Each heavily linked to CDR Yamaha through much of the silly season.
KTM Motocross Racing Team duo Kirk Gibbs and Luke Clout have both announced they will be departing the Austrian brand for 2019, signalling two of the domestic silly season’s most high-profile moves.
Gibbs revealed publicly for the first time this evening that his time at KTM will end come 1 December, while Clout previously indicated his exit following Auckland’s S-X Open.
Yet to make their plans official, both Gibbs and Clout are expected to be transferring to CDR Yamaha Monster Energy from 2019, marking a return to Yamaha Motor Australia for the first time in their premier class careers. No concrete information has been directly provided by CDR or Yamaha.
Current New Zealand champion Gibbs, who has been at KTM since stepping up to the 450 in 2013 and also won the 2015 MX Nationals MX1 title, fits Craig Dack’s plan of signing an outdoor specialist and has been linked to the squad since Coolum, while Clout has emerged as the country’s most exciting young MX/SX all-rounder.
CDR will almost certainly draft in an alternate supercross rider – possibly an American import – following the eight-event MX Nationals season, with South Australia’s Gibbs thought to remain a motocross-only rider for the third-consecutive year.
Gibbs was part of Serco Yamaha through much of his MX2 career aboard a factory-backed YZ250F, while Clout captured the 2014 MX2 national championship with Yamaha’s official 250 program. Dean Ferris has already confirmed he will head to the US next year, while Dylan Long has recently been linked to Empire Motorsports aboard Kawasaki machinery.
The exit of both Gibbs and Clout comes as KTM Australia is understood to be shifting its factory-backed operation to Raceline, which steered the outgoing Mitch Evans to second in this year’s nationals behind Ferris.
Evans was initially tipped to be remaining with KTM for 2019, but has since indicated he will head to Europe in MX2. It’s still unclear who will fill the void of this year’s rookie MX1 standout within the Raceline KTM effort.
An announcement confirming at least one – potentially both – of CDR Yamaha Monster Energy’s incoming riders could come as soon as this weekend when the team is in attendance at the bLU cRU-backed King of the Valley in Oakdale, New South Wales.