Interview: William Kleemann on joining Riley Yamaha Racing

Young Danish rider, William Kleemann has been a privateer for a number of years contesting the European championships but the good news was recently announced that Kleemann has secured a ride for the 2022 season. The Riley Racing Yamaha team have spotted potential in Kleemann and decided to snap him up for the upcoming season which is a huge opportunity for the Dane.

We caught up with Kleemann to discuss his deal and expectations for the season ahead.

GateDrop: William, your plans for the 2022 season have been confirmed – you’ve signed with the Riley Racing Yamaha team to contest the EMX250 series. How did the deal all come about with the team?

Kleemann: I got in contact with the team and we talked back and forth and then I think I was just a lucky carrot that the team wanted me.

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GateDrop: Have you done any laps on the Yamaha yet – how does the bike feel compared to the Husqvarna which you’ve been used to the past few years?

Kleemann: Yeah, I really like the Yamaha, I think it’s a amazing bike and the team has been doing a really good job so I already feel right at home on the bike. But it was a bit weird to look down on a different front fender for the first time.

GateDrop: Up until this point you’ve been on a privateer setup, it must feel amazing to secure a ride with a good team?

Kleemann: I can’t describe how lucky I feel that I’m able to be with this team. In all 2021 I looked at Riley Racing and thought “this is the team I want to be a part of” because all the time they look so good from the outside and I personally think it’s the best team there is in the EMX paddock.

GateDrop: How tough is it being a privateer trying to battle with riders who all have teams and great machinery?

Kleemann: it is really tough to both help my dad with the bike and also focus on being the rider and to know that some of the riders just have better engines than what you have can sometimes make it hard but for the coming season I’m really motivated and to have Riley Racing behind me, it’s just a dream.

GateDrop: This year you were an EMX250 rookie, how did you find the step up from the EMX125 class and adjusting to the 250cc?

Kleemann: I have had a good year getting to know the 250cc and I’ve got a lot of experience this year and the 250cc guys have a little more hair on the chest then the 125cc guys but I like it and with a good off season I’m ready to go to war on the new bike.

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GateDrop: In 2020, you showed some good speed at times in the EMX125 class and scored points in some moto’s (P15 in race one at Matterley Basin being the best). At other times you’ve be running in the points but then drop back – what do you think that’s down too? Not used to the intensity or fitness?

Kleemann: I think I have to get used to the intensity to be higher in the ranks and believe that I can be up there. In 2022 I’m confident in the team and the work I put into it that it is my first year doing this full time.

GateDrop: You are obviously coming from Denmark, how difficult is it to come from there to racing the EMX championships?

Kleemann: In Denmark we don’t really have big races so to go to the EMX were there is a lot going on all the time, it is something you have to get used to and also at the EMX there is a lot more pressure because you want to show yourself.

GateDrop: Heading into the 2022 season, what’s your goals for the EMX250 series?

Kleemann: It’s hard to say because it depends a lot on the off season so I don’t want to say too much but I know what I can do so I don’t see a reason for me not to do good especially with Riley Racing as a team.

GateDrop: You’ll have two fast team mates in Brent van Doninck and Tim Edberg, will you ride with them much as that could help your speed and what’s your plans for the winters preparation?

Kleemann: I will do my best to try and keep up with them so I can be the best version of myself for the coming season. It also makes me even more motivated to try and be the best with two team mates that are on the level they are.

GateDrop: You are still young at 17 years old, have you set yourself a long-term goal you’d like to achieve?

Kleemann: I think I have the same goal as everyone else and that is to be the number one on track. I, of course dream of being a world champion one day but for now I focus on where I am now and I have never been as motivated as I am now with Riley Racing and I also can’t thank them enough for the opportunity they have given me. I really look forward to the 2022 season.

Interview: Andy McKinstry