The High Performance Team has just returned from Belgium, where they were working alongside KTM Factor Team Rally rider, Sam Sunderland. Sam, who is based in Dubai, had visited the UK earlier in the year for surgery and rehab for a wrist injury.
With time-running out for the Rally World Championship stages, we needed to make sure he was as ready to race as possible. But with a tight training schedule, Sam wasn’t able to make another trip to our Wilmslow clinic, so instead, we headed over to his European training camp.
With the van loaded with the full race kit, Darren and Dicko [Carl Dickson] set off to the Eurostar ready to tackle the roads of mainland Europe. After a very long twelve hours driving and some dubious techno on radio the boys arrived at the hotel in Holland.
Straight to bed for an early rise to start the trip with a visit to the Motocross GP that also happened to be in near by Lommel, Belgium.
The most striking thing about the GP set up, in comparison to the British set up, was the size. Everything was bigger. After watching Steven Clarke secure the 2014 European MX 250cc Championship, the boys tracked down Sam in the KTM Red Bull Factory Team tent and made arrangements to meet at Honda Park for the first session of riding and treatment. It was at this point that Sam introduced us to Marc Coma and Jordi Vilapoto who make up the rest of the Rally Team. They were training together before they headed out to Brazil for the next race.
Monday was a rest day for the riders which gave Darren and Dicko the opportunity to set up the tent and get to work on some rehab and treatment for all three riders. Having traveled to the local KTM dealer’s yard, who Marc and Jordi have worked with for a number of years, the process of cleaning all the bikes and kit started while the MOT’s for the riders were underway. The whole team spent the majority of the day in the yard making sure that everything was ok and back to working order. The blazing sun and warm weather certainly helped everyone relax.
Tuesday was scheduled as another riding day but Sam had managed to secure a new ride for the remaining time on the trip. There was quite some drive but the final destination was worth the trip.
The convoy pulled up at Stefan Everts’ workshop and went in to introduce themselves to the legend himself. Sam had managed to get himself hooked up with one of Stefan’s practice bikes. After a guided tour of the workshops the bike was loaded up and the team headed back off to Honda Park. The riders set up their pits while Darren and Dicko set to work on the Harris & Ross mobile clinic.
After a 20 minute moto session all the boys came in for massage and treatment before heading out again to practice. A particular highlight of the afternoon was Sam describing watching other riders at the park getting very excited about Stefan’s bike with a rider aboard wearing a Red Bull helmet, only to be hugely disappointed when they figured out it was not the 10x World Champion riding with them. Sam also described the huge amount of pressure he felt while riding the Champion’s bike, a pressure to do the bike justice. After a long day of riding and treatment everyone packed up and headed back off to the hotel.
Wednesday was scheduled to be the last day of the trip and with that, an early start to get to the yard to sort the bikes and kit before heading to Valkenswaad for a day’s riding at a new track. It was really busy but had designated session times for adult and junior riders alike.
This worked really well as the H&R tent was attracting attention from other riders and mechanics. This meant that when the juniors were out, Sam, Marc and Jordi could get treatment and while they were out riding, Dicko and Darren got the opportunity to chat with and treat other members of the public, many of whom were Brits holidaying and riding over in Belgium. After a great afternoon of riding the Vito was packed up and the long drive to the tunnel and UK started. This was a great trip and a brilliant opportunity for last minute tune ups with some of our athletes before they head around the world to race in the various championships that they belong to, and hopefully bring home some silverwear.