World Enduro Super Series Manager Winfried Kerschhaggl and Erzbergrodeo Director Karl Katoch respond to the FIM move to not sanction their events from 2020 – “we don’t want to be unprofessional.”
The recent statement from the FIM regarding the sanctioning, or non-sanctioning, of events which form part of the World Enduro Super Series raised a few eyebrows and certainly raised a few questions from us here at Enduro21.
The FIM’s position is to fully back the EnduroGP World Championship and even point towards a new, Extreme Enduro World Cup for 2021.
But they have also seemingly cut ties with the WESS championship, claiming talks have broken down between the two parties. Importantly the FIM announced they will remove support for events in the rival championship (as they see it) by withdrawing the official FIM number (IMN) attributed to “any series competing with the World Enduro Championship.”
To help understand the situation better and get some answers as to how, if at all, this might affect the WESS championship and competitors we spoke to WESS Manager, Winfried Kerschhaggl.
To get the point of view of a major event organiser from within the WESS championship, we have also spoken to Karl Katoch, Erzbergrodeo Director...
The recent FIM press release regarding non-sanctioning of any event within the WESS championship was a strong statement – are you able to offer a response to the position they have taken?
WESS Manager, Winfried Kerschhaggl: “Of course, because we will never slam any doors and will always be open for a constructive communication. But I don’t want to send any statement via the media because I think this is unprofessional, as we may risk a later situation of “… he said, she said!”
From a regular enduro rider’s point of view, the worry is what effect there might be for people wanting to compete in WESS in 2020 in terms of rider insurance if an event is not sanctioned by the FIM?
“Every event taking part in the WESS has to provide the necessary insurances requested by the local authorities. In regards of rider health insurances some event organizers are doing it via their respective national federation some do it independently like for example Lagares or Erzberg.
“So, guided by our key principle “keep it simple” we work on an insurance solution getting effective for the 2020 series which is easy to handle, affordable and beneficial for everyone – event organizers and riders alike.”
For those that might not be aware, can you explain a little about the concept behind WESS and why there was a move away from any existing race championships?
“When we created WESS the original idea was a championship that incorporates all contemporary forms of enduro competition with the aim of finding out who is the best enduro rider – or like we call it: “The Ultimate Enduro Champion”.
“But it was also guided by the intention to keep the sport of enduro together. We wanted to stop a development where traditional enduro and the new hard enduro formats are separating from each other because both are too small to survive on their own.
“Basically was to bring it back to the core attributes of enduro racing: versatility, endurance, speed and riding skills but also the smartness necessary to know how much to push and where to push in order to win the championship.
“This is what we do not see in EnduroGP which covers only the traditional part of the sport.”
As is always the case nowadays, many people have aired their views on social media about WESS. To pick up on one point in particular, some people are calling for WESS to focus purely on Hard Enduro – is that part of the plan for 2020?
“In 2019, three out of eight events are traditional events including the Cross-Country at Hawkstone Park, plus Le Trefle and Solsona. But I agree, there is partially the misperception that we are focused on Hard Enduros only.
“To get that in the right balance we will integrate additional traditional enduro events for 2020, so that riders coming from both sides of the spectrum have an equal chance to win the WESS championship.”
“In our opinion enduro is the sport in which comradery has a much bigger importance than in any other motorsport. Every Enduro rider, regardless of his capabilities, gets into situations where he needs the helping hand of one of his competitors – just remember Billy Bolt and Mani Lettenbichler during the 2018 Erzbergrodeo.
“A lot of that comradery is also in the event, the organisation, the people watching, and it is important we share this. Some are faster, some are slower but everyone is there with their heart. Based on that, the integration of the amateurs in our series is a defining and very important part of the WESS.”
We are seeing some different manufacturers taking the WESS wins again this year. Particularly Sherco. Is having different manufacturers taking part an aspect that you continue to grow?
“Definitely. Our aim is to present a platform for the entire enduro world which means all competitors, all manufacturers, all formats and all markets around the world – everyone is more than welcome.
“We invited all manufacturers personally right from the beginning saying whatever requirements you need from the WESS, let us know and we will take care you will find everything you need here.
“We think our success is only growing the reasons why a manufacturer would want to be part of our series to give his athletes and products the exposure the series delivers.”
This season we have not seen riders from the USA competing the whole series. Does it help the series on a global scale to have US riders like Cody Webb and Colton Haaker racing?
“The biggest number of followers for WESS is in the US. So it’s clear how important it is for us to have US riders competing in the WESS and ideally on a level that allows them to become champion.
“This year both Colton and Cody suffered from pre-season injuries so they decided to focus on their US races knowing that they still have a chance to compete in the WESS events if they want. Cody came to Erzberg, but unfortunately he injured himself just one week before which hindered him to finish the Sunday event.”
Is it a possibility to have a round of WESS in America?
“We are planning for 2021 to have a round in the US and a second one in the Americas because doing two events during one trip will make traveling much more efficient.
“It is definitely a long term aim to not only have the best riders in the world in our championship but also be competing all over the globe.
“Honestly, working now on the 2020 event schedule, we have more than 15 international event organisers wanting a place in the WESS calendar and the majority of them are operating already quality events. So, luckily there is a strong demand from event organisers to become part of WESS.”
We also spoke to Erzbergrodeo Director, Karl Katoch (above) for his point of view on the FIM statement:
“With KTM and Red Bull both being Erzbergrodeo supporting partners from the very first minute, there is absolutely no discussion that we are following the same path on all of their activities. Therefore, Erzbergrodeo is supporting the World Extreme Enduro Series (WESS) by staying a part of the series schedule.
“As an independent and self-organised race event, the Erzbergrodeo has never been a FIM sanctioned race and is therefore not affected by the FIM’s statement. Since 25 years Erzbergrodeo offers a rider insurance to all competitors participating in the race, which is included in the starting fee and is backed up by the Erzbergrodeo’s own motorsports federation called MSA (Motorsport ASKÖ). Erzbergrodeo has never asked competitors for any license, and this will stay unchanged for the future.
“Considering that Extreme Enduro was originally invented at Erzbergrodeo and then developed and shaped by the event for the past 25 years, it is remarkable that the FIM is now putting their interest on Extreme Enduro. We wish the FIM success for their future project.”
Photo credit: Future7Media Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org