Two MXGP riders have both announced they are to leave the sport and retire from professional racing. Factory Kawasaki rider Clement Desalle will continue to the end of the season while Yamaha’s Thomas Covington will quit immediately.
Belgian Desalle announced his decision by saying: “After 15 seasons of GPs, 11 as factory rider. I’ll stop Grand Prix of motocross at the end of this year. I’m thankful for what it has brought me.
“I’m really happy I could be a professional motocross rider in the world championship on a good level – a dream from when I was little boy.
“This decision is because of a package of reasons, but I respect the rules I gave myself a long time ago. And to be honest it’s coming more and more difficult to enjoy the riding and life in GPs for me. The sure thing is that I’ll love riding a motocross bike forever and I will always ride. I could not achieve one dream – to be world champion – but it’s like that. Big thanks to everyone who supported me.”
American Covington, still only 24, has had a few tough years. After a great ride in the MX2 world championship on factory Husky, he went back to the USA but found it tough to get used to supercross and outdoors, and then picked up a virus. He came back to MXGP this year but has not had the success he hoped for. Married to an English girl Amy, he will live in the UK.
“It’s been a great 20 years! Motocross has taken me to some amazing places. Thanks to everyone who’s helped me out along this journey,” he said.
“I feel like I gave it all I had during those months with the coronavirus,” said Covington in an interview on RacerX with Eric Johnson. “I really worked my butt off training and doing as much testing that I could to be as prepared as possible for the next part of the season if there was going to be a season. I was going to give it everything I had and I still believed in myself and thought I could do it. However, when it came crunch time out on the track, I just couldn’t force myself to hold the gas in when I needed to and in that MXGP class and how it is now, you’ve got to be 100-percent on top of your game or you just get left behind because it is so competitive. Pretty much any weakness you have gets magnified so much more in a class with so much talent. I mean earlier this season there were some motos where I felt like I was riding decent and I could have been riding the race of my life and then I’d come over the finish line and I’d finish 16th! It was like, ‘Dang, I just rode my butt off for 35 minutes and pushed as hard as I could for a mediocre result.’ That was really hard to accept. In the back if my head, I knew that I was just missing a little bit and I felt like it was going to take me longer than just one season to get back up to speed.
“I have to look to the future now. To be really honest, only the top few guys both in America and in Europe are making the kind of money that warrants the kind of risk we’re taking out there. You know, once you get out of that top little group, the pay goes down drastically. For me and at this point in my life, it’s just not worth the risk for me. Luckily, I’ve been able to meet a lot of influential people and all kinds of different people around the world and in the industry. There have been quite a few opportunities that have come up over the last year or so but I’ve obviously never had any time to chase any of them and that’s another reason why this decision came up. I felt like I could pursue other things and have a life after motocross. I figured I could get a head start on some of this stuff while I’m still young and still make a living without risking my life. Even so, it was such a hard thing to do to make this decision.”