Although motocross racing is fairly new to Donington Park, this British Midlands venue, an arrow-flight away from Nottingham, the stomping grounds of Robin Hood. Yet again the population came out in numbers to hail their folk heroes, but this time it was the motocross knights who drew the cheers. Flanked by Lauris Freibergs, just back from serious injury, and Davis Livs, Matiss felt a heavy weight on his shoulders to do the best for his country, and although he was his usual laconic self in the pre-race interview, the pressure was definitely on. The track, built within the confines of the motor racing track, was a definite challenge, and would definitely provide a serious challenge over the course of the weekend.
The first and most important hurdle to overcome on Saturday, was to place the team amongst the top 20 of the 35 entered nations to ensure qualification for the main event. Lined up against the best MX2 rider of so many nations, Matiss' goal was a top 15 result. He did his growing reputation as a rocket starter no harm as he set off from the blocks like a bimbo on the way to a handbag sale. He dove into turn 1 in fifth position, as good a start as he could have hoped for. He was now in heavy waters, however, and with some of the world's top MX2 riders still behind him, holding on to this spot was never going to be easy. Matiss did the smart thing and kept the plot upright, and although he lost a few positions, he still finished 10th, by far the best result in the Latvian team, which helped the team to qualify 16th for the main event.
A combined class of MX1 - and MX2 riders made up the first race, and Matiss must have felt a pang of nerves as he got buried in the start. From deep in the 20's he started edging his way forward, and matching some of the far more experienced riders for speed. After a few laps, though, he disappeared off the timing screens as a technical problem forced him to the side, ending his first outing in the Motocross of Nations.
Some light, but persistent rain had begun to sift down, and the track was starting to take on all the qualities of a bombed out war zone as Matiss lined up for his second heat. The teenager's start was far better this time, slotting into 15th spot. He held his own for a while, but struggled to find a real rhythm on a track that was not one of his favourites. A mistake and resultant tumble dropped him down into the 20's but he recovered to advance again to 23rd. ALthough this was not in keeping with his self-imposed goals, it was still the best performance of the team, which helped Latvia to 16th overall for the event.
Matiss travels back to his Belgian base to continue his busy racing program. THe final three rounds of the Dutch championship will round out his 2008 racing season, before he takes a well-deserved rest.