We've known about the skills of Slovenian rider Tim Gajser for sometime now, but even we were shocked at how well he's adapted to the 450 machine, beating everyone at the first round of the MXGP World Championship in convincing 1-1 fashion. We caught up with him after the press conference to hear what he had to say about his victory and how his life has changed since winning the MX2 title last year...
Congratulations. First race in the MXGP class, first win. How’s it feel?
Thank you very much. It feels amazing. I actually came in here in the first round, I didn’t expect that. I knew that we had a good winter. I was riding good. But to come here and ride like that, like I was riding today, it’s just amazing. I just want to say thank you to everyone because we were working really hard during the winter with the team, also with my dad and on the style. We need to change quite a lot from the 250 to 450. So huge thanks to everyone. It’s been good.
I’ve noticed on my Facebook feed there’s been some pictures from Slovenia. There’s a big party back home. What’s it like to have that support back home being such a hero?
It’s good. The motocross sport in Slovenia in the past, like two years, three years back, not many people were knowing the sport, but now it started to grow really, really quick and I think everyone from Slovenia started following that sport. It’s just amazing to see the picture. The fans sending here a picture on the Facebook and Instagram, text you, how they support you with the shirts, with everything. So it’s just amazing.
I still remember the red and yellow shirts and the old motorhome, and everything like that from your first 125 world title. How has your life changed in terms of being a celebrity back home?
Actually I am the same guy. I try to be the same guy like I was before. I think that’s the key. We are just humans. Everybody has blood under their skin. Be a normal person, that makes you an even bigger champion.
Obviously moving on, Thailand, not your greatest round last year. You said in the press conference you just got to drink more water. Is that all there is to it or have you been training more specifically for the heat?
Last year we made a mistake. Actually I went down on the warmup before the first race. I took pills for pain killers and then I think that was the key that I was so dehydrated. I was working really hard during the winter and came there and just fell down like that. It was strange. But this winter we trained even harder. We have to because 450 is even more stronger. Also I have more time. I am now full professional rider. I don’t go in school anymore, so it’s easier also on that side.
I remember reading before that you’ve trained on the 450 quite a bit anyway, even when you were on the 250. Do you feel that’s made the step a little bit easier in terms of not such a challenge the bigger bike and all that kind of thing?
Yeah, for sure. But when I was riding races with 250 and then practicing with the 450 I was riding 450 like a 250, with the clutch, with the low gears. But now when I’m full time 450 rider it makes life easier. It’s not any more changing the bike. It’s just one bike for the practice, the same bike for the race. So it’s easier for me and I think also for the team.
Obviously Romain Febvre last year was a rookie, came in, won the championship. Does that give you confidence knowing that it can be done? You’ve just got to do what he did last year?
For sure. I think MX2 riders are really good. I think they show the speed with the lap times we are riding, last year when I was there and also this year in Qatar. Now they were riding the same pace like we ride. They are pretty quick when they are on the small bikes. And then also for sure, when you get the bigger bike, you have to ride more smoother. The style on the bike, it’s changed completely. Now you have to be more flowing, not so aggressive. Everything is different.