Tyla Rattray completed his first Grand Prix since 2008 and first in the premier MXGP class at Arco di Trento for round four of the series two weeks ago in Italy. The South African is chasing peak form and fitness on the FC350 as part of the new Red Bull Ice1 Husqvarna team owned by F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen and looked more like his combative self in Bulgaria last weekend.
The former world champion gave an assessment of his progress since completing a recovery from a broken finger in a pre-season Italian Championship race that caused him to sit out the first three rounds of the MXGP campaign. “Fitness-wise I’m good enough to get through at least one moto,” he said. “The second moto is obviously going to be tough and even though when I am practicing and riding I’m doing two motos when you come to racing it is different. I’d say I’m at 80% which is good enough to be out there in the top ten or whatever.”
“Italy was a bad track to come back at!” he added on his MXGP debut at Arco di Trento that saw the riders negotiate the bumpiest and slipperiest surface of the season so far. “I want to get myself back into Grand Prix and into race mode; there is no better way to get fitness than actual competition.
“Maybe Italy was a wrong call because my hand got quite chewed up there and it was a bit of a bummer. I’m happy to be back though and your career is only so long in this sport so you don’t want to be missing or regret anything.”
At Sevlievo Rattray was a more forceful presence in the top ten and picked up an 8-6 for sixth overall. “A lot of ruts and a track that is soft in places; it’s good, and that’s how I remember Europe,” he commented. “It has been a while since I have raced two days! It is a long weekend with a lot of riding. The 350 was good here. Maybe I had a bit of disadvantage on the hills but coming down them then you want to be on a 350!”
Rattray now has less than two weeks to improve his conditioning on the distinctive white bike before MXGP heads to Holland for round six and a track where he and old team-mate Ben Townley burst to prominence over ten years ago. Rattray used to live in Belgium and was known as a sand specialist in his six years in GP competition.
“I think it will be enough time,” he said. “I need to put in the work and hopefully I will be almost there for Valkenswaard. I’m looking forward to that one for sure. Racing in the sand is something I missed when I went to America. It makes you strong, riding in that stuff.”