Wels, Austria – 30 August 2018 — Leading the World Enduro Super Series, Jonny Walker heads to round five at Poland’s Red Bull 111 Megawatt with his sights set on victory. Already a three-time consecutive winner of the event, he’s hungry to make it a fourth win and extend his advantage at the top of the standings, as the second half of the WESS season hits its stride on September 8/9.

Refreshed and recharged following his podium result at round four’s Red Bull Romaniacs, here the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider talks about the importance of winning in Poland and maintaining his advantage in the race to become this year’s ULTIMATE ENDURO CHAMPION…

Jonny, as a three-time consecutive winner of Red Bull 111 Megawatt are you ready to challenge for a fourth win at round five of WESS?

Jonny Walker: “I’ve won Red Bull 111 Megawatt for the last three years, but now more than ever is the most important time to win this race. With it being a part of WESS, a championship I’m leading, I can’t settle for anything less. We’re just beginning the second half of the series too and although I top the standings my advantage isn’t that much. I really need a win here to build a bigger points advantage for the rest of the races to come.”

With three wins and a 100 per cent podium finishing record, what’s been your favoured moments from the four editions of Red Bull 111 Megawatt?

“I’ve had a lot of good battles at Red Bull 111 Megawatt but definitely for the last two years the fight between Mario Roman and myself have been some of the best. We both seem to be very close in speed around the coal mine and are always together at the finish line. He’s made me sweat for the win twice now, especially in 2016 when I won by just two seconds. After 90 kilometres of racing, that’s incredibly close.”

Why do you think the racing is always so close in the PGE coal mine?

“I think it boils down to the nature of the terrain, the coal mine. It’s so big that the course is impossible to learn. There’s no opportunity to walk it beforehand, so on lap one everyone is trying to figure out where it goes. Also, nobody really wants to lead lap one because there’s so many pitfalls and that keeps everyone bunched up. Then about midway around lap two we catch the slower riders from lap one and again it bunches everything up.”

Do you find it requires a certain element of race craft to be successful?

“Yeah it takes a lot of race craft to pull off the win. There are times when you need to be patient and work through traffic and then there’s times when you need to push on. You are always trying to anticipate what’s coming next because the situation changes from lap-to-lap. The track is so physical too, the sand takes a lot of energy to ride fast and if you make a mistake on the climbs you can lose so much time. For me, I feel like I need to be in a strong position starting the final lap and then give 100 per cent to the chequered flag.”

The second half of season will see the nature of championship change with the inclusion of Cross-Country races and a Beach Race. How are you approaching these rounds?

“Even though we’re four rounds in it feels like things are really only getting started. It’s quite an intense second half to the series as we’ve got four rounds in 10 weeks, so there’s a lot of racing left to give. Red Bull 111 Megawatt is the final Hard Enduro on the calendar but with a Cross-Country feel it also leads into the faster races to come. They are all new to me too and are going to be a challenge to get right, but I’ve been working hard to get ready for them and I’m up for the fight.”

Red Bull 111 Megawatt is your focus now, but round six in Great Britain is a home race for you, are you looking forward to racing at Hawkstone Park?

“To have a world class Enduro in Britain means a lot and Hawkstone Park is such an iconic venue to do it in. I’m excited to ride there because I don’t get the opportunity to race a lot at home. It’s going to be a memorable event for sure, and really tough. British fans are so passionate about Enduro it’ll be great to race there. Of course, the pressure will be on to deliver a big result, but a win on home turf would be something special.”

Finally, as the championship leader at the series’ halfway point, what would it mean to become this year’s Ultimate Enduro Champion?

“To end the year as the ULTIMATE ENDURO CHAMPION would be huge. It would be an amazing achievement because it’s all about being the best all-round Enduro rider. But it’s something I’m trying not to focus on just yet because there is also a lot of racing to come and in a championship like WESS anything can happen. I need to stay focused on each round. Red Bull 111 Megawatt is next on the list and I’ll be giving it 100 per cent to win in Poland. Finishing second is not an option…”

Round five of the World Enduro Super Series takes place at Red Bull 111 Megawatt in Poland on September 8/9.

 

Red Bull 111 Megawatt Fast Facts

2.59: Jonny Walker’s winning margin in seconds over Mario Roman in 2016
3: Jonny Walker has claimed a hat trick of wins (2015, 2016, 2017)
10.85: Walker’s winning margin in seconds over Roman in 2017
111: The race starts at exactly 1:11pm in honour of Taddy Blazusiak,111 being his race number
1000: Number of competitors entered
2014: Blazusiak won the first edition of the race

Red Bull 111 Megawatt 2017 Podium

1. Jonny Walker (KTM); 2. Mario Roman (Sherco); 3. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna)

Red Bull 111 Megawatt Past Winners

2017: Jonny Walker (KTM)
2016: Jonny Walker (KTM)
2015: Jonny Walker (KTM)
2014: Taddy Blazusiak (KTM)

Red Bull 111 Megawatt Schedule

Saturday, 8 September:
Qualifications
10:00-14:00 — Round 1
14:30-18:30 — Round 2

Sunday, 9 September:
9:45 – Final B (qualifiers 501-750)
1:11pm – Final Race (qualifiers 1-500)

Hamilton rider Phil Singleton (Husqvarna FE350), who rose to the challenge in winning the opening round of the new Xtreme Off-road Championship series in the Thames Valley on Saturday. Photo by Andy McGechan

 

It was brutal, it was tough, relentless and unforgiving … just as the organisers had promised.

Motorcycling New Zealand’s latest competition initiative – the inaugural NZ Xtreme Off-road Championship series – kicked off near Whangamata on Saturday and pushed the nation’s elite dirt bike riders to the limit.

In the end, it was Hamilton’s Phil Singleton who coped best with the extreme terrain at this first of four rounds in the Taungatara Forest, winning the premier Gold Grade by more than two minutes from Aucklander Tausten Gibbs, with another Auckland rider, Mitchell Gallagher, claiming the third podium spot, finishing another 10 minutes further back.

MNZ enduro commissioner Justin Stevenson had said before the weekend’s series opener that the racing would be “a little tougher than a normal national enduro, but not impossible” and, for the hardiest souls at least, this was true.

“It was supposed to be a brutal event. We don’t want to scare people off, but it was meant to be tough,” he said.

“In saying that, though, there is quite a big step up from the Bronze Grade course to what the Gold Grade riders faced and individuals could choose for themselves how much of a challenge they wanted.

“The feedback I’ve received is that they all enjoyed it. I believe the riders come to events like this with a different mentality anyway. They know what to expect. Even the guys who didn’t manage to finish said they enjoyed the day.

“It was an awesome start to the series.”

The top three finishers in the Silver Grade were Te Awamutu’s Kevin Archer, followed more than 16 minutes later by Auckland’s Carl Steadman, with Aucklander David Steen completing the podium.

Best of the Bronze Grade riders was Whitianga’s James Kerr, with Hastings’ Brett Gunson and Auckland’s Ben Hastie not too far behind.

The series continues now with round two at Moonshine Valley, on the, Kapiti Coast, not far from Porirua, on September 23. The remaining rounds are in Hawke’s Bay and then at Oxford, near Christchurch.

Only two of the three rounds of the NZ Xtreme Off-road Championship are to be counted, with riders to discard their two worst scores, while double points are offered for the final round in the South Island.

 

The 2018 NZ Xtreme Off-Road Championship calendar: 

Round one: August 25, Taungatara Forest, Whangamata.

Round two: September 23, Moonshine Extreme, Bulls Run Rd, Porirua.

Round three: November 3-4, Over The Top, Hawke’s Bay.

Round four: November 16-17, Nut Buster, Oxford, Christchurch.

 

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

Roma Edwards (Yamaha) is expected to be among the leading riders in the junior women’s class this weekend.

It will be two national championship events for the price of one near Timaru this weekend (September 1-2).

There we will see champions of the past, present and future go into battle at the annual New Zealand Veterans’ and Women’s Motocross Championships.

The challenging course at 182 Caird Road, Southburn, Timaru, will host the two-day event featuring an entry list that reads like a who’s who and who-used-to-be-who of the sport.

Jointly sponsored by Timaru Yamaha and the Smallbone Timaru motor vehicle dealership, the popular annual event features many riders who, despite their veteran status, still rate among the sport’s elite, while the female side of the sport that shares the race programme is more still a hotbed for rising stars.

The event again presents real value for money for spectators with racing over two days for both the elite females, in both the junior and senior grade and intense racing also for the country’s top male riders aged over 30 years.

Several of the riders who might be expected to shine among the women include Te Awamutu’s Rachael Archer, Motueka’s Roma Edwards, Tauranga’s Shelby Catley, Opunake’s Taylar Rampton, Greymouth pair Sharon and Alex McCann, Rotorua rider Letitia Alabaster Christchurch’s Shannon Meikle, Mapua’s Madi Berry and Greymouth’s Brooke Smith, to name just a few.

Catley won the junior women’s grade last year, adding that title to the mini motocross title she won in 2013. The year 11 pupil at Katikati College had finished runner-up to Archer in 2016 and the rivalry between these two may be set to continue at Timaru this weekend.

In the men’s competition, standout riders might include Christchurch’s former national MX1 champion and former Woodville GP winner Justin McDonald, fellow Christchurch men Andy Blanchard, Jason Feaver and Dean Baird, former Otago rugby captain David Latta, Tauranga’s Nick Enstrom, Nelson’s Bryan Heaphy, Timaru’s Andrew Richardt, Winton’s Brent Scammell, Blenheim’s Steve Lange, New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe, Balclutha’s Bean Bond, Te Awamutu’s Kevin Archer and Lincoln’s Kelly Garland, although any number of the equally talented riders entered could spring a surprise or two.

If, for example, Hawera pair Daryl Hurley and Steven Craig, Inglewood’s Larry Blair, Whakatane’s Darren Capill, Auckland’s Gaudenz Gisler or Pukekohe’s Tony Cooksley, choose to put in last-minute entry, they could easily steal away with the glory in their respective classes.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan

The Desafío Ruta 40 today put the competitors through one of the hardest ever stages in its history as it crossed the Fiambalá Desert. Riders had to tackle a highly demanding 320-kilometre special stage filled with tricky navigation and challenging off-piste racing. 

The severity of this Ruta 40 second stage proved to be not only a physical punishment, but a mental one too. The navigation in the Fiambalá desert became increasingly more demanding, with many sections where competitors had to ride their bikes in a near perfect line, without deviating from the virtually marked route, to be able to link one point in the roadbook with the next one. With so many kilometres of off-piste and dry river beds, the stage turned out to be one of the toughest editions of the Ruta 40 ever ridden.

The KTM’s had the goods and Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team Rider Toby Price was the fastest with a time of 4 hours, 16 minutes and 42 seconds with Matthias Walkner (also KTM) finishing in second place 2 minutes and 17 seconds behind the leader.

Results Stage 2 

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 PRICE Toby 11 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team 4:16’42
2 WALKNER Matthias 3 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +2’17
3 QUINTANILLA Pablo 1 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +5’49
4 GONCALVES Paulo 4 POR Monster Energy Honda Team +7’57
5 SANTOLINO Lorenzo 21 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +13’04
6 BENAVIDES Luciano 17 ARG KTM Factory Racing Team +18’03
7 BRABEC Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team +38’32
8 NOSIGLIA Daniel 19 BOL Team Nosiglia +40’19
9 ONTIVEROS Alberto 23 ARG San Juan Gobierno Rally Team +58’20
10 NOSIGLIA Walter 20 BOL Team Nosiglia +1:00’25

Rider Standings

PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 2

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap 
1 PRICE Toby 11 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team 8:30’14
2 QUINTANILLA Pablo 1 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +0’44
3 WALKNER Matthias 3 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +1’28
4 GONCALVES Paulo 4 POR Monster Energy Honda Team +2’25
5 BENAVIDES Luciano 17 ARG KTM Factory Racing Team +29’22
6 BRABEC Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team +41’35
7 SANTOLINO Lorenzo 21 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory  

Husqvarna Australia is launching the very first 701 Enduro Trek in the Southern Hemisphere this year, with the event looking like an awesome experience for those Husky 701 riders in the Lucky Country.

Taking place in the Australian “High Country” – who knew the Aussies had hills, right? – Husqvarna Aus say the Victorian-based event will offer some of the best adventure riding in Australia, with 1200 kilometres and four days of long hill climbs, technical descents, rocky river crossings and sweeping mountain views.

There is a catch however if you want to join in on the fun.

“The Husky Trek is for 701 Enduro models only, meaning the strong links that both Husqvarna Motorcycles and the High Country have with history and heritage will play a part in the adventure.”

Not only that, you’ll need to get yourself over to the starting point in Australia on the 24th of February and have pre-paid the AU$995 entry fee.

DRD put the question to Husqvarna Australia if we are likely to see the 701 Enduro Trek grow to the same levels of popularity as its KTM cousin – the KTM Adventure Rallye – with an event also to take place in New Zealand.

“At this stage we have not confirmed when this will take place in New Zealand but we will keep you updated,” spokesperson Alana Baratto commented.

Note the use of “when” in that statement. We like our chances! Til then, check out the video below to see what action the Aussies have to look forward to.