TOM SAGAR – CHASING EUROPEAN GLORY
With back-to-back races in Scotland and Italy, European and British Enduro Champion Tom Sagar had quite the busy start to his 2015 season.
Heading north to the top of Scotland for the opening round of the British Enduro Championship, Sagar battled his way through an Easter weekend of deep, deep sand to place fourth and third overall.
But with the European series kicking off in the opposite end of Europe, Sagar burned the midnight oil – and then some – in the very, very long drive south to make it in time to Rieti, Italy.
A double win in Enduro 2 while placing second and third outright ensured it was a trip worthwhile for the KTMStuff.co.uk rider…
With British and European duties that was a fairly hectic few days of racing, are you pleased with the outcome?
“It’s been solid. I feel like I rode well on vastly different terrain. Of course I wanted to finish a little higher up and take an outright win. But it’s a long season ahead and I’ve put some good points on the board in both championships.”
The opening round of the BEC was in deep sand. How was it for you?
Tom Sagar: “Sand is not my favourite terrain but I have been working hard with my sand riding and the bike setup for deep sand like that. I knew that weekend was going to be challenging. The terrain and the competition were certainly going to be tough.”
Did your test times surprise you?
“Yes they did. I’m no sand expert, not by a long way. Having a close battle with Jamie McCanney for the first three tests on Saturday was just where I wanted to be. I was riding comfortably, making no mistakes.”
What happened on the last two tests Saturday?
“I was actually unsure of my position and how much time there was between the top four or five riders, so I wanted to make sure I had tried my best to hold whatever position I could. Unfortunately riding aggressively isn’t my style and I made too many mistakes and ended up crashing in both of the back-to-back tests. It wasn’t the ideal end to the day but I was happy that I hung onto fourth place. Being just one second behind third placed Steve Holcombe showed just how close all four of us were.”
Sunday you improved your result, what did you do differently?
“Sunday I rode with the same attitude I started Saturday with. The course was very chewed up after day one. The test was tricky. I was trying to pick the right lines and not to make the mistakes I had on Saturday. I won the first test outright and I was in second place going into the final test of the day. But there was no test times displayed so I did not know that I was in second. I thought I was third so I rode the last test for position. Seeing the results on Sunday evening I was gutted”.
With the opening round of the European championship taking place at the opposite end of Europe the following weekend there was literally no time do time to dwell on it. Did you even get time to set up for the hard packed Italian terrain?
“Yeah, it was pretty hectic driving from the top of Scotland to the bottom end of Europe. There was no time to play with setup. The main changes were tyres. We fitted a set of Michelin Comp 6 to cope with the hard packed terrain and loose gravel, changed the suspension settings, fitted new air filter and were ready to go.”
After the Scottish sand was it hard to adjust to the Italian hard pack?
“The tests weren’t really my thing. Normally at the Italian round you get a really hard enduro test. These are quite fast and a little mistake will cost you a lot of time, so I was cautious – especially having race in sand the previous weekend.”
It must have been a surprise then to end the day with a win in E2 and third overall?
“Yeah it was pretty cool. I was told there was only three seconds between myself and Marco Neubert for the class win with two tests to go. I had to just push that little bit to go for the win.”
Sunday you had a better day, leading your class from start to finish?
“Day two was much better. I want to go for the overall title this year but Maurizio Micheluz was in a class of his own in Italy weekend. To be fair, he was riding awesome, untouchable really. But I’m pleased with how it’s gone. I’ve been lucky to come away with good results.”
Finally, how does this affect your challenge for the overall title?
“Obviously last year was a tough start to the season having DNF’d at round one. At least now I have two good results and as they say points make prizes. I’m looking forward to Croatia – new country, new terrain – hopefully I can pull a win out of the bag there.”