Dropping In On: Taylor Robert

Photo by Shan Moore

KTM announced this week that Taylor Robert, one of the top EnduroCross racers in the country and twice the top American at the ISDE, will be racing in Europe in 2016 for the European KTM team. We gave Taylor a ring to get the full scoop on the story and to get his thoughts on racing abroad.

Q: How did this deal come about with the European KTM Team?

A: It was actually something that I've wanted to do for a long time and (US KTM off-road team manager) Antti Kallonen kind of knew that, but I didn't think that the opportunity was going to be there this year so I didn't push it. But then he came up to me and wanted to know if I had any interest in doing the world enduros. I was like, 'yeah, definitely.' He told me that Fabio Farioli, who runs the KTM team over there, was interested in having me on the team so we're going to see if we can make it work. This happened just after Six Days and it's just been going back and forth since then, working out all the logistics. So I'm really excited that it all came together and I have this opportunity. There's really only been two other Americans that have done the world enduros, Nate Kanney and Ian Blythe. But I don't think either one of them were on one of the top teams in the world.

Q: Explain the difference between world enduro and, say, GNCC or national enduro.

A: The world enduros are very similar to ISDE, almost the exact same format. And that's where ISDE kind of comes from, they take the world enduro format and they just turn it into a six-day race. The thing that changes about world enduros is that it's only pros, there's no amateurs so they tend to make some of the tests harder and they usually have an extreme test. They'll usually have three tests: extreme test, a cross test, and an enduro test. They're usually the same length as an ISDE test so anywhere from five to ten minutes. But they're just two-day events, just Saturday/Sunday. We don't really have anything like that in the United States. The national enduros are quite a bit different in the fact that they're really tight. And then even the sprint enduros are somewhat similar but this is more of like a true enduro format where you're riding all day and you've got transfer sections and whatnot. So it's kind of a format that we don't really have in the United States but it's a really cool form of racing and probably one of the biggest forms of off-road racing in Europe, if not the world.

Q: Are you going to live in Europe or are you going to fly back and forth?

A: I'm going to fly back and forth. There's two times where there's races back to back weekends so I'll just stay over there for two weeks. But other than that they're all kind of spread out by about a month so I'll just fly back and forth between all of them.

Q: When you do stay over there are you going to be based in Austria?

A: I won't really have a home base over there. The team is actually out of Italy because that's where Fabio Farioli has his race shop. But I won't really be based out of anywhere, even when I stay over there for two weeks at a time. The first and the second race are back-to-back weekends and they're in Morocco and then Portugal. So I'll fly into Morocco and stay there all week and walk the tests and then race, and then as soon as that race is over I'll just fly to Portugal and do the same thing there. I'll walk the tests, hang out, do the race, and then I'll fly home from Portugal.

Q: Are you still going to be able to ride some EnduroCross or is that going to totally conflict with that?

A: No, the official EnduroCross season schedule isn't out yet, but it doesn't look like a bunch of the races are going to conflict. I don't know if I'll do the whole series. We haven't really worked that part out yet. But I'll definitely be able to do some races and hopefully still do some of the extreme races here like King of Motos and Tennessee Knockout.

Q: Are you going to ride a 350 or a 450?

A: I'm still working on that too. The series doesn't really start until April, so I still have to go over there and do a team photo shoot, test days, and stuff like that. So we're going to figure all that out. But I think I'm leaning towards riding a 350.

Q: So no SuperEnduro or anything like that this winter?

A: Yeah, I'm doing the whole SuperEnduro series as well.

Q: And when does that start?

A: Two and a half weeks. 1

Q: How close is the SuperEnduro to what you guys are riding over here in EnduroCross?

A: They're somewhat similar, same style of racing, but the format's quite a bit different. Instead of doing a heat race, a last chance qualifier and then a 15 lap main, everybody that's in the pro class is automatically qualified because you have to be invited to do them. So you've got like 16 guys that are automatically qualified, so instead of doing a heat race you just do three 8-minute main events. And then they do moto scores for the overall winner.

Q: Are the tracks similar?

A: That's the one thing that's kind of hard to say because they all vary. It's not like over here Schaefer Tracks build every single one of our tracks. So we have a little bit of consistency here. Where over there they have a different guy build every track just depending on what country they're in, so the tracks are kind of all over the board. Some are fast, some are super tight, some are really narrow. You never really know what you're going to get.

Q: Racing the World Enduro Series will be good experience for Six Days?

A: Yeah, I think it's huge for Six Days because the Europeans get us a lot just on experience, the fact that they race that series year-round. And then it's the exact same format they've been racing all year; they just do it for six days instead of two days. So I think it's huge. Ever since I started doing Six Days back in 2010 this is something I've wanted to do. I just think it'd be a really good experience and it'd be really good for building speed and whatnot, because you're basically just doing sprints all year.

Q: Who's going to be your teammates on the European KTM team?

A: It'll be Christophe Nambotin, Ivan Cervantes, and then a new guy, they got another motocross guy on the team. His name is Nathan Watson.

  1. Interview done on November 19. ↩︎