Five Minutes with Juha Salminen
At the end of 2013 enduro legend Juha Salminen officially hung up his boots from professional competition. Beginning a new chapter of his career, the seven-time world champion took on the role of Brand Manager for Husqvarna Motorcycles Nordic.
Adjusting to his change of pace in life while also taking on the odd one-off race, including last weekend’s Erzbergrdeo, life is good for the Finn…
Juha, what have you been up to since you officially hung up your racing boots?
Juha Salminen: “I’ve been kept busy! I’ve taken on the role as Brand Manager for Husqvarna Motorcycles Nordic looking after Finland and the Nordic countries. My job covers a little bit of everything. I’m involved in the marketing, sales and promotion of the brand. I also work closely with the Husqvarna Motorcycle dealers and sort out any problems that they may have. I have an office but I also travel a lot. I’m enjoying the change of pace.”
Since you retired from professional competition you’ve raced a couple of one-off events including this year’s Erzberg. What was it like?
Juha Salminen: “I went to Erzberg for a little bit of fun. It was the 20th edition of the race and as a past winner it was nice to return to the Iron Giant. I only competed in the Iron Road Prologue so I didn’t have to stress about the Red Bull Hare Scramble race. Honestly, I enjoyed the ride up the mountain – it was fun. I don’t miss racing too much – I’ve had my fair share of it – but once I got onto the start line I still wanted to be competitive.”
Were you surprised to finish fourth in the Iron Road Prologue?
Juha Salminen: “The competitive spirit is still there – that never really goes away. After all these years, when you do something you want to do it the best you can. That’s enough for me. Finishing that race in fourth was cool – it’s good to see that my speed is still there when I want it to be.”
With the Enduro World Championship’s GP of Finland taking place this weekend will you miss the feeling of competing in front of your home fans?
Juha Salminen: “No, not really. I’m ok with it all. At the end of last year I was ready to stop. I’ve achieved more than I ever thought possible in my career so I don’t really miss that side of racing any more. To be honest it’ll be nice to go there and see the racing from the other side.”
Have you been keeping an eye on the 2014 EWC series?
Juha Salminen: “I’ve kept an eye on the championship this year. The Enduro 2 category is extremely competitive – all the top riders are so close. It’s great to see Pela Renet riding really well. He’s always in the battle for the victory. Hopefully he can continue to fight for the title for Husqvarna Motorcycles until the very end.”
Finally what advice can you offer to any young riders starting out in enduro?
Juha Salminen: “What matters most in enduro is that you need to be an accomplished all-round rider. You need to be fast in motocross, strong in the woods and technical on the difficult sections. You need a broad skill set. So often I see guys who are fast enough to win one race but are not able to do it consistently to win championships. You need to challenge yourself when you practice. Train on the sections you’re not good at. That’s what I did.”