Clement Desalle has been a benchmark for others to measure themselves by in MXGP for the last fifteen years, but the GP of Garda-Trentino this weekend will mark the end of the outstanding career of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team rider.
With twenty-three GP wins, thirty-five moto wins and eighty-two GP podiums, the thirty-one-year-old has been one of the most successful riders of his era. He never claimed the ultimate prize of an individual world title but he ended in the top three of the premier off-road world series no less than six times and won Gold with Team Belgium at the 2013 Motocross of Nations.
When Clement joined the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team in 2016 he was one of the elite riders capable of winning GPs and challenging for the title. For five full seasons he put all his energy to help the team to perform to the highest level and provided the best advice to the factory in order to be ever more competitive. Despite several injuries during these five seasons Clément gave the team excellent results with four GP wins, eighteen podiums and an MXGP world championship bronze medal in 2018.
The thirty-one-year-old Belgian from La Louvière, between Mons and Charleroi near the French frontier in the south of the country, officially announced last month that he would retire following the final GP of the current season, his fifteenth as a professional rider; that moment arrives this weekend with the MXGP of Garda Trentino at the dramatic Pietramurata track where he celebrated victory in 2014 and has already recorded his most recent GP moto victory just one week ago. Kawasaki thanks Clément for his commitment to the Green family throughout the past five seasons and wishes him all the best for the future in both his professional career and private life.
Clément Desalle: ”I always had a good relationship with François (Lemariey) who was my mechanic earlier in my career; when I signed for Kawasaki I was delighted to work with him again. It has always been really important for me to be happy in my working environment and to have a good feeling with the people around me. I’m really proud with the job we’ve done together. Of course I would have liked to have offered Kawasaki yet more race wins, more podiums, more GP wins and even a world title as I’ve been working for this all my life. After Latvia I started to ask myself questions about my future and made a decision; just before Spain I was sure of my decision and announced that I would retire at the end of this season. I will miss racing of course, but I have a big passion for motocross and for sure I will still ride bikes.”
Giuseppe Luongo (President, Infront Moto Racing): “Clément is one of the riders who wrote the history of our sport in the last decade; he has always been on top and every year has fought for the podium. He is very talented, always with perfect lines which makes him one of the most difficult riders to pass. He always behaved admirably both on-and-off the track. We will miss him a lot but we hope to see him again in the same way other champions have offered their experience to help the youngsters. We wish him the same success in his future life as he had as a rider. “
Steve Guttridge (Kawasaki Europe Racing Manager): “Since joining the Kawasaki Racing Team in 2016 Clement has always been the complete professional. We needed a top rider who could provide consistent and intelligent feedback to the team and factory to help us develop the KX450 in the best direction and Clement has always delivered his best in both testing and racing results, season-after-season. I think it’s fair to say that he has done a great job overall as our current production model is the best ever! So from Kawasaki side we would all like to wish Clement and his family the very best of health and happiness in the next stage of their lives together and we hope that in some form he can stay close to the sport of motocross he loves so much.”
Thierry Chizat Suzzoni (KRT team owner): “Clément is a person you have to get to know; we had five great seasons with him, sharing both the ups and the downs. He has always been very professional with the team; he gave us podiums, victories and a top three in the World Championship. I would say that we only remember excellent things. He has a strong character; he’s a complete man in his demeanour but he’s a good person, with a good spirit, and we really appreciated working with him. I think at some point when you’ve spent fifteen years in the premier class you deserve a great family retirement. I know the bike will always be in the back of his mind, but I think he made a wise decision and I respect it. “
François Lemariey (KRT team manager): “We have known each other for a long time; he became a friend with whom we experienced great things together, starting with this championship podium we got in 2009 with a private team, without much means but great memories, and then we found ourselves together again at KRT in 2016 with the support of Kawasaki and Monster Energy. Clément has been riding MXGP for fifteen years; his experience has been invaluable in developing the bike he knows better than anyone else, also the Dunlop tyres. His presence allowed the team to evolve but now he wants to turn to a new page in his life and we must respect that. What I’ve always liked about him is that he knows what he wants, and from there you know which direction to go. He has a strong character; when there is a problem he talks about it directly and that saves everyone’s time. He is completely honest! I am not surprised by his decision; I felt it coming even though at the work-level there was never any slackening from him.”
Joel Smets: “It’s a shame to see him stop, but it’s a fact that he’s thirty-one and has ridden fifteen seasons in GP. He had his good years; he’s a hard worker, I think he’s had a great career and a lot of riders can be jealous of his track record. Winning twenty-three GP is no small feat! It’s a shame he never won a title, but for a decade he fought for the podium and that’s something! “
Antonio Cairoli: “I really enjoyed the second moto last Sunday with Clement; it was like five or ten years ago when we battled together all the time in the race. It was nice to see him up front again; it’s a shame he won’t be with us next year but I want to say huge congratulations to him on a magnificent career from both myself and the entire team and wish him a great future. “
Jeffrey Herlings: “Congrats on a great career! You were so difficult to pass; a real warrior and fighter. The moment I knew you were the next guy I had to pass I was like ‘how can I do it?”. I know we never spoke much but I have always had the highest respect for you. Enjoy the next chapter of your life.”
Mickael Pichon: “Congratulations Clément on your fantastic career. The first time our paths crossed you gave me a crazy block-pass in the German championship, I didn’t know who you were and you already impressed me. Obviously I had the last word because you were so young; just seventeen-years-old. You had a magnificent career and you claimed great results; I wish you a long life and enjoy your young family.”
Kevin Strijbos: “Congrats on a great career, “Panda”! I am happy to have had you as a teammate for a few years! We had great times, many laughs and good battles. It will not be the same without you.”