“THIS HAS BEEN MY HARDEST ROMANIACS EVER”
KTM’s Jonny Walker claimed a hard fought victory in this year’s edition of Red Bull Romaniacs. Competing against on-form rivals, and up against some of the world’s hardest terrain, it was anything but an easy ride to victory.
Fighting tooth and nail during the duration of the five-day race in Sibiu, Romania Walker eventually crossed the finish line as this year’s worthy winner…
Congratulations Jonny, how does it feel to be a two-time Red Bull Romaniacs winner?
Jonny Walker: “To be honest it hasn’t really sunk in yet. They say it’s harder to defend a title than win one and I really know what that means now. That was probably the hardest race I’ve ever done at Romaniacs. It was so close all week – everyone was going fast, so to win it is pretty special. It feels better than my win last year.”
How important was it to win the prologue?
“The prologue was great. They changed the ruling this year and the top three finishers got the choice of starting day one in first, second or third with the winner getting first choice. It was a good idea and made it into a better race. I managed to get the holeshot and just put myself into a good position almost immediately. From then on I just tried to control things and make sure I got the win.”
With three winners during the four off-road days the competition was incredibly close. Were your surprised by that?
“This was definitely a harder earned win than last year. The pace at the front was seriously fast all week, but I was kind of expecting that. No one was really able to run away with things. At times it felt like a five or six-hour cross-country race, except on some crazy hard terrain. It’s good – it means you have to be on top of your game every day. The racing has been hard and fast but a lot of fun.”
What about the crazy final 50 metres of the last day! That didn’t exactly go to plan…
“Yeah, things got a little crazy towards the end. I knew the organisers would have some sort of sting in the tail for us so I tried to get a decent lead on Graham Jarvis before I arrived. When I got there it was mayhem. Someone shouted to me, suggesting I walk my bike across the final obstacle, which I did. In hindsight I should have ridden across it. But in the heat of the moment walking it was the call I made. I knew I still had time on my side but those seconds really dragged on – I did get a little nervous.”
A race like Romaniacs requires a full team effort. How important was it to have your team supporting you?
“In a race like Red Bull Romaniacs you just can’t be competitive alone. It takes a full team effort to get the job done. In fairness the guys were awesome. They worked seriously long hours all week to make sure everything was ready. Unfortunately my regular mechanic Seb wasn’t able to come at the very last minute but the preparation we did together in training prior to the race really paid off, so this win is his too.”
So far you remain unbeaten in 2015. Can you keep the winning streak going?
“I don’t think I really expected it. There’s a lot of racing left before the year is out. We’ve got the Red Bull Megawatt coming up in September followed by the Red Bull Sea to Sky – both I didn’t win last year – so my target is to make things happen this year.”