5 minutes: youngest ever Red Bull Romaniacs finisher – Stanislas Zavala on a KTM 85 SX
Enduro21 catches up with Stanislas Zavala, you might not recognize his name yet, but this 14 years boy from Mexico is aiming high in hard enduro after finishing the Red Bull Romaniacs 2023 in the Bronze class with a KTM SX85.
The Red Bull Romaniacs is a challenge for everyone, from the pros that have to ride the feared uphills and downhills in Romania to any of the amateurs who go there “for the experience” in the other classes. If you are only 14 years old and decide to give the 'Bronze' class a go on a KTM SX85, the challenge is even greater!
That is exactly what Stanislas Zavala did alongside his dad Jesús, he embarked on the adventure of racing the Romaniacs. After four days on the bike, totalling almost 500 kilometres and more than 31,000 meters of elevation gained, this young Mexican managed to become the youngest finisher in the history of the event.
Now that he is back in his native Mexico, enjoying a well-deserved rest on the beach, we picked up the phone to find out more about his experience…
Enduro21: Stanislas tell us a bit about yourself. How did you start riding bikes? Why did you focused hard enduro?
Stanislas Zavala: “Hi guys, well I really started riding balance bikes when I was one year and a half, but shortly after I tried an electric OSET. Since then, we can say that I have not gotten off the bike.
Now I not only ride Hard Enduro, I also do some EnduroCross and motocross and even a bit of trials or downhill with the bicycle when we have time”.
How was the Red Bull Romaniacs? Crossing the finish line and becoming the youngest finisher in the history of the race had to be incredible.
“Everything started very well in the prologue, but a rider got in the way in the tyre pyramid because he couldn't move his bike and I lost a lot of time, which put me quite far behind. I started on the 144th position the first day and we had an incredible storm. But in general, it went well for me, especially since it also rains here in Valle, which is where I normally ride.
The second day went quite well, it had much less difficult sections, but it felt super long, although I managed to climb up a lot of positions to get to 94th. The third day was quite short, but spicy, with very difficult sections. Although, once again, I was able to push a bit and move to the 76th position.
The last day was very long, it wasn't difficult, but at the finish line in Gusterita I suffered a little more than I should. There were two climbs that were already very rutted and we had to make several attempts to get to the top.
In general, I would say that Romaniacs is very long. It seems almost eternal, because it’s very tiring having to get up so early to then spend so many hours on the bike ”.
Finishing in Bronze on a small-wheeled 85 must have been quite a challenge, did you struggle on some of the more technical parts?
“Well yes, I struggled quite a bit in one section after a climb, although I don't remember what day it was right now. It was quite a steep climb with roots and after that came a very slippery section with lots of rocks and moss.
The big bikes had an advantage there because they didn't get stuck so easily, but mine did get stuck a lot, so my dad had to get out to help me. Even with all that, I think we did it pretty quick and posted a good time at the end."
What have you done to your KTM 85 to adapt it to hard enduro and more so for a race as long as the Romaniacs?
“The bike I ride is quite standard, we have only focused on gaining a bit more power and autonomy. The main thing was to put a bigger tank, which had more or less 9 litres of capacity, in order to reach the refuelling points without fearing to run dry, and we also put a 'gummy' tyre to have more traction .
Additionally, we got it up to 105cc with the 'superminis' kit for KTM to gain more power. Then we put a protection bar on the handlebars to place the GPS. And finally, we also put a exhaust protector on it, which unfortunately didn't make it on the fourth day.
Obviously, we put a light on it for safety in case we had to ride during the night. It didn't happen, but in Romania when it rains it gets dark inside the forest. That's it, we didn't do anything else to it."
What is your next challenge?
“It's going to be Avanda Rocks, if I don't go to Red Bull Outliers in Canada first. But the one that is already marked in red on the calendar is Avanda Rocks. I hope that also for a next challenge I can return to Romaniacs or go to Erzberg”.
Photo Credit: Stanislas Zavala + Red Bull Romaniacs