EWC TAKE FIVE WITH CHRIS LEESCH

EWC-TAKE-FIVE-WITH-CHRIS-LEESCH-1.jpg EWC x Webike

Established as a leading contender for FIM Endurance World Cup honours, Chris Leesch starts next month’s 8 Hours of Spa Motos among the favourites for Superstock category success.

And with Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium a short drive from his Luxembourg home, victory for the 28-year-old Dunlop-equipped talent and his Chromeburner-RAC41-Honda team would take on added significance.

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It's ranked as one of the most spectacular racing circuits on the planet and the longest in the EWC at 6.985 kilometres but what’s your view of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps?

There’s multiple facets to it. First of all it’s my favourite track so I guess I’m a little bit biased. It’s also the closest one to my home so it’s the closest thing I’m going to get to a home race, so I have very good emotions linked to the track. There are so many different elements to the track from the high-speed parts, the low-speed parts, blind corners, it’s just so different from any other track in the world. I think we all really enjoy going back there but it’s actually a very physical track, also mentally very tough because you have to push quite a lot to get a fast lap time. The bike is moving a lot, especially on the Superstock bikes we are sliding constantly on the rear so you have to push a lot more than you would, say at Le Mans. Le Mans is a track where you have to be very precise. If you have all of your markers set right you’ll have a really good lap time. But in Spa you really have to push every lap to get a good lap time and you have to improvise in the fast corners. Because it’s a little bit less precise you need to have a big heart to be brave and push.

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps has a reputation for changeable weather. Is that a problem for you?

Luckily in endurance racing we’re quite used to mixed weather conditions and very changing weather conditions. Le Mans and Spa have kind of the same reputation in that it can be rainy and sunny on the same day. What is particular about Spa is that it can be raining in one part of the track and sunny on the other side because it’s so big. But it’s the reality that we see every year, the weather conditions changing very quickly. But I would say the track is rideable in the rain and in the dry.

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What are your earliest memories of Spa?

I’d never ridden in other races in Spa [before the EWC returned in 2022] because it’s a track that’s not very easy to race on with motorcycles. That’s why it was a dream when the 24 hours came back to Spa. But it’s a track I link a lot of memories to. I came to watch my dad doing track days there, I watched the first car races of my life in Spa so for me it’s always an emotional place to go back to. It feels like home.

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With the race running over eight hours rather than 24 as previously, how will that change your preparation and approach?

It changes a little bit. We’re going to look for a little bit more performance to be able to have a bike that can find those extra few tenths because they’re more important in the eight-hour races. In the 24-hour races in Spa you really had to hold back a little bit, keep some energy for the end but also for the night because the night was very exhausting. The lighting was a bit less I would say than on other tracks so you had to hold back sometimes. But in an eight-hour race it’s kind of all out and every rider can do two or three stints flat out. We’ll have to push from the beginning. It’s going to be fun.

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The 8 Hours of Spa Motos is just a few weeks away, what are you doing to keep busy and to prepare?

I work as a project manager but through the season I keep my training quite consistent, a mix always between strength and endurance and then as much time as possible on motorcycles, whether it’s motocross, supermoto, any time you can spend on a motorcycle is beneficial to train your reflexes and stay up to speed. For the diet you try to stay as clean as possible, to help your body recover. It’s a little bit less of a focus than for a 24-hour race because a 24-hour race you really can’t come in and carry a small sickness from not being well with your nutrition because you are never going to make it through the race and perform well. But even for an eight-hour race the focus is all the way through the year just to recover well and be fit.

The 8 Hours of Spa Motos takes place at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium from 6-8 June. Click HERE for more event information including details of how to buy tickets.

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