After missing Finland and being 44 points behind Italian Davide Soreca, the UK’s Brad Freeman made the comeback of the season and clinched the EnduroGP title in the very last test of the season. So, what was the Junior World Champs secret for success?
Hello Brad, how do you feel as Junior World Champion? Did you have time to celebrate this title?
Brad Freeman: “It feels amazing! To say I’m Junior World Champion seems so surreal, but we did it! I’m so proud of our achievements this year; we went from an outsider for the title to being the dominant rider in a pretty short amount of time. And yes, we celebrate a lot! What’s the point in winning if you don’t celebrate it? The only problem was I didn’t expect to win the title and so had no plans at all… maybe that’s why it feels so good?!”
What a year it was! How did you feel when you got injured before Finland?
“It’s being an amazing year, a real breakout year for myself! When I got injured at the start of the year I was devastated, it just felt like I had threw it all away before it had really begun. I remember lying in the hospital in Italy basically crying to my Team Manager (Jarno) saying sorry for ruining the year like that. I told myself… ‘that’s it, the championships gone. Why is this happening to me again?’ He and the team were so good with me, they were patient when I needed it and I definitely would not have won this world championship without them! I think we surprised ourselves this year!”
“Jarno literally just took my helmet and said you can do It!”
When did you realize exactly that you still had a shot on the Junior title?
“I was gaining back a lot of points in the championship but I still thought it was too far away. We went to Portugal for the last 3 GPs and I said to myself ‘OK, I need to finish ahead on every day from here to win this title.’ On the first day in Portugal I had maybe my worst ride of the championship; I wasn’t focused at all and came away with a 4th place finish. At the end of the day I was so angry… I thought ‘I’ve worked so hard all year for every point and then I go and throw them away like that!’ I said to those close to me I think the championship has gone, but they said no, a lot can happen in the final five days of racing! From this point on I was so focused on winning the World Championship! I rode hard but smarter than before, won the final five days of racing and with it the Junior World Championship!”
You were comfortably leading on Day 2 in Germany, but then lost a lot of seconds in the last lap. What happened exactly?
“On day 2 in Germany it was the dream scenario! I had taken the lead in the World Championship for the first time in my career, and was 30 seconds up with 1 lap remaining to be crowned World Champion! I was just about ready to back the intensity down a little bit and bring it home safely. I started the final enduro test, and after three corners had a stick go inside my rear break lever jamming it on! I thought no, this cannot be happening! I had two options… either stop and try to fix the problem but lose a lot of time or risk it and see what played out. I risked it, I thought after the bad luck I’ve had this year I wasn’t prepared to give this championship away like that. I rode the whole enduro test with the rear brake on and lost I think 15 seconds. I exited the test and the rear brake disc was glowing orange! I’ve never seen anything like that before. I tried to fix the problem with the tools I had but it was impossible, I needed a new system. I left the test for the extreme test and immediately lost my rear brake all together! Now I was just starting to panic… because I knew I would have to ride the extreme test with no brake. I said to my team boss before the test ‘I’m not sure we can do this’, and he literally just took my helmet and said ‘you can do It!’ I made a good time on the test! Only losing 5 seconds, leaving it to a showdown on the final cross times! It might have looked exciting from the outside, but it was worrying times from inside the helmet!”
“I always kept sort of aiming to progress…”
Looking back to last year, did you think you will be able to fight for the World crown the year after?
“Honestly I believed in myself, I always have done… I’m not the most confident rider ever but I’m confident in my own ability. But I knew it was a big step! I remember my first GP in France 2013 was the day Matt PHILLIPS won the Junior Title! I finished 9th in the 125cc, and can remember looking at their celebrations and thinking ‘How can I possibly grow up and go that fast?’ the following year in France was when Matt won the E3 World Title and I won the 125 class… it was actually quite cool to see that I was making progress and so I always kept sort of aiming to progress just like he did! But I definitely didn’t think I could do it within the space of four years. 2016 was a great year for me, but I knew ultimately I need to have these good performances in the World Championship.”
Let’s talk about the Beta Boano team. From the outside, it looks more as a family than a simple Enduro team…
B.F: “It’s just one big family! They’re all a great bunch of people and a big reason why I won the World Championship! I signed with the team in the knowledge that they had a good bike, but mainly what they have done with riders before and how they have helped them to grow up. I went out to Italy training this winter actually living in my van, where I became good friends with my teammate Matteo CAVALLO and actually started living in his home! I can’t thank him and his family enough, they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I’ll forever be in debt for what they did for me! Everyone just gets on so well, I’ve got a great relationship with my mechanic and I think that’s what sets us apart from others… we’re a very serious team, but we have a lot of laughs along the way which I think is so important!”
What are your plans for next year?
“My plans for next year have changed maybe five times throughout the course of 2017! I have kind of been waiting to see what was going to happen this year with the championship and where we finished but with winning the title in my first year it blown it wide open! I think I will go senior now as it’s the natural progression, and inside I also feel like I’m ready for it and ultimately that’s the best time to go. I’ll be staying with Beta Boano again and I think that’s going to help me a lot in my first year in senior! But really, I just want to keep progressing as a rider and keep having fun! I’ve had more fun this year than any other, and that shows in my results. I just want to have a good winter behind me and I’ll show up ready for the start of 2018 season!”
Name: Brad Freeman
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of Birth: July, 5th 1996
Place of Birth: Rugeley
Bike: Beta 300 RR
Season by Season Top Results
2011: Fast Eddy Hare & Hound Youth Champion – GBXC Hare & Hound Youth Champion – Youth British Extreme Enduro Champion
2012: 125cc British Sprint Enduro Champion – Fast Eddy Hare & Hound Pro Champion – GBXC Hare & Hound Pro Champion – Youth British Extreme Enduro Champion
2013: 125cc British Sprint Enduro Champion – Expert Overall British Enduro Champion – Expert E1 British Enduro Champion – Expert National Off-Road Champion
2014: Under 20 European Enduro Champion – 5th Overall European Enduro Championship – 125cc British Enduro Champion – 4th Overall British Enduro Championship – Vice Under19 British Sprint Enduro Champion
2016: Overall European Enduro Champion – 4th Overall British Enduro Championship – 2nd Overall British E2 Championship
2017: Junior World Champion