“THE HARDEST RACE I’VE EVER DONE!”
Jonny Walker collected his second extreme enduro victory in as many events on Sunday, following what the factory KTM rider described as ‘the hardest race I’ve ever done’.
Overcoming strong competition and punishing weather conditions Jonny secured his first ever win at Hell’s Gate in impressive style…
Jonny, two races into the 2015 extreme enduro season and two wins. You must be pleased with the way your ‘outdoor’ season has started?
JONNY WALKER: “Absolutely. Getting a first win anywhere is always good, but to get the win at Hell’s Gate with the weather as bad as it was makes this extra special. More than usual it was a real team effort, I have to say a big thanks to Seb my mechanic and everyone else who helped during the weekend.”
Just how bad were the weather conditions?
“They were horrendous. During the morning’s qualifying race they weren’t too bad I guess. It was just foggy with a little rain towards the end. There was some snow on the track, but it wasn’t anything too crazy. It was during the main race where things started to get interesting.”
By interesting you mean difficult, right?
“Yeah, it was the toughest conditions I’ve ever raced in. There was water everywhere and a lot of snow. What made it so hard was the fact that the snow was so wet and heavy. There were so many tree branches hanging right where you needed to be riding. When you hit the branches you got a face full of cold, wet snow. At one point I had to stop to remove the snow from the front of my helmet. Also, my hands were so cold. I could hardly feel my handlebars after the first hour.”
© Edmunds / enduro21.com
The water caused problems for many riders did you have any problems?
“I think everyone did. It was so easy to make a small mistake, like Graham did. He was so unlucky, I’m gutted for him because I know how much he loves racing at Hell’s Gate. With so much of the course covered in snow it was just difficult making the right line choices all the time. I just tried to be cautious a lot of the time, I guess it worked for me.”
Early on it looked like it might be a two-rider battle between Graham and yourself. What was going through your mind when you saw Graham’s bike drown?
“I was just praying it wouldn’t happen to me. Like I said it was just bad luck for Graham. I’m sure he’d have been tough to beat without his problem. I was following him at the time, at the start of the second lap, and looking forward to racing with him.”
Despite the difficult conditions you must be pleased with the way you rode?
“Yes, I am. I knew that I was a lot fitter than in previous years. Although I’ve not really been doing any real extreme enduro riding I have been spending a lot of time on a bike. It takes a few years to really feel comfortable somewhere like Hell’s Gate, and this year I felt good. It was a bit of a crazy race with only 13 or 14 riders qualifying for the main event, and then with the weather things got even crazier. But it was a great feeling to win.”
Finally, it’s back to the SuperEnduro series this coming weekend…
“Yes. If nothing else I’ll be a lot warmer racing indoors, compared to Hell’s Gate. It’s back-to-back SuperEnduro races in Mexico and Brazil, then back to the UK for The Tough One and on the same weekend then off to the indoor enduro in Barcelona…”