Shane Watts brings his extensive background in off-road racing to Florence to try his hand at Endurocross.
Big news out of GEICO Powersports AMA EnduroCross, presented by E3 Spark Plugs, headquarters today as Australian off-road great Shane Watts has registered to race the South Carolina EnduroCross round at Florence’s Civic Center, Sept. 12th.
Watts, a longtime KTM-affiliated competitor who runs off-road riding schools these days, brings with him quite the impressive competition resume to the Florence EnduroCross. A six-time Australian Enduro champ, 500cc Australian MX champ, 1997 World Enduro champ, ’98 International Six Days Enduro overall winner (on a 125cc bike!) and 2000 Grand National Cross Country Series (GNCC) overall champion, Watts will see if he can’t shake things up versus fellow KTM racer Taddy Blazusiak – winner of the first two GEICO EnduroCross rounds – and the Monster Energy/Kawasaki contingent of defending series champ, Ricky Dietrich and Damon Huffman.
“This is big – getting Watts in the starting gate at Florence,” said Mike Karsting VP of Events for Source Interlink Media. “It’s not like a well-known pro motocross racer coming in and racing GEICO EnduroCross for the first time. Watts’ got a legitimate shot to make the podium,”
GEICO EnduroCross caught up with Watts this morning and got the lowdown on next weekend’s race in Florence and how he feels he might fair, along with what he’s been doing race-wise and to stay in shape as of late.
GEICO EnduroCross: From Australian off-road and MX champions to the ISDE to GNCCs, you’ve pretty much won everything an off-road racer can. So what’s appealing to you about running an EnduroCross event?
Shane Watts: “There’s certainly many different reasons for me to give EnduroCross a go, ranging from it being great promotion for my Dirt Wise Academy off-road riding schools and instructional DVDs through to helping satisfy that racing bug and to give me better preparation for the quickly approaching ISDE over in Portugal during October. If I do well in South Carolina it could possibly also give me an extension of my racing career instead of having to do very tiring three-hour cross country races. My old body really struggles with those races now days! Plus I’d love to get on the box so as to give a kick start to the marketing campaign of DirtBaby clothing, my wife’s new motorcycle casual clothing company.”
GEICO EnduroCross: One could make the argument that you’ve got ‘nothing to gain and everything to lose’ by racing an EnduroCross. Like we said, you’ve won it all in the past and anything less might not be up to your lofty standards as a champion. Could that put added pressure on you for Florence (S.C.)?
Shane Watts: “Yes, you certainly could look at it like that, or you could view it like I am as in I have everything to gain. My previous results are there forever and will always stand as testament to my ability to ride a dirt bike so one bad result isn’t going to tarnish that. Possible injury is the only downside for racing this event but that is all relative to the risks to take, just as with anything in life.”
GEICO EnduroCross: Good point. Have you got to check out an EnduroCross live? What are your thoughts on the event?
Shane Watts: “I’ve only seen video footage of the events, and had some practice sessions. For sure, it is extremely intense and you need to be very precise and try to ride mistake free. That’s a big ask when your heart rate is maxed out. It’s not until after the race that I’ll have a much better idea of what my thoughts will. If I’m on the podium then obviously I’ll be says that it was great!”
GEICO EnduroCross: Do you think EnduroCross would go over big in your native Australia?
Shane Watts: “Aussie’s love a good blood sport, so they would definitely be way into it. Maybe that’s another venture that my wife and I could investigate in setting up some time in the future.”
GEICO EnduroCross: Knowing your riding style, what areas of EnduroCross do you think you’ll excel at? And which of the obstacles are going to give you the most difficulty?
Shane Watts: “I used to be real good at continually being very precise with my wheel placement and with the coordination of my controls (throttle/clutch/brake), but previous injury has dampened that somewhat. My biggest attribute used to be being able to push through the exhaustion barrier and harness adrenalin to get me to a higher physical output. Hopefully I haven’t lost too much of that! But definitely my biggest obstacle without doubt is my lack of time on the bike and sub-par conditioning due to being very focused with my present business and family commitments.”
GEICO EnduroCross: What, if anything, have you done to prepare yourself for Florence?
Shane Watts: “I’ve tried riding as much as possible while focusing on getting my heart rate real high. But, unfortunately, most of my days are spent either watching students ride at my schools, shipping out DVDs, making DirtBaby clothing, or changing diapers! I’ve have had plenty of time while driving or flying to each of my schools to think about what I’ll say up on the podium. Positive thinking goes a long way!!!”
GEICO EnduroCross: Which of the guys racing the series have you raced before? Who’ve you been most impressed with?
Shane Watts: “I’ve probably raced against most of those guys at some stage during my career. Once the gate drops everyone has a chance at victory. I do know though when you’re at the Pro level that each one of your competitors is extremely talented.”
GEICO EnduroCross: Is this just a one-off deal seeing as how you live in nearby North Carolina? Or, if you have a good time and ride up to your standards, might we see you at another EnduroCross round?
Shane Watts: “If I have an enjoyable time and excellent result I’m thinking about doing the final race in Vegas. It really comes down to whether I can spare the time to do the necessary preparation required and also whether the risk equals the reward.”
GEICO EnduroCross: Thanks, Shane. We’ll look forward to seeing you next weekend, Sept. 12th, at the Florence Civic Center. You’ll definitely have a bunch of fans there hollerin’ for you.
Shane Watts: “Thanks a lot. Really looking forward to this.”
Those sponsors along with KTM that have Watts’ back include: www.ktmhutt.com, Dirt Wise riding schools and DVDs, DirtBaby clothing, Stillwell Performance suspension, Fun Mart Cycles, Dirt Tricks sprockets, Ariete goggles, IMS products, Maxxis, Fasst Co. Flexx handlebars, Domino grips, www.offroadchampions.com, GPR Stabilizers and DeCal Works graphics.
Combining multiple off road motorcycle racing disciplines such as western U.S. desert enduro racing and eastern cross country racing with technical trials-style riding, GEICO EnduroCross showcases riders from all over the world that excel in these fields.
What: Round 3 of the 2009 GEICO Powersports AMA EnduroCross Series presented by E3 Spark Plugs, sponsored locally by Scotchman, Young’s, Li’L cricket Stores and Kawasaki of Florence.
Who: World’s top off road motorcycle racers, both pro and local Florence area racers
When: Saturday, Sept. 12th
Tickets: At Kawasaki of Florence, the Civic Center Box Office, by calling (843) 679-4525, or online at www.endurocross.com