With only one race left, the Enduro 2 Championship is still completely undecided.
The French GP stands between them and the goal they have been pursuing ever since the very first metres of a difficult season for both.
Alex SALVINI had to struggle with a shoulder injury after a crash during the Greece GP. Loïc LARRIEU, on the other hand, was betrayed by his TM as he didn’t make it to the finish line on both days of the Portuguese GP.
Neither of them gave up. Today, only two points divide these two great riders. All they can do now is forget the strains of the last few months and try to go all the way during the last stage of the World Championships in Ambert.
It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to get into a rider’s head so we decided to ask Alex and Loïc directly to see how they are feeling during this final rush which could end in glory or in unavoidable disappointment for not having achieved what they were aspiring to – and what they both deserve.
Eight easy questions to understand their mood and how two of the best riders are preparing for one of the most important moments of their career.
1) At the beginning of the season, could you have hoped to be in this position before the very last race of the Championship?
Loïc: Yes and no… I’ll explain. Personally, I have worked towards being World Champion, but that isn’t always enough… There are so many variables which you have to take into account in Enduro: falls, injuries, mechanical problems… Having to deal with all of this makes me realise that, on the eve of the final in my own country, I have more or less reached the target I had set myself at the beginning of the year.
Alex: Let’s say that I counted on it! Having dominated the entire season last year, I didn’t win the title because of a series of mechanical problems, so I knew that I had the speed to go for it again this year! I changed a lot of things after last season: returning to Honda and creating my own team were two great moves and, even if I was very busy in the beginning, I am now extremely happy that I made those choices!
2) What will be on your mind right before the race in Ambert?
Loïc: I think that a French GP was missing from the calendar of the World Championship. It’ll be a great event, which will be even greater for me as I will be battling for a world title in my home country! Whatever happens, it will be a fantastic occasion!
Alex: Nothing in particular, it’s not the first time I am competing for the world title in the very last race! Last year I had a much more reassuring lead, but this doesn’t really mean anything because, back then, a problem on the last day cost me the title!
3) Will you approach the race as always?
Loïc: Yes, because I am used to giving my best in every single race. I don’t want to have any regrets!
Alex: I’ll try to! Of course it’ll be an unusual weekend but I will try to do my race!
4) What is Alex’s/Loïc’s greatest quality in your opinion?
Loïc: I would say his experience and the fact that he has already been world champion in the past.
Alex: Loïc is a really fast rider in every sense! He has an excellent bike and team! He is also competing at home so he most probably knows the location of the race, which will be an advantage for him, apart from the fact that the entire audience will be there to cheer him on! Essentially, we arrive on equal terms so I see him as the favourite and the man I have to beat!
5) Do you have any regrets at this point of the season?
Loïc: It’s not a regret but, as I said before, Enduro is a mechanical sport. I paid for this when I had to do a DNF because of a mechanical problems both on Saturday and Sunday in Portugal this year.
Alex: No regrets! Dislocating my shoulder in Greece and then again at the Italian Championship definitely slowed me down a bit, but injuries are a part of our sport: if I didn’t accept them I probably wouldn’t be here but I’d be playing golf!
6) What do you think will be the key to win the title?
Loïc: Considering the situation on the eve of the final, I think the key will be to concentrate all the positive aspects in one day. A normal GP will turn into a real battle because Alex only has a two-point lead, which really is nothing after having raced six GP of two days each throughout the Championship.
Alex: I really can’t tell you right now, things change very quickly in Enduro races!
7) Have there been any particularly hard times during this season?
Loïc: Yes, it was very difficult getting back into the race for the title after what happened in Portugal. The fact that I never gave up and always continued believing that I could do it really motivated me to fight for the title today – and that in itself already is a great reward!
Alex: The most difficult moment was definitely in Greece when I dislocated my right shoulder after crashing on the first day! In that very instant I thought that the Championship was over for me! Then, the next day I decided to race anyway, but they were seven hours of pure suffering – just like the following Saturday at the Italian GP in Rovetta! I will remember those days for the rest of my life because of the pain that I endured!
8) Ambert being such a decisive race, will you go the extra mile?
Loïc: After all the difficulties I went through this season, I just want it to end well in front of my home audience! I will fight to the very end in order to win this title which I have never won, and I do think that I am able to do it.
Alex: It’s definitely very inspiring, let’s speak about it again after the race!
Two riders. One title.
Seven days until the grand finale: The French GP won’t be just any other race!