With the opening round of the MXGP FIM Motocross World Championships run and won by defending champion Tim Gajser, all eyes are now focused on the second round of the series at the Matterley Basin circuit in England.
While Gajser had it all his own way in Russia, you get the feeling there might be a little more competition around the undulating circuit, built in a valley in Winchester, in the south of England, at round two next weekend, on June 27.
We all remember well the battles that Matterley has brought us and three of the big four in the MXGP championship, Gajser, Jeffrey Herlings and Antonio Cairoli love the place.
The Matterley Basin circuit has been good to all three legends in the MXGP class with Herlings winning in 2020 and 2018, Cairoli winning in 2019, 2015, 2014, 2012 and 2011 and Gajser winning in 2016.
Yes, that’s domination from the three legends.
Last year it was Herlings won in England with 1-2 scores, from Gajser 8-1 and Cairoli third with 4-3 scores, while in 2019 Cairoli won with Gajser second, in 2018 it was Herlings winning with Cairoli second and Gajser won there in 2016.
While many names could join these three, I have a feeling the three multiple world champions will once again put on a show for the sold-out British public.
Gajser knows that his win in Russia might have looked easy, or at least dominant, but he expects a retaliation from his major rivals, on the circuit that always produces major clashes.
“Of course,” Gajser said. “With the more races, the more everyone will get a better speed and we haven’t raced for a long time, and we will all improve. I really like Matterley Basin and again I will try and do my best and try and be consistent, get good starts and try and enjoy it.”
As for Herlings, the rider who probably went into Russia as the favourite struggled a little but isn’t too concerned and looks with great enthusiasm towards round two and a circuit, he has won at twice in MXGP and also in the MX2 class.
“These are not the best results,” Herlings said over his Russian performance. “Not what we dreamt of, but I’m pleased to get on the podium at a track I don’t like so much. I worked my way to 4th in the first race then had a holeshot, tip-over and then back to 2nd. It wasn’t a bad weekend.
“Hopefully it gets better from here. I’m already looking forward to Matterley Basin; it suits me better with more grip and lines.”
As for Cairoli, he hadn’t missed a podium finish at the opening round of the MXGP championship since 2016 and while he came very close to being the first man behind Gajser in Russia, he also knows that zero points in the second race wasn’t good for the championship, but he will also focus on round two in England.
“I’m quite disappointed,” Cairoli said about Russia. “Especially with three laps to go and in a place where many people crashed. It shouldn’t have happened, and I should have thought a bit more. I was a bit distracted and crashed hard.
“Luckily, I didn’t hurt myself and wanted to restart as I had some time over the guys behind, but the clutch was broken, and the bars were bent. It’s disappointing because I was feeling very good on this track after struggling in previous years. Let’s regroup and see what we can do in England.”
So now, the three most successful men in the MXGP class and also the riders with the most success at Matterley Basin, are now working hard with their teams and all will be making sure they enter round two with good speed and the hope of winning yet another Grand Prix in England.
Words by Geoff Meyer
© Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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