In the run-up to the Dutch TT, NTS RW Racing GP brings a daily interview or report to offer a look behind the scenes. Today: Steven Odendaal.
The start of the season has not been easy for Steven Odendaal. A relatively simple injury turned out to be nasty. The South African missed the tests and the first few races, causing quite a big setback when he finally got to start again.
“Watching the race in Qatar from a hospitalbed in Barcelona wasn’t the best start of the season”, Odendaal says. “Very frustrating not to be there and see someone else on my bike. Breaking a toe wasn’t the problem. It was healing quite right, but then it got infected. I got antibiotics, but it was the wrong one. I was in the 10 percent zone that wasn’t covered by this type of antibiotics. By the time I did get the right medication, the damage was done. At the IRTA test they found out the bone was already infected.”
It took three surgeries before Odendaal was back on his feet again. It cost him three races. “An injury makes you think a lot. I was anxious, upset, moody. I wanted to be there, but I couldn’t. Of course I worried about my future, seeing my replacement scoring points and doing a good job. But I couldn’t control it, so it was of no use to worry. I tried to use the anxiety to get back to fitness, training as much as possible with the limitations. After the second operation I immediately started training even though I had another surgery in one and a half week. I wanted to be as fit as possible by the time I could get back on the bike.”
Only in Jerez - the fourth race of the season - Steven Odendaal started his season, but the way back was difficult. He wasn’t as used to the new bike yet and new rules, like the qualifying system, as the rest of the field. “I had to start from way behind. It takes more energy to come back in fighting mode after missing out on valuable track time”, Odendaal explains. “It is as if you start from pitlane while the rest of the pack is already through the first few corners. I had to understand the package, as the bike has changed quite a lot and the Triumph engine is much different compared to the Honda. It feels easier to ride, less physically demanding, but I am having difficulties finding a setting that suits my style.”
Even though it hasn’t really worked out yet, Odendaal is positive about finding the solutions. “It maybe too ambitious, but I invision myself on the podium in Australia. I’ve always felt strong there. I do realize we have a long way to go, but we had a long way last year as well with the all new NTS and it worked out fine in the end.”