28 year old Monster Energy Kawasaki MXGP star Clement Desalle has a rather mean-looking Panda as part of his race number and attached to the rear of his Airoh helmet. The stylish and fast Belgian has been associated with the large Asian animal for most of his decade-long career in Grand Prix: the contrasting colours matching Desalle’s cool but economical riding style and his dizzying speed as one of the main protagonists of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
This weekend MXGP lands in the Florida for the first ‘east coast’ Monster Energy USGP this century and Desalle, who was labelled with the Panda tag by a childhood friend, has the chance to show his skills and liveries to a new audience.
“I’ve had this new Panda logo since I joined Kawasaki, so two years, and it fits nicely with the nickname,” he explains. “In the past I had a ‘25’ with photos of my late grandfather and aunt and my dog that passed away; it was very personal and special. It is not on the helmet now because they are in my heart…but maybe we can change the design again in the future.”
As with most riders Desalle takes interest and pride in a piece of kit that is often the most personal to a motorcycle racing athlete. “I like having a personal design on the helmet and I remember having fun with a friend a few years ago coming up with these ideas,” he reveals of his Airoh, having been with the Italian firm since 2012. “I have to respect a few things and colours but it ends up being part of the look. What I like about my helmet now is that it fits with any type of racing gear. If you make one lid with a special colour [of kit] then sometimes it looks strange or complicated. It is important to have a helmet that goes with many types of gear because we tend to change it quite a lot.”
“The proposal came in January before the pre-season races,” he continues on the 2017 lid. “We have pretty distinct lines and there are spaces for the stickers of the goggles and knee braces; this is something pretty much every motocrosser does. My energy drink sponsor is very clear and I really like having a Monster Energy helmet.”
If fans are lucky enough to get near to the Belgian or some of his gear in the Monster Energy Kawasaki set-up then they will also spot some small special marks of #25’s head protection. “If you look closely you can see my name and number in the rubber lining of the helmet: it's a cool little detail,” he offers.