Steve Holcombe – EnduroGP Domination
Steve Holcombe made the transition from motocross to racing Enduro at the age of 14, and the likeable British lad hasn’t looked back since. In 2015 he finished 3rd in the Junior World Championship while holding down a full-time job. He more than likely would have won the title that year if he could have afforded the big trip to South America to ride the first round in Chile, but he more than made up for it in 2016 by winning the Enduro 3 class in his debut senior year aboard the Beta factory 300RR machine. Holcombe kept his momentum going in 2017 and totally dominated the EnduroGP class with five overall victories finishing with a gap of 48-points over his closest rival, French ISDE champion Loïc Larrieu. EnduroGP recently caught up to chat with Steve Holcombe about his second world enduro title, his successful season, and plans for 2018. Here’s what he had to say …
EnduroGP: Hi Steve, what a year it was. With this new EnduroGP Class, did you think you could win by such a big margin?
SH: Honestly, looking back to the start of the year, I didn’t think I was in a position to fight for the overall title at all, let alone win by 48-points. I didn’t have a particularly great pre-season, or I wasn’t where I expected myself to be in training and at races so I was a little nervous and down on confidence heading into the season. It was a great decision to head over to Finland to ride and train with the help of Petteri Silvan and my Finnish friends. I learnt a lot about snow riding in a short period of time and that helped me gain some confidence for the first GP in Finland where I got a decent result. Then at Round 2 in Spain to finish so close to Matthew Phillips both days and miss out on the win both days by less than 2 seconds was very frustrating. I took a lot of energy from that race and worked hard for Round 3 – the teams home GP in Italy. That’s where my season changed; from there on I felt a different rider. With me moving on to the 2018 bike as well as taking the points lead into Hungary, Round 4, the rest of the year couldn’t have gone better.
Where do you think you improved the most during this year?
With my riding, it’s definitely been in dry dusty conditions. As we all know I thrive in and enjoy the wet muddy conditions, but that’s not great when the majority of the races are hot and dusty. I spent a lot of time away from home this year but it’s paid off massively. Mentally I’ve really improved the way I deal with pressure. Throughout my riding career, I would say I’ve had a strong mind; I owe a lot of that to my parents. I was always left to get on with my riding win or lose and was never pushed to make a certain result; luckily as well that’s how team Beta is. Racing is about what you can do, I work my best when I’m in control of my decisions, win or lose.
“I would’ve loved to clinch the title at home… Maybe next year!”
Back in 2015 did you ever imagine that you would become a two-time World Champion just two years after?
Not a chance. I still don’t believe it’s true now. My 2015 season was a massive rollercoaster. Coming into the year and not choosing to race in Chile, to winning a day at the second GP in Portugal then travelling home to get back to work the next day. 2015 was a year of what could’ve been; if I raced in Chile I believe I would be a three-time champion. However, things don’t always go to plan and I’m very thankful for the opportunities that arose from that year and the Boano team and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How did you manage your season, GP after GP?
I can’t give away too much detail, as I believe this is something I’ve really managed to get right this year. However, the pressure of taking the points lead has been the hardest thing to manage, the expectation in my own mind to prove I was worthy has been hard to deal with. Because I received the plate by default of Matty’s mechanical issue in Italy, I didn’t think I earned the right to wear it. It’s not until after the German GP that I knew in my own mind that I do deserve it, and I do deserve to stand on top the podium as the EnduroGP Champion.
How was it racing in front of your home crowd at Hawkstone Park?
It was unreal, and even more unreal to win Day 1 and to be leading Day 2 comfortably before we had our set back. I remember watching the last GP in 2008 in Wales; I was 14-years-old and was just in awe of these great riders battling the terrain up there. It’s been a dream of mine to race at home, and more of one to win. I would’ve loved to clinch the title there. Maybe next year!
A quick word on your team. It seems you have a special relationship with your manager Fabrizio Dini?
I certainly couldn’t achieve what I have in these past two years without the team and the bike. I have a great relationship with my mechanic and the other mechanics within the team. It’s great that we have fun away and at the races but when it comes to it, we all do our jobs to the highest standard. Dini is not only the team manager but has also been my out-rider for the season. It’s very important for us to have a trusting relationship and we do, he’s helped give me confidence this year in line choice and bike setup. I’ve had great advice and support from Steve Plain who travelled to some GP’s this year; it’s been great to have his support and guidance. Alex (Salvini) and I get on great too, he and his family have been very supportive over the last two years allowing me into their home and for me to train with him. I’m very grateful for all they have done for me. Also, the guys that don’t always come to the races and are working back at the factory, Beta is a very family orientated company and I feel very at home here.
Looking to 2018, will you change bike or stay with the 300cc?
Currently, I would like to stay with the 300. We have such a good bike right now and I’m excited as Beta and myself have ways to further improve it. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the coming months.
We bet your goal for 2018 is winning the class title and the EnduroGP (outright) title?
Definitely! I know what I’m capable of and so does everyone else. The plan now is to enjoy this off-season, understand what we’ve learnt and how we can improve, then start planning for 2018. I can’t wait.
Name: Steve Holcombe
Nickname: The Exmoor Beast
Nationality: Great Britain
Date of Birth: May, 16, 1994
Place of Birth: South Molton , England
Bike: Beta 300 RR
Race Number: 70
2011: BEC Clubman Champion.
2012: BEC Expert Champion – BSEC U19 Champion.
2014: Junior E1 European Champion – BEC E1 Champion – 3rd BSEC Elite.
2015: 3rd EWC Junior –W2C Champion – 2nd BEC.
2016: E3 World Champion.
2017: EnduroGP World Champion.