Let there be no doubt about it. In the last year, and more so in the last few months, Matiss Karro has performed colossal work to charge into the mainstream motocross consciousness at top level. He qualified for his first GP's, raked in a junior world title, clinched the Latvian Senior MX2 motocross title, and ridden to a top 10 GP result, all at an age where most riders are still finding their feet in the schoolboy class. Not only his on-track endeavours, but also his easy-going style and laconic demeanour have made him a popular figure wherever he goes.
This weekend last (to borrow a poetic phrase), Matiss was introduced to a new fan base altogether. The story, like all good ones, has a bit of a history. During the GP of Sweden, when he needed assistance with a bike problem, MVRD Suso Suzuki team owner Mark Chamberlain was happy to oblige. Out of this event arose a mutual respect, and so it came to pass that, a week ago, - news alert - , a deal was struck that Matiss would join the team for the 2009 season. His first outing as guest rider of the team, the final round of the Maxxis British Championships at Hawkstone Park, would introduce him to the British racing public.
The Shropshire circuit, with its challenging sand surface and the infamous Hawkstone Hill, would provide a perfect stage for Matiss to display his wares. Seeing as this was his first outing at the venue, Matiss was still finding his feet during the qualifying session, posting the 11th fastest time. Those that have not seen him in action before may have been lulled into a false sense of security, but GP riders such as Stephen Sword, Shaun Simpson, Zack Osborne and Gareth Swanepoel who have already seen the Riga Raider in full cry knew that there was plenty in reserve that would come to the fore as soon as Matiss had familiarized himself with the surroundings.
And so it proved to be. Matiss converted his liking for the bike into a good start and slotted into third spot in the race. He eventually found a way past Martin Barr, but GP top man Shaun Simpson was having none of this, and in turn moved past the sixteen year old. With a growing army of new fans urging him on, Matiss held onto third spot until the penultimate lap despite a crash , and only at this late stage did GP race winner Zack Osborne manage to sneak ahead. Matiss and his team were jubilant nonetheless, and his ever-friendly smile stretched even further round his face as he pulled the Shoei helmet off his curly top.