Great Britain’s Billy Bolt is aiming to deliver a memorable result in front of his home crowd when the World Enduro Super Series heads to Hawkstone Park this weekend, September 22/23.
Returning to a WESS podium at round five with a third-place result at Red Bull 111 Megawatt in Poland, a rejuvenated and highly motivated Bolt is fit and fired up ahead of his home race. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider sits second in the WESS championship standings, well aware that a strong result at the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country might well see him move to the top of the championship…
Billy, you’re close second in the 2018 WESS championship standings and this weekend it’s your home round of the series at Hawkstone Park. How important will the ‘home support’ be at this stage in the series?
Billy Bolt: “It’s going to be an awesome weekend, and such an important one for me. British Enduro fans are so passionate, so to have them on my side at Hawkstone Park is going to be a big advantage. Hawkstone’s going to be a difficult race, but I can’t wait. If I need a lift mid-race I’m sure there’ll be plenty of fans cheering me on, helping me dig deeper. I’m looking forward to putting on a show for them and can’t wait to get stuck in.”
Third last time out at Red Bull 111 Megawatt, that must have given your confidence a real boost after your knee surgery during the summer break?
“It felt great to be back on the podium again. I really wanted a good result there, especially as in 2017 I didn’t ride my best. I made it hard on myself this year though. I had a bad time in the Motocross section and actually crashed three times there on lap one. It wasn’t until lap three that I felt confident in the loose, deep sand. I knew both Manni Lettenbichler and Nathan Watson were close, but if I was within range I could finish top three. I managed to pass Manni in the Motocross part, then got Nathan on the Extreme stuff and broke free. Hawkstone will be different to Megawatt but knowing that things went well in Poland has certainly given me a boost at just the right time.”
There is a real Cross-Country feel to the remainder of the series, how do you feel about stepping out of your Hard Enduro comfort zone?
“I’m enjoying it. I’ve always said that I want to be a rider who’s not just known for being a Hard Enduro specialist, but one who can race it all. It’s good to jump in at the deep end with things — learn new skills and race different disciplines. In Hard Enduro we’re the guys who are pushing the boundaries regards to techniques and what’s possible, whereas when it comes to being a sand specialist I’ve still the basics to learn and master. But it’s good, it’s all fun.”
You made the switch to the Husqvarna four-stroke for Red Bull 111 Megawatt, how are you finding the change in machinery?
“I’m really enjoying the switch to the four-stroke. I raced it indoors during the winter so it’s nice to be able to ride it in WESS too. I feel like it suits my riding style. I can be more aggressive with it and play with the power delivery more. So far in these faster races it’s working well and I’ll be on it for the rest of the season.”
With the unfortunate injury of Jonny Walker at Red Bull 111 Megawatt we’ve seen a big shakeup in the championship standings. How do you see things with three rounds remaining?
“What happened to Jonny in Poland shows just how quickly things can change in this championship. There’s still a long way to go, so we can’t take anything for granted. It was a real shame to see him crash and get injured because he’s my friend as well as a championship rival. And honestly, although it’s had a massive impact on the championship, as a rider you never want to inherit a position because another rider gets injured.”
Finally, Hawkstone Park has a fearsome reputation for being tough on bikes, bodies and minds – do you see it as an exercise in survival, more than being about speed or the need for Hard Enduro skills?
“I think you need everything – that’s why it’s going to be such a good race. Managing the race, knowing when to push and when to settle into a rhythm will be important. I’m hoping there’ll be some technical stuff – some of the climbs in the woods will hopefully suit me – but I also need to try and match the pace of the faster riders like Josep Garcia and Watson on the Motocross track. Come the end of the race I don’t think anyone’s going to have much left in the tank…”
The World Enduro Super Series continues with round six at Hawkstone Park Cross-Country in Great Britain on September 22/23.
World Enduro Super Series Standings (After round 5 of 8)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 3405
2. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 3290
3. Wade Young (Sherco – RSA) 3220
4. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 2900
5. Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 2320
6. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 2308
7. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 2295
8. Paul Bolton (KTM – GB) 2262
9. Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 1928
10. Travis Teasdale (Beta – RSA) 1790
Hawkstone Park Cross-Country Schedule
Saturday, 22 September
Open Practice: 09.00 – 12.00hrs
Fast Eddy Sprint Enduro: 12.30 – 17.30hrs
Sunday, 23 September
Youth Race: 09.00 – 10.00hrs
Steady Eddy Race: 10.30 – 12.30hrs
Original Fast Eddy: 13.00 – 15.30hrs
Hawkstone Park Cross-Country Event Information
Photo credit:Sandra Biegun/Red Bull Content Pool, Future7Media