When it comes to naming countries that are well-known for their Hard Enduro credentials, Bulgaria doesn’t sit near the top of anyone’s list. But thanks to his participation in the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, that’s something Teodor Kabakchiev hopes is about to change!
The 23-year-old, racing for BULGARIA powered by Econt in this year’s championship, has been delivering some promising results with each passing round. As the 2020 FIM SuperEnduro Junior World Champion – Bulgaria’s first world champion in motorcycling – he’s shown bags of potential and has been focused on reaching the top since he switched his focus to Hard Enduro this year.
So far, Red Bull Romaniacs has been the highlight of his season. Second fastest in the opening Time Trial qualification, he followed it up with a terrific third place on Off Road Day 3, ending his week eighth overall.
With the remaining rounds of HERO Challenge, Hixpania Hard Enduro, and GetzenRodeo all new ground for Teodor, the BULGARIA powered by Econt rider is excited to try and fight his way higher up the leaderboard…
Teodor, you’re currently ninth overall in the championship, are you pleased with your season so far?
Teodor Kabachiev: “It’s definitely not bad, but also not exactly where I hoped to be. I’m still new to the sport and so I feel like this is a transition year for me to figure things out more. I need to keep learning and understand the game more. My goal is to gain as much experience as possible and improve.”
You had some great rides during Red Bull Romaniacs. Were you expecting it to go so well?
“Red Bull Romaniacs was really enjoyable. I always like it and it’s an event that suits me. It’s the closest one to my home in Bulgaria, so the terrain is very similar. Also, I ride a lot with GPS at home, so even if the markings are wrong or you miss one then you know to trust the GPS, which is a lot of what Red Bull Romaniacs is all about.”
What did you learn from Red Bull Romaniacs to help you get closer to the top guys?
“It helped me to see what the race pace of the top guys is like. Training with them is different than racing with them. During a race they are trying to go fast all of the time. One big thing I’ve learned is not about eliminating all mistakes but being able to fix them quicker. To get better and faster you need to be able to recover from mistakes. It’s about fixing the situation faster to get a better overall result. The very top guys are so good at this.”
What is it you enjoy most about Hard Enduro?
“I like the challenge! Although I didn’t know Hard Enduro at the time, it’s what I grew up doing in Bulgaria. I was the little guy on the 85cc bike trying to keep up with my father and the fast adults in my local area. If they did a big climb, then I had to try too. I remember enjoying that struggle and it’s sort of stuck with me ever since.”
What is the Hard Enduro scene like in Bulgaria?
“It’s growing each year. More and more people now understand what enduro is. Bulgaria has a unique environment and there are a lot of possibilities to ride in many cool places. My father actually does enduro tours and more people are now coming here to ride. The competition side of things is growing and developing as well. With more races come better riders and if things go right, then hopefully more professional riders.”
As a rider competing in world championship events, is it helping younger Bulgarian riders to follow your footsteps?
“I don’t know! But I’m sure it helps give them confidence to follow their dreams in this sport. I hope I can show that it doesn’t matter where you come from, but that if you work on your dreams then it’s all possible. We’re all the same – the only difference is commitment, discipline and being willing to work the hardest. I’ll be happy to see them realise this – follow their dreams like I’ve done and give all their energy to make it happen.”
What remaining rounds are you looking forward to riding most?
“These next three races are all new to me! I’ve never done any of them, so I’m curious to see what the formats for each round are like. To be honest, I’m just happy to race anywhere. Each round looks pretty unique, so I’m excited for Poland.”
Finally, you are proving a great ambassador for your country Bulgaria!
“I’m really happy with the team I’ve built with BULGARIA powered by Econt. I’ve got a very strong personal relationship with Econt since they helped me to win the SuperEnduro Junior World Championship in 2020 and I wanted to continue that. Initially this year I joined Graham Jarvis’ team. To me, he is a legend, an idol. I stayed and trained with him at his home and learned so much just by being around him. But he understood that Bulgaria is super important to me too and why the decision to return to my own team. Now I want to push as hard as I can and continue putting Bulgaria on the Hard Enduro map!”
The FIM Hard Enduro World Championship continues with round six in Poland with HERO Challenge on September 11/12.
FIM Hard Enduro World Championship standings (after 5 of 8 rounds)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 54pts
2. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 53pts
3. Wade Young (Sherco) 40pts
4. Mario Roman (Sherco) 37pts
5. Jonny Walker (Beta) 34pts
6. Taddy Blazusiak (GASGAS) 26pts
7. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna) 24pts
8. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 21pts
9. Teodor Kabakchiev (Husqvarna) 19pts
10. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 15pts
2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship calendar
Round 1: Extreme XL Lagares – Portugal, May 7/8/9
Round 2: Red Bull Erzbergrodeo – Austria, June 3/4/5/6
Round 3: Abestone Hard Enduro – Italy, July 10/11
Round 4: Red Bull Romaniacs – Romania, July 27/28/29/30/31
Round 5: Red Bull TKO – USA, August 13/14/15
Round 6: HERO Challenge – Poland, September 11/12
Round 7: Hixpania Hard Enduro – Spain, October 1/2/3
Round 8: GetzenRodeo – Germany, October 29/30