Interview: Kevin Strijbos on a difficult season and his future

Belgian, Kevin Strijbos made the switch from Suzuki to the Standing Construct team for the 2018 season in what promised to be a good season. However, things haven’t gone to plan and it’s not been an easy season for Strijbos.

However, he has showed us glimpses of what he can throughout the course of the season and will be looking to end the season on a high as he tries to secure a ride for the 2019 season.

We discuss his home GP in Lommel and his plans for the future in which he’s very honest and admits as things stand at the moment that he will have to retire even though he mentally doesn’t feel ready for it.

Gatedrop: Kevin, overall it wasn’t a bad weekend for you, in terms of speed maybe the best you’ve shown all season. It’s just a shame about the second moto but because you showed good speed are you happy with your weekend?

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Kevin Strijbos: Sure, it should be good normally. Yesterday started off good with a fifth place in qualifying, it was good and I felt good also. The first moto, I didn’t completely put everything into it, I wanted to save a little bit for the second moto. I was trying to catch Glenn at the beginning, then he went away and then I caught him again. In the second moto I was feeling good and then I don’t know, I just made a small mistake. I was behind Shaun and we didn’t touch but the lines came together and went a bit sideways, went off the track, it was nothing special as I didn’t even crash. Then next to the track they dig a big hole so I went in there and over the bars, that was sh*t. I was completely last and tried to find my rhythm, but it was so difficult. I came back to twenty-first and Jeffrey started to lap already quite early. I moved out of the way quite quick, you know with the blue flags. I don’t want people not going out of the way when they get the blue flag for me but maybe I was a bit too kind. I lost again a lot of time on twentieth place, I caught up again but then another blue flag and lost time again. Mentally it’s tough, you wanted to do good and maybe it’s the last Belgian GP for me. You don’t know what’s going to happen but I ended up ninth and twenty-second because Waters passed me on the last lap but it didn’t matter. I ended up fifteenth overall, it’s not great but it is what it is.

Gatedrop: When I saw you riding in qualifying I was actually impressed and thinking if you could ride like that every week you’d be having a pretty good season. What would you put it down too that you’re not having a great season? Obviously, the level is incredibly high…

Kevin Strijbos: For sure, the level is really high. I felt quite good in the winter, it was going good. Then I broke my collarbone and then I don’t know, the confidence went away and that’s probably the main thing. The confidence at the moment with the bike, I don’t say the bike is bad because it’s not but when there’s not confidence between you and the bike on the track then it’s difficult. Especially when we are racing at this level we are at. We will see how the rest of the season goes.

Gatedrop: This is the first year for the Standing Construct KTM team are back in the paddock after taking a break. Next year the team will be getting factory support from KTM, I guess that’s frustrating for you because you’re here when they don’t get that support?

Kevin Strijbos:  Yeah, it’s sh*t. For next year I don’t know if they get factory support but if they get it’s a pity we didn’t get it this year. We had to fix our own engines and it’s not easy to fix it by yourself and especially at this level here. It’s not easy to fix your own engines, I wish we had it this year because maybe it would turn out a little bit better. Again that’s the way it is and you have to deal with it. I try to be good every weekend but it’s not easy.

Gatedrop: The Belgian team was announced on Friday, do you agree with the selected team or would you have chosen differently?

Kevin Strijbos: For sure I agree. I think that is the strongest team at the moment. I speak for myself when I say I didn’t have a great season so far, I think Lieber also didn’t have a great season. I think they have a strong team especially with Jago. I think he’s quite impressive at the moment, he’s riding really good and I’m actually a big fan with how he rides. Also, here in the second moto he went from like sixth or seventh to second so that was really impressive. Hopefully they do good, I think Jere is slowly building up again. Panda, maybe it’s also not his best year but like I said earlier, it’s not easy and the level is so high. It’s not like it was four years ago when you had like seven guys and you can battle easily for the podium, now it’s very difficult.

Gatedrop: Just on the future, what can you say about next year? How likely is it that you’ll retire or do you see yourself coming back, would you consider starting your own team or is that just a no no?

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Kevin Strijbos: You know having your own team just costs too much money to do good. If I had the money I would do it for sure but at the moment there’s no teams that’s interested. At the moment it looks like I have to retire, it’s not what I want because mentally I’m not ready to retire but it is what it is. Maybe something will come up, actually that’s why I want to do good here to show people that I’m still capable of getting good results, you know. I’m not saying that I will be world champion because that’s not going to happen but I think I can fight for a spot between 5-10. Personally, I think I’m still capable if I have confidence. At the moment it’s hard and difficult to find a team so it looks like I have to retire.

Gatedrop: We see a lot of riders retiring and maybe not immediately the year after but in the future, they come back to the paddock to work with the younger riders. Would you consider doing something like that if you had the opportunity?

Kevin Strijbos: Yeah, if I got the opportunity. I also asked the team if I could do something inside of the team, like maybe something to test or whatever. Just try to be better with the riders with what they have, at the moment it’s not. If something comes up but I’m also interested in doing something else. I mean like riding in Germany or in England, I won there in 2012 and there are great tracks, I like those tracks. If something comes up there to do the British Championship I’m also happy. I could do some races beside that so that would be good but at the moment there’s nothing.

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Pic: Nigel McKinstry