At just 22 years of age, Tim Gajser has two World motocross championships and 17 Grand Prix victories. Add his junior World championships and you have somebody who could walk away from the sport tomorrow and be more than satisfied with his trophy cabinet.
Yet, like so many former champions, the Slovenian isn’t thinking about anything but winning and performing at his best every single weekend and in an era of two of the all-time greats in Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings, that is a tall order.
On his day, he is possibly unbeatable, those days when he doesn’t let his concentration slip and rides with a calmness that at times reminds me of Stefan Everts at his peak. Picking the right lines, blazing out of the start and staying on two wheels. It’s beautiful to watch, and something I am sure we will see more of in the next five or so years.
From his 17 Grand Prix victories Gajser has eight 1-1 results, and from his first GP victory in Trentino in 2015, when he did the seemingly impossible in the MX2 class and beat Jeffrey Herlings straight up, until last weekend when he beat another motocross legends in Antonio Cairoli straight up and also went 1-1, it is hard to imagine what would be possible if he could duplicate his good days, time and time again.
We were lucky enough to catch up with the HRC rider and asked him about his victory last weekend and the goal for the rest of 2019.
You got 1-1 in Trentino, then you have Mantova and go 1-1 in Portugal. How can those three rounds be so different?
I mean like (laughing), the week before Portugal was horrible, I had bad races in Mantova. The speed was good, I was the fastest in both motos, but it was important to take good starts in those conditions and the track was one line. I was crashing a lot because I was trying too hard and trying different lines, so I was a lot of time on the ground. I tried to forget that weekend as soon as possible, in fact straight after the weekend on the Monday, I was feeling horrible because I was really disappointed with myself. I decided to just look ahead and focus on the weekend ahead, and that was Portugal. I had a good feeling on the bike during the week and also in Portugal. I felt really good, smart, clever I would say. I was trying to learn from the mistakes from the weekend before and it worked.
You have had 17 GP wins and you have gone 1-1 in eight of them, so more than half. And when you are on, it is very difficult to beat you.
Yes, definitely. With Tony, we are riding the same speed, so it is always difficult for the one starting in front, because if he starts first and I am second or I am first and he is second, we can’t gap each other, so it is really difficult to get away from each other. It makes races more interesting and fun for you guys, but also for us the riders.
I can imagine you are always trying to work out why you have those bad days. A lot of sportsmen have a sports psychologist, have you thought about doing that?
What, you mean mental training?
I had a guy a couple of years ago, and still now if I want help, I go to him. He is a Croatian guy. When I need his help, he is always available for me. It is great to have somebody like that to help sometimes.
Did you speak to him after Mantova?
No, I didn’t. I know what went wrong. If I am honest, I was just trying too hard, and trying to make space where there was no space. I was trying to be more patient also.
Racing Tony, I don’t think Tony is a dirty rider, maybe he does brake checking sometimes or little things, but he never does anything dangerous. How is it racing against Tony at the speed you guys are going?
It is always great. When I was growing up, coming through the classes, I was 65 champion and I met him in Monte Carlo. I think he was two-time World champion then and I always looked up to him. Now to be in the same class and racing him and have nice battles and fight for a title. It is great racing him; he is a clean rider and we both respect each other. That is why we have such amazing races, because we don’t want to be dirty, we just want clean racing.
It is easy to forget you are just 22 years old, and it must be easy to forget when Tony was 22, he was also making mistakes, or Jeffrey when he was 22 it was the same thing. Do you need to remind yourself sometimes that mistakes are just part of learning and growing?
I think everybody makes mistakes and at the end, it is the guy who makes the least mistakes. Guys make mistakes, but you need to make them as little as possible. On a bad day, you need to make the best of it and never give up and carry on. Work hard and never give up.
When you are on, and your concentration is good, it looks nearly impossible to beat you. Do you feel that way?
Yes, I totally agree. I feel good in the training at home, and I know if I bring this type of speed, I can be really fast. That is definitely the goal to try and bring that confidence and speed and composure and smart from practice and bring that to the races. Also, I need to have fun at the races and enjoy it, and not think about the championship, just focus on the racing.
You have 17 Grand Prix wins and are just five GP wins from entering the top 25 GP winners of all time. Does that mean anything to you, or not really?
I didn’t even know I had 17 GP wins.
You are like Antonio; he never knows either.
Definitely, it is nice to have so many, hopefully in the future we can add a lot of them and win as much as possible.
Your Fox gear, on the weekend it looked amazing the red, white and blue. You look like a rider who likes to look good. Does it feel special when you put something on, and it looks really cool?
Yes, for sure. Fox is always bringing amazing gear. We have a different gear every weekend and it’s exciting. When you get one gear you really like and you want to wear it, like the gear on the weekend, with the clean HRC colors. Fox always bring the best for their guys and I am really happy about that company.
Images Roman Borak and Bavo Swijgers