Gajser looking forward to his MXGP return at Loket

For the first time in 2023, Team HRC will have both Ruben Fernandez and reigning MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser under the awning for the MXGP of Czech Republic this weekend.

At the familiar Loket circuit, in the west of the country, Gajser will make his long-awaited return from a broken femur at what is the 12th round of the series. The Slovenian rider has undergone a vigorous recovery programme on the injury he sustained in February, and after being back on the bike for a number of weeks, will experience his first competitive gate-drop at the hillside venue, which should hopefully be filled with thousands of his fans who have been waiting to see their hero in action.

The #243 will be joining Fernandez, who is having an excellent debut season with team, having just moved back into third place in the championship after the MXGP of Lombok, last time out. The Spaniard won the opening round of the season in Patagonia-Argentina and has since been a podium threat throughout the campaign and he’s heading to the Czech Republic with confidence that he has the speed to once again be amongst the front-runners at this historic venue.

While this will be Gajser’s first GP for nearly 10 months, there will be expectations that the five-time world champion will also be up near the front of this highly competitive MXGP class. However, neither the team, nor the rider are putting too much pressure on the results and will instead use this outing as the building block to getting back to the speed that saw him dominate the 2022 campaign, and put him in a position where he can have a successful final third of this 2023 season.

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As has been the case this year, Gajser’s first opportunity to score points will be in the Saturday qualifying race, where 10 points are on offer to the winner, nine to second place, down to one point for 10th. This result will then also give the gate-position for the two GP-scoring motos on the Sunday, where the standard 50 points are at stake.

Tim Gajser: It’s been a very long time since I last raced a GP, so I’m of course very excited to get back out on the track. I’m also excited just to see everyone again, my teammates and all my fans, because when you’re at home recovering, you are kind of isolated and it’s tough to stay involved with everything. Now though, I’ve had a few good weeks on the bike and my body is feeling good. Of course I don’t know how it will go until I’m actually out there racing, but Loket is a good track to return on. I don’t actually have the best record there, so there isn’t too much pressure on me to get a specific result, but of course I want to do well and put on a good race for all my fans who will make the journey.

Marcus de Freitas: It’s great to finally have both riders at the races together. Ruben is coming off a tough, but enlightening double-header in Indonesia, where things didn’t go completely to plan, but where he learnt a lot about himself and what he needs to do to progress. And now we have Tim back with the team and that will just lift everyone and it will be awesome to have him around, because not only is he great on the track, he is such a good guy off it. We aren’t really putting any pressure on his result because Tim is the best judge of that and he knows what he can do. Our job is to help both riders achieve their targets and I think if we can do that, it will be a very successful weekend.

Ruben Fernandez: It has been good to be back in Europe and getting into my regular training regime after the Indonesia trip. I enjoyed myself out there, but things didn’t quite go the way I wanted on the track so I’ve been working hard to get that feeling back and I’m looking forward to Loket this weekend. Last year, I was riding so well there, but then I had a big crash, so I know that it is a track that you need to be fully focused on the whole time, but I feel I have made big steps in that this year and now I’m determined to go out there and show it.

Words and image: Honda