Hamish Macdonald is a young rider from New Zealand. Riding a Sherco enduro bike, Hamish has a strong grasp on the Junior Enduro GP Championship. During the penultimate round of the championship Macdonald won both races, extending his lead even further. We caught up with the rider in the paddock of Marco De Canaveses.
Hamish, at Motul we cover all kinds of different leagues and championships but enduro is really something else. What sets it apart?
In enduro you’re not really competing with other riders directly. You are mostly racing against the clock. Obviously that clock is set by the times your competitors do, but on the stages, you’re mostly riding on your own. The big challenge is that all of the different stages are very different. You’ve got your enduro test, the cross test and the extreme test. Even though they’re all pretty self-explanatory the biggest challenge is to be quick in all of them.
When out on the test it doesn’t just look like you’re fighting the clock but also the elements. How different are the various tests? I can only imagine they can change drastically throughout the weekend?
Yes, the stages each have a different character. As for the extreme test, well, that’s just surviving really. The biggest challenge arises when the stages change over time. With the heavy rain we had overnight, some of the stages became really muddy. After the rain in the cross test this weekend the mud was riddled with massively deep ruts and sometimes you can fall into one and it just eats you whole. It happened to me once this weekend and the rut was so deep that when I fell into it my hand came off the handle causing me to have quite a bad crash.
As you said, the same stage can be different run after run especially in the rain. How do you know where the faster line is? What’s you secret?
We get a lot of information from our support rider and spotter, but I think it’s mostly just reading the terrain in the previous lap. When you are riding you constantly read the terrain and have to make split decisions and decide which line you take.
From all the different types of tests, do you have a favourite?
I try to do well across the board, that’s the only way to be any good at this competition. But personally, there’s nothing that beats a good enduro. Just 10 to 12 minutes on the bike riding as fast as you can. That’s a lot of fun.
Looking at the schedule these events are just not hard terrain, they’re also gruelingly long!
Yes, they are. I think I’ve spent about six and a half to seven hours on the bike each day. One hour of which being the competitive tests, but the connecting trails are pretty challenging as well as they aren’t just road sections. Most of them are all run off-road with plenty of places to get your bike stuck.
Because of the pandemic the championship is taking a bit of a twist as the finale will be run here in Portugal as well. Do you have any takeaways from these events, and do you feel you can improve?
It’s a bit strange running two more races here next week but I’m staying here in a house so it’s fine. I was very happy with the bike. I actually didn’t change a thing this weekend not even overnight. So, depending on next weekend’s conditions, I’m pretty confident everything will stay the same.