Husqvarna already had a strong start to the 2018 season with SuperEnduro World Champion Colton Haaker firmly intrenched in the team, but things are looking even more solid in the white corner with the announcement that last year’s runner-up, Alfredo Gomez, and rising star Billy Bolt will also be flying the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory team flag next year.

The team will enter the five-round 2018 FIM SuperEnduro World Championship firmly focused on defending Husqvarna’s status as a key player in the prestigious indoor enduro series.

For Colton Haaker, the American returns to the series set on claiming the third SuperEnduro World Championship title of his career. Recovering from a recent elbow injury, which stopped him from defending his AMA EnduroCross Championship, Colton is highly motivated and looking forward to a positive return to SuperEnduro competition.

“I love the SuperEnduro series and I’m really looking forward to the start of the coming series, Haaker said.

“Defending the SuperEnduro championship is going to be tough but I am really motivated to give my best. It might not be ideal going into the championship following injury, but as long as everything goes to plan I should be in with a good chance of the title. With the series being spread out over a few months I’m hoping to build momentum as time goes on, ready to challenge for the title during the closing rounds.”

Further strengthening the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team is 2017 FIM SuperEnduro World Championship runner-up Alfredo Gomez who is making the switch to Husqvarna from stablemates KTM. After winning half of the rounds contested during last winter’s series, the TE 300i powered rider will be a favourite for race wins in the upcoming championship.

“We have a strong team and this gives some extra motivation to do well, he said. Going into the championship my goal is clear – I want to start the season on a high in Poland and keep fighting for the World Championship all the way until the last round in Sweden.”

Rounding out the team’s SuperEnduro campaign is 20-year-old Billy Bolt. Following a strong season of Hard Enduro competition, the young Brit is all-set to make his SuperEnduro debut aboard Husqvarna’s FE 350 machine.

“This is going to be my first season of SuperEnduro, Bolt said, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been following the series for many years and always wanted to do it. I’ve been training hard and improving in every little detail. It’s good that there will be lots of good riders this year. I think we’re going to have some good battles and I can’t wait to be part of them. My goal going into Poland is to see where exactly I’m at, so that I can then gradually improve. I am confident that after Poland I’ll know what to work on so that I can keep pushing and all being well challenge for podium results.”

Contested over five rounds in four different countries, the 2018 FIM Superenduro World Championship revs into life on December 9 in Krakow, Poland.

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!”

2017 FIM Enduro World Championship – Zschopau, Germany

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…”

2017 FIM Enduro World Championship, Castelo Branco (POR)

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!”

2017 FIM Enduro World Championship – Zschopau, Germany

The Deets

Name: Brad Freeman
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of Birth: July, 5th 1996
Place of Birth: Rugeley
Bike: Beta 300 RR
Number: 12S

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


KTM Factory Racing is, as the brand likes to point out at every opportunity, READY TO RACE at the 2018 Dakar Rally with Red Bull riders Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner, Toby Price, Antoine Meo along with Laia Sanz and Luciano Benavides.

Officially launched at the recent EICMA show in Milan, complete with its traditional Red Bull livery, the all-new 450 Factory Rally boasts many performance improvements over last year’s model. A new engine and management system gives riders more accurate throttle response, a new chassis and swingarm provides sharper handling and newly designed fuel tanks and bodywork ensure the bike feels slimmer and is more manoeuvrable.

Reigning Dakar Champ, Sam Sunderland, feels good about the teams chances of tasting success once again at the Dakar.

“I am feeling really positive, he says. I’m feeling really fast and strong on the new 450 – my fitness is good at the moment and I have no injuries. We have had the final shake down test on the new bike and it went very well. There’s always a lot of work and preparation in the last couple of months on the run up to Dakar. Trying to balance all the factors of testing, training and travelling always makes for a busy time before Dakar.

“Now I would like to be able to reward the team for all their hard work with a good result, which is what I’m working towards. We were able to do that at the bike’s first outing in Morocco when Matthias took the win. Everyone in the team is focused on Dakar.”

With 16 consecutive wins at one of the most notoriously tough races on the planet, KTM and the all-new 450 Factory Rally machine will be battling for success when the 40th Edition of the Dakar Rally begins in Lima, Peru on January 6th.

Angus Macdonald is one of the favourites to win the enduro-cross segment of the Nutbuster this coming weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan,


As if enduro racing wasn’t already hard enough, a bunch of masochistic Kiwis have come along to make it tougher still.

This year’s Nutbuster Hard Enduro in Canterbury this coming weekend (November 17 and 18) will again be an stern test of character and only the bravest and most talented of individuals are expected to survive to see the finish, although more than 100 riders have signed up and accepted the challenge of the two-day event.

If the event sounds extreme, well it’s meant to be – the 2017 Nutbuster Hard Enduro, at Oxford, near Christchurch, will again push the nation’s elite off-road bike riders to their limits.

In the true tradition of such events, it’s really a last-man-standing competition.

It kicks off with a “prologue” event on Friday (November 17), an enduro-cross race that will be one of the highlights of the Christchurch A&P Show, the largest annual A&P show in New Zealand, and this will determine the starting order for the enduro proper that will be staged on a rugged 40-kilometre course, inland from Christchurch and north of Darfield, the following day.

Friday’s prologue, in particular, will provide an excellent showcase for the sport, the action happening in front of a crowd that could be in their thousands, with 100,000 people flocking to this show each year.

Saturday’s hard enduro venue is off Trigg Road, Oxford, and it will be signposted from Waimakariri Gorge Bridge and Oxford.

Sponsored by Opposite Lock and Kaiapoi Repowers, both the prologue and the enduro itself will challenge even the hardiest of souls, although the dangers faced and rigours endured have been made slightly more appealing by the offer of more than $5000 in prize money, including plenty of additional spot prizes.

Last year the event was flooded with 15 centimetres of overnight rain and the organisers were therefore compelled to bypass some of the “impossible” parts of the track, meaning that much of the track will be completely fresh to the competitors this year.

The event has attracted plenty of national and international talent over the years and the entry list this year also reads like a who’s who of the sport.

Riders will nominate themselves as either gold, silver or bronze level entrants, with slightly different courses provided to suit the various rider abilities.

The organisers have advised that “the Nutbuster is an extreme enduro, designed to pit man and machine against the elements and, by its nature, will not be easy. However, we have designed the course to be cruel but fair”.

The gold sections will “not be impossible, but definitely difficult”. There will be long hill climbs and extreme down-hills.

In the silver grade, a good level of bike riding skill and a high level of fitness is still required. Confidence with log-crossing and hill-climbs will be essential and “some pushing may be required, so riders should keep onside with other riders, so they can help one another” when the going gets tough.

The bronze riders have it slightly easier, but not by much.

The Nutbuster with require more than four hours of riding, with riders traversing rocky alpine terrain that sends them through beech forest, over tussock, up and down waterfalls and shingle screes, with other features that are described as “slow speed but more technical”.

Even some of the various features on the course have names that hint at just how tricky it might be – Parachute Drop, Hydraslide, Snake Gully, Mitchell’s Crack, Big Balls, Four-Hour Hell Creek, Rolly Polly Hill and Jurassic Park.

Last year’s Nutbuster winner was Christchurch’s Angus Macdonald, who managed to edge out Manawatu’s former United States and New Zealand cross-country champion Paul Whibley in the process.

Macdonald won the New Zealand Enduro Championships outright earlier this year, perhaps further reinforcing his status as one of the favoured riders this weekend, although he intends to contest only the enduro-cross segment of the event this time around, turning his attention instead to the role of filming the action at the following day’s enduro.

With Macdonald sidelining himself from the enduro, it means his younger brother Hamish Macdonald, who finished third overall in the enduro nationals this year, Cambridge’s Dylan Yearbury and Wellington’s eight-time former national moto trials champion Jake Whitaker are the men probably most favoured to win the event outright.

Yearbury won a similar event, the annual Husqvarna Hard Adventure Enduro, near Tokoroa last month.

Other gold level riders to watch for at the Nutbuster include New Plymouth’s Tony Parker and Christchurch’s Jacques Bakkenes.

The Macdonald brothers, Whitaker and Bakkenes each have international experience, having raced at such events as the Red Bull Romaniacs hard enduro in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, and that may give them an edge over their rivals, which this year also includes six Australian riders from the Wildwood Rock Extreme Enduro Club.

In addition to Opposite Lock and Kaiapoi Repowers, the event is also supported by Theophany Speakers, Motormox, Elf Lubricants, Yardscape, Tracktion, Precision Motorbikes, Beta & Sherco, Contract Consulting, Hynds Pipes, Fencing Industries, Woodstock Quarries, Coal Creek Safaries, Fiveash Contracting, Spectrum Group, MCD Edits and Canterbury A&P Show.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan

KTM re-enter the light-middle weight adventure category with a stunning example of things to come.

790 Adventure

KTM pulled the covers off its all-new, KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype at the world famous EICMA show in Milan today, along with a hinting how the Austrian firm’s model line-up will further expand, thanks to a completely new engine generation with its 799cc LC8c parallel twin powerplant.

KTM CSO Mr. Hubert Trunkenpolz (the T in KTM) updated the assembled media and guests on the status of the company, scheduled for another record year of growth and profit in 2017 – underlining its position as the largest European motorcycle manufacturer. Not surprising as they have a habit of buying other manufactures. With a completely new engine platform, an expanding R&D facility, increased staff globally and now more than 280 World Championships in its trophy cupboard, KTM refuses to shut the throttle on progress.

Is this what the ADVENTURE community has been eagerly awaiting? A lightweight, compact midrange travel enduro with outstanding cross-country ability.

The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype fully embraces the Austrian company’s READY TO RACE philosophy. With its high dashboard tower, single seat, tiny LED lights and low-slung fuel tanks, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R is clearly inspired by the KTM Rally machines that dominate competition the world over. The LC8c punches hard from inside its lightweight and extremely rugged chassis, complete with top-quality WP Suspension components front and rear. Naturally, a production version of this would come with the very best electronic rider assistance package too.

While it’s currently just a “prototype”, it looks damn near to production as it gets!


As a clear example KTM’s consistent forward progression, KTM also presented an entirely new generation KTM 450 RALLY in a bid to claim a seventeenth consecutive Rally Dakar victory. 

Representing two years of intense development and debuted at the OiLibya Rallye Maroc in October, the bike is faster and lighter while being more agile and stable. Wrapped in new bodywork and housed in a bespoke, freshly developed chassis is a new 450cc single cylinder engine. Controlled by a new engine management system and a revised throttle body, the result is better peak performance and improved throttle response. And in the true KTM style and for non-factory pilots, a customer version KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA will become available during 2018.

This is the bike that will take on the Dakar in the impressive hands of Sam Sunderland and Toby Price!