I mentioned last time that I was in the middle of a crazy eight-week schedule. Everything seemed to overlap all about the same time. I was literally living out of a suitcase, travelling from race to race. There wasn’t much time to take it all in. I like that though – it’s good to be busy when you’re racing. If you have a good race then great but if not you can try to fix what went wrong the following weekend.
The start of 2015 has been really, really good to me. Honestly it’s a little better than I expected it to go. Of course I had some mishaps but generally the good has outweighed the bad and then some.
I knew mixing both a SuperEnduro schedule with extreme enduro was going to be tough but thankfully it mostly all went my way. Winning Hell’s Gate and then backing that up by winning The Tough One was simply incredible. I never won either of those races before but then in the space of a couple of weeks I won both.
Even though the weather conditions were drastically different at each event, they were both hard in their own ways. The Tough One was special – it’s my first real home win and it felt good to reward all those support me with the top step of the podium on home turf.
Hell’s Gate was easily the most brutal weather conditions I’d ever raced in before. One minute it was raining and the next it snowing. On a couple of laps it was both raining and snowing on either side of the mountain – crazy.
To dissect my SuperEnduro season I hoped for a better overall result but any chance of second overall slipped away when I got trackside banner wrapped around my rear wheel in Brazil. In the heat of the moment I got some help to pull the banner out and ended up with a slap on the wrist and no points. But we live and learn the hard way I suppose – so I won’t let that happen again.
In hindsight it fired me up and I delivered my best ever performance at the final round in France to win the race and salvage third overall in the series. After a couple of years trying I finally won my first SuperEnduro overall. The track in France was so technical but it really suited my 250f and with two race wins I pulled the overall out of the bag.
I was happy for myself but also for my mechanic Seb. He gives 100 per cent each and every week. He worked eight weeks straight prior to France so to win for him was a special feeling.
Now it’s time to gear up for the big one – Erzberg. My chill out time is over. The batteries are charged up and I’m raring to go. Obviously I want to win there again but I’m sure there’s a few other guys with the same idea so I can’t afford to relax for the next two months. Time to get busy getting faster!
Havasu has always held a special significance for me. It was the site of my first WORCS podium WAY back in 2007, which was instrumental for my confidence that I could compete with the best in the off-road world, and the finish carried me onward to third in the series that year. Though I’ve always put in a good performance at Havasu, I’ve never been able to achieve my ultimate goal of getting a win there, an accomplishment I definitely wanted to realize this year.
The start would be dead engine, for which I finally feel like I’ve found some consistency. We had a special guest holding the thirty-second-board, and as the freshly dubbed “WORCS wookie” turned the board sideways, the starting line fell silent. After a few moments of restrained anticipation, the green flag flew, and the pro line fired their machines to life.
I had a strong kick through the kick-starter and my bike instantly responded, firing straight away. I accelerated down the short start line, feeling like I’d done enough to get the holeshot, but Ivan Ramirez had a perfect start of his own and reached the first turn just ahead of me- I can’t be too upset that Ivan beat me off the line, I think he’s holeshot every Hare & Hound this year. Travis Coy also had a great start- positioned to my inside as we entered the first turn- and as I scrubbed speed into the first corner to try to cut under Ivan, Travis caught me by surprise, pushed me wide, and back to third as we exited the first turn.
I was directly behind Ivan as the three of us accelerated down the second straightaway and I instantly started to feel a feature of the Havasu racecourse: the rock-filled roost. Ivan sent a slew of rocks in the direction of my face and one of them had a lottery hit on the tear-off post of my goggle lens, breaking the post into my goggles, and making for a sizeable floater I’d have to deal with until my pit stop hallway though the race (when I would change goggles).
As we raced down the jump-filled third straightaway I swung to the right side of Coy, which would give me the inside position entering the next turn, and I was able to carry enough speed to get up alongside Travis, take control of the corner, and take second position behind Ramirez. I pushed hard to get up behind Ivan, as I didn’t want any more roost thrown my way, and just as we left the motocross portion of the track I had a run around his outside. Ivan tried to hold a tighter line through a sweeping left-hander and I held the throttle on around the outside of the corner, carrying more momentum, and taking the point position on the racecourse.
I instantly felt a gap open up and I started to find a smooth rhythm through the sand, but little did I know that Justin Jones was flying though the pack, pushing his way into second place behind me. As I started the second lap I began to feel a bit of pressure; Jones had carried his momentum from coming through the pack right up to my rear wheel. I may have been capable of a little more speed, but I felt confident in my pace, that I would be able to hold that intensity (or thereabouts) to the finish, and didn’t really want to expend any excess energy trying to pull back away. In fact, for a couple laps I thought Justin was going to find a way by me, but I stuck with a pace with which I felt comfortable and as we neared the hallway point of the race, I began to pull a bit of a lead.
I had opened up a modest gap just before the hour mark, but then a couple mistake crept in to my race. The first mistake came in the form of a stall: I had fluffed my entry line into a left-handed corner and as I used the rear brake to try to compensate, I drug the brake a little to hard and killed the engine. My bike re-fired quickly, mitigating the loss of time, but on the very next lap I made a mistake that had a bit more of a consequence.
Just after the scoring shoot there was a right-handed, small “hip jump” tabletop, which was easy enough to clear, but I lost traction right before the face of the jump. My front end then caught traction, as I compensated for the loss of it, and shot me too far to the right of the track as I began to take to the air. I came down right on the edge of the course, where the tractor berm had built up, and as I was off-balance to begin with, I had little chance to save the crash and I low-sided the bike to the dirt. Luckily I was able to keep the motor running and get going quickly, but most of the advantage I had opened up over Justin was now wiped away.
My crash reignited Justin’s fight as he kept me very honest over the next few laps, through each of our pit stops, but he wasn’t quite able to hold the pace deep in to the race and I stretched back away late- I know Justin has been struggling with some stomach issues so pushing as hard as he did was in impressive feat. A few laps later I crossed the finish line and was thrilled to take my first Lake Havasu WORCS win.
This was a win I’ve wanted for a very long time, and to finally achieve a goal like that feels fantastic. I want to thank all of my personal supporters for making it possible: Precision Concepts, MSR, Shoei, Sidi, Spy, EVS, USWE, Focus apparel, FMF, BRP, RAD custom graphics, GoPro, A’ME grips, IWC motorsports, ATP mechanix, Northland motorsports, Rekluse, CryoHeat, and the MotoXerciser. Thanks to my mechanic Phil as the bike was amazing once more, to my beautiful wife, my family and friends and each of the team sponsors. I also want to thank all of the spectators at Havasu for cheering us on every lap. Havasu is unique as we race right along the lake, allowing spectators to get up next the course, so we racers can really feel their enthusiasm; it’s a pretty incredible feeling.
Up next on my schedule is the fifth round of WORCS at Sand Hollow, Utah. It has to be one of the most picturesque stops on the WORCS circuit, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite races of the year. I was able to get the win the first time WORCS went to Sand Hollow in 2013, but last year Gary Sutherlin and Justin Seeds were too strong for me. Hopefully I can carry the current momentum I have into the deep sand, but I’m sure the rest of the pro field will be incredibly fired up to get the win. Either way it promises to be an incredible event and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone out there!
Thank you to each of our team sponsors: Precision Concepts, Dunlop, FMF, THR Motorsports, Maxima USA, Renthal, GPR stabilizer, CryoHeat, Rekluse, VP Race Fuels, IMS, BRP, LA Piston Co., A’ME grips, Braking, RK/Excel, ARC levers, DT1 filters, Acerbis, RAD custom graphics, Matrix Concepts, Zip-Ty, Boyesen, Seal Savers, MotoSeat, MotoHose, Northland Motorsports
The offseason is over! We had our first race of the season on March 7th in Palatka, FL. It was at a better location this year, mostly sand rollers instead of mud bogs. I had a terrible start, but had worked my way up to second by the end of the first lap and felt good. I ran there for another lap before getting stuck in a mud hole and losing a few spots. I had passed all the way back into third and all over second when I had one of the scariest crashes of my career, swapping into a row of pines! Fortunately, I was bruised but not broken, and I was able to get up and continue.
Half way through that second lap I had hit a mud hole and was stuck for about 40 seconds, letting a few guys by me. I got out and took off after them, only to get stuck again, and this time worse. There were four guys pulling on my bike and it still took me 10 minutes to get out. A real bummer after a solid start to the race. I ended up 10th, not happy with the result but I know I had some speed out there, and that’s encouraging. If I can limit the mistakes I’ll be right up there fighting for wins! I feel really confident in my bike, and that’s all thanks to you guys as my sponsors.
KTM’s Jonny Walker has claimed his debut win in the FIM SuperEnduro World Championship, securing overall victory at the final round of the 2015 series in Cahors, France
Ending his participation in the 2015 championship on a high, Walker delivered what was comfortably his best result of the series to take the top step of the podium.
With an overall victory having eluded him prior to the French event, Jonny was determined to produce a winning performance in France. From the word go, Walker looked smooth, fast and dialled in to what was an extremely tight, technical and unforgiving course.
Hot out of the traps in race one, Walker gave chase to race leader Cody Webb but one small mistake cost him a chance at taking the win. Eager put things right, Walker incredibly carved his way from the back to the front of the field during the reversed start order of race two. Once out front, he set the pace to take the win.
In the driving seat to secure the overall win heading into the third and final race, Walker made no mistakes and again delivered a solid race. Knowing exactly what he needed to do, the KTM rider again quickly fought his way to the front of the field. Leading the majority of the race to take the win Jonny secured his very first overall SuperEnduro victory.
After his misfortune at the previous round in Brazil, where a track side banner became wedged in his rear wheel, Walker’s strong results in France elevated him to third overall in the final championship standings.
Jonny Walker: “I’ve been chipping away at getting an overall win for a while and now finally it’s happened it feels great. In Brazil I was so close but then it all fell apart in the final race. Here in France I felt good on the track from practice. It was tight and tough but it seemed to work for me and I just got on with things. I had a good race one but a silly mistake held me back. Then in race two I got to the front and took the win. I knew the overall was on the line leading into the final race and this time around I made sure I didn’t do anything stupid. Once I got in front I rode smart to get my first SuperEnduro overall win. It’s been an eventful season. I’m happy to have salvaged third in the championship and can now look forward to focusing on extreme enduro for the rest of the year.”
Results – FIM SuperEnduro World Championship, Round 6
1. Jonny Walker (KTM) 59pts;
2. Cody Webb (KTM) 55;
3. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM) 48;
Championship Standings - FIM SuperEnduro World Championship
1. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM) 320pts;
2. Cody Webb (KTM) 282;
3. Jonny Walker (KTM) 277;
Jonny Walker has continued his winning ways in 2015, claiming victory at The Tough One extreme enduro. Topping the event for the first time ever having lead from start-to-finish, Walker is now two-for-two having also topped Hell’s Gate three weeks earlier...
Jonny: “I’m really pleased with this result. Graham [Jarvis] is a hard guy to beat, but I really wanted to keep things rolling on from my Hell’s Gate win. Conditions were night and day different to that race, but this win wasn’t easy. My plan was to try and get a good start, which I was able to do. After that I just managed my lead. It’s great to finally be able to get a Tough One win.”
A lot of riders suffered with arm pump in the early laps, but you seemed to be able to push hard from the start...
Jonny: “It’s always hard going from cold to full-speed straight away. But I guess the run to my bike warmed me up. Maybe also racing the SuperEnduro events helped, as there’s not much warm-up with indoor races. Like I said I just tried to not make mistakes, which having got a good start was a little easier to do. I felt pretty good from the start.”
You lost a little time mid-race, why was that?
Jonny: “I didn’t read my pit board properly. I thought it said last lap, which thinking about it there’s no way it could have been, and I slowed down a little. The board said something like ‘1 lap till final hour’. It wasn’t too much of a problem as I still had a good lead. I managed that gap and stayed out of trouble during the final hour so everything was fine.”
What was the track like this year, did you prefer the drier conditions?
Jonny: “I was ready for whatever the conditions were going to be really. It was much nicer than the cold and snow we had at Hell’s Gate, but not what everyone’s used to at Nantmawr Quarry. When things are drier it makes some of the climbs and the rocks a little easier, but it was still tough. It was still easy to make a small mistake and for that become a bad lap. I was pleased that I only made one mistakes.”
You were also in action in the Barcelona Indoor Enduro, how was that?
Jonny: “It was great. Not the result I'd hoped for finishing fifth but a really enjoyable event. It was good to get back on my 250cc four-stroke ahead of this weekend’s SuperEnduro final round. That’s going to be an important race for me after my issues in Brazil. I’ve got some work to do...”
Results – Tough One 2015
1. Jonny Walker (KTM) 13 laps 2:31.12; 2. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 13 laps 2:33.28; 3. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna) 2:43.00...
Results – Barcelona Indoor Enduro
1. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM) 49 points; 2. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna) 45; 3. Mathias Bellino (Husqvarna) 44; 5. Jonny Walker (KTM) 35...
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