Heading into round six of the WPTGlobal FIM EnduroGP World Championship this weekend, Beta Factory Racing’s Steve Holcombe is all smiles.
For the seven-time world champion it would be an understatement to say that the first half of his season didn’t go to plan. But things are on the up. Close to winning the opening day of racing at round one in Spain, things unfortunately went ‘off track’ shortly after. Injuries meant Steve wasn’t in a position to fight for victory and was even forced to take some time out away from competition.
But last weekend’s GP of Slovakia saw the Steve of old make a welcome return to action. The fast, super smooth rider that’s such a fearsome competitor to his rivals was back.
“It’s been a long road, but last weekend in Slovakia I finally got back to where I want to be,” smiles Steve ahead of tonight’s AKRAPOVIC Super Test in Hungary. “I want to be fighting for wins, I want to be with the top guys.”
So, what changed for the Beta rider last weekend? How did he get his mojo back?
“It never really left,” he laughs. “It was just a combination of everything. Being healthy, feeling fit, and being able to ride how I want on the bike. But also, Slovakia was an absolutely mega event too.
“It was proper enduro. It was exactly the kind of special tests I enjoy, and, also, I think the kind of true enduro tests the championship needs more of. I feel most people were of the same opinion too. It was fun out there!”
Coming up four tenths of one second shy from victory after over one hour of special test racing shows how tight the competition is the year. With a lot of riders in a position to win EnduroGP, one small mistake can make or break a result. Something that’s not gone unnoticed by Steve.
“Competition is really high right now,” he reckons. “For a few years it was really only myself and Brad (Freeman) fighting for wins, then Josep (Garcia) came back to the championship, which was great.
“Suddenly Wil (Ruprecht) hit some great form and Andrea (Verona) has also stepped up massively. Then Nathan Watson is on fire and wins two races, plus Thomas Oldrati is always knocking on the door.
“The increased competition has changed the dynamic of the championship. You can’t get away with a bad result and still finish top three. Now an off day puts you outside the top six, maybe even the top 10. For sure, EnduroGP is probably the most competitive it’s ever been for some time.”
Round six of the WPTGlobal FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Hungary starts tonight with the AKRAPOVIC Super Test, followed by two full days of racing.