The following interview is from Cycle News issue 29 check it out here…
In a relatively short period of time, Endurocross has emerged as one of the bright spots on the motorsports radar. And along with building a new and growing following, the sport has generated its own set of stars, one of the more colorful being KTM USA’s Taddy Blazusiak. Whether on the track or off, you can be sure the extreme off-road racer from Poland is entertaining whoever happens to be watching.
Few things have done more to put Endurocross – and its personalities – on the map than the recent coverage the sport received during the X-Games this past July. And for sure, Blazusiak was a headliner, coming from behind to win an exciting main event.
Cycle News spoke with Blazusiak at the recent Indy Endurocross to see what he thought of X-Games and the new bike he is riding.
What did you think of X-Games?
The experience of X-Games was great. I think Endurocross and off-road took a big step forward by being part of X-Games. For me, it was one of the most important races of the season because that one single race was so big, it was seen all over the world. X-Games was in Europe, in Poland, in Spain, and my friends were watching it live all over the world, so it was important. It turned out really good because I won that race, and we had been working really hard leading up to that point on the new 350 and everything was quite new. I knew that race was coming and it was the first race on the new bike so there were a lot of question marks.
Were there extra nerves because of the TV and all the people watching?
I don’t think so. I didn’t really let that get into my mind. I was just treating it as the first race of the Endurocross series, but it’s been like three months since I last raced Endurocross in Europe so that’s a long time not to race. But everything kind of clicked in the middle of the race because things weren’t going my way at first.
Talk about making the switch to the new bike – going from the 250 two-stroke to the 350 four-stroke. Was that a big change?
I’ve been racing four-strokes in Europe in World Enduro so I know I can actually go faster on a four-stroke outdoors than I can a two-stroke. But we never had time to test the bike for indoors – for Endurocross, and Endurocross is quite different. But the factory wanted me to ride the 350 because it is a new bike and it’s a new thing on the market, so we started testing and to be honest I felt really good from the first day. After we tested we made a lot of improvements on it, we changed quite a few things and we were working with the factory and we came up with a setting that is amazing. I really love to ride that bike and I feel super comfortable riding it. I think I got faster compared to last year, which is a big jump. For sure, it’s a different style than riding a two-stroke. With a two-stroke you have to improvise more. I think the first time you’re on the track you like the two-stroke better. The second time it’s the same, and the third time you’re on the track you like the four-stroke is better because you know the lines and you know where you’re going. Then the bike is so much easier to ride. The two-stroke is a bike that is fast, and if you make a mistake you can recover easier, but it’s slower overall. The four-stroke is faster if you don’t make mistakes. So from my point of view, I want to be the fastest guy on the track, so if I can have a faster bike and get myself to the level where I won’t make mistakes, then that’s the way to go. That’s why we’re here with the 350.
What is the key to going fast in Endurocross?
I think it is once you get to a certain level you have to be consistent. If you can get to where you can do 10 laps within a half second of each other then you are on the right track. It is so easy to make a mistake and lose it all, so you have to be fast but at the same time you have to be consistent and hit your lines.
You’ve had great success at all forms of extreme off-road racing. What makes Taddy Blazusiak so successful in this realm?
Wow, that’s a good question. I don’t really know. I just try to do my job as good as I can and I do what I can to get better every day, to have a better bike and a better body and to improve every day. That’s what I’m good at, I’m always thinking there’s something I can do to get better, and that’s like with the 350. After I rode it I was thinking it would help me be faster.
You rode trials early in your career. Do you think it was beneficial to come from that background?
Well, for sure it’s a good background, when you look at Endurocross. But it’s hard to tell right now because there are so many riders here who are from different backgrounds. Like Mike Brown is from motocross and Justin Soule from off-road. Me and Geoff Aaron and Cody Webb are from trials, so there are a lot of people from different backgrounds. And Endurocross is so new that it’s developing its own style and riding technique. But a trials rider is going to be good on a dirt bike, no question about it.
It doesn’t seem that trials riding takes that much endurance, so you must have worked hard to get your conditioning level up so fast when you first got into extreme racing.
When I was riding trials I was probably one of the few guys doing a lot of endurance training like mountain biking, so the thing I like to do off the bike helped me with my future career. I am still into biking and I really like that combination where you have to be skillful and fit.
So what kind of techniques do you see in Endurocross that you don’t see in other types of racing?
Like putting your foot down and pivoting the bike around. Endurocross in the last four years has developed its own technique and it’s a good mix of everything. The sport kind of took its own path.
Chad Reed and James Stewart and some of the top riders have practice tracks built that are replicas of the tracks that are on the Supercross schedule. Do you do that for Endurocross? Do you build some of the same obstacles for practice?
I do have quite a few tracks, for sure. And I build a lot of obstacles on my tracks and I look at the races I’m racing in Europe and in the U.S. and I pretty much know every single race track so I build those things into my tracks. I try to build those same obstacles and I even make them bigger so I hit them faster and try to improve. That is important, for sure.
What is the toughest race you’ve ever ridden?
That’s a hard question, because the most technically demanding I would say is Erzberg. But being competitive at every single event costs you the same energy. On the technical side I would say Erzberg. But racing World Enduro or Spanish Enduro and trying to win, it cost me the same. I use as much of myself as I do at Erzberg, or Endurocross, or GNCC.
Let me rephrase the question. What race left you the most tired at the end of it?
I remember I was really tired after the Last Man Standing race in Texas, because it was eight hours of racing. That’s like two GNCC races in a row plus a WORCS race at the end [laughs]. I know I was really tired. And for sure, Erzberg. I won that thing five years in a row and there was a lot of pressure on that race every year and it gets to you, the couple of days before the race there’s all that pressure.
Have you ever thought about racing ISDE?
I wouldn’t race it this year because there was a conflict of dates. If the Polish team could get all the best riders, then definitely I would want to do it. But if we couldn’t get the best six guys then I don’t think it’s worth risking it for six days if there is no result at the end. At the end of the day you are racing for the win, or at least for a good result.
What do you do for fun?
I love to Jet Ski, it’s good fun and it’s a great workout. CN