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.
When the end tally was made up, Matiss was in fourth position overall, with the same points score as third-placed Swanepoel. Both rider and team were delighted with a dream debut in the British series. "Matiss was awesome today!" Mark Chamberlain enthused. "He really did his bit for the team, and for me his result was as good as a podium. I think people have now taken notice and seen that we have made a really good signing for next year.
Matiss remains in England for another week. He will don Latvian colours next weekend as he represents his country for the first time at the Motocross of Nations at Donington Park.