The penultimate round of the 2016 MXGP campaign will present Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser will another chance to seal a phenomenal championship in what is his first attempt at the premier class and become the first rider to own back-to-back titles in different categories since Greg Albertyn won the 125 and 250cc divisions in 1992-93 (Stefan Everts used the YZ450F to win 500cc, MXGP and MX1 crowns in 2002, 2003 and 2004 for what was essentially ‘re-brandings’ of the same contest).
The 19-year-old went 12-DNF at Assen on what was his worst day of the season. He needed just one point over Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli to make sure of Honda’s first title with the CRF450RW but ended up eroding his advantage to 65 points and the Sicilian classified second and aced the second moto.
“For sure I am disappointed but this can happen…and really quickly on a track like that – so tough,” #243 said after three falls in two races at the event where he won in MX2 in 2015. “I was crashing a lot. I knew I could do better but I didn’t feel so good. I just tried to learn as much as possible.”
Gajser admitted the proximity of winning his second title in a row could have been a factor in his patchy performance. He has won almost 50 per cent of the motos this season and showed traces of that speed and confidence in the second Assen sprint where he was closing fast to Clement Desalle’s rear wheel for second place…but then he lost control, veered off the track and damaged the front brake and throttle cable. “You try to be concentrated on racing but in the back of your mind you sometimes have that championship [thought] and I think that was a mistake this weekend; I was not riding relaxed from the first moment we entered the track.”
Gajser now has to finish higher than 13th in each moto or gain 15 points at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and despite the beefed up MXGP entry list insists he has learnt from Assen and will carry his same race approach into the second-to-last fixture of 2016. “For sure it is exciting to be racing with these big names from the U.S. so I’m looking forward to it but will take it like a normal race: after all it is the world championship,” he commented. “The goal will be to go out and have fun and enjoy riding…something I did not do so much this week.”