Interview: Tim Gajser – ready for 2023 MXGP season to kick off
The five-times World Champion, Tim Gajser, faced his first race of the season last Sunday, bringing home third place on the Ponte a Egola track, home of the first round of the Internazionali d’Italia MX EICMA Series 2023. We had a chat with the Slovenian champion to find out how his winter went.
That was the first race of the year, how was your winter?
“The first world championship race is close, we’re almost there. The winter went well, I took a longer break than usual, I didn’t race at the Nations and therefore more or less from 4th September until today I haven’t competed. Anyway I’m really excited to start, everything went smoothly, with HRC we made a lot of improvements on the bike and I can’t wait to be in Argentina.”
You are used to the Internazionali and you are the reigning MX1 and Supercampione champion, in 2016 even the debut with the 450 took place in our series in Alghero. Looking at the numbers it would seem that when you have good Internazionali, then the MXGP season goes good too.
“I would say that obviously it is important to be fit and ready at the start of the season but it is not important to be 100% already at the first GP. The season is long and we have 18/19 Grand Prix, so it is difficult to maintain physical and mental condition throughout the year. I think I’ll start the season around 85% and then build up and try to be on top until the end. I feel good, we had a great winter, the motivation is very high and we will see how it goes.”
You won in every class at the Internazionali, you were the first 125cc winner back in 2012, then in MX2 in 2015 and in MX1 and Supercampione in 2020 and 2022. Who do you think are your contenders for this season?
“I think it is difficult to focus attention on just one rider, because in MXGP there is the best of the best, the best riders in the world and in the top 10/15 we all have a similar speed. Surely many riders are hungry like me and I think it will be a very interesting season. I hope everyone stays healthy until the end and we can have good battles and good races for us but also for the fans.”
Winning a title is never easy, winning five is quite impossible for the majority of riders, you succeeded, now do you think there are still some aspects to work on to improve further?
“Yes, I always analyze at the end of the season where I can improve, because nobody sleeps, everyone analyzes and pushes a little more; I always say that if I trained like the previous year, it wouldn’t be enough. You have to grow every year and we did it well this winter, now it’s time to race.”
The story of your number 243 is known to most, this year we have seen many champions choose number 1, such as Pecco Bagnaia in MotoGP and Jeffrey Herlings last year in MXGP, have you ever thought about it?
“No, I never even thought about it, as you said I won a couple of titles but I never thought about changing. My number means a lot to me and I wouldn’t change.”
You already have a rather long history with Honda, do you think in your head that you will stay together until the end?
“If I’m completely honest I think so, I feel at home, we’ve been together for 10 seasons I think, I know everyone in the team, I feel at home and that’s what I like the most and the reason to stay here. They give their best every year to improve the bike, there are so many people, so many Japanese, the engineers there in Japan who work hard to make the bike better every year. I’m super happy with the team around me, so I don’t see why I should change a winning team.”
You’ve done a lot for motocross in Slovenia, no one has ever won so much in history and you’ve attracted so many new spectators to the races, do you think you’re also attracting new riders among the youngsters?
“I think so, more and more children and young kids are approaching the sport and are growing up. Today we have full gate in 65cc and 85cc championships; when I was a kid there were like 4 of us at and I guess I’m sort of an example. Motorsport is not very popular in Slovenia but now I think that looking at me the kids can think that you can also achieve success with motocross. There are many fans who come to the races to follow me and the Slovenian riders.”
With Jan Pancar you form two thirds of a team for the Nations, I think it’s frustrating for you not to have a third partner to compete in the race at the highest level.
Yes, it is, with Jan we ride together very often, he comes to me in Tigaland to train and I think this year he is in a good position, he has already shown that he can stay in the 5, now if he can take another step he could get to the podium. For the Nations there are two good riders, we are still missing a third but we just need to find one solid enough to hope to get the best result in our history at Ernée.”
You are still very young but you think that before the end of your career you will be able to race in a Slovenian Grand Prix.
“I’m trying really hard, we’re a very small country, a green country and it’s not easy but there are people who are pushing forward and I hope that before the end of my career I can race on my home soil. I think that’s something I miss and I would like to experience this feeling once.”
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Images: Shot by Bavo