The Belgian Red Bull KTM rider scored his second consecutive podium at the weekend in what was a very successful inaugural international event for the Semigorje Shaldovo track.
De Dycker’s 2-3 scores at the end of the day placed him on equal points to countryman Clément Desalle (Suzuki).
But the better result for Desalle gave the Suzuki rider second place ‘on the box’. However, his strong third place allowed De Dycker to improve his World Championship standings. He gained another 14 points on the fourth, Frenchman Gautier Paulin.
The first Russian Grand Prix in 10 years boosted an interesting and demanding layout. Unfortunately it was again the rain on Saturday demanding a leading role.
Still De Dycker immediately felt at home on Russian soil. During the pre-qualification session he rode his KTM SX-F 450 to the provisional pole.
Despite a difficult start in the qualifying race, Ken also made a name for himself there. From his initial tenth position he stormed in difficult, muddy conditions to third place after Antonio Cairoli and Shaun Simpson.
Track conditions had improved drastically for Sunday’s racing festivities.
A frantic and numerous Russian crowd witnessed De Dycker pulling off a brilliant start. After De Dycker had dealt with Desalle he continued to lead for five laps.
When his faster team-mate Cairoli came by, his reign came to an end. While Cairoli controlled at the front, the former British and German MX1 champion did the same in second. After Desalle started to apply some pressure, De Dycker picked up the pace again. Just a couple of lap before the end of the race he even recorded his fastest lap.
In the end Cairoli prevailed with a margin of less than 6 seconds at the finish line.
At the starting gate for the second moto 28-year old De Dycker was just a little too eager. Although his trigger-happy response initially seemed to produce a miserable start the KTM factory rider recovered terrifically.
De Dycker chose a trademark tight, inside line to tuck in behind Cairoli, Christophe Pourcel and Rui Goncalves. In the hectic opening phase of the race he lost a few positions but De Dycker bounced back. Fifth at the end of the first lap, he made his way past Gonçalves quickly. In the second half of the moto he caught Pourcel to claim 3rd.
“My riding was good all weekend,” said De Dycker.
“The conditions were very different on the two days but I like it when a track is demanding and technical like it was the case here. I had two great starts and that has helped me tremendously.
“l must admit that leading the first race felt pretty strange. I was very tense. I think that those first few laps in the lead cost me much more energy than if I should’ve come back from behind! Then you do not have to think or worry. So for sure that’s a feeling that I need to regain. I hope to continue working on that in the next GPs. That’s something my competitors will not hold against me, right?
“Together with the team we have done a great job in adjusting the new bike to my needs.
“After Sweden, I received another engine which certainly makes a difference in the start. The testing and development of the bike during the season is difficult because we have little time between the GPs.
“On top of that we started from scratch because Max (Nagl) hasn’t been able to do test work on the new 450 bike due to his injury. After the second moto I was completely done. So now I look forward to get some rest and to recharge the batteries for the last part of the season.”
Words by Tom Jacobs
Photo by CDS