Tim Gajser: Remain or leave MXGP in 2017?
As Tim Gajser heads to an MXGP title at his first attempt (barring injury) the Honda man has a big decision to make with his bosses for 2017.
Gajser has never hid his intention to go to America to race supercross after he won an MXGP world title, but no-one expected it to happen this early into his five-year HRC contract. Gajser was supposed to still be racing MX2 this year, but his surprise title win last season after Herlings’ injury meant Gajser got to race the 450 class a year early. 2016 was supposed to be the learning year with 2017 the year to win the title, but again Gajser looks set to achieve his goal earlier than many expected.
It essentially means Gajser is two years ahead of his own and Honda’s schedule and this will ironically cause some internal discussions going into 2017.
If Gajser wins the MXGP title, he can’t race the 250 class in the USA so will have to go straight to the 450 class, that means 17 supercross races at his first attempt. The rumours suggest Honda have secured Ken Roczen (no doubt for a lot of money) as their lead rider to go for the supercross title with Cole Seely as their second rider in the team.
Would Honda have room or want to run a three-man team in the USA? Especially when it means their world champion in motocross, a title their have wanted for years, leaves their MXGP team significantly weaker, lessening Honda’s chances of winning that title in 2017, especially with Herlings now moving up and making the competition in that class even more intense.
Honda have invested in their man for supercross, Ken Roczen, their man in MXGP is Tim Gajser, having both in one series leaves the door wide open for other manufacturers to take away the MXGP crown straight after Honda have finally won it doesn’t make sense, but can you really deny the man that got you your first MXGP title his goal of racing in the USA next year if he really wants to? Gajser is a phenomenal rider and Honda won’t want to cause friction with their top rider who has delivered them so much success.
It’s a complex situation but with Herlings moving up, you would imagine Honda would prefer Gajser staying in MXGP to give the fans some epic racing in 2017 and give Honda global exposure and a chance of a second title. Realistically Gajser is the only rider Honda have capable of running with Herlings, and with Febvre and Cairoli staying with Yamaha and KTM for the next couple of years respectively, and Paulin rumoured to be in discussions with Husky, the aren’t many options left to get another top tier rider of that calibre capable of winning the title.
In a way letting Gajser go to the USA next year will mean Honda cutting their nose to spite their face but maybe a compromise could be reached.
Gajser has already announced he wants to race the Monster Cup in Vegas, so why not let him stay in the USA and get his feet wet by racing the January supercross races before returning to defend his MXGP title. It also has the added bonus of preparing Gajser better for a full 2018 assault as he will have supercross experience and know what to expect.
It also paves the way for what could be a breath-taking season of MXGP as a healthy Febvre and Cairoli go up against Gajser and Herlings – surely Gajser doesn’t want to go to American without beating Herlings (who many regard as the fastest rider on the planet) straight-up, and surely that’s what the fans and Honda would want to see too.
The next few months will be intriguing to see what happens, will Gajser push to get to the USA for supercross full-time in 2017 or will Honda be able to get Gajser to accept another year in MXGP to go head-to-head with Herlings, especially if the deal is sweetened by allowing him to race supercross in January in the states.
It’s a big decision but we will know in the next couple of months if Gajser decides to leave MXGP or remain. With Herlings moving up next season it sets up a potentially mouth-watering battle between the two young talents and MXGP fans will hope remain will get Tim Gajser’s vote.