Dominating the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country, Spain’s Josep Garcia (KTM) jumped from fifth to third in the World Enduro Super Series to become a serious title contender with just two rounds remaining. Claiming a start-to-finish victory at round six, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider finally got to display his impressive raw speed as he stormed his way to a commanding win at the Original Fast Eddy Cross-Country.
Now, with two rounds left in this year’s inaugural WESS championship, the Spaniard feels he’s hitting his stride at just the right time to challenge for the title of ULTIMATE ENDURO CHAMPION…
Congratulations Josep, winning both days at the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country must feel like the perfect weekend — it couldn’t have gone any better for you?
Josep Garcia: “Yes, it has really been the perfect weekend. Winning both days and then securing my first victory in WESS is amazing. I’ve been waiting for this moment all season and at this stage in the championship it’s a result that gives me a lot of motivation heading into the final two rounds in Sweden and the Netherlands.”
In Saturday’s Fast Eddy Sprint Enduro you came out swinging, taking a 12 second lead on the opening Enduro test. Was that the objective, to stamp your authority on the event?
“I just wanted to say to everyone that I am here and show that I’m in the battle for this championship. I pushed hard from the very beginning of Saturday and when I ended the opening Enduro test with a 12 second lead I knew then it could be a winning weekend. Being able to build that advantage throughout Saturday gave me more confidence going into Sunday knowing that my speed was strong.”
You took the holeshot in Sunday’s Original Fast Eddy Cross-Country race and were never headed. Was it the ‘perfect race’?
“As races go it was pretty much as good as it gets. I knew the holeshot would be crucial because of the mud on the Motocross track. I wanted to lead lap one, stay clean and have a clear run through the woods. It worked and I pulled a gap of about 20 seconds on lap one. I kept pushing at maximum effort until the pit stop, to build as much as an advantage as possible. My team were great and they kept me updated on how the race was going and I could use that to gauge the gap back to Nathan (Watson) and Billy (Bolt). I had a couple of small crashes but nothing too major and when I crossed the finish line I could have done another lap if needed. Overall, it was nearly the perfect race for sure.”
Knowing that the Cross-Country race, and the conditions, at Hawkstone Park would suit you, did you feel under any extra pressure to win?
“No, I didn’t feel any extra pressure coming into this race because I wanted to win for myself, because I knew I could. I won the event here in 2017 and so having good memories of the race was helpful for the motivation. Nobody needed to tell me that I had to win because I wanted to do my best and show what I’m capable of.”
Before racing commenced there was a three-hour open practice session for the Pros and Hobby riders to test the track. Did you enjoy having the opportunity to share the track like that?
“That was something quite cool and unique to do. It’s not often something like that happens so it was good to ride with the Hobby riders on Saturday. I think they enjoyed it too because they were able to watch us ride, see some of the lines we took and try to repeat them. I feel it’s good for the people and Enduro to mix together like that on the track in a non-competitive way because that’s the spirit of the sport. It’s why we all started riding bikes in the first place – to have fun and to play on our bikes in the forest.”
You’ll be one of up to 3000 riders competing at the Gotland Grand National in Sweden in a few weeks. How important will a good result there be for you?
“Naturally at this stage in the season the title is on a lot of people’s minds. I took some points here in Hawkstone Park and need to keep that momentum rolling in Sweden. It’s a big race with a lot of riders, so there might be more guys who can challenge for the win and upset the overall. I know the Swedish riders will be strong. They have a lot of experience with this race and I know from racing in the world championship with them that they will be very fast. We might only have two rounds left in the series but there’s a lot left to be decided.”
Your victory at Hawkstone Park moves you to third in the championship standings — suddenly you’ve become a contender in this title fight!
“I feel like this victory has come at the right time for me in the championship and I honestly can’t wait for the next round in Gotland. I’ve gone from fifth to third in the standings, I believe I can be a contender for the title. Of course, I need to stay on the podium or win in order to stay in the championship fight, but I know that’s possible to do, especially in Gotland. Like I said, my motivation is high and with four weekends until the race I’m going to enjoy this time and have a lot of pleasure in preparing for the next race because I want to go there 100 per cent ready to fight.”
The World Enduro Super Series continues with round seven at Sweden’s Gotland Grand National on October 26/27.
Championship Standings (After round 6 of 8)
1. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 4060pts; 2. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 3935pts; 3. Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 3320pts; 4. Wade Young (Sherco) 3220pts; 5. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 2985pts; 6. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 2900pts; 7. Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 2778pts; 8. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 2768pts; 9. Paul Bolton (KTM – GB) 2752pts; 10. Lars Enockl (Gas Gas – AUT) 2076pts…