Congratulations Joakim, you must be pleased with your podium results in Argentina?
Joakim Ljunggren: Yes, I’m happy with my results. It was good to cap off my time in South America with two visits to the podium.
Although you finished third both days in Argentina, day two was a much closer fight for second place.
On day one I was a little off the pace of both Christophe (Nambotin) and David (Knight) but on day two I was able to start much stronger. I managed to set the fastest time on the first test of the morning and it put me in a good position to fight for second place. David was stronger than me in the extreme test and gained almost ten seconds during lap two. I was struggling on one of the uphill’s to find a good line – every time I came into the section I missed the turning point I needed and that cost me a clean run up the hill. In the end it was a close battle between David and myself for the runner up position.
You seemed to find an extra bit of speed on the last lap and almost had second place!
Yeah, I felt very strong towards the end of the day. My times were good on both the enduro test and the cross test and I was beginning to close the gap on David. I think he also had a slight problem, which helped in my favour to reduce his advantage over me. Unfortunately, he just beat me by less than half of a second but I know I pushed as hard as I could and I am pleased with the way I rode – third was a positive result.
What changed between Chile and Argentina – you were much more competitive in Argentina?
I think the conditions suited me a lot better in Argentina than Chile. Argentina was a tough GP with many stones and lots of deep ruts. I tend to prefer it when conditions are difficult like that. The course was very bumpy and in the hot weather that made it very physical, which I enjoyed.
Enjoying the Argentinean conditions, Joakim ends his GP in third ©Enduro21.com
How much of a factor did the heat play in South America?
Although Chile was equally hot, it wasn’t as much as a factor as Argentina. It was more humid in Argentina and when you were riding the liaisons there was hardly any breeze to keep you cool. That made things very physical and quite draining. The toughest part of the day was about 2pm when the sun was at it’s hottest.
What were your overall impressions of South America, are you happy with your results?
It was good to end my time in South America with two podium results but I’m disappointed with my riding in Chile as I expected to do a lot better. Day one didn’t go to plan. Like a lot of riders, I got caught out on the enduro test and lost a lot of time. It cost me a chance of finishing on the podium. On day two my riding was much better. It was a close race between Aigar (Leok) and myself for third place. Unfortunately, he managed to beat me by two seconds and I ended the day in fourth. However, with both my riding and results in Argentina I’m beginning to feel like I’m finding my pace again.
It’s also been a busy winter for you. After finishing last year’s championship you went straight into competing in the SuperEnduro World Championship. Do you think that may have affected your preparation for the outdoor EWC season?
In a way it has. During the winter I could only focus on training for the SuperEnduro championship, as the preparation I do to race indoors is completely different than the special test training I do for the EWC. At first my pace was off but I’ve worked hard to catch back up and I feel now like I’ve finished the first two GPs much stronger than when I started them. Hopefully I can build on that momentum in Spain.
What are your thoughts leading into the next round of the championship?
I’m really looking forward to it, as Spain has sort of become my second home. I just recently bought a house there, which has allowed me to spend more time training and racing in those types of conditions. At the moment I’m fourth overall in the championship but only ten points off second place. Based on what I’ve achieved, I feel like I have the pace to match David and challenge for that position. So far Christophe has set an unbelievable pace. He was incredibly fast on the cross test and I know we’ve got some work to do to match him, but this is going to be a long season and anything can happen.
No time to enjoy the view: Joakim pushes on ©Enduro21.com