Fresh from racing in the Isle of Man TT - taking second place in the Supersport race and fourth place in the Superbike and the Senior - Kawasaki rider James Hillier took part in the iconic Erzbergrodeo event in Austria between 15-18 June on a Kawasaki KX250F.
The four-day annual event takes place in May or June each year - a cluster of tricky enduro races, riders from all over the world take part in numerous enduro races over the course of the event.
“The timing wasn’t ideal - being so close to the TT - but I like to challenge myself every year and this was my challenge for 2017. I’ve watched it for a while and wanted to take part. It was great to go over there ‘under the radar’ and do my own thing. I enjoy the Isle of Man TT but I have a full team behind me - over there, I got my hands dirty, I enjoy all aspects of it.”
His preparation for the Erzbergrodeo started while he was over at the Isle of Man.
“I did the work on the KX250F myself and took it over to the Isle of Man and worked on it over there. I added a radiator fan and a battery for the engine as unlike motocross, the event is more like enduro where you’re sat around a bit not doing anything and it’s easy for the bike to overheat. I softened the K-Tech suspension too and changed the tyres to Metzeler mousse - so they have no inner tube, which means no punctures. I fitted an Akrapovic exhaust system too.”
Despite having completed a handful of enduro races in the UK, James believes this has been one of the hardest challenges to date.
“This was the hardest - it’s a big undertaking to commit to but if you don’t try, then you don’t know. On TV the hills looked huge, but in the flesh it’s something else - it’s frightening how big some of the hills are. You don’t think you’ll get up some of the hills until you see someone in front of you do it!”
As if competing in the gruelling event wasn’t enough, James made the 1800 mile round-trip to and from the event in his motorhome.
“It was an eye opener and so different to anything else that I’ve done. There were people from all over the world. It’s not an easy event by any means and it’s a long drive there and back - which I did by myself. It was really nice to have some down time after the TT and be by myself.”
After qualifying on the eighth row of the grid for the Red Bull Hare Scramble race, James retired from the race just before checkpoint eight.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to go further than that checkpoint anyway - I was extremely low on time and energy and the radiator broke and I was pretty broken myself. I was happy with where I got to though.”
It’s an experience that James would like to repeat…
“Definitely want to do it next year. If the dates work for my other racing commitments then I’ll definitely go back. A massive thanks to Kawasaki Motors UK for the bike, Metzeler tyres Europe and pro-rider, Paul Bolton, who took me under his wing and helped me out.”
Find out more about James Hiller here: http://professionalmotorcyclerider.com/
Check out the full Kawasaki range - including the KX250F - here: www.kawasaki.co.uk