The defending World MXGP champion, Tim Gajser, goes into this year’s championship going for his fourth World Motocross Championship (1 in MX2 and 2 in MXGP). The HRC factory rider is excited to arrive at Matterley Basin and gave us 10 minutes of his time to talk about his offseason, his preseason preparation and his expectation for this year.
He also gives his view on the battle between Jeffrey Herlings and himself. A battle that should be interesting in 2020.
Firstly, the preseason was perfect. Maybe only Mitch Evans beating you in that final race of the three Italian rounds, but both you HRC guys looked good. The bikes also seemed really good. Can you tell me about the changes the bike has?
The preseason went great. I was feeling good, but still, I was too tight because I got arm pump in nearly every race. I am feeling good before the start of the season. We had three weeks after the last race and I went home where we had good weather. I could train and do some hard-pack testing to make the bike more how I like. HRC did an amazing job. They changed everything. I can’t really talk about what we changed, but the bike is smaller and so much easier to handle. From outside you can see the changes. It is also more powerful.
You had a really busy offseason I remember reading somewhere. How did you recover from that for the season?
I mean, it was busy. I think it was just one week where I didn’t do anything, so one week in the whole year. I traveled to Brazil, Japan, Monaco, and many places in my country. That is why I also started training later because otherwise, I have no free time. I needed some time to recharge my batteries. Now the preseason is done, and we go again now. This weekend is for real and I can’t wait to go racing.
These first few rounds is it like you can maybe take it easier? Maybe less pressure because the series is 20 rounds long?
You want to start the season on a high note. For sure I was practicing to come here not 100%, because if you are like that at the beginning, after a couple of Grand Prix’s you can go down. I think maybe come here 95% and so you can move up as the season goes on. We are racers and every race you enter you give your best and try and win.
I remember Antonio [Cairoli] started 2018 and 2019 it seemed at 100% against you and Jeffrey, and he dropped off, is that what you mean?
Yes, sure, he had a great offseason both years and it is important. It is hard to maintain that 100% all season because we know we race from the beginning of March until September. So many months of racing. It is important to have a good tactic.
A lot of people say Jeffrey Herlings is the fastest man on the planet. You have three titles, he has four. You are 23 and he is 25. What do you think when you read people saying he is the fastest rider on the planet?
I just laugh when I see all this like they are writing on the internet. I prefer to not talk and do it on the track. Even on the 450. When he moved to MXGP, he wasn’t 100% and I was, or he was 100%, and I wasn’t 100% in 2017 and 2018. He was riding amazing and feeling good. We haven’t come together both feeling good and we will see this year. It isn’t just me and Jeffrey, we have Tony with a lot of experience. He struggled with something in the preseason races, but I know he will be there this season. Also, Prado coming from MX2. He will be strong. Also, a lot of other guys like [Romain] Febvre, [Jeremy] Seewer, [Clement] Desalle, [Pauls] Jonass, [Arminas] Jasikonis, so many guys. It will be an interesting season.
You did beat Jeffrey at the MXoN at Assen, which must have been good for your confidence?
Yes, it was in Holland in the sand where I usually struggle. Also, I won Lommel and I rode strongly at the Nations and it does give me the feeling we did our homework and we adjusted the bike correctly for the sand. It was good, but it is a new year and we all start from zero.
You went from a two-time World Champion with maybe 15 GP wins to a three-time World Champion with 24 GP wins, and are now considered a legend of the sport. You could retire tomorrow, and everyone will remember the name Gajser. How does that feel?
Sure, I mean, as a child I was always dreaming of becoming a World Champion just once and to be a three-time World champion it feels unreal. I am happy with the career I have and we still want to improve and get better. Each year we put more effort into the training and how to adjust the bike.
Top sportsmen have something most of us just can’t understand. Where does that determination come from?
I mean, it is a love of the sport. I can’t imagine not going to the races and going somewhere else to enjoy. Maybe when I finish, I can but, for now, I love going to the races and when I wake up in the morning and go to the track at 7am, I love it. We were born with something to have this motivation because it is a totally different lifestyle to normal people. Every hour we have planned to be better. The gym, eating, watching yourself on television, then more training. I love it, and I can’t imagine without it. Even in November if I take a week off, I miss the feeling after two days.
America, do you still have that in your plans full time?
I enjoyed the Monster Cup, no pressure, supercross, I like it, but let’s say I put Supercross on the side and focus on MXGP. We have a new bike and we need to make this bike the best it can be. Maybe I could do some rounds of AMA Supercross, but not a full season.