Less than a month before the beginning of the 2012 Enduro World Championship (EWC), we talk with two-time Enduro World Champion, Johnny Aubert, about the upcoming season. Just back from riding his first Dakar last month, the KTM Enduro Factory rider just won the opening round of the British Sprint Enduro Championship and is geared up to compete in his sixth EWC season.
You raced your first Dakar this year. How was it?
Johnny Aubert: My first Dakar was a fabulous experience; discovering a new discipline was an unbelievable adventure. A lot of emotions were mixed during the 15-day race. I learnt that mixing navigation and riding is difficult, that experience is the key to success and that you need to know more than ride a bike. The entire race I wanted to learn as much as I could. I rarely relied on the tracks of the leading men, and I tried to follow my roadbook as precisely as possible. Sometimes it put me in a difficult situation, but at the end of the day I know it will help me a lot for next time.
The event is quite taxing on the body. How are you feeling now?
I'm feeling fit. When I came back, I went to the mountains to recharge my batteries - bit of skiing, relaxation and family. It was perfect to gather strength for the upcoming Enduro World Championship.
You've had two difficult seasons. Moving forward, what are your goals?
2010 and 2011 were difficult. I had inner ear problem and then a big crash. However, I didn't lose my confidence in my riding style. My 2012 goals will be, of course, to do the maximum to win another world title.
After difficult times on the 350 EXC-F, you're back on the 450 EXC-F - the bike you used to become World Champion. Why make the switch?
First of all, it's important to say the 350 is an excellent bike. But my riding style needs a bigger bike. For me, it's definitely easier on the 450EXC-F. It's a true love story between my 450 and me: even if we leave each other for a while, as soon as we meet again, we're back! Joking aside, I have an excellent feeling on the bike.
What do you thinking about your main rivals in the Enduro 2 class? ?
They're fast competitors and placing on the podium this year will be tough. Juha Salminen won't give any quarter, just like Ivan Cervantes, Pela Renet and Cristobal Guerrero. It'll be a year rich in pressure and suspense!
You've got new teammates this year, with Antoine Meo and Christophe Nambotin joining the team. How is your relationship with those riders?
Our relationship is excellent, like it was before their arrival to KTM. I always had good relations with Christophe. And even if there were rumours that Antoine and I had a difficult relationship, it's wrong. We're rivals during the races, but it's never an influence outside of the pit paddock. I'm happy to have them on the team this season.
What do you think about the new South American tour for 2012?
I'm happy to come back to South America. The people there are motorbike and Enduro fans and it's great to see motorsport expanded on the South American contient. The main concern is for the private teams and the costs associated with the tour. It will be difficult for some of them to participate in the entire championship because of it and it's a pity. I hope that solutions can be found to decrease the cost and to permit everybody to help make the tour a real success.??
You've raced in the EWC for six seasons now, what do you think about its evolution? ?
There have been a lot of changes. The World Enduro Championship is now a creditable discipline that attracts riders from every horizon. Great things have been done, even if sometimes I didn't believe in it. I have to say that I'm still not a fan of the Super Test. Moreover, I don't think that it's a good idea to erase pre-rider. It was a good way to analyse what was possible, or not, and to have the chance to make some changes when the track was infeasible or too dangerous.
For a long time now, you've said this will be your last EWC season. Is it really 'the last' one?
I can't deny that I'm looking for a rally career. I don't know what 2013 holds and right now I don't want to think about it. My priority is the 2012 EWC and to do my best to give the best results to KTM and to all my sponsors.