Sebastien Tortelli, a Kawasaki MX legend

Sebastien Tortelli was a two times world champion with the Kawasaki Racing Team in the 1990s before moving to the USA. At Loket we met the amiable Frenchman, who is now back with his family living in Europe. Sébastien Tortelli had a short career in the FIM World Motocross Championship, racing just four seasons from […]

Sebastien Tortelli was a two times world champion with the Kawasaki Racing Team in the 1990s before moving to the USA. At Loket we met the amiable Frenchman, who is now back with his family living in Europe.

Sébastien Tortelli had a short career in the FIM World Motocross Championship, racing just four seasons from 1995 to 1998 after a promising debut in the European 125cc Championship the previous year when he finished second in the series with former world champion Jacky Vimond as his trainer; he entered just one GP at the end of that season to show his potential to the factory team managers. “I raced my first GP in 1994, after the final round of the European Championship. It was in Belgium, and I got some good results there with good lap times, an 8th position after a very bad start in the first moto and a 4th place in the second race. Jan de Groot was there as a spectator and, when he came to talk to me, we immediately had a good relationship. He was more like my grandfather than a team manager in the end; we spoke a lot together and he took me at a very young age into his team,” recalled Sébastien, who then entered his first ever World Championship season on a 125cc Kawasaki. At that time Jan and Kawasaki were mainly involved in the 250cc class, but the legendary Dutch tuner convinced his partners to make an extra effort to help the promising young French kid. “I raced almost all of my European career with Kawasaki as I started on a 65cc Kawasaki, then an 80cc, entered the GPs on the KX125 and finally raced my last GP season on a 250cc Kawasaki in 1998. I stay four years with Jan and Kawasaki; I must say that some of my best career memories come from this period. It was like my second family, and it was a good reason to stay with Kawasaki throughout my career in Europe”.

After one learning year (1995) in the 125cc class and third position in the series, Sébastien dominated the class in 1996 and easily won his first title. After becoming the youngest-ever 125cc world champion in August 1996, he moved a few months later to the 250cc World Championship and clinched a further title during his second full season in that class. That year he had an epic battle with Stefan Everts, and finally beat the Belgian during the final round in Greece. “1998 was an amazing year, for me my best season, with my best memories. We had some tough racing with Stefan, it was probably my toughest season. I’ve some great memories from a couple of races, but Greece for sure was one of the best, finishing the season on a high note. I was guided by Jacky (Vimond) and my parents before this race; Jacky lost a championship by one point and he really put that in my head. Whatever points you can get, you must never give up and that’s what I did,” explains Sébastien who left Europe at the end of the year as it was one of his dreams to race in America. “Jan knew for a long time that I wanted to move to the US; he knew that I love Supercross from the beginning. We signed a four year contract in 1996, which was very long at this time. I was only 16 but we had a lot of confidence in each other; he saw something in me and gave me a great chance with Kawasaki. He knew that SX was what I wanted to do, and already in 1997 I told him that whatever happened in 1998 I would move to the US.”

There was a strong relationship between Sébastien, Jan De Groot and his wife Ellen, as the Dutch manager and his wife considered Seb more or less as one of their children. “Jan, his wife Ellen and Jacky Vimond all helped me to become a professional rider and a man, as I was still at school in Paris when I joined the team. Holland was not so far from Paris so I spent a lot of time with them, and they took me under their roof when I was there. I learnt a lot with them; they helped me to become a world champion. You don’t meet people like Jan anymore; for me there was a big hole when he disappeared. We still maintained a strong relationship when I was in the US; he was still close to me and I came several times to spend some time with him when I knew that he was sick,” he said.

After spending more than fifteen years in the US, Sébastien is now back in Europe, where he has some projects for the future with some motocross activities. “At the end of last year I decided with my family to move back from USA and we now live in Spain, and I’m training some riders so that’s why I visit some GPs. It’s nice to be back in the MXGP paddock; it has been such a long time! A lot of things have changed in the paddock; it became very professional. It was already going that way when I left Europe; I think that the GPs look very professional and for sure it’s now very impressive to walk in the paddock with all the big trucks and the hospitality units. It’s been a big step forward!”

KRT Completes Summer Testing In Germany

Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes made use of the mid-season break in competitive action to test their Ninja ZX-10RR machines at the Lausitzring on July 25 and 26. In readiness for the next round of the WorldSBK Championship the KRT duo completed a two-day test at the Lausitzring in Germany, taking […]

Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes made use of the mid-season break in competitive action to test their Ninja ZX-10RR machines at the Lausitzring on July 25 and 26.

In readiness for the next round of the WorldSBK Championship the KRT duo completed a two-day test at the Lausitzring in Germany, taking away very positive results.

The changeable local weather provided periods of both wet and dry track conditions, with the official Kawasaki WorldSBK team concentrating on the dry periods to improve the race performance and other development aspects of the ZX-10RR’s race package. Rea also tried out some development tyres for Pirelli, on which he set his best time of the test.

The rains returned at around 2pm on the final day and the team decided not to test in the wet conditions, having already made such good progress in the dry.

The 4.255km long Lausitzring will be the venue for the next round of the WorldSBK Championship, to be held between 18th and 20th August.

Tom Sykes, stated: “We tried out various items at this test and the feedback from the bike was good. We set strong lap times and found consistency. On standard race rubber I set a 1’36.7 after seven laps. I am happy with that because I think it was about equal to my previous Superpole lap time. We would have tested just a few more things on the final day but the rain came along again this afternoon and put a stop to that. Overall, it was a successful test at the Lausitzring. I think we are ready to race on this circuit, and to race at a high level as well.”

Jonathan Rea, stated: “After last year it was very valuable to test here at the Lausitzring. We were able to do some functional tests for KHI and also evaluate some ideas for chassis and front suspension set up. The weather changed after lunch, which brought the curtain down on our test – but we knew it was coming. We were able to evaluate all the items in the plan before then thanks to Pere’s good planning. Yesterday we were also able to run a race simulation and it’s great to see that we have improved the overall base of the bike compared to last year.”

Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Tom Sykes, stated: “We had a clear target for this test which was to improve the chassis performance to be able to close the gap to the championship lead. Even though our track time was limited by rain we were able to reach our goal. Tom showed good initial speed but more than that he was very fast over race distance. It is nice to enter the rest of the summer break in this way because we have a good feeling after this test.”

Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “This test has been another very positive one. We started around 12 on the first day, because of rain in the morning, but when it dried we went through our plans. They were mainly to look for the base bike to use at the Lausitzring race weekend. Last year this one was maybe the hardest race of the season, but finally we made a big step and this bike worked better than last year. On day one we did a long run, which was faster than last year’s race. This means we took a step forward. On day two we tested some chassis items and some rear tyres for Pirelli. We worked through all the things we wanted to try and also Jonathan did a 1’36.6, on a race tyre.”

2017 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015 and 2016
2017: Races 16, Wins 9, Podiums 15, Superpoles 3
Career Race Wins: 47 (32 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 103 (61 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 11 (7 For Kawasaki)

Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2017: Races: 16, Wins 2, Podiums 13, Superpoles 3
Career Race Wins: 33 (33 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 97 (96 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 41 (41 For Kawasaki)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
4 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015 & 2016), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
2 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016)
2 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015 & 2016)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 102 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 336 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 69 – second overall

A strong return for Darian Sanayei

Darian Sanayei of Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki made a strong return to GP action with a stunning seventh place in the second moto of the Czech round of the FIM World MX2 Motocross Championship. Despite a month out of racing the American quickly settled down to qualify a superb fifth on Saturday and he again […]

Darian Sanayei of Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki made a strong return to GP action with a stunning seventh place in the second moto of the Czech round of the FIM World MX2 Motocross Championship.

Despite a month out of racing the American quickly settled down to qualify a superb fifth on Saturday and he again showed tremendous speed on race day. An unfortunate start, followed on lap five by a crash as he moved forward through the pack, forced him to withdraw from the opening moto, but a better getaway in race two saw him run top eight all race and finish seventh after advancing to sixth at one stage until the lack of recent bike time inevitably took its toll. Darian remains twelfth in the series standings.

He was joined in the DRT awning for the weekend at Loket by fellow American Marshal Weltin and the European Championship regular acquitted himself well on his GP debut. He advanced strongly from an initial fifteenth in race one to finish eleventh and followed this up with a similar ride in race two to again finish eleventh after starting fourteenth. That earned ninth overall, a highly creditable GP debut.

Morgan Lesiardo of the Monster Energy Kawasaki MX2 Racing Team was another to take advantage of a break in the EMX250 schedule to taste GP action and the Italian also broke into the points scorers in race two as he converted an initial seventeenth into fifteenth at the chequered flag. He had also moved forward from a twenty-first placed start in the muddy opening moto to hold eighteenth before being forced to take off his goggles and eventually retire. Starting seventeenth in race two, he had a solid ride to finish fifteenth.

Teammate Stephen Rubini had a frustrating weekend. The French teenager was forced to ride strongly from dead last to twenty-second in the first moto after another rider had pushed him off the track at turn one. He again rode strongly in race two to advance from nineteenth at the start to fifteenth place with a handful of laps remaining before blisters caused him to slacken his pace in the final two laps to finish nineteenth.

Darian Sanayei: “As I missed Portugal after my crash in Ottobiano, I had one month to recover and I didn’t ride so many times, just enough to feel good on the bike. Saturday was good; I was eighth and ninth in the practice sessions and qualified in fifth after fighting at the front of the pack which was good. We had some heavy rain before the first moto and I got a bad start, then crashed and finally retired. My start was much better in the second race; I was in the top ten and fought hard to finally finish seventh. I pushed really hard to try to catch Lieber, but I couldn’t keep pushing at that speed until the finish. But everything this weekend went well, except the first moto.”

Marshal Weltin: “For my first GP it was not so bad with a ninth overall which is pretty good. I was a little bit too aggressive on this track when I needed to be a little smoother but it was the first time I raced with the DRT Kawasaki which is a different bike to the one I race in the European series. I could take the third gate from the inside and was in the top fifteen at each start. For sure the level is higher in the MX2 than in the EMX250, but I’m delighted with this experience and hope to have another chance soon.”

Morgan Lesiardo: “On Saturday I struggled to find a good feeling on this slippery and hard track, and couldn’t qualify better than twenty second. Sunday was much better; I started twice in the top twenty but in the first moto I had to take off my goggles and then had to retire. The second race was much better; I had fun and improved my riding to finish fifteenth after some good fight with regular MX2 GP riders. Now we move to Belgium, for some hard training to prepare for Lommel.”

Stephen Rubini: “It was another tough weekend for me; on Saturday I struggled too much with the track and the grip and qualified only in twenty-ninth position. At the start of the first race another rider hit me and pushed me out of the track; I came back on the track last to finish twenty second. The second race was better. I was in the top twenty at the start and moved forward to fourteenth, but I had to slow down in the last few laps and lost several positions; I crashed hard last week in the Italian championship so I couldn’t train all week and had pain in this race with big blisters on both hands.”

Livia Lancelot stays in contention

Livia Lancelot of Team One One Four Kawasaki maintained her challenge to defend the FIM World WMX Women’s’ Motocross title with two gutsy rides to defy adversity at Loket in the Czech Republic. All of the leading contenders were within a second of each other during timed qualification at the hillside track, but the French […]

Livia Lancelot of Team One One Four Kawasaki maintained her challenge to defend the FIM World WMX Women’s’ Motocross title with two gutsy rides to defy adversity at Loket in the Czech Republic.

All of the leading contenders were within a second of each other during timed qualification at the hillside track, but the French lady found herself handicapped from an early stage of the opening moto on Saturday afternoon when a rock jammed her front brake soon after she had moved into a challenging second place; forced to ride the remainder of the race without a front brake she rode immaculately to defend fourth place to the chequered flag. Keen to make amends on Sunday morning in the second moto on a track made treacherous by light rain, Livia held a strong third place, with the leaders comfortably in sight, until another girl lost control in the slippery conditions and collided with her; she rejoined the race in fifth position and maintained that position to the finish to also be classified fifth overall for the weekend. Despite the dual setbacks, each beyond her control, Livia remains third in the championship standings, just seven points from the pacesetter, with everything still to play for at the final two rounds in September.

Livia Lancelot: “I don’t really know what to say about my relationship with this track. In the first race I had a good start and was in second position close to Kiara when I got a stone in my front brake; the brake was damaged so I couldn’t jump anymore and finished fourth. In the second race I had another good start in third position, but collided with Chiara and we both fell. I hurt my thumb and finished fifth; maybe fourth was possible but with the rain there were not so many lines. This weekend was not easy but there’s still 100 points to earn and I’m only seven points from the leader so we’ll continue to work hard to prepare the final two races.”

Clement Desalle second in Czech Republic

Clement Desalle of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team strengthened his second place in the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship after finishing runner-up in the Czech round at Loket. The Belgian faced a tough race to eighth in qualification after getting caught up in the awkward first turn, but the power of his KX450F-SR got […]

Clement Desalle of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team strengthened his second place in the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship after finishing runner-up in the Czech round at Loket.

The Belgian faced a tough race to eighth in qualification after getting caught up in the awkward first turn, but the power of his KX450F-SR got him out of the gate ahead of the pack on race day for two superb top three starts. Overtaking is always difficult on the twisting Czech raceway and Clement maintained second place throughout the opening moto with the leader always in sight to establish the basis for his podium result. Initially third in race two Clement moved into second place again on the seventh of nineteen laps to rank second overall on the day, just a single point shy of victory. The result has consolidated his second place in the championship standings as he outscored each of his closest rivals and the Belgian goes to his home GP in two weeks time with renewed confidence.

Teammate Jordi Tixier made a surprise comeback as he bravely shrugged off the injuries he sustained three weeks earlier in Portugal. Despite only two days of practice he immediately found his known speed and, joining Desalle in the top six at the start of the opening moto, he maintained that position for ten minutes and continued in the top ten for more than half of the race before the training deficit inevitably took its toll and he crossed the line thirteenth. He again started in the top ten in race two before the discomfort from his three week old injuries forced him to quit the race mid-moto.

Clement Desalle: “It was a strong day with two second place finishes, and I’m happy that I was able to turn my weekend around in a positive way as I didn’t qualified so well on Saturday. We knew that the start would be one of the keys; I got the holeshot in the first moto and I had another good start in the second one. It was a positive day, even if I don’t win the GP, and I enjoyed my riding today. I take it race by race; I want to do the best for me and the team. Lommel is coming and we have some good things to do there as I also like riding the sand.”

Jordi Tixier: “It was not easy this weekend, as I was unable to walk for ten days after my big crash in Portugal and I could only ride my bike before coming here. The speed was there and I also got some good starts but in the first race I spent a lot of energy to stay in the top six for ten minutes, then in the top ten for a further ten minutes before finishing the race thirteenth. I knew that I had used a lot of energy; with all my injuries since Argentina I haven’t been able to train normally and in the MXGP class you must be fit. But we’ll keep the positives and continue to work to recover for the next races.”