Wade Young. (Attila Szabo/Red Bull Content Pool)
By Quintin van Jaarsveld
South African stars Wade Young (Brother Leader Tread KTM) and Blake Gutzeit (Fox/CTI/Rock Oil) are more than willing to go through extreme enduro ‘hell’ to attain glory in the Red Bull Romaniacs, which gets underway in Sibiu, Romania on Tuesday.
For most of the riders who’ve this year made the trek to Romania from 37 countries, finishing one of the four gruelling Off-Road Days is doable.
To muster up the mental strength and intestinal fortitude the following morning and soldier on and ultimately complete the 400km track, however, is a feat only the truly elite riders are capable of.
With track director Klaus Sorensen warning that this year’s race will be the toughest in the event’s 12-year history, many will be broken long before the end is in sight.
Young (Paddock) and Gutzeit (Oslo Beach) know what they’re in for, the duo turning in standout performances last year, and although they admit it’s an intimidating challenge, it’s one they’ve been relishing for some time.
“Romaniacs is one of the most extreme races and it’s pretty intimidating as it’s over four days, which makes it that much tougher.
“But I’m feeling good. I’m improving every time and knowing that I’m on a good bike helps a lot,” Young, fresh from victory in the South African Enduro Championship with his new 2016 KTM 300, told eHowzit.
Young, the youngest ever winner of the Roof of Africa at just 16 years of age, continued his history-making ways when he, at 18 became the youngest rider ever to step on to the overall Romaniacs podium last year.
The teenage sensation finished third behind defending champion Graham Jarvis and winner Jonny Walker, a result he draws inspiration from as he looks to become the “King of the Carpathians”.
“I have a lot more confidence this time around as I learned a lot last year. That result was a big confidence booster. I want to be on the podium again this year and my approach is to take it as it comes.
“It’s impossible to participate in international events without the support of sponsors, so I would like to thank KTM South Africa, Country Ford Port Shepstone and all my other sponsors for their support.”
Gutzeit had a great Romaniacs debut last year, finishing ninth, and is eagerly anticipating returning to the bowels of the Southern Carpathian wilderness.
“Romaniacs is an awesome race and it’s really beautiful. I don’t know why, but I love the pain my body goes through in those five days and I feel really satisfied just to finish,” Gutzeit told eHowzit.
“The big challenge is being able to set your pace so you have enough energy to run until the last day. My ninth last year was great and definitely a platform to build on.
“It’s really good to know I can run up front and want to push myself to the max. I’ve trained really hard and know that I’m where I should be physically. A had a bad spell of flu a few weeks ago but I rested well.”
He added he learned valuable lessons in last year’s race and believes the experience he gained will lead to an improved performance this year.
“I learned a few tricks, especially when it comes to GPS management. I had problems with that which messed me up bad and cost me a lot of time on Day Three last year, and I learned how to ride down hills.
“A top five result would really be great. I’ve put in the effort, now let’s see how my 2015 Romaniacs pans out.”