JOSEP GARCIA – HOW TO EXCEL AT ENDURO TESTS
More often than not, an enduro special test acts as the deciding factor in classic enduro events. Embodying the essence and purity of traditional enduro sport, they are a true test of a rider’s ability to deliver his best on a technical forest floor, under constant pressure from an ever-ticking timing clock. From rocks to tree roots, sand holes and rutted ground, an enduro rider must take it all in their stride and instinctively react to whatever obstacles lay in their path.
Proving himself as one of the best in the world, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia is a formidable force between the timing beams on any enduro special test. Simply put, he’s tough to beat. Offering world-class advice, Josep breaks things down to explain how you can go faster on an enduro special test…
Walking the test is key
“It’s important to walk a test attentively because you don’t get a practice lap to try things – the only way to learn the trail is by foot. Pay attention to the most dangerous and difficult places and check the best lines to manage the rocks and roots. If you’ve walked the test well then everything should happen naturally out on track. If I arrive to the test and I’m still trying to think of a corner or section, then I haven’t walked it properly.”
Ride at a pace you’re most comfortable with
“Personally, I like to charge the whole way through a special test, be it enduro or motocross. I’m more comfortable riding on or near my limit. That’s where I have my maximum focus and I’m at my most alert. As a younger rider, most of my bad crashes or injuries came from riding at 75 per cent. Of course, this will be different for every rider.”
“It’s important to keep your chin up and look ahead so you can see what’s coming earlier. If you look at your front wheel, you will only go where it goes – look further ahead and you will naturally go in that direction. When you’re riding in the forest try to stand up as much as possible. Keep your two feet on the footpegs – this creates better balance and allows you to correct mistakes easier but also to look ahead.”
“I tend to keep one finger over the clutch on the enduro test, all the time. It isn’t something I do as much in motocross, but for enduro you need to react fast to terrain changes and the unknown. With an index finger over the clutch lever you control the bike better.”
Look for better lines
“Be aware that your line choices will change from lap to lap. With up to 300 riders having passed the track since you last rode it, some corners will develop differently, and holes will appear. You need to react to the changing lines and find the faster options. Reading the terrain like that is the hardest thing to achieve in enduro and is something that only improves with experience.”
“Of course, mistakes will happen – that’s racing. Initially there’s stress, but you need to reset the goals and try again. Try not to worry about it, what’s in the past has happened and you can’t change it.”
Catching a slower rider
“Generally, we ride with people of similar speed and start the test 30 or 60 seconds apart, so we don’t catch each other too much. But for something like the ISDE, especially on the opening day, you can catch a lot of riders. Of course, you want to overtake quickly, but the key is patience. Don’t do a risky maneuver, especially in the dust. A crash could ruin your race or theirs, too.”
Always push for the finish line
“This is probably the best tip I can give – keep pushing until you cross the finish line. I see so many riders slowing down with just the final corners of a special test to go. They’ve been trying hard for 10 minutes, but then relax too soon. You can lose one, maybe two seconds by doing that. Remember the clock keeps ticking until you pass that timing beam!”
Finding advantages with the 350F
“Moving to the KTM 350 EXC-F from the KTM 250 EXC-F for 2020 hasn’t been too big of a change for me. When the terrain is good I feel like I can ride it as aggressively as I did with the 250F. But the biggest advantage I now have is when the terrain is difficult. I can really use the power from the bottom end and ride smoother – I’m enjoying that.”
Feeling the flow
“When you get the flow, it’s magic – these are the best days you will ride in your life. When I’m riding aggressive and attacking hard – but still being smooth and fast – it’s amazing. Everything happens without effort. You know where to push, when to brake and how to setup for a corner. As an enduro rider these are the days we live for.”
As an ISDE winner, former World Champion, WESS Enduro World Championship racer and outstanding Enduro talent, Josep Garcia is featured in the KTM Motohall Heroes-Area; an incredible immersive experience for any motorcycle fan right in the heart of Mattighofen, Austria, which is KTM’s home town.
Click the link to find out more about the Heroes-Area and more in the KTM Motohall.