Finland’s Antti Hellsten was arguably the most notable surprise performer of 2011, yet also one of the greatest disappointments. Claiming five consecutive Enduro Junior class victories during the opening rounds of the Enduro World Championship, the 22-year old looked capable of marching towards his first world title. Failing to finish no lower than third during the first half of the season, many thought Hellsten had the EJ championship wrapped up.
But a crash during the GP of Greece instantly turned his title winning aspirations on their head and in a single moment four months of hard work was lost, as Antti explains.
“It was a weird crash. There was a log that most people were wheelieing over quite easily. When I hit it, the rear wheel smacked me hard in the back and I got tossed over the bars. Straight away I knew something was wrong.”
Returning to Finland, he immediately got himself checked out and although x-rays showed nothing was broken, the tendons in his wrist were badly stretched.
“From that moment on my season started to fall apart,” confirms Antti. “I had to stay off the bike for a full month and when I returned I was neither mentally nor physically ready.”
In the space of a couple of months, Hellsten disappointingly watched his titles hopes slip away. But with time comes healing and now Antti is once again back to full fitness, ready to face the new challenges that lie ahead in 2012.
“I’m ready to move on from 2011 and to do that I’ve changed almost everything that I’ve done before.”
For 2012 Antti has changed teams, his bike and his class and is focused on making this year his best yet. Signing on the dotted line with TM Racing, Antti has become the Italian manufacturers Enduro 1 class factory backed rider.
“Moving to TM has been the best move that I could have made. I’m now working and racing with a factory team, which is something that I’ve always wanted. I also wanted to move into Enduro 1 and they were keen for me to do that. I think if I stayed in the Juniors then everyone would have expected me to win. This way there is slightly less pressure and I get an extra year to learn.
“Racing in Enduro 1 will be a big step to take – there are many fast rider to beat. My goals are to build my pace throughout the year and progress with each round of the championship, I’m ready for this new season to begin.”