For the first time in its long history, Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing will line up an Italian rider to race alongside Romain Febvre. 26-year-old, Ivo Monticelli will enter his 10th season in the FIM World Championship and his fourth in the MXGP class.
After finishing in the top five at several rounds of the premier class in 2019 Ivo defied a persistent knee injury last season to regularly claim top 10 results and showed resilience to end the season with top-eight results during the last few GPs.
Based in Lommel, Ivo had surgery immediately after the final round of the 2020 MXGP series and is now ready to start riding the KX450-SR Kawasaki. Both Ivo and Romain will work closely with Jacky Vimond as the French coach has renewed his cooperation with the team managed by team owner Thierry Chizat Suzzoni assisted by technical manager, Vincent Bereni.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to join KRT and a factory team — there aren’t so many factory rides in MXGP so for me it’s an honour and a kind of dream-come-true,” said Monticelli.
“I already spent some time with the staff and everything feels perfect! I didn’t test the bike yet as I had knee surgery after the last GP — I struggled with my knee all-season-long so the doctors cleaned it up and fixed the meniscus which had a small crack. I had to rest for a few weeks but I was able to start training physically and now I’m ready to test the bike — it’s just a matter of days now and I can’t wait to ride the KX450-SR.
“I already start working with Jacky Vimond and the team physiotherapist — I’m so happy to work with such professional people. I have known Jacky for a long time but it’s the first time in my career that I have had the opportunity to work on a daily basis with a trainer — I’m sure it will help me to improve a lot with all these people around me.
“My aim is to be consistent — I really want to race for top-five results and I’m sure that it’s possible if everything runs to plan. I’m sure that I will learn a lot racing alongside a former world champion like Romain — I can’t wait to start riding with him.”
Team Owner, Thierry Chizat Suzzoni, said: “We are very happy to have Ivo with us — he has plenty of experience as it will be his fourth season in the MXGP class and we’re convinced that he will be a good representative for Kawasaki and our main sponsors Monster Energy, Motorex and Alpinestars.
“I’m sure that working with two former world champions – Romain and Jacky – will help Ivo to make the next step and be regularly in the top 10 of the races.
“Concerning Romain, we now know each other very well after one year together — when he joined us last year he had to miss the first two rounds due to a former injury but he showed that he’s a podium contender and I’m sure that he will again be fighting for victories and podiums. He now has a perfect synergy with the KX450-SR, he has a strong motivation and we have every faith in his ability — we know that you need consistency to be champion and that several riders have the same goal but we are confident.”
Kawasaki Motors Europe – Racing Manager, Steve Guttridge, said: “Very late last season we wished our MXGP veteran Clement Desalle a happy retirement which left us with some big [Alpinestars] boots to fill inside KRT for this season.
“We met with Ivo as a potential candidate at the final round, his home race in Italy. His targets and motivation were immediately clear and impressive! So, the team will work hard on his testing programme and his KRT machine package whilst Ivo on his fitness, speed and riding skills.
“With those proven combinations in place, I’m sure that we will see some impressive race results from Ivo within this season.”