In the heart of Austria's picturesque Styria region, a young talent by the name of Valentino Hutter is making waves in the world of hard enduro. At just 16 years old, Valentino's earned the title of the youngest Silver Class Podium finisher (2nd overall) in the history of Red Bull Romaniacs. We sat down with the young talent to find out more about him.
Valentino, thanks for taking your time to give that interview. Your journey into the world of hard enduro was ignited by your father, Georg right? Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yes, it was my father who introduced me to enduro racing. A passionate rider himself, he kindled within me the fervor for the sport. While he continues to participate in select races across the Austrian terrain, it is at the big events like Erzberg or Romaniacs that he shifts gears, assuming a role of support for my goals. He prepares my bike, ensuring that it's in perfect condition, so I can focus on racing.
You have some experience in racing already, as you are competing in the Austrian Enduro Championship. In 2022 you become Austrian Enduro Youth Champion. How has the national championship been treating you so far in 2023?
So far, the national championship has been treating me well. I was able to win all races until now, so I am leading the championship. But there are still some rounds left. And with racing, anything can happen. The championship will only be over when I see the finish flag at the final event.
We've heard that you're giving tough competition not only to your youth competitors but also to the Pro Class riders.
I'm not sure about that. I am just trying to have fun and focus on myself, but of course I also want to challenge the more established riders in the championship.
You are a familiar face to the world championship already, as you competed at Red Bull Erzbergrodeo and made it to that first start row after the prologue. Describe that feeling.
Truly immense joy - reaching that first start row is special. Liberating a burden that had weighed on my shoulders felt good as well. Somehow, I put a lot of pressure on myself. Racing in Austria, in front of your home crowd, friends, and family - it can be beautiful but mentally challenging as well. You want to give your best performance.
Let’s talk about Red Bull Romaniacs. You've signed up for this year's Red Bull Romaniacs in Silver Class. What motivated you to participate in this event, and what led you to choose the Silver Class category?
I enlisted for the Romaniacs owing to it's status as the most demanding multi-day race globally. My decision to opt for the Silver class was motivated by a combination of factors. Primarily I wanted to challege myself. By selecting the Silver class, I sought to gain first hand experience of the event's complexities and intricacies, allowing me to truly grasp the nature of the race. Still, Gold Class is the pinnacle.
Your performance in this years Red Bull Romaniacs earned you the title of the youngest Silver Class Podium finisher (2nd overall) in the history of the event. How does it feel to achieve such a significant milestone? Could you share some highlights of your adventure during this year's Romaniacs?
The sensation is truly exhilarating, and I take immense pride in the collective dedication my team and I invested in this achievement. Nevertheless, I remain acutely aware of the constant potential for refinement. The overwhelming emotion as the finish line loomed into view is something that will forever be etched in my memory. But also the unforgettable adventure, the trails, the peaks and valleys, and the never-ending landscapes are something I will never forget.
As a hard Enduro athlete, what are your long-term goals and aspirations? Are there any particular races or achievements you have your sights set on in the coming years?
Like for every young racer, the dream is to become a professional Hard Enduro Rider one day.
But for now, I just want to stay healthy and have as much fun on the bike as possible.
Can we expect to see you participating in more championship rounds in the future, and do you have plans to sign up for the Junior World Championship?
Yeah, for next year, I definitely plan on doing more championship rounds, and there is a high chance that I’ll sign up for the Junior World Championships.
We can’t wait to welcome you. Many thanks, Valentino.
Images © Georg Hutter, Anna-Larissa Esterbauer, Red Bull Romaniacs