ANTOINE MEO – BACK WITH A BANG!
Exiting the 2014 Enduro World Championship with injury, Antoine Meo certainly returned to it with a bang in Chile. With two wins from two starts, the Frenchman clearly demonstrated that he means business in 2015.
Fighting his way through the dust on day one to win, he then claimed a runaway victory in slippery, wet conditions on day two. Riding pretty much flawless throughout, it was as if he’d never been away, let alone badly injured.
Still early days in the series, Antoine didn’t give too much away, but we caught up with him at the end of his weekend’s racing to find out if it really was as easy as it looked…
Congrats Antoine, two wins from two starts, it’s hard to ask for better than that!
Antoine Meo: “Thanks! It’s definitely been a really great start to the season that’s for sure. It was fantastic to win day one but I was really pleased with how I rode day two. The first test was so slippery but I just attacked it like it was dry and came out with the fastest time. From there things just got better and better.”
Now in your second year on the 350 EXC you have that aggressive style but also seem much more settled and relaxed in your riding. You’ve obviously worked hard on setup during the winter?
“We made a big push with the bike this winter and I think it’s paid off. Last year I felt I made the wrong choice with the engine and it didn’t quite suit me. I had too much power on the top end and not enough on the bottom. When the power hit it was too hard and difficult to control. We’ve found a better compromise for this year. I can still ride it aggressively but now it’s me controlling the power. It’s much better to ride.”
© Edmunds / enduro21.com
You had a lot to deal with during the winter – recovering from injury, testing, training and Le Touquet. It was a busy time?
“It’s been a really busy time. Getting over my wrist injury was a slow process. Although Le Touquet didn’t go right the training prior to the race certainly helped me a lot. The fitness required for that one race is insane. It made me work incredibly hard over the winter to get fit and find my speed again. Adding in the Italian championship and I definitely felt very prepared going to Chile.”
And the wrist, is it ok again?
“After a big injury like that, it will never be ‘normal’ again. It’s ok, it’s not perfect, but I can ride. It’s cut my career short, that’s for sure, but I’m here racing and for me that’s the main thing.”
Starting from the back of the class, day one was a dusty affair for you. Did you think winning was on the cards?
“I always race to win but starting day one at the back of the class in the dust wasn’t easy. At times it was hard to see the lines and being late onto the test meant a lot of the good lines were chewed up. In a way I was glad to see rain on Sunday – it was a bit of a leveller.”
© Edmunds / enduro21.com
With heavy overnight rain organisers made a lot of changes to the course for day two. Do you think they cut too much?
“It was a strange situation to be honest. It rained seriously hard overnight – so hard that I was expecting a mud bath out there. But it never really happened. As a rider I don’t think it was necessary to cut, this is a world championship after all. When it rains we race in the mud. But if things had turned bad then the local Chilean riders probably wouldn’t have coped and that would have affected us too. Also the organisers were short on marshals. It was either put them on the liaison sections or the tests. In that respect it was the safe option and probably the right one to take. For his first weekend on the job Maurizio Micheluz – the course inspector – had a tough call to make but he made the right one.”
The double victory was the perfect start. You must be feeling good about the rest of the series?
“It’s been great to get a double win in Chile. It’s exactly what I was hoping for. I couldn’t have asked for a better return from injury but now it’s a matter of keeping the ball rolling. It’s a challenge to win on the 350 but it’s the challenge I wanted. We’ll keep fighting at the next round and see where it takes us.”