The 2012 international motocross racing season in Europe is in full swing, and looming large over a very close horizon is the first world championship event of the season. In a return to tradition, the 2012 season opener is scheduled to take place at Valkenswaard in Holland. This means that every rider and his proverbial dog is descending upon Holland and Belgium for some valuable practice time in the sand. After having allowed himself a short week’s break at home in Latvia, Matiss Karro was up and at it again and on the way to Belgium to pound the laps. Practice time is good, but there is nothing quite like a real race against your most accomplished Grand Prix opposition to determine how good or not your preparation has been to date.
Seeing as there was a handily-organized Dutch Championship event on the calendar, Matiss broadcast an SOS to his long-suffering PR department to see if an entry could still be arranged for the event. The Dutch Federation, having witness the selfsame rider race to a junior world championship on Dutch soil, had no hesitation in extending an invitation, and so it came to pass that the Steve Turner Racing crew descended upon Mill for round 4 of the ultra-competitive Dutch series. We have stated and restated ad nauseam that the Dutch series is a real specialist championship, seeing as racing in deep sand requires a finely-honed set of skills, and it doesn’t become less true with the repetition of that statement. With a starting line up consisting of many riders that have aspirations of good results in the Dutch GP in two weeks’ time, this was going to be no walk in the park. Not at all.
With some pretty elite company around him, Matiss got stuck into his job. Unlike most of the opposition, he had to get to know the track. In the relatively short qualifying time allotted, there was not much opportunity for an intimate acquaintance with the track, and it was pretty much par for the course that he posted the 11th fasted lap time. Matiss’ start in race 1 was in keeping with his starting gate, and he joined the fray just outside the top 10. His burden got substantially heavier when he was upended in lap two, which dropped him way down the pack. Remounting quickly, he set about repairing his race as best he could. With the track getting heavier lap by lap, it was weighing down his bike like the anchor of a passenger liner. He plugged on in trademark Karro style, nonetheless, and was rewarded with positions gained one by laborious one. Matiss tried all he could to break into the top, and his efforts were rewarded, as he clinched 9th position before the fall of the flag.
Matiss was well-piqued by his misfortune in race one, and bursting to set matters right in the second outing. He did his quest a heap of good with a much better launch, joining proceedings in seventh position. The laws of logic dictate though that the people racing immediately ahead of you when you’re lying seventh in an international race (or any race for that matter) are of a somewhat different calibre than those racing immediately ahead of you if you found yourself way down the pack. The mountain gets steeper the nearer the top, you see. Matiss was up to the task though, and by lap nine, he was holding court in third position. He held onto the position for a good few laps, and even briefly moved into second position when Rui Goncalves’ Honda expired, but the exertions of the first race had taken their toll, and when a strongly-riding Kevin Strijbos and later Ken De Dycker came knocking with serious intent, Matiss had to yield. It is no disgrace at all thought to finish fourth in a challenging sand race against this kind of illustrious opposition, and Matiss returned to the paddock satisfied with his outing.
The Latvian’s glee ramped up substantially when the overall results were announced. Despite his troubled first race, he had done enough to finish third overall and warrant a call-up to the podium . For his debut MX1-class outing in a Dutch Championship event, this is a notable result indeed, and if nothing else, announced his arrival in the premier MX1 class with some clarity. This also marks his fourth podium finish in a row, so this is clearly the kind of result he’s gotten used to.
Matiss will remain in Belgium for the next two weeks and the training regime will be intensely focused on the world championship opener in two weeks’ time.
Our good friend Arno Van den Brink from Motocrossplanet captured the action, and you can view the video of the second heat here.