Team HRC’s Tim Gajser won the second moto at the MXGP of Turkiye, to get himself on the top step of the podium for his first overall GP victory in 2023. It capped off an excellent weekend for the #243 who showed everyone once again that he is a force to be reckoned, now that he is back to full strength.
Teammate Ruben Fernandez also put a bit of a frustrating weekend behind him to ride excellently in the second race to get fourth place, giving him sixth place overall, and a much fairer reflection of how he was feeling coming into this event.
For Gajser though, it is almost a year to the day that he last won an MXGP and after topping timed practice yesterday to give him first gate-pick when the qualification race was cancelled due to a storm, he came into today’s motos feeling really confident. A good start in race one saw him quickly move into the lead on the third straight and although he tried to pull away, he understandably got a bit of arm-pump from leading this highly competitive MXGP field for the first time in 12 months. Still, he was able to cruise to a second place, knowing that a win in race two would give him the victory.
And that’s exactly he was able to achieve after once again getting into the lead round the second corner and putting in a display of riding that saw him pull out a 10 second lead at one stage. A small mistake saw him remount just in front of the chasing pack, but he regained his composure and once again pulled out a five second gap by the time he received the chequered flag, sparking scenes of jubilation for himself and all of Team HRC.
Since his return from a broken femur in February, the reigning world champion has slowly improved in each event, and this race was one that he had circled as a potential podium, but after being comfortable in the very first session, his target was upgraded to a victory and the Slovenian achieved it with a display of riding that showed everyone he is back to his 2022-best.
Following him across the line in fourth place was Fernandez, who finally got to show everyone that he had speed at this track and that he is also getting back to his best after a tough couple of months. He wasn’t able to put in a decent lap in timed practice yesterday and with the qualification race being cancelled, he didn’t have the opportunity to improve upon that 14th position.
Then in race one, after getting a good jump, he was taken out on the second straight and had to pick up his bike almost dead last. While his riding was good, he was only able to get back to 11th place, leaving him highly motivated to do a lot better in race two. And he was able to do just that, by once again getting a good start and moving quickly into fourth place. He maintained that for the duration and leaves Turkiye feeling much better about his performance.
Although there is weekend off now, both riders will be heading into Maggiora, Italy for the penultimate round of the season in excellent frames of mind and looking to keep this momentum up and really trying end this championship on a high.
Tim Gajser 243
"I felt confident coming into this weekend and once I rode the track, I knew it was going to be a good weekend. Even though the storm meant we didn’t race yesterday, I had the first gate-pick and that really helped me get two good starts on my Honda CRF450R, giving me the opportunity to lead the races early on. The first race I had arm-pump so I had to settle for second, but race two I was just feeling so good on the bike. I had a really good lead, and even though I made a mistake, I was able to stay in front and then pull out a gap all over again. A big thank you to all the team, my girlfriend Spela and all the fans who have supported me this year when things haven’t gone my way. I’m really happy to show everyone that I am back and now I’m really excited for the final two rounds."
Ruben Fernandez 70
"The second moto was much better for me, and much more the level that I expect from myself. After not getting the opportunity to improve upon my 14th position in timed practice, I didn’t have the best gate-pick but I still had a good start in race one. However, another rider collided into me before the second bend and I was picking my bike up practically last. I got back to 11th but it was a pretty frustrating race. Thankfully race two went a lot better and I was able start well and keep the top three in sight for the entire race. A big congrats to Tim for his victory and I really hope we can see each other on the podium in these last two rounds."
Marcus Pereira de Freitas - HRC General Manager MXGP
"What a great performance by Tim over the whole weekend. He was fast in every session and fully deserved to take the win here, which really boosts his confidence for Maggiora and Matterley Basin, which are two tracks he likes. The whole team, both at the races and in Japan have worked very hard to help him get back up to speed and this is testament to the effort everyone has put in, that he was able to achieve this victory. Ruben also put in a great race in the second moto and is starting to look like the rider who started off the season so strongly. Well done to both riders and we can’t wait to get to Maggiora and try and do even better."