“For sure, 100% yes!” were the words straight from South African Tyla Rattray’s mouth several weeks ago when I asked him if two-time World Motocross MX2 Champion Antonio Cairoli could be beaten in 2008. After Cairoli’s clear class control in 2007, I was excited to see Rattray back up his words and taste victory at the opening round of the 2008 World Motocross MX1 and MX2 Championships in Valkenswaard. Now back after a long injury, the eager and resolute Red Bull KTM rider picked up where he left off in August 2006 - by standing atop the podium.
Tyla Rattray: Thanks! It has definitely been a while since I’ve done that, but it feels great to be back in the winner’s circle, that’s for sure! All weekend I felt wonderful on the track, and I’m especially happy to win the first one of the year.
I remember when we spoke a few weeks ago, you told me that Cairoli was beatable.
Yeah, as I said, I knew that he was beatable. It was not like I had never beaten him before. To me, it was very important that I beat him at the opening round.
Being that it was the opening round, were you surprised by any of your other MX2 competition?
Not a whole lot. The guys that I expected to be up front were up front. But still there were also some newer, younger kids up there for a while. Really, all the guys made it a very enjoyable and exciting race.
The guys at KTM have really been working hard over the winter, and they got the bike running excellent. I have been very happy since I left South Africa and arrived back here to Europe. I’ve been on the bike a lot. The main thing for me is that my starts are way better – that has been a very big help.
And things are going well with your new trainer, Russell White?
Yes, Russell has been one of the principal changes with my training. He has me on just an outstanding program. I’m feeling fit and strong on the bike – I know my physical conditioning is not a problem. As I most likely told you before, I am very happy and fortunate to have him by my side.
With Russell, your stepfather Wayne as mechanic, and your mom, Tracey, you have a pretty good support system, don’t you?
It’s great. Wayne and my mother have been there for me since day one, when I first put my foot over a bike. Wayne is an extremely gifted mechanic, and he knows exactly what he is doing. As you said, I have a bunch of great people around me at the moment, and that’s what you need in this sport.
Nope, my main goal is to take it race by race. I really like Spain and Portugal, which are the next two tracks coming up, and I feel fine there on the hard pack as well. I think that it will be good. I’m going to each race to fight for the win, then we’ll see where that puts me for the end of the season.
Final thoughts, Tyla?
I just would like to say thanks to my family, friends, sponsors, and fans for all their support.