After classifying fifth in his first attempt at the fiercely competitive division in 2017, Hofer is fitter, wiser and better equipped to make his mark and seize a maiden podium and race victory in 2018. The Austrian won the 85cc FIM Junior World Championship in 2016 and last season was his first with the KTM 125 SX; he scored points in all eight rounds and sixteen motos. Hofer recently renewed a deal with the factory. So far in 2018 he has collected 2nd and 1st positions in the third meeting of the Internazionali d’Italia at Mantova and the opening race of the Dutch Championship at Markelo respectively.
His initial EMX125 run will be the shallow but bumpy sand of the Eurocircuit. The venue has been a regular fixture on the MXGP trail for the Grand Prix of Europe. The EMX125 campaign will then visit Italy, Latvia, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland and finish back in Holland (at Assen). Hofer and the team will also attempt the FIM Junior World Championships at Horsham in Australia at the end of August.
“The off-season was really exciting for me,” Hofer said. “I made some good progress in riding and fitness this winter but also signed my contract with the KTM factory and the start of the partnership with Red Bull Austria which was a big confidence booster. The team has changed a little bit this year and I’ll be the only rider but we had some great training blocks in Belgium, Spain and Italy with Didi and the guys, so we are very prepared. I want to go for the title. I feel that I learned a lot in 2017 and a lot of weight fell off my shoulders with the moto win at Mantova last month: I saw and could feel that I can do the job this year. I then won the overall at Markelo and that confirmed our work in the sand. I cannot wait to start.”
“We’re excited to get going because, honestly, we’ve had a great pre-season,” said Team Manager Didi Lacher. “Rene started his physical work at the beginning of November and then we followed a careful plan that involved two months of sand riding, some time in Spain on hard-pack and then races in Italy and Holland; we were pleased that Rene could make a 4-1 for second place over at Mantova and then win in the Dutch Championship last week. We’ve had some great training partners like Lion Florian, Mike Gwerder and also Eddie Jay Wade and now is the time to show our progress.”
“Rene showed some good speed in what was mostly a rookie season for him in 2017,” said VP of KTM Off-Road Motorsports Robert Jonas. “Didi and the guys knew what we needed to work on in terms of starts, racecraft and full preparation for this year and we’re confident for Rene. He has some fantastic potential and we’ve seen flashes of that already. It is exciting to watch what he can do next.”