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Jonny Walker Race Reports – Erzberg, Romaniacs
Red Bull Extreme Enduro – Erzberg and Romaniacs
Jonny Walker Tackles the hard enduro
So far the month of June has been very rewarding for Jonny Walker and KTM, Starting with his second appearance at Erzbergs Red Bull Hare Scramble in Austria, where after last year’s strong performance he started as one of the favourite’s and he did not disappoint.
Erzberg starts with 2 qualifying runs up the mountain’s roads and a top 50 position is required to get on the front row of Sundays main race, The Prologue created some drama as previous 2 time winner and KTM Factory rider David Knight slid off on one turn and needed some medical treatment, unfortunately he could not take further part in the race.
Jonny himself made a mistake in one corner when he spun completely around to make a full 360 turn !! however he was still 4th quickest, on the 2nd Prologue he made no such mistakes to unofficially top the pro class with a time 5 seconds quicker, however due to heavy fog on the mountain the 2nd prologue had to be canceled for safety reasons and only the result from day 1 would count.
Going into Sundays race Jonny was focused and confident, with a year’s experience behind him he knew exactly what to do, he made a great start in 2nd position and followed local Austrian KTM rider Lars Enockl for the first few Kilometers, when the chance came he took the lead before check point 1 and never looked back, Quickly opening up a solid lead of over 3 minutes on new2nd placed rider Andreas Lettenbichler of Germany. Jonny was in determined mood, it was important to reach the difficult forest sections first and have a clear run, mistakes and queuing on the steep and slippy single tracks are very costly and he made a clear pass this year without any problems.
Once reaching the summit of the Iron Mountain the course becomes quick again using some of the prologue roads and the famous rock sections start such as “Machine Hill” “Carls Diner” and “Dynamite” , just when energy levels are depleting the course becomes more demanding, Jonny made a couple of small mistakes and took a heavy fall entering “Carls Diner” but he knew that he had more than 15 minutes lead on veteran multi World Trials champ Dougie Lampkin so he could relax and take it easy to the finish line where he eventually arrived with a huge 24 minute advantage to become Erzbergs youngest ever winner !!.
Results Erzberg Red Bull Hare Scramble
1. Jonny Walker SHR KORR KTM 300 EXC
2. Dougie Lampkin Gas Gas 300
3. Ben Hemmingway KTM 300 EXC
Jonny Walker SHR KORR KTM 300 EXC – “I just want to say thanks to my team, sponsors , KTM and Red Bull for helping me get to this level, the race went better than expected for me , the bike was working really good and the only issue I had was when I went over the bars and hurt my neck, from last year we have learned so much and its so much easier when you know what to expect and how to prepare for such a race, looking forward to the next race now “
Romaniacs, Sibiu 13-17th June
Known as the World’s toughest Hard Enduro-Rallye in the Carpathian mountains above the city of Sibiu ,this event would bring a lot of new challenges to Jonny, we went there to learn, to prepare for the future and hopefully make a top 5 results. Romaniacs requires navigational skills to back up the course marking,
Its 4 long off-road days with very little support from the services teams and really can be described as Extreme Rallye. Day 1 is the prologue , an extreme course down one of the city’s main roads just outside the center, 8 riders at a time would take on the challenges of rocks, logs, jumps and many man made hazards, with practice, qualifying and heat sessions. This is Jonny’s domain, just like endurocross and he put on solid and dominant displays to top every session and comfortable win the evening final with a 4 second advantage.
However winning the prologue is not an advantage for a rookie in the main race, the prize is you get to start 5 minutes before the next guy on the first day of the Rallye , not ideal when you have no GPS and navigational experience, but we didn’t come to this race with any tactics to win, just to learn and do the best possible each day and winning the prologue in front of thousands of spectators was worth the sacrifice. Quite soon after the start and following a few wrong turns JW decided to hang back and follow the others, learning from his experienced rivals was vital and he shadowed them most of day 1 until he thought he could navigate by himself, again he made a costly mistake and followed route markings from a different class which cost him a lot of time but taught him a huge lesson.
Days 2 and 3 went without problem on the course, JW finishing in the top 3 and starting to feel more confident with his navigation, a slight error on day 2 brought drama when he slept in and was late to the start, getting up at 4.00am each day was something that Jonny needs to train for also !!! despite leaving for the official start with no breakfast, half asleep and more than 30 minutes behind the rest he only lost 1 minute from his official start time !! and another lesson learned.
Day 4 and Jonny had to push, his KTM Teammate Chris Birch was starting to recover from an earlier
injury and the former winner was pushing hard to challenge Jonny for the final podium position, at the midday check Birch had pulled back just 1 minute on Jonny, who needed to make some repairs and replace a front pipe. Fitting a new exhaust is always bad luck for JW and sure enough 10 minutes down the road he hit a tree, the pipe being completely flattened and reducing the bikes powers to that of a learner bike, in the extreme sections the bike was working well with nice easy power and Jonny managed to catch Chris who had started 9 minutes ahead so his podium was safe, until drama at the finish.
With no service point and possibility to replace the exhaust the final involved a very steep hill climb, there was chicken runs for the lower class’s but the Pro’s had to reach the Red Bull arch, even Jarvis struggled near the top !! Birch started in front of Jonny and reached the top with no problem, however Jonny just did not have enough power to climb the hill, the bike sounded very sick and only after 3 attempts could he push the bike out of the top loosing vital time but still winning the final day by 6 minutes from Chris and becoming the youngest ever rider at just 21 to stand on the podium at Red Bull’s Romaniacs.