After a hot and humid MXGP of China, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser climbed the podium steps once more as he was given the gold medal which symbolises an MXGP championship success. Although he wasn’t able to add to his nine MXGP overalls, he did still display his speed and style, giving a great performance in front of the first ever Chinese GP audience.
With 11th gate pick after qualification yesterday, Gajser once again proved the power of the Honda CRF450RW by rounding the first corner inside the top three in both races, giving himself a great chance at podium success. In race one, despite immense pressure on the riders in front, he wasn’t able to find a way to pass on this new Shanghai track and had to settle for third place. Then in race two, he was again in third place, looking to make a pass when his line off the finish jump took him slightly off course and he clipped a trackside banner. This then got wrapped up in his lever and as he tried to free himself he lost valuable time and positions. He was still able to get up to fourth, but he lost out on third overall due to the second moto tie-breaker.
While he would have liked to have finished off the season with a win, the main objective was achieved three rounds ago in Imola, Italy and he will certainly reflect on a 2019 campaign that is one of the most successful in Honda history. Nine overalls including a record-breaking seven in a row meant that he has dominated the championship table from the halfway point onwards and he fully deserved the third world title of his career.
For teammate Brian Bogers, he rounded off his season with an 11th overall after once again narrowly missing out on that the top 10 result that he has come close to achieving a number of times. The Dutch rider showed good speed early on but slipped down to 11th in both races, but his 20 points were enough to see him move up to 13th in the championship standings after missing the round in Sweden.
While the world championship season is over, Gajser will represent Slovenia at the Motocross of Nations which will take place at the famous Assen motor racing circuit in the Netherlands on September 28-29. This gives the champ a week to recover from all the recent travel before training for the sandy challenges that the MXoN track will provide.
Also in the MXGP class, Jeremy van Horebeek continued his recent run of good form by placing fifth overall after seven-five race results. The Belgian rider fought through the field in race one and then got a good start in race two as he held onto the lead pack for a long period of the race. The 30 points on the day meant that he ended up finishing in eighth place in the championship.
Team HRC’s Calvin Vlaanderen signed off his MX2 career with an impressive podium performance at the 2019 season finale, which was hosted at the brand new facility in Shanghai, China.
The track was praised by a lot of riders over the course of the weekend, providing a good surface and an interesting layout as the MXGP championship visited China for the very first time. For Vlaanderen, it was also provide some happy memories as the Honda rider finished the season and his time as an MX2 rider with a third place overall, putting in a second moto charge that gave him the finish he needed in order to beat out fourth place by two points.
In both races the CRF250RW rider got out the gate extremely well, rounding the corner inside the top three. Then in race one, a small mistake by another rider meant that Vlaanderen was in second for the entirety of the race, putting pressure on the leader but unable to get himself close enough to make the move for the win.
Race two didn’t quite go as smoothly as it was his mistake on lap one that dropped him from third to seventh. As usual, he didn’t get rattled and instead put his head down and fought his way back up to fourth place with just five laps remaining. This was the position he needed for the podium and as he crossed the line, it was obvious he had put everything into that ride to make sure his final MX2 race was a good one.
Although the season is now completed, Vlaanderen does potentially have one race remaining as he hopes to represent the Netherlands in what is a home Motocross of Nations for them. The Assen facility will be hosting this prestigious race on September 28-29 and Vlaanderen is one of two riders who are competing for the MX2 position in the three-man team. This gave extra importance to his ride and is further proof (after his moto win and podium in Sweden) that he would be a very strong choice for what will be a very strong Dutch team.
Elsewhere, the Honda 114 Motorsports duo of Zachary Pichon and Mitch Evans finished just outside the top 10 in three of their four combined motos, as Evans just missed out on a top 10 in the MX2 championship standings in what is his rookie campaign.
Tim Gajser 243
First of all, I am super happy to have my third world title this year, especially winning it in front of so many fans in Imola. It was really something special. Now, after that my level maybe hasn’t been as high and I’ve struggled to find the flow but overall I’m super happy with the year and I must say a big thank you to the team for their part in that. They have been amazing this year, but they also stood behind me these past two years when things didn’t go my way, and that is when you know you have a good team around you. I must also thank all the fans who have supported this season, they have followed me around the world and it is so great to have people at the track cheering you on. People from Slovenia even came all the way here to China and I am so thankful for that.
As for this Shanghai race, I really enjoyed the layout and the dirt and I really felt good out on the track. I was fast in practice and grabbed a holeshot yesterday but a mistake a couple of laps later cost me positions. This meant I had 11th gate pick but I was still able to get two good starts, inside the top three. In the first moto we were all close together and it was tight racing but it was difficult to find a place to pass so I finished third. Then in the second moto, I was running third again but I jumped off the track and got tangled in a banner and by the time I was free from that I had lost a lot of time and positions. I was still able to get back to fourth which was good enough for fourth overall. I would have loved to have been on the podium, but it was still amazing to get handed the gold medal as champion and overall it has been a great, great season.
Brian Bogers 189
This was the final race of the year and also the final race for me with this team and I must say thanks to everyone. I had a really amazing year and I really liked working together as they are an amazing group of people. I really enjoyed it so a big thank you.
Now once again in the race, my speed was good, but I felt fatigued on the track and maybe that is because it has been such a long year. After returning from injury last year I haven’t really had a break and I think that has caught up with me these past few rounds. I think that contributed to why I have slowed down in the second half of the races recently, but the positive side is that my speed was good before that. I was battling with the top five guys so I am happy with that and that means now my aim is to try and make that last for 30 minutes. I did enjoy my rides though and this track in China was a lot of fun.
Calvin Vlaanderen 10
Today went really well and it was a great to end the season on a high note. It was also the final MX2 race of my career so to finish on the podium was a special moment and something I won’t forget. I had a good first moto with a good start and was riding in third. Then the rider in second crashed so I moved up a position and from there I kept pressure on the leader right until the end, finishing second. I also had a good start in the second moto but a small mistake on the first lap cost me some crucial positions and I dropped back to seventh. I knew that I would have to pass a few guys to get on the podium so I put my head down and went to work. I found some good lines and while I had some crazy moments, I wanted to leave everything out there on the track and try everything to get the podium spot. Thankfully I managed to do it and while I would have loved to have battled up front with the guys, it was still a great weekend for me and for the team and a nice way to finish up. Obviously I don’t know anything for the Motocross of Nations yet, but I think I proved with my performances that I am riding very well and I hope to be able to represent the Netherlands, and help us win in front our home fans in Assen.