Husqvarna riders reflect on ISDE 2015

Back home in Australia, Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team mates Glenn Kearney and Lachy Stanford have looked back positively on their time together as Aussie World Trophy team mates in a very successful International Six-Day Enduro that ended in some controversy.

Husqvarna-mounted Aussie team members Lachy Stanford and Glenn Kearney flew the flag proudly in Slovakia on their way to equalling Australia's best ever finish in World Trophy classification.  Pics: Mark Kariya
Husqvarna-mounted Aussie team members Lachy Stanford and Glenn Kearney flew the flag proudly in Slovakia on their way to equalling Australia’s best ever finish in World Trophy classification. Pics: Mark Kariya

Held around the Slovakian city of Kosice, the event highlighted Husqvarna’s place as a world leader in enduro motorcycle design, with the famous brand winning the coveted Manufacturer’s Team Award Classification, and taking first in both the E1 and E2 categories and second in E3, at the hands of Jamie McCanney, Ryan Sipes and Mathias Bellino, respectively.

The event was the most successful ISDE in history for Team Australia, with victory to its Women’s and Junior Trophy Teams, and a controversial second place awarded to its world Trophy squad, which led the majority of the event until the previously disqualified French team became reinstated.

The event began with the Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team’s Lachy Stanford revealing just why he is considered one of the more underrated riders around, the smooth-flowing Byron Bay racer forging the initial lead in the E3 category aboard his Husqvarna FC 501 before going on to finish sixth in Enduro 3.

Stanford was pleased to help the Australian team to its equal highest finish in World Trophy Team classification, in his first gig with the senior squad, and his performance relative to the other Australians bodes very well for him coming into the Australian four-day enduro in a month’s time.

Perspectives vary however, and for Glenn Kearney, who only joined the team at the 11th hour as a replacement for Josh Strang and would finish 20th in E2, the runner-up position that was a high point of Stanford’s six-day, was both frustrating and disappointing for Kearney.

An ISDE veteran of 13 years, Kearney knows second place is a bum deal. The very rulebook which has excluded many (including himself) in the past seems to have been disregarded at the moment when it could have kept him and his teammates on top of the world.

The six-man Australian team comprising Kearney, Stanford, Beau Ralston, World Enduro Champion Matt Phillips, Daniel Milner and Josh Green had been locked in a fierce battle for supremacy with the United States early in the event, but when the US dropped out of the running and Australia’s lead changed from seconds to minutes, most of the Aussies naturally shifted back a gear to conserve and ensure a safe finish.

Thought to be impossible, the reinstatement of the previously excluded French team on day five of the event left the Aussies trailing by two minutes with not enough time to react, and although they managed to halve the deficit in the final motocross, the record currently shows that they finished second.

Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team Manager Glenn Kearney (FE450): “Apparently it’s got to go to court and the way I understand it, it’s still provisional until the French get officially let back into the results. It’s definitely disappointing and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, that’s for sure. I’ve been racing six-days for the last 13 years now, and I’ve been on the wrong side of the rule book a couple of times and that’s just part and parcel of enduro. I’ve been excluded before. To see it come down to that again and then the rulebook just get thrown out the window is disappointing. When France was excluded for missing a route check, we looked to our management – who do a great job – and they said, ‘yeah they are definitely going to be out – there is no other rule, no time penalty can be given, it’s exclusion only’. Don Atkins (Team Manager) lives and dies by the letter of the law in that rule book and for him to have it thrown in his face after decades of work behind the Australian Six-Day team is just gut wrenching.

“The issue is that to begin with we were battling with America, and Milner and Matthew and those guys were really leading the charge and even the young boys and there was only a few seconds in it. But when the Yanks went out on day three and suddenly our lead jumped from seconds to minutes, the team backed it down a notch and played it safe – all we had to do was stay on and ride well and we’d get the job done.

“Milner kept on pushing because he had a shot at the outright, but you could see the other guys backed it down a little bit on each test. And that proved to be the difference in the end.

“All the boys were stoked with each other that they had been riding really well and the team vibe was good, it’s just disappointing to get to the end of it and find that the result is different.

“Being a late inclusion and being on Josh’s bike where the motocross engine and gearbox were issues for me, it was pretty obvious straight away that I wasn’t going to be right up there with the guys so I sort of just took the role of being there just in case something went wrong. I rode okay, but I would have much preferred to have been on my own machinery, that’s for sure.

“I was stoked with the way Lachy started out, it was very impressive. I think with the four-day coming up, there was probably no better preparation than to do that six-day beforehand.”

Lachlan Stanford
Lachlan Stanford

Lachy Stanford (FE350): “Now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, everyone was blaming the French riders but it was nothing to do with them – it’s the FIM that made the call. Looking back I feel sort of like we took the spotlight away from them, but having said that though if we would’ve just got up on the second step and then two weeks later found out we’ve won, there’ll be some tiny little article that no one will care about – whereas we made a really good statement. We stood on the top step – sort of in protest. It was a big stuff up, but anyway we had a really good event, the Aussies did really well. The juniors and girls won and legally we won so could not ask for much better.

“It went really well for us though, all the team got along really well and it all ran really smoothly. There’s always been dramas and stuff in the past, people fighting and carrying on but it all ran really smoothly and we got along and everything seemed to work out. It shows how deep the talent is in Australia. It wasn’t even the fastest team, we didn’t have Toby, Strang or even Hollis, and we almost came out with a win so it just shows the depth of talent we have here now. We should be one of the top contenders for a few years now.

“I rode pretty well. I think I had two bad days in the wet but I was pretty stoked with how I started. I was beating most of the Aussies so that gives me a little bit of confidence going into the four-day in a month. I really didn’t expect to be up there in contention to win E3 either. So that was a positive.”