GIACOMO REDONDI - 2018 WORCS CHAMPION

Giacomo Redondi became the 2018 WORCS champion in his first year of racing in the USA, the Italian rider is the living proof that the lack of opportunity in Europe is not due to a lack of talent. No doubt his success story will inspire and give hope to many privateers on both sides of the Atlantic.

With his genuine smile and his sparkling eyes, it’s no wonder why Giacomo Redondi has already so many friends in the US. But the welcoming Italian is before everything else a fierce competitor. With no contract in the 2018 World Enduro Championship the 2016 Junior World Enduro Champion crossed the Atlantic Ocean to race in the USA, winning the 2018 WORCS championship for his first complete racing season in America. Even if an Off-road championship does not bring the same attention that a Supercross title his success opened doors in Europe allowing Giacomo to go back home and with a championship to his name. A few weeks before his departure back to Europe we met him for a ride session in Southern California. Between some huge jumps and some incredibly fast rides on trails, the RedBull athlete took the time to share with his 2018 championship experience.

Upshift: Let’s start from the beginning and give some background to the readers. When and why did you start riding a motorcycle?

Giacomo Redondi: I was four years old when I started to ride. My father was riding his enduro bike with his friends, but only on weekends. Where I lived, in Italy, everybody was riding in the trails. At the very beginning I used to ride in my parents’ backyard with my 50cc and my 65cc moto. I soon started to do some races. I won the Italian mini cross Championship 4 times. In 2009, after winning the Italian MX2 championship I switched to Enduro with Team Farioli. I was a teammate with the French World Champion Antoine Meo and I lived in his family for a while. That’s when I learned French. Now, I can speak Italian, English, French, and Spanish.

Upshift: That’s impressive! Before going in full enduro mode, you were a motocross guy. Do you keep some good memories of these days?

GR: Yes, because I won everything in mini-cross (laugh). Later, I couldn’t find a team to sign me for the World Championship, so I don’t know what I could have accomplished in MX. I loved motocross and since coming to the US I enjoy riding the perfect tracks of Southern California. But I love Enduro too and I’m lucky to race in America, the races are a nice mix of MX and Enduro.

Upshift: You were selected six times to race the ISDE. Is that a race you like?

GR: It’s a very unique and special event. In Spain, I won two of the six days and finished 3rd overall. On a technical side, it’s a bit less extreme than in Enduro GP, but it allows super fast motocross riders to come and do good. It’s one of the easiest races, but a tough one because all the countries are coming with their very best riders. In America, the ISDE is more famous than EnduroGP. Knowing that I would come here after, I had a great motivation this year again as I wanted to prove that I was fast. I had to make a statement. I finished 3rd again, which was great.

Upshift: Let’s talk about this move to the USA. How did you manage this?

GR:I came for Anaheim 1 Supercross in January 2018. I just had a suitcase. I met Gabriele Mazzarolo  who owns Alpinestars. We made a deal. He always helped me, since the very beginning and once again he was here for me. I became an Alpinestars ambassador in the US. Then, I went to see KTM USA and I asked them for a special price for three bikes.

Upshift: Wait a minute. You had to pay for your bikes?

GR: For me it was easier. If you ask for a special price they can’t say no (laugh). And then, you can re-sell the bikes at the end of the season and you don’t lose money. Pro Circuit, IMS and Rekluse helped me with free parts though.

Upshift: At some point, you had to find a place to live.

GR:Indeed. At first, I planned to stay with a friend from Italy but it didn’t work. I found a house for rent, and my mother came with two friends of mine. I was the only one to speak English, so I had to deal with all the paperwork (laugh). But I was here to succeed, so I started to train 5 hours a day, every day. Every night I was my own mechanic and my own team manager. I had three jobs at once but it didn’t matter. I was here to make a statement not to sleep on the couch. I worked non-stop. I wanted to show the world that even if you don’t have a contract, nothing can prevent you from following your dream.

Upshift: Was being in the USA motivational?

GR: Southern California is a place where everybody’s life revolves around motorcycles. When I don’t train, I wake up early and drive to the official SX tracks and I watch the pro riders. Then, I drive to the beach and I do some running. That’s an incredible life! I feel that if you live here, you don’t have any other choice but being a pro rider (laugh). I lost 30 pounds since I moved here! WORCS races are a 2 hour sprints and you need to be in really good physical condition to be able to finish. I also had to be very careful with my diet. But I had no problem to adapt to the local food since my mother was here and cooked Italian food every day. 

Upshift: You trained with Cody Webb, Colton Haaker and motocross riders like Jason Anderson. What did you learn from them?

GR: Each time, it was an incredible experience. When you ride with talented riders such as Cody or Colton, it’s like you’re back in school. You watch and learn. They share their technique, and when you ride with them it’s an extraordinary opportunity. As for the MX riders, I see them when I trained on the public motocross tracks in California. They know me and we talked at the truck, so that’s pretty nice. On the track if a pro rider as fast as Jason Anderson overtakes me, I would try to follow. But I know he’s only at his training pace while I’m full gas (laugh).

Upshift: You also rode with Jeremy McGrath?

GR: That was also a great moment. We did some free rides in the hills for my birthday. Jeremy is 46 years old now but he can still open some jumps before the freestylers! It’s just insane to see the skills he still has on a dirt bike. I think that he could come back at racing SX and kick some butt, he has the speed. When you ride with him the day goes fast, and you don’t realize it. It’s only in the evening that you think about what just happened. You’re like a kid and you just rode with the greatest Supercross rider who ever existed. Man, this country is just magic, every day you meet extraordinary people!

Upshift: Getting back to racing. Why did you choose to compete in the WORCS championship and not in GNCC?

GR: The GNCC races are all on the East coast, and I felt that living on the West coast made more sense. The weather is definitively better here (laugh). In 2017, I came here to do the last round of WORCS. I wanted to see how it was. Taylor Roberts won, but I was already fighting for the podium. That’s when I decided to come to California with the best riders to do these desert races. GNCC is a different animal. On the bright side it looks more like a traditional European enduro. But I think you need to know the conditions a little bit more to be in the top five. You need to be from there if you want to win. It might be the same for the US riders who are competing in the ISDE. It’s different from what they’re doing, and they’re a bit lost. They’re talented, but they don’t have enough training in this environment. 

Upshift: But you could adapt quickly to different conditions, and even different bikes.

GR: Yes, but I’m a real enduro rider (laugh). If you ride enduro, you have to be smart and be able to adapt to all kind of situations. Besides, I think that if you like to ride, you should have fun on any track with any bike. The rider makes the difference. Everything else is just excuses.

Upshift: Do you think that the off-road races receive the attention they deserve?

GR: Definitively not. Even the GNCC, which is supposed to be the most important motorcycle off-road championship in the US, doesn’t get real coverage. The media are all about supercross and motocross.

Upshift: Can you guys still make a living dong WORCS?

GR: The bonuses are way smaller than in motocross. The winner of a WORCS race takes $6,500 from the promoter and the brand. I didn’t get any bonus from a sponsor because I signed a winner-take-all kind of deal. Again, that was a gamble, but that was the only way I could make it work. I had to get the title to get paid. But even like that, we don’t talk about a lot of money. I think I broke even this season, covering the cost of living in California and my expenses for racing. There’s not a penny left (laugh).

Upshift: Did you get a better deal for 2019?

GR: Yes, but sadly not in America. I received an offer from Jolly Zanardo’s team to do the Italian Championship with Husqvarna. It comes with a salary equivalent of what I earned in 2018, bonuses not included. It’s a great opportunity and I couldn’t refuse it. I’ll be back in Italy in 2019. I finished my training in California this winter, and I’ll be back here for the last round of the WORCS series. I might also be doing a few rounds of WESS, and I don’t know yet.

Upshift: Still. No World Enduro in your schedule?

GR: KTM and Husqvarna won’t be doing the World Enduro series this year as they’re fully involved in the WESS. But they should come back in 2020 and if I have good results in Italy, I should find a place. I have to be patient. Coming back to World Enduro is my long-term goal. 

Upshift: Mark Samuels who owns team SLR told us he wanted to hire you for the next Baja. Why didn’t you go?

GR: Here in the USA, most of the off-road teams have Monster Energy as a partner. Since I’m a RedBull athlete I couldn’t join SLR. That’s a bummer because I would have loved to ride with Mark. But RedBull has been supporting me for a while now and they’re like a family to me.

Upshift: Did you try the Husqvarna before signing with Zanardo?

GR: Yes, I did try it here in California. It’s very close to the KTM so there’s not much to say about it. I felt very confident on the bike. Even if I liked the 2016 Honda I think that the KTM's and Husqvarna's are the best bikes today.

Upshift: How are you setting up your bike for the WORCS?

GR: Well, it’s opposite to what we use to do in Europe. For the World Enduro you need to set up the bike for the extreme stages. You want a very smooth engine, with traction in the low rpm and soft suspension. In WORCS we go very fast, and we need super stiff suspension and very powerful engines. Since the races are 2 hours long we try to have the power at maximum because reliability would be an issue. I bought my KTM at 3Brothers in SoCal and we did just a few modifications on the bike. The engine is stock with unique maps for the WORCS, a Rekluse clutch and a Pro Circuit Ti-6 exhaust. The triple clamps are coming from the KTM PowerParts catalog and the WP suspension was tuned by Pro Circuit. The tank and footpegs are from IMS, and we use Excel rims with Maxxis tires. I added a GPR4 steering stabilizer, Acerbis hand guards, and skid plate. And that’s all. Anyone could build the same bike.

Upshift: Over your career, who’s the rider who had the most significant influence on you?

GR: Antoine Méo. He was my coach and my training partner, my rival and my friend. This guy is a genius. He was good at racing in Supercross and Motocross and when he arrived in Enduro, he raided the pace. He changed Enduro forever. 

Upshift: What is your best race so far?

GR: I’d say the Finland GP in 2012. It was a close finish with Méo, and I won by 1/10th of a second with my little 125. Man, being able to beat him was a great feeling!

Upshift: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

GR: I’ll be back in California that’s for damn sure! I think I’ll still do the WORCS, but I hope that I would also have found an official team to do the Dakar.

Story and Photos by Olivier de Vaulx


Personal:
Date of Birth
: January 8, 1993
Hometown: Lovere, Italie
Sponsors: RedBull Alpinestars KTM Pro Circuit Rekluse Maxxis IMS GIVI

 2018 Accomplishments
- 1st World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) 
- 3rd ISDE
- 2 podiums in World Enduro Championship (with only 2 races attended)

 2012 Accomplishments
- 1st World Junior Enduro Championship
- 1st Italian Junior Enduro Championship
- 1st Europe Cross Country UEM.

2011 Accomplishments
-
1st Europe Cross Country UEM.

 2009 Accomplishments
-
1st MX2 Italy Championship

 2008 Accomplishments
-
1st MX2 Italy MINIX Senior Championship

2004 Accomplishments
-
1st MX2 Italy MINIX Junior Championship

 2003 Accomplishments
-
1st MX2 Italy MINIX Cadets Championship

2001 Accomplishments
-
1st MX2 Italy MINIX Beginners Championship

 2017 Accomplishments
- 2d Italian Enduro 450 
- 6th World Enduro GP Championship

 2016 Accomplishments
- 1st Italian Junior Enduro Championship
- 1st  World Junior Enduro Championship
- 2 scratch wins at ISDE. 

2015 Accomplishments
- 1st Italian Junior Enduro Championship
- 2d World Junior Enduro Championship

2014 Accomplishments
- 1st World Junior SuperEnduro Championship

- 2d World Junior Enduro Championship

 2016 Accomplishments
- 2d World Junior Enduro Championship

Chris Glaspell

The success of any online publication depends on the quality of execution, and
in this respect UpShift Online’s success is virtually assured.  It was founded by veteran motorcycle industry professionals: English-born photographer Simon Cudby, the premier photographer in the world of motocross, and Chris Glaspell, creative director with firms serving clients that include Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Cycle World and Yoshimura. This, plus Upshift’s veteran editorial staff and unrivaled journalism, will gives readers unparalleled views of adventure motorcycling.