“Horrific crash sidelines Karro.” Not the headline with which we would have liked to announce the end of Matiss Karro’s 2012 world championship campaign. Life is cruel, sometimes, and this is how it was. Up until that fateful moment at Uddevalla, Sweden, Matiss’ season was on the up and up. In a short moment of blind fate, a rider who had already completed a qualifying lap, strayed onto the racing line, right in the path of the unsighted Latvian, who could not avoid him. The crash was severe, and the young Latvian star suffered a compression fracture of his T8 vertebrate and severe concussion. The specialists immediately ruled out any competitive sporting activity for the remainder of the season, and it was only after a long revalidation, a good four months’ worth, that Matiss could even begin to partake in any physical activity at the beginning of November.
Let us roll back time then, and review the season that promised to much yet ended on such a minor key. After much soul-searching, Matiss finally decided to take up a new challenge and move to the MX1 class for the 2012 season. He is still young,a and could still have had a good number of MX2 seasons, but a number of advisors felt that his style is more suited to the bigger bike, and that he was best served getting used to the class as early as possible.
Even in the face of many similar opinions, Matiss still had some misgivings. The MX1 world championship class is stacked with talent like a Wal-Mart is stacked with cheap wares pre-sale. Never one to shy away from a challenge, though, once he made up his mind, he was fully committed. He inked a deal for the season with Steve Turner’s STR racing team, and the mount of choice would be the KTM, Matiss” first experience of the Austrian brand.
The young man could scarcely have enjoyed a more confidence -boosting launch to his MX1 career than he did. His first outing was at the annual Hawkstone Park International, a race that’s stacked to the brim with talent. Not only did he qualify fourth for the event, but he produced a scorching ride in the Superfinal which had the world’s eyes stretched wider than a troubled European country’s budget when he finished third. He had announced his arrival to the class in no uncertain terms. He underscored his undoubted class at the Scottish Championship opener, where he won each race by pretty much a continental margin.
Matiss’ first big test in championship terms would come at the British Championship opener at Doncaster. After a troubles first race, he bounced back with two second-place finishes behind Kevin Strijbos, good enough to hoist him onto the podium at his British Championship MX1 debut. At the second round of the championship he went one better, scoring a race win on his way to an overall victory. With riders such as Strijbos, Shaun Simpson and Gert Krestinov in the mix, this was a serious confirmation of his readiness to rumble, as it were.
The butterflies in his stomach felt like vultures as Matiss rolled up for his first GP in the MX1 class. Scene of the action was Valkenswaard, Holland, which at least gave him the familiarity of a sandy track, which he is known to be quite handy on. Despite a hurt tail bone, which felt like it had been stamped on by an elephant after a qualifying crash, He managed a top 10 heat result, and opened his world championship account with 12th overall. The world really sat up and took notice at the Bulgarian GP. The popular Latvian was on fire in the second race, holding his own in 8th position with two laps to go, when fate intervened cruelly. He jumped on a track-side straw bale, and the resultant thud was substantial enough to cause continental drift. He was out of the race, but had proven that he has the wherewithal to mix it well into the top 10 of an MX1 GP race, on a hard track or soft.
Next up on the calendar was the third round of the British Championships at Lyng, a track that he did not particularly enjoy for its narrow lay-out. After two fourth places in the first two heats, his mojo returned for the third race, and he finished second behind Strijbos, a result good enough to secure him another podium call-up.
In the meanwhile, he had added to his world championship tally at the Italian GP, and after a tough outing in far-flung Mexico, he improved his world championship standing somewhat. His friendly face is a marketing billboard for steely resolve, and although he had kept the point-o-meter clicking over merrily up till then, he had still not clocked the magic top 10 race result. He knew he could, though, and in Brazil, on a muddy plain, he kept his wits about him and splashed to his first top 10 MX1 race result.
Returning to England and the very English sounding Milton Manor, Matiss had one of his most memorable outings of the season. Kevin Strijbos suffered setback upon setback on the day, and Matiss, in contrast, pulled out the wand of devastation. He took the Superpole honours by 5/100ths of a second, and that was the last that anyone smelt of him for the remainder of the day. After a perfect 75 point day, he had bounced into the British Championship lead.
He continued his GP campaign with a double-digit points haul at the French GP. Another top 10 race result in Portugal stood him in good stead, but unfortunately a second race crash compromised his overall result. A potential top 10 overall result in Belgium went up in a haze of pain when Matiss could not avoid a fallen rider and painfully crashed out of the second heat.
Matiss has the privilege of one outing with his British Championship red plate before wily campaigner Strijbos came knocking and claimed it back. Unfortunately for the Latvian, this was to be his last full race outing of the season before the fateful crash in Sweden. He did cover himself with some glory, though, scoring his fifth podium finish in a row in the British Series.
With his season sadly curtailed, Matiss was a picture of despondency and frustration as he convalesced. Even though he missed close on half the season, he still finished fourth in the final British Championship standings. He missed 8 GP races, but was still credited with 17th in the world standings, a testament to a very meritorious MX1 class debut.
As his medical condition improved, Matiss’ cheery self began to shine through, and as the time came close for him to resume training, there was scarcely a wall thick enough to contain him. Having re-singed with the STR racing KTM team, he is a bundle of expectation as he awaits the new season. Roll on 2013!
For more information about Team STR please check out their website! http://www.steveturnerracing.com/