Eighteen-year-old factory HRC Honda Gariboldi rider Tim Gajser was one of the star performers of the 2014 MX2 FIM Motocross World Championship and is now preparing for his much-touted role as genuine challenger to Jeffrey Herlings’ supremacy in 2015.
The Slovenian is heading for his third term in the MX2 category – second with the works CRF250RW – and will travel to Sardinia this week for further tests on the Honda that has been overhauled and upgraded by Japanese technicians with a view to obtaining the brand’s first GP win in the class this decade.
“I am training harder than ever and putting in the hours every day to be prepared for the season,” the teenager said exclusively over the weekend.
That Gajser could be in good shape and primed to go for the three round 2015 Italian Championship set to begin in Sardinia at the end of the month is a surprise and a relief in the wake of his fractured vertebrae suffered in a crash at the Motocross of Nations in Latvia at the end of last September.
“I went back home to Slovenia and had some scans and I was told it would be three months of recovery,” he explains. “I then went to see my doctor in Croatia for more tests and a second opinion and was told that I should be OK in a month and that was better for me. I took it slowly and was able to step up my programme when I felt good.”
Gajser, who actually trains with a works CRF450RW, managed one test with the Italian Gariboldi crew and with new team-mate Jorge Zaragoza but is expected to find more alterations to his 250RW race bike when he journeys to the Italian island.
“I really liked what the Japanese had come up with last time,” he says. “We changed the pipe and some engine parts and I felt straightaway that we had something better than what we raced in 2014. I’m excited about what we will have when the guys take out the bikes in Sardinia.”
Gajser used the ’14 Honda to grasp two moto victories and six Grand Prix podium finishes last summer. His strength and undoubted potential through the last campaign means that his name is being circulated with the likes of Tixier, Ferrandis and Anstie as Herlings’ authentic threats come Qatar in February.
“Jeffrey was the strongest last year and normally should have taken the title if it wasn’t for that injury. I learned so much in what was my first full season as a factory rider and I know that I wasn’t so consistent; some races I’d be very good and in others I wasn’t!” he claims. “I am working harder than last year and I hope this will pay off. With some more experience I think it will help in terms of giving my best and getting what we all want from the championship.”
It is the relative inexperience that could hamper Gasjer bid for the title but he is younger than any of his peers and time is on his side. From the 10 riders that appeared on the MX2 podium in 2014 four have departed the category and Gajser is one of just three that remain on the same machinery for 2015.