season and how do you feel about racing the MX2 World Championship?

Karssemakers: Yes the deal came pretty late, but my preparation for the season was already in full swing because I would ride the EMX250 earlier. The past few weeks I have been riding with John vd Berk in Malaga, Spain and have been able to do a lot of good training sessions. To be able to ride the World MX2 Championship with Hitachi KTM is of course super! A professional GP team where I will undoubtedly learn a lot and gain new experiences.

GateDrop: Going back to your 2021 season you raced the EMX125 series and finished fourth in the championship. Looking back how do you reflect on your season?

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Karssemakers: I am pretty satisfied about 2021. At the World Championship 125 Junior I managed to get a nice podium finish and became third in the World again, that was just good again! But of course I was disappointed that I couldn’t keep my third place in the EMX125 championship and ended up fourth. With better starts, that wouldn’t have been necessary. But overall I’ve had a good and consistent season without (perhaps most importantly) injuries, and I’m happy with that after some difficult years.

GateDrop: You were quite big last year for a 125cc so you should suit the 250cc better I think – how do you feel on the MX2 machine?

Karssemakers: Yes definitely, now I have my body and weight with me on the MX2 machine so that’s nice. I think the 250cc suits me better as well. Besides that the bike is really super and I am very positive about it!

GateDrop: Going into the MX2 World Championship – what’s your expectations for the 2022 season?

Karssemakers: Actually I don’t really have any expectations now that I’m going into the World Championship. Ride a lot, enjoy and above all learn a lot! Grow during the season and it would be super to get some points somewhere.

GateDrop: You will also race the MX2 British Championship – what you do you know about that series and what’s your goals it? Are you looking forward to riding new tracks?

Karssemakers: I am definitely looking forward to riding the MX2 British Championship! It’s nice to ride a new championship with other riders. New tracks and new experiences are always instructive. In terms of results, I don’t know what to expect since I don’t really know the championship, but we’re going to work hard and see what it brings!

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GateDrop: What are your plans between now and the start of the season at Matterley Basin?

Karssemakers: Especially testing with the team and getting ready for the first GP in Matterley Basin! Maybe I’ll ride one more opening race before but we’ll see how it goes.

GateDrop: You will have Isak Gifting as a team mate, are you looking forward to doing laps and learning from him? Having Stephen Sword as a coach will be good as well – he’s a former MX2 GP winner but probably before your time!

Karssemakers: Yes it is definitely nice to train with Isak and learn from him! He already has some GP MX2 seasons under his belt so I think I can definitely learn from him. In addition, Stephen Sword also seems a very good and fine coach and I’m really looking forward to working with him and the team!

GateDrop: Is the deal with the team a one year contract or how long is the deal?

Karssemakers: I have signed with the Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee for 2022 and 2023 in the MX2 World Championship.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Pics: Hitachi KTM/Ray Archer