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“I'm more nervous at the front than in the main race.”

“I'm more nervous at the front than in the main race.”

It's race week: the Red Bull Arch Rodeo is right around the corner, and the battle against Iron Mountain takes place on June 2nd. GASGAS pilot Mitchie Falkner is there. We asked Austria's most successful enduro racer for an interview. 👇

What is your current emotional state?

My current emotional state is very good. I have been training a lot on the mountain in the last few days and I feel very good at the moment. The motorcycle is also in good condition, we have tested it a lot and now it fits very well for me…so I have a really good feeling.

I have been experimenting with the GASGAS EC 300 setup with great success, especially in the Italian Championship. Can you tell us what has changed?

We tried a few things with the frame, fork and shocks. We are also still trying to make the engine more refined. Basically, we are constantly developing the entire motorcycle. But this year it was mainly structure.

Aside from voting…was success in the Italian championship important for your mental strength?

Yes, of course! Of course there are not the best drivers at the start, but there are some who are easy to compete with and whose cars I know from previous years. I felt very strong this year and won by a wide margin. This helped me a lot because racing is always better preparation than training.

GasGas pilot Michael Walkner in action

© Jörg Mitter / Red Bull content pool

You actually said that you wanted to consciously reduce the number of races in order to focus fully on the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo…

…then I race to practice 😉 I know this is hard to understand. But I actually only participate in races that are held close to my training routes. If I traveled to America for this purpose, I would waste a full week and would then need another week of replenishment. I choose races with similar surfaces, such as Erzberg or Red Bull Romanics.

Your motto this year is: Complete focus on Erzberg. Which screws can you still turn because you're usually already driving at the limit?

This is really difficult because there are really special challenges ahead for Erzberg. Huge stones like those in Carl's Diner are rarely found. It is best to practice at Erzberg in the week before the race. We can take part in our own private tour and drive along parts of the route. But the most important thing is that I will start the race with a different attitude this time. Last year the pressure was higher because I was also competing for the general classification Tough Enduro World Championship You set your goal high. This year I don't have that much pressure – others do. They have to look at the overall standings and I can focus on this individual race.

Can I still pressure you for a spot on the platform…

I will not allow this pressure to pressure me anymore. I say: My goal is to achieve the goal. This is not easy for Erzberg because a lot can happen. If you reach the goal here, you will always be ahead.

Do you even enter the race with a strategy? Or does this make no sense at all because a lot could happen…

I definitely have a strategy. She actually made the mistake of overdoing it at Carl's dinner and then completely falling apart. My main strategy this year is to push hard from the start and make sure I'm in front. Since Carl's Dinner is already in the first third of the race as checkpoint 10, there will likely be little chance of overtaking until then. After Carl's dinner, I can slow down a bit because the field has already spread out.

Michael Walkner on his GasGas EC 300 during training.

© Konstantin Reyer

But does this mean that it is possible to rethink your strategy after Checkpoint 10?

Yes, I do that all the time while racing. You can't exactly plan for this because then you suddenly fall somewhere, have to pick up your motorcycle, are exhausted and have to change your strategy…

It is said that this happened to a driver before..

Haha, yes exactly. This was the case for me last year.

You suddenly disappeared from your live broadcast fans.

Yes, all of a sudden I had to change my entire strategy because I felt like I had fallen from the front row to the back. Then I said to myself: Now I will drive the car and achieve the best results. In the end things went well, but I was way off my strategy.

So starting from the first grade is the first key to success?

In any case. First grade is also a pressure I put on myself every year that needs to be done. That's why I'm more nervous during the prologue than I am before the main race, because it has to be right.

You are usually the “best Austrian” at the finish line. Does this have any value to you?

actually no. My goal is to become the best driver in the world!

This brings us directly to Manuel Lettenbichler. What is your recipe against his dominance?

It's going to be difficult because he's in a really good mood. against Manuel Lettenbichler We don't all have a prescription right now, it's on a different level. A lot has to happen there, but a lot can happen in Erzberg. Under normal circumstances, it is currently almost impossible to bend.

Michie Falkner playing in Erzberg

© Philip Platzer / Red Bull Content Pool

Does Manuel Lettenbichler have a weakness?

If the forest paths become too slippery, you may be able to overcome it. These are the conditions I want for Sunday: Parts of rainforest and slippery.

The iron ore storm is one of the highlights of the weekend. How emotionally, how important is this to you as a driver?

I think it's a very cool event, a lot of Haligali and a lot of people in one place. Personally, I prefer it when it's quieter in the evening and I can get ready for the next day. I'm happy to be there, but certainly not for long.

Part of this story

Red Bull Erzbergrodeo

For two days, drivers make their way to Erzberg to qualify for the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo on Sunday, where 35 kilometers of impassable track awaits them.

Michael Walkner

Motorcycle athlete Michael Falkner is Austria's hope for the future in the demanding sport of enduro.

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