Interview: Ken Bengtson – Privateer for 2018!

Swedish rider, Ken Bengtson has new goals for the 2018 season. After a good 2017 season riding for the I-Fly JK Yamaha team, Bengtson has decided to switch to Husqvarna machinery and will be a privateer but get some backing from Mc Service Tibro.

The move means that the Swede will only contest selected rounds of the EMX250 Championship which is a bit of a shame, after finishing eighth last year he could have been a front runner in the class this year. The first EMX250 race on Bengtson’s schedule this year will be the Latvian round which means he’ll miss the first round taking place this weekend.

The main goal for Bengtson will be to win the Swedish Championship but hopefully he can impress during the EMX250 rounds he contests so we can see him back in the GP paddock full time once again!

Gatedrop: Ken, what’s the first race for you on the calendar this year? 

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Ken Bengtson: Unfortunately, I will not make it to Redsand for the first round of the EMX250 series. I have to wait for the first Swedish championship before I make my race debut this season.

Gatedrop: You’ve switch to the Husqvarna from the Yamaha who you were with for a number of years. How’s the Husqvarna compare to the Yamaha and are you enjoying the bike?

Ken Bengtson: Yes, I made the switch right after the last couple of late autumn MX and Enduro races in Sweden last year. I am very happy to have been riding for Yamaha Scandinavia and Team Mafi Yamaha in 2016 as well as JK Racing last season. It has been great and I’m forever thankful for what everyone has ever done for me throughout my career, but the switch was really fun because the Husqvarna was so good already from the box! I am actually working with exactly the same people in Sweden as before except the guys at Yamaha obviously. Engine, Suspension, Parts, Gears, Tires and personal sponsors are all the same as the last couple of years.

Gatedrop: What are your expectations for the season?

Ken Bengtson: Since I started riding my main focus has always been to have fun on and off the track. So I guess my expectations is that 2018 is gonna be a freaking fun year. When I feel good I ride good.

Gatedrop: I believe you had the chance to race the MX2 World Championship this season with the I-Fly JK Yamaha team. Why did you make the decision not to go down that route?

Ken Bengtson: Yes, the team was speaking about that a little bit when Jay Wilson returned back home to Australia after the first couple of GP’s last year. But at that time I was top 5 in the EMX250 series and was also riding all the Swedish championship rounds back home. I also felt that the EMX series was where I belong, if you would win every race then of course you should think about moving up to the GP class. But that wasn’t the case so the decision to stay in the EMX series was actually really easy for me.

Gatedrop: You rode some rounds of the MX2 World Championship last year, how did they go for you? 

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Ken Bengtson: I did ride two rounds, the first one in Lommel was alright. I decided and said yes just two days before so I did not feel that obviously it was the right thing to do. If you’re going to do your first ever GP you should be really prepared and make a good result so you can open some people’s eyes. But after Saturday I felt good out there and finished sixteenth in the qualifying race. First race on Sunday I was fourteenth and actually moving forward but then my engine broke. That was so frustrating because it was the only race all season I had an issue with the bike. In race two I was so tired (laughs) but I finished eighteenth after a start crash and got three points at least. I also rode in Assen but let’ś not talk about that (laughs) just kidding! I crashed a lot and rode bad so that was a shitty weekend. Probably I wasn’t happy enough with that weekend.

Gatedrop: You finished eighth in the EMX250 series last year. Overall are you happy with your season looking back at it or where you expecting more?

Ken Bengtson: It was a decent year but I was expecting more, I was so close to the podium sometimes but never ended up on the box and that was a personal goal that I had.

Gatedrop: How has your winter preparation been going for you? Have you stayed in Sweden or have you been anywhere else in Europe? 

Ken Bengtson: I have been in Spain for one week and got a few days in on the bike there with a couple of friends. Except for that I have been at home in Sweden. Here we have to ride with spike tires in snow or frozen tracks so that’s not the best conditions to get ready in. It’s the same for everyone that comes from Sweden though. It’s easier if you would live in Spain or Italy. But we have other benefits in our country – like all the nice blonde girls!

Gatedrop: Who do you think the main contenders for the EMX250 title will be this year?

Ken Bengtson: Actually, I have no idea, there’s so many! The top names from last year and from some of the guys moving up from the 125cc is my guess!

I Would like to thank everyone that is or have been involved in my riding! But to name a few: Husqvarna Scandinavia, Tibro Mc Service, Mafi, Scott, Power by JJ, RG3 suspension, CTI, JSS Stålteknik, Made stickers, Bridgestone, get media, friends and my family!