Tim Gajser was the star at the Grand Prix of Trentino. Following a painful drought of a year and a half, he finally climbed atop the top step of the premier-class podium again. The battles that led to that triumph are going to go down in history too. It was a crazy weekend, for many different reasons, and MX Vice editor Lewis Phillips was present at Pietramurata to discuss everything that occurred alongside the Dolomites with the HRC star.
MX Vice: This is a big race for you each year. Fans are crazy. It is basically your home MXGP, so there are a lot of expectations and you have been building up to this too. You have been fast and won a moto. It has been coming, but you got the job done. 1-1. Your first 1-1 since Mexico in 2017, which was a long time ago. Two years ago. That is a long time. I guess you are just buzzing?
Tim Gajser: I am just like… When I came across the finish line, it felt like my first MX2 win in 2015. It was kind of the same feeling, like something special. We were building race-by-race, like you said, and actually here in Arco we managed to make a perfect weekend with nice races, nice battles with Tony, great fans from Slovenia and from everywhere actually. The atmosphere was just unbelievable. I am just so happy and thankful.
Let's get into the first race. [Antonio] Cairoli got the holeshot and led for most of it, but you got close and whatever throughout the race. You and Tony just kept trading the fastest laps. There was never a time where you would go fastest for five laps in a row or he would. You would go fastest, then he would go fastest and then you would go fastest again. One thing that was consistent though is he would always gain time on you in sector one. Do you know why that was?
Yeah, when I came off from the race… Already in timed practice and free practice I was kind of struggling in the first sector and then the second one as well, that is where I lost the most. I was trying to improve that in the second moto but, like you said, the first moto was I would say easier for me, because I was behind Tony and I could watch him.
I did not even try to push too early in the moto, because if I passed him then I would have to be in front of him for twenty-five minutes and we had kind of the same pace. Nobody could gap each other too much, so the pressure was always there. I think with four laps to go I made an attack, then I passed him and tried to push hard. We both pushed really hard. The track was really sketchy and actually did not allow for many mistakes, but the first win was amazing.
Sector one was your weak point in that first moto, but then you would always make up the time in sector three. You were unbelievable there. Do you know what you were doing better than Tony?
That is the U-turn over there. I had some nice lines over there in the back, especially because I was riding behind him and I could really focus where he went. I was kind of switching the lines. I had time to really see, try the other lines and then really found the good one. Then in the end I really found a good one and that also helped the lap times. The sector was good there.
Did you have a spot picked out to pass Tony in that first moto? We have just talked about how your weak point was sector one, but you got him there. How does that work?
Towards the end I found nice lines also, passing the pit lane and then in the chicanes or tight corners. I had some nice, smooth lines and on that lap I could really gain a little bit of time. I was just behind him. Nothing was between us. I passed him in the first right corner. I think he bobbled. He made a little mistake on the inside, because the rut was really deep. I was using the second one. I had a better exit and I could close him. I was on the inside, so that was the pass.
You alluded to it there, but once Tony got around you in the second moto… Everyone would obviously look at that and be like, "Oh, no. It is the worst thing ever." I felt like that was the best thing that could have happened to you, because it looked like you took a deep breath and realized that you could do that.
Yeah, exactly. The second one was tougher, like I said, because I was in front. I was leading. Tony can watch from the behind. In the middle of the race I said, "Pass me. Come on. Go ahead," so I could see where I was losing time. I needed two or three laps to regroup when he passed me, then I could change the lines to see where he was faster or where I was faster and then try to prepare the attack.
I passed him again and then he passed me back again, then in the end we were pushing so hard that he made a mistake over there. Lost almost the front end and then also in the second corner he just went over the berm. The pace was really hard and really high. We really pushed hard. Both of us gave everything to win, because for both of us it is something special to win here in front of so many fans. His home MXGP and my almost home MXGP, let's say, also. It was really unbelievable.
When he got past you in the second race, was there one big thing that you learned that was so much better than what you were doing?
Yeah, sure. Even if I was not in front of him in the beginning of the race, I did not keep it in one line. I was choosing different lines and trying to change especially where I heard him, because you can hear the rider when you are so close. Where he gains a little bit or where you get a little bit bigger gap. I was trying to change the lines where I could hear that he came close, but it is always tough during the race with all the things going on. You just try to be focused on yourself and ride as smooth as possible, especially on a track like that.
You mentioned that this was a big win, like your first one here in 2015. Towards the end of either moto, did the situation start to catch up to you a little bit? Did you start thinking about how big this was and that you were finally going to get on the top step again? Like we said, it has been a while.
Actually, I could not think during the race. The last lap I looked back in the air and I did not see Tony. I saw on the board that they wrote that Tony fell down also. I gapped him a little bit.
He almost took you out when he crashed. Have you seen the video?
If you were like a second behind where you were, he would have T-boned you and that would have been bad. You got lucky.
Sometimes you need a little bit of luck. That is sport. I think everybody enjoyed it. Us battling was an amazing feeling, being there on the track, having you guys around, all of the team and spectators. I think we gave them a great race. It was really intense and clean, with nice battles.
Two more things. First of all, you obviously had an epic battle with Tony at Mantova in 2016. How does this compare to that? Did you enjoy it more? Was it a bigger win? How do you compare the two?
Both wins are special, but I will say that after two tough years and not winning races for more than one year and a half that this is a really special win.
Finally, do you feel like a monkey has been lifted off your back now? You have been close to getting these wins in the last two years, or year and a half since Sweden, but to finally get it done, do you feel like you can breathe a little bit and that you have now completed your rebuilding process?
That was the cherry on the cake and what was missing in the previous MXGP rounds, but now we have got that. The motivation is really high. I cannot wait for the next MXGP, but we have a little break and I will continue working really hard. It is great to win, definitely, for me, for the team and for everyone. Just so happy and thankful.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX