Our own Steve Matthes broke the story yesterday that Michael Leib has signed with CLS Kawasaki for the 2013 season, with an option for 2014. Here’s the Rapid ReaXtion from our crew—tell us what you think in the comments section below.
This is good news where you rarely expect to find it. Privateer life has never and will never be easy, and for most riders it starts the day their amateur career ends and the pro days begin. Sure, this week we’ll spend a lot of time talking about top prospects who already have pro deals locked up—Jeremy Martin, Cooper Webb, Adam Cianciarulo, Zach Bell and the likes—but many more good riders will find themselves scrambling next week, and trying to make things happen. Even Blake Baggett found himself in that position in 2010.
Baggett made it happen, but many do not. Michael Leib was good as an amateur—but never quite found “the man” status in his classes. He did notch his B Championship at the Ranch in spectacular fashion, but that was the only title he got, and hence he was left without a ride. Luckily, he found a way to make it happen too—albeit in Europe on a Husky.
Okay, maybe the Husky/GP deal didn’t deliver stellar results, but he managed to keep himself out of mid pack here at home. Had Leib tried to piece together a makeshift effort in the ultra-competitive 250 Class here, in his first pro season, he very likely could have found himself mired in the pack, losing confidence and losing stock. Instead, he did his learning out of sight, and then had figured out enough to show some speed in supercross this winter, and in his second stint at the GPs this summer.
It was enough to get a ride for next year on a premiere team. No, it’s not a ride here at home, but it’s a step toward getting one somewhere down the road.
In a story that broke yesterday, Michael Leib has inked a two-year deal with CLS Kawasaki to go back over to Europe. I’m pumped for Michael who came back to America after two years of riding a sewing machine for Husky and found the support not there. Leib, a total rookie in SX, put in some good rides on the west coast before getting hurt at San Diego. Then he got the call to go over and fill in for another American (Zach Osborne) on the GP circuit and shocked many with a podium his first ride out. This is what got him on the radar of the GP teams and with the age limit that kicks riders out when they’re 24, the team needs young talent and Leib’s got the experience and speed to slip into the departed Tommy Searle’s ride.
The team is basically the Pro Circuit team in Europe which means it’s one of the best in the pits and sets Leib up to be a contender for podiums and wins next year in the MX2 class. It’s a good move for both sides and Michael has taken the right attitude towards living and racing in Europe and with a couple of good years over there, he could parlay this ride into a return to America ala Osborne.
After securing the 2009 250 B Stock Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Michael Leib was set to travel the country, competing in the last few rounds of the AMA Pro Motocross, in hopes of securing a full-time ride in the States for 2010. Instead the California native found himself flying to halfway across the world to contest the FIM World Championships. After two tumultuous seasons with Factory Husqvarna—a very unproven bike at the time—Leib returned home to once again try and secure a full-time ride in the U.S.
During his Monster Energy Supercross Western Region Lites rookie campaign, Leib shined. Competing on a full privateer Honda, Leib secured two top tens in five rounds before once again being called over to Europe—this time to fill in for the injured Zach Osborne on the Bike-It Yamaha team. Leib shocked the GP landscape with a podium in his MX2 debut, but has since been sidelined with an illness.
In speaking with Leib numerous times over the past year, you could sense he felt he had unfinished business over in Europe and wanted to leave his mark. Having signed with CLS Kawasaki—one of the best MX2 squads on that side of the pond—Leib will be well equipped in his attempt to become the first American since Bobby Moore in 1994 to win a World Championship.