Great Britain’s Jonny Walker will arrive at Saturday’s World Enduro Super Series GetzenRodeo finale with momentum on his side, looking to end the year as vice-champion. Entering round one off the back of his horrendous, 2018 season-ending crash, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider has worked tirelessly to regain his form of old and battle his way back into championship contention.
Growing stronger as the year has progressed, at Red Bull Romaniacs he challenged for victory on Off Road Day 4 and since then he’s scored two podium results, at Hawkstone Park Cross-Country and BR2 Enduro Solsona.
Now, determined to put the events of 2018 firmly behind him, Walker wants nothing more than to claim redemption by standing on the overall 2019 WESS podium.
Jonny, it’s all to play for at GetzenRodeo, but in lying second in the championship you’re in a good place. Are you ready to sign off 2019 on a high?
Jonny Walker: “Everything is looking up for GetzenRodeo. Coming off the back of two podium results and holding second in the championship chase puts me in a good place. I’m beginning to put last year’s injuries behind me and get in a competitive groove again. I believe I’m not quite back to where I know I can be, which motivates me to keep working hard. This weekend I want to push to get second in the championship.”
What’s your game plan for Saturday?
“I’ve raced GetzenRodeo before and it’s a difficult race to get right. With so much going on it’s a little bit of a lottery. With the day split into two races I’ve found in the past that keeping things smart, and safe, in the morning is key. The goal for the morning GetzenRace is to start strong and stay out of trouble. You don’t need to win it, but you need to be about top five ideally. With a short turnaround before the final, you don’t want to crash and damage your bike either. With so much on the line for the GetzenChamp final you need to start fresh and focused.”
You arrive at GetzenRodeo off the back of two podium results, are we beginning to see the Jonny Walker of old again?
“The beginning of this year was tough. I was far from my best and was getting smoked by guys I felt I shouldn’t have been. I don’t want to be eighth or ninth, I want to be at the front. Having that strong ride on the final day of Red Bull Romaniacs, plus podium results in races that are not my favoured Enduro discipline, is getting me back to my old self.”
What do you believe has changed and made the difference during the second half of the year?
“Gaining confidence has been key. I’m getting better all of the time and I’m now able to push things harder. I’m riding in less pain, which means I can get more bike time in between races and in general I’m starting to catch up on the seat time I lost during those four months injured. Seat time is a huge thing in this sport. With so many riders at the top of their game, any set back at all is costly.”
Crashing at Red Bull 111 Megawatt was a huge blow to your 2018 season, has it taken longer than expected to recover from that injury?
“Losing those four months off my bike was tougher to recover from than I initially expected. My surgeons warned me that it would take more than one year to get back to where I was. At the time I didn’t believe them, but realistically they’ve been right. Like I said, riding in pain wasn’t fun but mentally that crash also played on me, especially when I was going fast on terrain I didn’t know. It takes time to put everything behind you.”
You’re viewed as a Hard Enduro rider, but do you think with your results at the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country and BR2 Enduro Solsona you’ve proved that you’re much more than that?
“Hard Enduro riders are riding faster than ever and it’s carried across to all disciplines of Enduro. Although I’m viewed as a Hard Enduro rider, some of my best results this year have come in the faster style races. With myself and Mani Lettenbichler third and fourth in BR2 Enduro Solsona, we’ve shown that the Hard Enduro guys are all-round faster than maybe people realise. I think that with more training and speed, next year we can go to those races and contend for the win.”
Adaptability is key in Enduro and you’ve shown to be strong at switching between bikes. Is that something which comes naturally to you?
“When I raced Hard Enduro and SuperEnduro I’ve always enjoyed switching between bikes and I like that you can do it in WESS. Personally, I find riding one bike all year gets a little stale. I love riding the two-stroke one week and then getting on the four-stroke the following week. It keeps the spark in racing.”
During Red Bull Romaniacs you mentioned making some big changes to your bike, what were they and how have they helped for GetzenRodeo?
“Of course I rode the four-stroke at Hawkstone Park Cross-Country and BR2 Enduro Solsona, but for GetzenRodeo I’ll be getting back on the two-stroke that I’m now very confident on. During the first half of the year we struggled with suspension setup. We just went the wrong way with things in pre-season testing and coming back from injury was partly to blame for that. On the final day of Red Bull Romaniacs we made some drastic changes. We gambled big with the clickers and it made a huge difference, almost winning that day. With both myself and the bike in a good place it’s got me looking forward to GetzenRodeo now.”
Finally, what’s your thoughts for GetzenRodeo and the opportunity to end the 2019 season on the podium?
“Realistically we’re a long way off winning the championship, but anything can happen. I’m proof of that last year, so I’ll go there with an open mind. At the beginning of the year I wasn’t in a good place, but now we’re in contention. Ultimately I want to secure second in the championship and end the year on the podium – that would be amazing after what happened in 2018.”
The 2019 World Enduro Super Series concludes with the eighth and final round at Germany’s GetzenRodeo on Saturday November 2. Watch the crowning moment of this year’s ULTIMATE ENDURO WORLD CHAMPION live on Red Bull TV.
Championship Standings (After Round 7 of 8)
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 5110pts; 2. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 4240pts; 3. Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 4165pts; 4. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 4034pts; 5. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 3920pts; 6. Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 3881pts; 7. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 3850pts; 8. Mario Roman (Sherco – ESP) 3070pts; 9. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 2725pts; 10. Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 2520pts…
GetzenRodeo Winners List
2018 – Manuel Lettenbichler (GER)
2016 – Graham Jarvis (GB)
2014 – Graham Jarvis (GB)
2012 – Graham Jarvis (GB)
2011 – Marcus Kehr (GER)
2007 – Ralf Scheidhauer (GER)
2006 – Ralf Scheidhauer (GER)
2018 GetzenRodeo Podium
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 2. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 3. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL)
2019 GetzenRodeo Schedule
Friday, November 1
21.00hrs – Grand Opening Ceremony
Saturday, November 2
10.00hrs – GetzenRace
14.00hrs – GetzenChamp
Photo credit: Future7Media