A surprising retiree at the beginning of this year, 35 year old Sebastien GUILLAUME (F)tells us about his difficult decision…
Why did you take this decision whilst it is still possible to compete?
Sebastien GUILLAUME: “Simply because it’s not possible to find a good team to ride with now! At the end of 2011, I signed a two years contract with Gas Gas, but during the last ISDE, they told me that they had cancelled the contract for economic and technical reasons. I started to approach teams based in Germany but all of them had already finished their recruitment drives. At the end of November, I was looking for a budget in order to race in the EWC, but unfortunately it’s difficult now to find a good budget. I was looking for a solution to allow me to race in the French Championship and some “Classic” events, but even there I also needed a big budget. So, on the 1st of January, I took the decision to end my professional career. I had to be honest with myself; it was not possible to find a team or a ride for 2013. I have retired reluctantly really because I still had one year left with Gas Gas… They forced me to retire!”
What’s happened exactly with Gas Gas?
S.G: “For them, financially, it was not possible; they couldn’t continue to pay me. Therefore, I couldn’t continue with them without any remuneration and without a guarantee to race the entire season!”
Have you really not had any contact with any other team?
S.G: “No, nothing! As I told you, most of the teams have budget cuts or they were already complete!
We heard that Antoine MEO and Fabio FARIOLI were trying to find you a place in the KTM supported team…
S.G: “Yes, you’re right, we spoke with Antoine about the possibility of finding both a bike and assistance during races. He told me to contact Fabio. I didn’t, because he had already told Antoine that the supported team was complete. Let’s say that it was a discussion between two good friends, more than a real deal.”
“If a team calls me, I will take the opportunity!”
Don’t you regret retiring at the age of 35?
S.G: “Completely! I hope that these regrets won’t last forever. I know inside, that I’m still able to accomplish great things in Enduro, but I have to admit that my two last years were disappointing and I was not riding at my best level. Teams are of course less interested… I am frustrated and I can’t pay to ride, mainly because I’ll not have the time for the physical preparation and the search for a budget.”
Do you still want to stay in the Enduro world or will you totally change your career?
S.G: “When I have digested the retirement from high level racing, my aim will be of course, to stay in the Moto world, but to find a job in this area seems to be very difficult. I have my degrees, so I’m interested in still working with bikes. Actually, I have no fixed job and I need to forget about this retirement before starting other things. I have to admit that if a team calls me, then I’ll take the opportunity even if it is only for few Grand Prix! I have not planned to race in Spain and France because I don’t have the bikes, the training and the staff for this… It’s the end of an era!”
When you look back on your long career, what do you think about it?
S.G: “Thirteen professional years is nowadays, a long career! I’ve made 13 years as a professional rider with 11 years in the World Series with 2 runner-up positions and four third places. Also 10 ISDE’s with 4 wins. I am dissatisfied, it’s my nature, but now, if somebody told me when I started my career with the Army that I’ll have this list of prizes afterwards, I would be very happy that I had signed! However a World title is still missing… I think I’m still able to be World Champion, but it will probably never happen. I think I will start to play chess… or poker! No, I’m joking, I don’t understand anything in poker!”
What souvenirs do you have of your start in Enduro with the French Army (EEAT)?
S.G: “I made an entrance with the EEAT between 2000 and 2003. They taught me everything: the discipline, to organize myself, the importance of community life and the work of Enduro rider. I really want to thank Fred WEILL, chief warrant officer ROCHELEUX and chief PINEAU, all who welcomed me into the Army and brought me a lot. It is thanks to them that I could earn the prizes on the list!”
“The five years spent with AZZA were amazing!”
After the Army, you join Gas Gas, then sign with AZZALIN and the CH Racing team to finally come back with Gas Gas. Do you regret not trying others experiences with others bikes, particularly with 4 stroke bikes?
S.G: “I rode for Gas Gas between 2004 and 2006 and then I join AZZA from 2007 to 2011. What I can say is that those 5 years with the CH Racing team were just unbelievable. I had good results and it is a very friendly team, just as I like them. Of course, I wish I could try a 4 stroke, but I had always agreed to ride on a 2 stroke. In 2008, I started the season with the 500 4 stroke from Husqvarna, but I had disappointing results and switched back to a 2 stroke. This year, I missed the title behind Samuli ARO (SF).Maybe if I had started the season with my 2 stroke I might have become World Champion… I was known as a 2 stroke rider but I trained a lot with 4 stroke bikes and I know that I’m very adaptable.”
You have been French Champion, a member of a four times World Champion winning team and twice the runner-up in EWC; you have been busy!
S.G: “My only regret is to not take the World title itself. I have another regret, not linked to the EWC… and that is to never have the opportunity to finish the Gilles Lalay Classic… It was an amazing race, and when I raced it with Fred WEILLin 2001, we followed each other during the entire day, but during the race I lost both my lights and my brakes, so I was forced to give up. Some organizers want to copy the GLCbut they don’t have not the charisma and the expertise!”
If you had to keep the best souvenirs, what would they be?
S.G: “… My first souvenir, it’s my runner-up place in 2009 with AZZALIN. At start of the year, I broke my hand during the bike testing. Only 15 days before the first Grand Prix. The surgeon told me that surgery was inevitable. I asked him if I can ride even with this. He promised to do everything he could, but it would be very painful. The pain! I know how to deal with it and I went to Spain for the opening round of the Championship. During the Spain-Portugal tour, it was very, very difficult for me but I fought a lot and all the team was pushing behind me. I still have this image of the final podium in Noiretable where I finished runner-up. It was a great reward for my team and me. I never gave up and with this result; it was synonymous of a victory. Then the second is the Six Days in Greece in 2008 with a “B team”. The press never stops to “spit” on us before the start of the competition. In th e end we got a nice win with a well-organized team. Those ISDE… It’s the beginning of the renewal of French domination. It was a click!”
You have had a lot of physical problems since 2010 and also some misfortune…
S.G: “I was thinking about it last week! It’s true that I was unlucky; I had a lot of injuries at the start of the season, last year with my pneumothorax just before the South American tour. In 2011, when I crashed and landed on my head during training, I waited months to find out that one of the bones in my neck was displaced. I had also some trouble in 2009 with a broken hand… I’ve not often achieved a good start of the season and I never understood why I had so many injuries during this period!”
“The EWC makes people dream!”
With your thirteen years at high level, what do you think of the evolution of Enduro?
S.G: “In 2000, Enduro had already evolved with 5 structured classes. Then with the arrival of Alain BLANCHARD, we went to 3 classes and that was a good choice to help the public to understand our sport. Since 2004, the World Series were always well organized; the arrival of ABChas permitted a better communication about the discipline and a better press and TV feedback. I arrived when the riders were paid as they had to be, but now it’s harder with this economic crisis. Moreover, on the race side, the special tests are versatile now with the Xtreme Test, the Cross Test and the Enduro Test, everybody can find what they like in it. Personally, I will blame only one thing: 4 laps! I never liked it. I prefer to ride longer liaisons like in the old times. With four laps, at the end of the weekend you know the track perfectly, but it’s true that longer liaisons are harder to build nowadays with the “gree n” movement. We have to congratulate the Moto Club organizers because it’s not easy. Then, I saw also the emergence of the Super Test. In my opinion, I prefer the easy and fast Super Test with few jumps and logs… It’s perfect for the public that can watch some nice fights between riders, wheels in wheels, until the Finish. But if it’s too hard, then it looks like a big circus. I’m agreeing with the Super Test during the day as it is done since 2012 with a lot of speed. It’s true also that we, the riders, are only looking for our benefits but we have also to think about the Moto Club and the public. Nonetheless, we have to admit that the evolution of the Enduro is very positive. Now the EWC makes people dream. Look at the motocross riders that are coming to this sport. 10 years ago they didn’t want to hear about Enduro! Moreover, now the paddocks are really professional… Yes, Enduro is now Pro!”
Throughout all your seasons, you were like a link between the old French generation (GERMAIN, ESQUIROL, BERNARD) and the new one (MEO, RENET and NAMBOTIN)… What are the big differences between these two generations?
S.G: “I will say 3 generations. I knew GERMAIN, ESQUIROL, BERNARDbut also NAMBOTIN, MEO and now the 21 years old young guns, like BELLINO. The MEO– RENET– AUBERTgeneration is composed principally of guys who had no successes in motocross but who have their head on their shoulders. They are respectful, calm and very professional, those guys worked a lot to arrive where they are. They had troubles in motocross because they were too young but now they succeed in Enduro. BELLINO, this guy is a mad dog! I also arrived in Enduro at 21 like Mathias, but he has already more technical skill than me at this age because he started to race when he was very young. He will succeed, for sure but he needs to calm down. Concerning the older generation, I have the imp ression that the guys where less friends than now; they didn’t went to walk the test together for example. Now, they train together and that permits faster improvements. The internships that the French Federation provides permit this, together with winter preparations for every rider. Thanks to this, I knew Antoine MEO when I was still a motocross rider. There is a big difference between Enduro where you have to fight against time and MX where you are fighting against other riders. That’s why the atmosphere is so good in Enduro. If you lose the day, it’s your fault and not the fault of the riders that made a block pass on you on the last curve!”
Communication FIM Enduro World Championship - www.enduro-abc.com -