The 20th edition of the Erzbergrodeo was certainly a good one for KTM’s Jonny Walker, who powered his way to a dominant victory. Claiming a start-to-finish win to become a two-time winner of the Red Bull Hare Scramble, Walker made light work of a race that was anything but easy…
Congratulations, you must be thrilled to have won the 20th edition of Erzberg’s Red Bull Hare Scramble?
Jonny Walker: “I am. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have won. Everyone knows just how important this race is, and how hard it is to win, so to have put last year’s disappointments behind me and returned to the top of the podium is amazing. I have to say a huge thanks to all of my sponsors and supporters, it’s been a real team effort.”
What’s changed in the last 12 months – the Jonny Walker that won this year was a completely different rider to the one that placed fourth in 2013?
JW: “A lot’s changed. I guess the first thing is that I believed I could win. The last few weeks I’ve been building towards this, with the help of a lot of people. Last year was a tough year. People were expecting me to do well after I won in 2012, but my health and fitness wasn’t what it needed to be. This year I knew I could do it. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I felt strong coming into the race and knew I had an amazing bike.”
How was the race – it looked like it couldn’t have gone any better for you?
JW: “It went pretty much exactly like I hoped it would. I lead coming out the first corner, then dropped a few positions as I lined myself up for the first hill. I wasn’t worried about that, as I knew how important it would be simply to get to the top of it. I got into the lead soon after that, and then pushed as hard as I could. Everything just fell into place. I didn’t make many mistakes, focused on my own race, and things worked out great.”
The Red Bull Hare Scramble is never easy, how did this year’s compare to previous years?
JW: “It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t too hard either. I felt really fresh when I finished, but if it had rained it would have been a totally different story. The rocks through Carl’s Diner were dry and grippy and that made things a lot simpler. It was a great track, not too hard but not too easy. I guess it must have been a little easier this year because there were a lot of finishers.”
Did you make any mistakes, have any scary moments?
JW: “I did make one mistake in the woods, where I overshot a turn and had to lift my bike back up the hill and onto the track I needed. I went over the bars once as well. We refuelled at the bottom of the hill called Machine, and that didn’t go so well. A lot of fuel didn’t make it into my bike and some got onto the air filter. The bike didn’t run so well for a while after that and I had to have two goes at that hill. But it cleared and everything was fine with my bike.”
How hard was it riding alone for so long?
JW: “I had a little battle with Cory Graffunder at the start of the race, which was cool. But then I was alone. In some ways it’s great because it was just me and the track, but I did have a few doubts starting to creep into my mind – am I going the right way, am I pushing too hard, not hard enough. Once I knew I had a good lead, and was through Carl’s Diner, I felt a little more settled. But I never stopped pushing.”
So what’s next, where’s your next event?
JW: “I wish I was racing at X Games next weekend but the goal was to focus everything towards winning at Erzberg, which we managed to do. I didn’t want to do half a job at two different races. I guess it’ll be back to training and riding and then the next event is Romaniacs. I’m looking forward to that. It was a mixed event for me last year, but I know what to expect there now. It should be a lot of fun…”
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