Strong early season performances from Rockstar Energy Husqvarna riders
There have been many reasons for Andi Holzl – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Team Manager – to be pleased with the performances of his riders so far in 2016. From Colton Haaker claiming the FIM SuperEnduro World Championship to Mathias Bellino’s winning performance at the Enduro World Championship opener and of course Graham Jarvis’ dominant victory at Erzberg, there have been numerous notable 4-stroke or 2-stroke powered performances so far in 2016.
Andi, you’re now a little over six months into your first year as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s enduro team manager, how have things been?
Andi: “I can honestly say that it has been great. Like some of the riders within the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team there has been a great deal for me to learn. Building relationships with all of the riders has been hugely enjoyable, and from the pre-season testing, through the early races, and on to the mid-way point of the year it’s been really enjoyable. There’s a really great atmosphere within the team. There are many extremely hard working people, too. It’s a pleasure to be working alongside them and of course our riders.”
The year started in the best possible way with Colton Haaker winning the SuperEnduro title. That must have been a huge boost to the team so early in the year?
Andi: “Yes, winning the SuperEnduro title with Colton was an incredible start to what’s so far been a very positive year. Colton probably didn’t begin as favorite for the SuperEnduro title, and was helped a little by the misfortunes of some of his competitors, but he improved enormously throughout the series. He got faster and more consistent with every race and then rode brilliantly at the final in Madrid. Winning the title with a pass in the last corner of the last race of the last round of the series – it was an incredible night for Colton and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team. We’re already looking forward to him defending his title.”
From a technical point of view the new bikes seemed to have performed incredibly well from the very start of the year?
Andi: “From the very beginning of the season we have made some significant progress with the development of our bikes. The new generation Husqvarna enduro models are really a big step forward in terms of both performance and ease of riding. All of our riders have really gelled with their bikes from the beginning, which I believe also shows in their performances.”
Mathias Bellino won first time out in the opening round of the Enduro World Championship in Morocco, that must have created a very positive atmosphere within the team?
Andi: “Following Colton’s SuperEnduro title, having Mathias secure the outright win on the first day of the Enduro World Championship was amazing – a really important boost for us all and especially Mathias himself. He showed the performance and reliability of the new FE 450 in the best possible way. That was a difficult race, with the first of many long and difficult enduro tests we’ve seen this year. Mathias really made a great start to the series.”
The riders within the team are a mix of hugely experienced older hands and younger, lesser-experienced enduro newcomers. That must make for a very dynamic working environment?
Andi: “Each rider is very different, with their own strengths, personalities and ways of working. With some, like Graham Jarvis, it’s simply a case of ensuring they have the best machinery and support to allow him to do what he does. He absolutely knows what he needs to do. With a rider like Pascal Rauchenecker, who is stepping into enduro for the first time, it’s about working with him to ensure continued improvement. With all riders it’s about working with them so they can do their best.”
Do any of the performances of any of the riders stand out as a highlight of the first half of the year?
Andi: “There have been many great performances but I would have to say Graham Jarvis’ performance at Erzberg was outstanding. For me personally it was the first time that I got to spend time with Graham and see him do his thing during a race weekend. He is the ultimate professional – focused, calm and unbelievably talented. Finishing more than 30 minutes ahead of his nearest rival at a race like Erzberg speaks for itself. The fact that it was his first event on the new TE 300 makes it even more rewarding for myself and Husqvarna. Graham loved the bike from the first moment he got on it and his result was outstanding.”
This weekend’s GP of Sweden marks the start of the second half of the Enduro World Championship season. Does the team have any specific goals for the remaining rounds of the EWC?
Andi: “After a very tough but successful GP of Finland we are all looking forward to the Swedish event. Sweden is Husqvarna’s spiritual home so we hope to have a lot of support there. But as a team our goals are the same as always – for our riders to show their true potential. So far the championship has delivered some extreme weather conditions and some very challenging races. For Mathias, Danny and Pascal this will be a very important race.”
Round five of the 2016 FIM Enduro World Championship will take place in Enkoping, Sweden on June 18-19