After months of anticipation, Tim Gajser will not line up at the 2016 Monster Energy Cup as expected. A practice crash just before September’s 2016 Motocross of Nations left the Honda Gariboldi rider with slightly injured shoulders and a cracked collarbone, but the Slovenian felt healthy enough to race the 2016 Monster Energy SMX Riders Cup last weekend in Germany. Gajser rode well on the unique track, as he posted the fastest lap in the Super Pole format, won the first sixteen-lap race of the evening, and claimed two holeshots.
Gajser went down twice in the second race of the night, and in the second crash landed directly on his already sore shoulder. He finished the race in nineteenth place, and ended the final race of the night with a fifth-place finish. In a post-race podcast with MX Vice, Gajser stated that his participation in the 2016 Monster Energy Cup was in doubt.
On Monday morning, Honda’s PR department in Europe issued a press release that Gajser will miss the race due to the slight injuries he sustained in the crashes.
It's been a difficult end to what has been a stellar season for rookie MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser. His MXGP season was remarkable and he smashed records on his way to becoming the first back-to-back champion in the MXGP and MX2 era, but since wrapping up the title in the United States, he's had more of a tough time of things.
Whilst practicing on Wednesday 21 October before the Motocross of Nations, a crash in the whoops section of his track in Slovenia meant that Tim hit the ground hard, sustaining heavy bruising and swelling to his right hip and shoulder, but also suffering a small crack in his right collarbone. It was this injury that put him out of the Motocross of Nations.
The 20-year-old Slovenian bounced back for the SMX Riders' and Manufacturers' Cup on Saturday 8 October, and proved he'd lost none of his speed. Racing for the first time aboard the all-new 2017 Honda CRF450RW, he set the fastest time in the pole shootout, took the holeshot, win and fastest lap in the opening race, and again surged into the lead of race two.
Three laps from the end of race two, however, a crash on the back section of the track inside the Veltins Arena put Tim down hard again on the already weakened right shoulder. He was able to finish the race, albeit a lap down and in visible pain. After a little rest before race three he steeled himself in true Gajser style and decided to push on and race. Starting well, as the race progressed the Slovenian uncharacteristically slid backwards from second to fifth, demonstrating the pain he was enduring.
Based upon this, and the fact that Tim wants to enter the Monster Energy Cup fit and able to challenge for the win, it has been decided that he will miss this year's edition of the race to focus instead on recovery and preparations for next season.
Tim Gajser, no.243
"I feel so bad that I can't go to the Monster Energy Cup this year because it's no secret that I want to race against the best in the world in America and I was really looking forward to it. I showed at the start of SMX that I am fast also in this mix of motocross and supercross and I think it would have been a great battle this weekend in Las Vegas, but there is too much risk with the injury in my shoulder. It was so painful at SMX, and even though we raced in the final race I wasn't fighting – I was letting people pass when they caught me because I didn't want to have any contact in my shoulder or push harder and make it worse. I was holding on, and this is no way to go to race something as important as Monster Energy Cup.
"When you are scared of making an injury worse, that's no way to race, so it was a very hard decision to make but we know it is the right one. So I'm sorry for the fans and the sponsors like Monster and Fox that I can't race out there, but there is always next year and I think it's important for everyone that we do it properly with the best chance of winning. It's been an unbelievable season this year taking the MXGP title, and for that I want to thank everyone with me for all their support. But it's also been a long season so now we need to take some time and make sure we go into 2017 stronger than ever. So I wish everyone the best for racing this weekend and I'll be watching, and ready to come out there next year and give it my best."