One of the favourites for the 2012 Erzberg Rodeo after his superb debut podium finish in last year's event, young Brit Jonny Walker is a man in demand in the paddock this weekend.
After taking to the demanding mountain layout for the morning prologue run on Friday, redbull.com caught up with the Red Bull-backed Cumbrian rider to talk all things Erzberg, and a little more...
How have you been preparing for this event?
It's been hard trying to train because I've been doing the British championship, British sprint, loads of motocross events, everything, and I'm trying to fit it all in so I can't specifically concentrate on the extreme enduro side of things. Obviously the last month or so I've been training hard for this event because it takes that much effort, so I've done as much as I can. I'm feeling confident and fit, so now I'll see what happens!
What kind of specialised training, if any, can you do for the Erzberg Rodeo?
Bike time is the best, you cannot beat being on the bike. You can increase your strength. I've been in the gym a lot, training hard, getting up early and doing stuff and then trying to ride my bike through the day.
How has normal life been fitting around your commitments of late?
I'm trying to concentrate [on riding] as much as I can. Leading up to this I haven't had to work because it's a big event and you need as much time as possible on the bike. I haven't done much work lately but if this doesn't go to plan I'll have to go back to work, if it does then I won't have to go back to work!
You have one Erzberg Rodeo under your belt, what are you expecting from this year's event?
I don't really know to be honest. They've changed the track a lot because last year it was really hard so they're making it a little bit easier, a little bit faster this year, but you still have all the extreme bits of course. I need to try and get out there and take a proper look. We've just had the prologue and that went okay for me, I made a few mistakes but I'm hoping for a top ten starting spot, that's the main thing. You need a good place on the starting grid for the first corner, and then just race from there.
What are you looking at as a possible result if you qualify well?
Last year I qualified fourth and finished third in the race. I want to be top five, and if I don't get that I won't be happy.
You must also be confident you can go one better than last year?
I'm sure I can, I'm feeling stronger this year. I kind of know what I'm doing, I've been here before so I'm feeling good and confident.
Last year was your first time here, what were your first impressions of the mountain...
I didn't really know what to expect. You see the videos but it doesn't do anything justice, you don't see how steep the hills are. You don't see all the people, all the press, everything. It's been a good experience and I've enjoyed it, and I will keep coming back year after year.
Next up for you is Romaniacs. It's a hectic couple of weeks...
I fly there on Monday. I've watched videos of the race and I don't really know what to expect. The loop's meant to be something like 100 miles, every day, and you've got four days of riding with the prologue in the street on the first day. I'll just go there and try and have fun, that's the main thing.
So you haven't had much of an opportunity to prepare at all then?
I'm going there blind. I've spoken to people but everyone says different things, they all have their own experiences.
Does it bother you going somewhere new where you haven't ridden before?
I'm cool, I don't really mind. I can ride on everything really, I just go there and as long as I'm having fun I enjoy it.
And what are your plans after Romaniacs...
I'll be straight back home, where I have the last round of the British extreme championship which I am leading. That's on the Saturday, then on the Sunday I fly to America to Los Angeles for the X Games. I'm looking forward to that, it's the main one for me!
You can watch Red Bull Hare Scramble: the final and most dramatic act of the Erzberg Rodeo live on Sunday and chat live special guest expert summariser Chris Birch