MARIO ROMAN: “I MAKE MY TRAINING MORE CHALLENGING THAN MOST RACES”

MARIO ROMAN: “I MAKE MY TRAINING MORE CHALLENGING THAN MOST RACES”

Mario Roman is cut from a different cloth than most of us are. When you see a steep hill that seems impossible to scale, he’s probably already halfway to the top! As a Sherco rider, he’s now competing in the tough Enduro World Championship and has announced a new partnership with Motul.

Mario, for those who are new to the sport, can you quickly explain what “hard enduro” is? 
Hard enduro is an extreme sport on a motorbike. There even are some hard enduro events where 2000 riders can start a race but only five will actually finish it! It’s a sport where your greatest adversary is not the other competitors, but the natural terrain and obstacles.

What made you gravitate to this discipline? 
When I was a child, I started trial riding. After a while, I moved up to FIM Enduro. I soon realised that I really loved the events that were fast and extremely technical. I tried a few hard enduro events and fell in love with them. The thing about hard enduro is that it’s not all about results. When you cross that finish line you feel very exhilarated. By finishing the event you’ve accomplished something and that is a great feeling! 

What’s been the hardest challenge you faced so far? 
You have a few hours to spare [laughs]? In five years of hard enduro, I have had so many big challenges. The biggest one however was at the Erzberg Rodeo in 2015, when, like I said, only five of the 2000 riders who started managed to finish. Before the event, I had suffered a serious knee injury, but I managed to overcome the pain and compete it. I managed to beat the challenges and be one of the five finishers. I was a privateer at the time and this result landed me my first manufacturer’s contract. 

How do you prepare for such a challenge, both physically and mentally?
By training and competing a lot you get a tougher mindset. Each challenge you overcome is an extra layer of “toughness”. The best way to do this is to face much more difficult challenges during your training than the ones you’re presented with during the competition.

You’re now representing the Sherco factory. What does it mean to be on that blue and yellow bike?
I’ve been with Sherco for five years now and it’s been a great partnership. We travel to 20 countries a year and have managed to get some great results out of it. The bike works really well, and the team is amazing. I can’t wait to do more! 

How are you looking forward to the upcoming season?*
This year will be amazing. It will be the first year there will be an official FIM Hard Enduro World Championship. This changes everything. In the past, I just wanted to get my name on the top of single events such as Erzberg or Romaniacs. Now there is much more to fight for. I can work more strategically and hunt for championship points in the hope of winning a world championship. 

When It comes to Motul, I understand that you also have more great news this season? 
Yes! For 2021 I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be a global ambassador for Motul, which is incredibly special to me as Motul was the first-ever brand to sponsor me when I was a kid riding trial bikes. The quality goes without saying and it’s a true insurance when it comes to having a reliable bike.

*This interview took place prior to the start the 2021 season

© Pictures: GA Photos, Sherco, Afam, Red Bull Romaniacs, Frederik Herregods

TEAM HRC’S ROGER SHENTON: “IT’S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THE OIL STAYS CONSISTENT”

TEAM HRC’S ROGER SHENTON: “IT’S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THE OIL STAYS CONSISTENT”

Roger Shenton is the team coordinator of Team HRC, looking after the technical side of things. With less than a month to go before the 2021 MXGP season start, Roger talks us through getting the bikes ready, how Motul lubricants help with their success and why, despite the championship win in 2020, they are not resting on their laurels. 

Roger, not long now until the MXGP season opener…
Yeah, our first event is in Russia, starting on June 13th. It’s just a one-day event. Hopefully it all goes smoothly. It’s quite difficult to get to Russia normally, but in a pandemic, it’s even tougher. Our aim is to get the ball rolling now for this current season.

Team HRC has had a fantastic few years. How do you keep building on that?
We just try to keep improving. We’re not perfect by any means. But we just try to keep pushing ourselves wherever we can to improve the bike. Whether it’s from our side, Japan side, or with our sponsors, we can make some requests and they always come back positive.  It’s great to have a sponsorship partner like Motul because they do help a lot with their products and it’s a cog in the system that helps everything work as smoothly as possible for our team.

When it comes to improving the bikes, how much involvement is there between Honda Racing and Motul R&D departments? 
When Motul has a new product coming out, we will test this in Japan at our R&D department. When we get the green light, we can transfer it straight on. Normally, we put it on the training bikes first, and then we transfer up to the race bikes. We don’t really just jump in with something straight away, we always test it first. It’s great that the R&D side from Motul come up with these ideas that basically help and improve the running of the bike.

I guess from a testing point of view, it doesn’t get much better than proving it on the track. Do you pass a lot of that feedback to HRC and Motul to help continuously improve things?
Every time that bike comes back off the track, this data is taken, and assessments are carried out. If it’s a special test use for a particular item or product, we give that feedback directly to the sponsor. And also, of course, with Japan. Everyone’s in a circle basically. 

When it comes to your choice of tech partners, you have been a partner with Motul for quite a few years now…
We’ve been working with Motul now for a good few years. And we have no issue at all with the support and the products it provides us with. It’s great working them.

MXGP is very demanding on the bikes. How does Motul’s products help you in your campaign to win championships? 
Well, let’s use engine oil as an example. Basically, that’s very important, especially when we have a rider like Tim Gasjer who likes to use the bike to the maximum. So, it’s extremely important that the oil stays consistent and doesn’t lose any of its lubrication effectiveness and doesn’t deteriorate. Also, with heat, we gain a lot of heat from the engine, so we need a really high-quality, reliable oil to deal with this. Which Motul is. More importantly is the consistency and the reliability and how it stays in perfect condition for the duration of each race. And with brake fluid, we need a high-quality fluid that has a high boiling point for consistent braking.

It’s less than a month now until the MXGP start. What are you doing in the final few weeks, and does it start to get a bit nerve wracking?  
The base setup is already done. We’ve tested the bikes and did a couple of races just to get that feeling back again. The riders have also been working on their fitness. So, we’ll go into the first round with both riders knowing exactly what the bike can do, and where it’s improved from last year. We’re always looking for a little bit extra, but that’s the same as everybody else.