With a new enduro season already underway, we talk to Sherco enduro factory squad boss Fabrizio Azzalin about what it takes to compete at the top in endurance off-road riding.
Fabrizio, how is the racing season looking?
The season started in Italy a month ago. Despite the Covid restrictions, it managed to start on schedule. We have had three races already, and another race this weekend. The Italian championship is a little bit like a world championship, because everybody comes to race here as there aren’t many other races around. The world championship will start in June, which is a bit late because of Covid.
How do you prepare for the races?
The riders arrive here about a month before the season starts, and we work on training as well as the preparation of the bikes and making sure the bike fits the rider perfectly. Also, we’re a little bit different from other motorsports as we race in so many different conditions. With enduro, we need to set up the bike for each event and make sure it can go anywhere. One day it’s on the rocks, the next the sand and then the mud, for example, so we adjust the suspension. The most important thing is the rider must be comfortable with the bikes in these conditions, and it’s important we set the bike up for them, adjusting how much power it has to suit them.
You talk about different set ups and making sure the bike is right for the rider. But how important are the products that go into the bikes, such as engine oil?
For sure, it’s crucial. Honestly, I was using Motul before they became a partner. It’s on another level. Everybody knows the quality of Motul’s oils in the paddock. I know many other teams who use Motul and aren’t supported by them.
One of the most anticipated events in the calendar is the Six Days of Enduro. What makes this event so special?
Six Days is the Olympics Games of Enduro. This is the oldest motorcycle race in the world and it’s a national competition with four riders in each team. It’s like the final year party, with over 500 pro and amateur riders. In the big championships, only the top racers can ride, but in Six Days anyone can. Racing happens over six days and riders are in the saddle for about eight hours.
It sounds like an event that’s tough on the bikes…
Yes, of course. The four strokes need new oil and filters every day. It’s very important to change the oil in the evening, especially as we’re racing over six days and need to get the bike to the end. Engine oil is the most important thing.
The enduro scene is growing. How is the Sherco market in Italy?
Italy is a big market. It never goes down. Sherco has been an importer since 2014, but before this it wasn’t really that well known. But we’ve been growing the dealer network, and everything is moving in the right direction. It’s still a young company, but when you start with a good product, and strong partners such as the cooperation with Motul for example, this helps us to grow. We have less bikes than we can sell.