Yesterday morning few people outside of Australia knew anything about the rider named Matthew Phillips. However, after finishing as runner-up in the Enduro 2 class on the opening day of the 2011 FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) the young Australian is now very much the talk of the paddock. Having only competed in ten enduro events since switching from racing domestic motocross at the end of last season, the eighteen-year old arrived in Kotka, Finland as an overseas rookie and ISDE virgin.
Originating from Tasmania, Phillips with his highlighted scruffy hair and teenage looks would not be out of place on an Australian beach with a surfboard under his arm. However his chosen pursuit of off road motorcycling would seem to be a sport he is more comfortable with. “My background is motocross, I raced the Junior Development class back home last season, but decided to try my hand at enduro this year. My manager Geoff Bellard told me about the ISDE and it was something I just wanted to come over and have ago at.”
With the thought planted firmly in his mind, Phillips turned to the right guy for advice as he spoke to former multi FIM Enduro World Champion Stefan Merriman about what he could expect. “After talking to Stefan, I made sure I practiced the right kind of going, as the island where I live, which is south of Australia, actually has some pretty similar ground to the course here in Finland. Other than that my preparations have been limited, apart from throwing a light on my YZ450F and softening off the suspension.”
“I am pleased with how the first day went, though it is only one of six and there is a long way to go yet. Even though I am holding a good position now, my overall goal is the same as it was when I started, which is to make it to the finish. That is all I am hoping for.” Ended Phillips.