Manuel Lettenbichler prepared for 2021 Hard Enduro
Manuel Lettenbichler is hot property when it comes to Hard Enduro. The 2019 WESS Champion and two-time Red Bull Romaniacs winner has not only asserted himself as the rider to beat in recent seasons, at just 22 years of age he’s also risen to the top in a sport where experience is key.
Now, with all signs indicating that racing is firmly back on track, the German has got his sights set on rising to the top once again, this time in the inaugural season of FIM Hard Enduro World Championship competition.
Eager to get back to business, and his winning ways, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing star is prepared, hungry for success, and ready to take each race as they come in 2021…
Manuel Lettenbichler “It’s cool to have the FIM involved in Hard Enduro, for the sport and all involved to receive more recognition. I guess it shows how far our sport has come since when my father started competing. It also brings new motivation for everyone, as well as some new riders and teams, which is always good. New interest in our sport is super important. I feel like it’s a natural progression, so it will be cool to see how the championship grows. I’m excited to get it started.
“For sure it’s been the strangest of years, so as a rider it’s nice to have Extreme XL Lagares as a milestone for returning to racing properly. Although I won the WESS title in 2019, I never got to defend it. But the Hard Enduro World Championship is different, so I don’t feel like there is a target on my back. I just want to race my bike and try to win, try to be on the podium. After the year we’ve had, I’m mostly excited about getting back to racing.
“If it’s not fun, then it’s not for me. I’ve always tried to live that way and in particular apply that to my racing. I certainly have done that as I’ve been preparing for this season. Every time I put my helmet on the goal is to enjoy myself. I feel like when I do that the results take care of themselves. You can be more in the moment and not worry about pressure so much. I’m so lucky to get to race dirt bikes as a job, so by keeping it fun the work becomes easier!”
Manuel Lettenbichler further sharing, “Red Bull Erzbergrodeo is top of my ‘must win’ list. It’s the most famous race in the world for our sport and I dream of standing on top of the podium there. A lot needs to go right there because it’s so crazy. You need a good start to fight for the win. It’s like a sprint from the drop of the start flag. In Carl’s Dinner you want to stop – it’s mental and physical torture – but once you get out of that section there is pure relief because it’s over and you’re nearly home.
“GetzenRodeo as the final round of the championship is like a carrot on a stick for me. It’s become such a special place for me – winning the race and the WESS Championship there in 2019 – so I’m stoked to have it on the calendar this year. Of course, we’ve a lot of racing to get through before then and I’ll be doing my best to be in a position where I can fight for the title on home soil in front of (fingers crossed) a home crowd.”
Manuel Lettenbichler Gallery
Images by Future7Media
Joining Lettenbichler in 2021 with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team is Spaniard Josep Garcia who has been waiting patiently for the EnduroGP series to start in Portugal, in mid-June. Armed with the potent KTM 350 EXC-F, Garcia is focused on returning to the series with a bang as he looks to add to the Enduro2 title he won back in 2017.
Josep Garcia Gallery
Images by Future7Media
Mario Roman talks returning to the Extreme XL Lagares with Sherco
The last time Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman raced at Extreme XL Lagares, he won. At the time, the experienced Spaniard’s victory came as a bit of a surprise to many, but in reality, it shouldn’t have.
With one of the most developed skill sets of all top Hard Enduro racers, Mario’s mix of Motocross, Enduro and Trial techniques is impressive. Above all, his ability to adapt and master the notoriously slippery, rocky Portuguese riverbeds that Lagares is famous for is arguably his biggest asset. His victory back in 2019 was ultimately a masterclass in technique, patience and above all confidence.
Among the first to sign up for the newly formed FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, Mario is refreshed, focused and ready to rock at Extreme XL Lagares again…
Mario, you’ve been waiting a long time for a FIM Hard Enduro World Championship. What are your initial thoughts on the championship and races ahead this year?
Mario Roman: “It’s great news to have a world championship this year. I’ve been racing Hard Enduro since 2014 and have missed having a series like we do in classic enduro. Bringing it in line with the FIM puts us on the same level as MotoGP and MXGP with a world title to race for. I won the 125 Enduro world title in 2010, so if I could do it in Hard Enduro after so many years, that would be incredible!”
You travel the world with your training schools. At a grassroots level, how do you see the sport of Hard Enduro growing and will a world championship help it grow further?
Mario Roman: “I love the training and coaching schools I do. It helps me to travel to so many places around the world, like South America, Israel, and when travel restrictions ease, Australia. Getting to spend 1-on-1 time with amateur riders and pass on my experience is cool. In the beginning we mostly did Classic Enduro techniques, but now it’s changed. They want to know how to climb, ride boulders, to push and how to ride the Hard Enduro way. So, I see the sport developing a lot. Hopefully with a world championship behind it now it will bring opportunities and investment to young riders in these countries so they can come race with us too.”
You never got to defend your 2019 Extreme XL Lagares win last year. You must be looking forward to getting back on the start line for 2021?
Mario Roman: “Yes! Extreme XL Lagares is a special race for me. It’s only five hours from my home in Madrid and in the past many close family and friends came to support me. I’d been trying for a few years to win and finally it happened in 2019. Unfortunately, we didn’t race last year, but as the first round of the world championship it’s extra motivation to fight for the win again. Although we’ve had a long offseason, I feel like I’ve done my homework. I’m in tune with my Sherco and feel like my riding is in a good place. I’ll stay focused, make own race and hope that’s enough to deliver a big result.”
The region of Lagares has become like a second home to you. But what makes the terrain and technical river beds there so difficult to master?
Mario Roman: “What makes it so difficult is the rocks – they are always super slippery. If it’s dry it is much easier to ride – but it’s never dry at Lagares! If it rains during the night and then stops before the race then we’re in trouble because they become so greasy. The best situation is when it continues to rain, this way the rocks are washed clean all the time.”
For amateur riders, what top tips can you share to help them survive the main event on Sunday?
Mario Roman: “The three keys are fitness, bike setup and tyres. You need a good level of fitness to survive riding these mountains for five hours. But bike setup can help a lot. I set my Sherco low in the rear so I can put both feet down in the riverbeds at any time. This helps in deep water and prevents crashing. If you crash there and need to change a spark plug, you will lose a lot of time. Tyres and a good mousse are crucial too. I use a super soft compound to find that extra traction when I need it most.”
Along with Extreme XL Lagares, what races are you looking forward to most in the Hard Enduro World Championship, and why?
Mario Roman: “Honestly, the calendar looks great. Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, Hixpania Hard Enduro and Red Bull Romaniacs are my other favourites, but I’m keen to see what the race in Italy is like also. I think it’s the variety of racing I love. The Red Bull TKO final is 30 minutes, but Red Bull Romaniacs is like 40 hours in one week. And when I can spend time like that on my bike, I’m happy!”
The opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship takes place at Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal on May 7-9.
Pablo Quintanilla and Husqvarna part ways
Husqvarna Motorcycles have thanked and wished Pablo Quintanilla well in his future career, as well as for his commitment, enthusiasm and successes in his five seasons with the team, racing both the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship and the Dakar Rally.
Signing with Husqvarna Motorcycles prior to the 2016 Dakar Rally, Quintanilla immediately made his mark by claiming a stage win on his way to third overall. Later that year, the Chilean rider went on to top the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, clinching podium results in all four rounds.
Forced to retire from the 2017 Dakar, Pablo made up for his disappointment by successfully defending his world title, including a win at the challenging Atacama Rally on home soil – a race he has won no fewer than four times.
Runner-up in the world championship in 2018, Quintanilla went on to narrowly miss the podium at the 2019 Dakar by just seven minutes following over 42 hours of racing through the deserts of South America. With the remainder of his 2019 season plagued with injury, the 34-year-old came back fighting at the 2020 Dakar, claiming a runner-up finish – both his and Husqvarna Motorcycles’ best result at the tough event.
Pela Renet – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team Manager
“It’s never easy to part company with a rider that has been such an important part of our team for so many years, but in motorsport this happens. Pablo is a great rider and has contributed so much to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing. Before working with Pablo as Team Manager we were teammates, so to have raced alongside him and then worked and supported him, it’s been very special. Personally, and on behalf of the team and everyone involved, I want to thank Pablo for his hard work and commitment and wish him all the best for the future.”
AORC Nowra rescheduled for August
The Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship, presented by MXstore (AORC), will return to Nowra, NSW in 2021 for Rounds 7 and 8 of the Championship on August 28 and 29.
The rounds scheduled for Nowra earlier this year were postponed due to severe weather which impacted the area causing extensive flooding of the track and pit area making it impossible for riders and teams to travel and participate in the event.
The Oyster Bay Motorcycle Club had done significant work in preparing for the original rounds and we know they will leave no stone unturned to ensure a sensational track is provided come August 28 and 29 for what will now be AORC Rounds 7 and 8.
The Championship has also received significant support from Shoalhaven City Council which ensures the event can provide a spectacular race weekend for both riders and fans of AORC.