Fast Eddy Racing EnduroGP World Championship team rider Jamie McCanney talks to Enduro21 about getting back on the podium, screw loose team managers, Dakar Rally, and competing against the likes of Josep Garcia, Steve Holcombe and Brad Freeman as a privateer.

Manxman Jamie McCanney wrote a slice of EnduroGP history in 2023 by winning E1 category in Slovakia as a privateer rider for the Fast Eddy Racing team. In a super-competitive class, and a purple-patch for talent in the Enduro World Championship, that was no mean feat.

Now 29-years-old, McCanney has a huge amount of experience under his belt including Youth and Junior world titles, French classic enduro wins, ISDE medals and even the Dakar Rally.

Since the switch to rally fizzled out when Yamaha pulled the plug, the Manxman turned back to rebuild his career in enduro and results are portraying the effort put back in.

Now in his second season with the small but experienced Fast Eddy Racing team, Jamie has picked up three E1 class podiums in the first two rounds, plonking that unbranded 250 F in among the glitzy factory bikes of Garcia and Holcombe.

As we head to round three this weekend in Romania, McCanney talks to us about his career, his “screw loose” team managers, tough times in rally-raid, why EnduroGP should have shorter days and how high the levels are right now in EnduroGP…

Congrats on your strong ’24 season so far, not a bad start, eh?

Jamie McCanney: “Thank you! At the end of last season I finished quite strong so I didn’t want to ‘sleep' through the off-season and start all over again. I knew what it took to get where I was at the end of last season. I trained hard and did what I could with the tools provided.

“So with the first two rounds in Portugal being back to back it was important to come out quite high up in the championship. There’s not a lot of rounds in the series so you need to make them count!”

You stayed on the same 250 F as last year which meant you knew the good things and what to improve on. Did you guys do some development on the bike in the winter?

“We didn’t really struggle with the bike as such. But I knew we needed to improve on the handling in the corners because that’s where I lost a lot of time. That’s an area where the bike could be better. Last season we didn’t spend a lot of time on suspension testing or stuff like that. That‘s just how it is being in a small team.

“But from watching videos I figured out that I couldn’t corner the way I wanted. We spent some time adjusting the settings in the off-season and definitely made progress. In the opening round I was riding too stiff with the suspension, so I went softer for the second round. That felt better and I’m feeling we’re heading in the right direction.”


You won in Slovakia last year, the first world championship victory in a long time, that must have been a great boost to your confidence?    

“Admittedly conditions were very British, being a mudder and all that. Still, it was a very cool experience. Obviously, Josep (Garcia) had just come back from an injury so he was on the back foot. It was five years since I last won, so that’s a long time with a lot of stuff happening in between.

“The rider-level in EnduroGP is so high and there are so many riders with only a couple of seconds separating them. So to be standing on the top step of the podium with a privateer team is very special.”

Steve Holcombe and Josep Garcia are also in E1 making it the strongest class. How is that?

“I think it’s 12 years that I’ve been racing the world championship so I know the score! They’re looking at success in the class but also competing for the outright EnduroGP title. On Sunday in Valpaços I was third in E1 but fifth in EnduroGP. So that’s three E1 riders inside the top-five.

“It is what it is. Also it gives a different goal to aim for. In my case that’s dropping the gap to Garcia and Holcombe to less than a minute, and keep on improving on my set-up for each round. If I’m riding well I should be aiming to be top-five EnduroGP among all the factory riders. On the other hand you cannot influence how your competitors are doing…”

Seeing where you stack up against guys like Pela Renet, Antoine Meo or Christophe Nambotin is a big shock!

After a full day of riding you could be a minute down on the leader and in second or sixth? That’s gnarly!

“It is, definitely! That would be like being 30 seconds in motocross after a 30-minute race. So even when we have one hour of tests, often the margins are super close.

“As an 18-year-old I went into the enduro world championship quite naive, not following the results or not really knowing the riders… I was just riding my bike. But when you’re in the Junior World Championship and see where you stack up against guys like Pela Renet, Antoine Meo or Christophe Nambotin it’s a big shock! How on earth can they be three minutes ahead of me? Especially when I worked as hard as I could! So how are you going to close that gap? Sometimes I worried about how that would go if moved up to the senior classes but it all worked out.” 


For the moment Holcombe, Garcia, Verona and Freeman stand out in EnduroGP. What makes them so special?

“I feel that there are a few more elite guys than just tthree or four. Brad is getting back to his best level again after a pretty serious injury, Nathan Watson is stepping up, Samuele Bernardini is more consistent, Zach Pichon can be super quick…

“Having said that those top guys are phenomenal riders who have been able to keep on building without having big injuries or getting much time off.

“You see how strong Steve actually is from how he well he adapted after swapping bikes this winter from leaving Beta and going to Honda. He’s immediately up there so you cannot say that his level is up to the bike. Once you get that ball rolling and you have that confidence much of it is down to your mindset and your fitness.”

EnduroGP will visit the UK with the Welsh round in August. That must be awesome to look forward to?

“Yeah, I think that will be really good. Everyone from the UK offroad scene will be attending with a lot of friends and family cheering the Brits on. Wales always delivers the goods for enduro. Normally, fingers crossed, the weather should be nice that time of the year. The last British round was in 2008 so it’s been long overdue!”

3 or 4 hours would keep it more intense and have the spectators more locked in.

Since 2022 EnduroGP has a new promoter, Prime Stadium, who replaced ABC. What do you think of their changes? 

“First of all, we need to consider that the tests are still put up by the clubs, as they’ve been in the past. So of course there are important differences between each GP. Still, it’s clear Prime Stadium is pushing hard to make everything look more professional.

“As a rider I’m not really bothered about how the paddock looks or how fancy the trucks are. For us it’s more about the quality of the tests, how we are treated and so on. Recently the tests have been quite good whereas they’ve been too fast or dangerous in the past.

“One thing I’d like to see more of is a newer style of enduro. I don’t think we should be riding around for 7 hours a day in 30°C to do an hour’s worth of test times. We could probably manage in 3 or 4 hours to keep it more intense and have the spectators more locked in.

“When it’s seven hours you naturally will lose a lot of the interest. Spectators decide to see the first lap or the last lap. And when they watch the last lap they might not be so keen to hang around for the podium. Riding around the mountains for hours on end without any spectators makes little sense to me.”

When you rode for Outsiders Yamaha you won Aveyronnaise classic twice. How does that type of racing compare?

“I loved it! I was really happy to be introduced to the French Classics by Marc (Bourgeois), who was a bit of a classic king himself. Okay there’s a lot of riding involved in relation to the length of the tests but I really enjoyed Aveyronnaise and Le Trèfle.

“It’s something that I could see myself doing even when I’m not racing EnduroGP any longer. Fitness is not that important over there, so you could still be doing well even when you’re no longer racing at the highest level fulltime. Bourgeois proved that as well. He was leading Le Trèfle ahead of Garcia in 2018 before he sadly broke his leg on the second day.”


You had some really interesting team managers over the years from Thomas Gustavsson (Husaberg & Husqvarna), Marc Bourgeois (Outsiders Yamaha Racing), Franco Mayr (Jolly Enduro Team)  and Paul Edmondson (Fast Eddy Racing), how do they compare?

“(grins) They all have a screw loose, one way or the other! I think I was very lucky to start my world championship journey with Thomas. And I don’t think there are many Thomases about anymore!

“He was very calm, I don’t think he ever raised his voice. He did his job and he sat back to let you get on with yours. Even if you came out of a test with bent handlebars or the subframe hanging off, he’d ask if you were okay and send you back to the paddock to have it fixed. No screaming or shouting which created a calm environment. I have huge respect for him as a team manager and his track record as an engineer and rider. Just think of what he pulled off with Husaberg!


“It was nice to move on to Marc Bourgeois after that. The full package he ran with Outsiders Racing was very professional. I also had a good bond with my mechanic Fab and my suspension guy Dan. I spent time at Marc’s home to go riding in his region and it was clear that he had built a very positive team environment. On the one hand family-like but professional and result oriented.

“With Franco you sensed how much experience he has in running a team without any pretenses. A ‘been there and got the t-shirt’ type of thing like many team managers in the EnduroGP paddock have. And that’s the reason why they’re there. Maybe I didn’t enjoy the bike I was riding there so much but all the guys working on the team were great to work with. I wasn’t there that long but the atmosphere in the Jolly team was super nice.


Team managers? They all have a screw loose that’s for sure!

“With Paul there’s a history that goes way back because I’ve been racing Fast Eddy events all my life. I hung out with him at his house way before I was on his team. The cooperation with Paul has been fantastic, he allowed me to give a lot of input on loads of decisions from team staff to sponsors, and even parts on the bike. So that freedom has been amazing, especially because I now have the experience to make choices like that.

“There’s a lot of trust from Paul as long as I don’t take the piss with anything! I’ll be turning 30 soon so I know what I need to do and what needs to happen. This is the first time where I’m involved in such a way with a team, managing a few things as well. I respect a lot what Paul has done as a team manager how he built it up and how passionate he his about this project.

“With the look of the team, our results and Paul’s background as a world champion you would tend to think that it’s easy to pull something off like this and you couldn’t be any further from the truth.

“For me this is the first time that I ride on this level without manufacturer support so everything is coming out of Paul’s pockets. There’s not a lot of teams in the paddock doing it like that, without a title sponsor.

“All of this makes the FastEddy Racing team very unique in the EnduroGP paddock. Without Paul’s passion none of this would be possible.

“With a set-up like ours, that makes it so much more special to have the Fast Eddy bike – without a brand on the side – in front of the podium when you’re standing at the top step. To pull that off without manufacturer support was pretty cool I have to admit!”     

There seems to be a great atmosphere in the Fast Eddy Racing team. How is it be riding in a British set-up for the first time in your professional career?

“We actually built the time from scratch together with Paul Edmondson. When he asked me to ride for him he asked if I knew any mechanics or helpers. So they’re all guys that I met over my years of racing and that I became friends with.

“To put together a team with a bunch of friends is of course very different from being on a team where you only see the mechanics at the race. There’s a real connection where you keep in touch or spend time together during a holiday. These guys being friends before mechanics makes it a more friendly environment.

“And I don’t only mean that in cozy matey sort of way. Because there’s that trust and openness, they’ll tell it like it is when you’re not doing well too!”

How does it compare to the factory riders and teams you’re competing against?

“A lot of is just the limitations of a privateer team compared to a works team. Like waiting for the race bikes to be purchased for example. As a team we don’t get 10 bikes from the factory delivered in one go. I have a race bike and a training bike. My training bike is last year’s race bike and it has probably over 200 hours on it! Unless we get additional support to buy another bike the race bike might have to last me all year.

“We try to be as professional as possible but you have to get creative. My friend, who’s my mechanic, has personally tuned my engine in our little workshop in Portugal. It’s not like the factory teams where the engine is put on the dyno or with all the special parts that factory riders get access to.”


Youth champion in 2013, Junior in 2015, vice world titles, the ISDE win in 2022 and of course Dakar is quite a CV. Would you consider returning to rally?

“I never had a clear run at rally-raid in fact. I experienced some good things and I experienced some bad things there. I was just very unfortunate that this happened during COVID. I had just done the Merzouga Rally in April and my next race was Dakar in January the next year! I managed 5th or 6th in a stage, made rookie mistakes like stopping to help a rider in trouble thinking that I would get my time back. Possibly I threw away that rookie win.

“In my second Dakar my bike broke down on day four. But even before that race in 2021 I had only done Andalucia. In the end I did four races in almost three years so that nowhere near add up to a fulltime programme.”

The riding skills or individual rider level in EnduroGP don’t always translate to rally either...

“True. I enjoy the technicality that you need for enduro: bouncing in and out of trees. I also enjoy the physical side of it, how you can make a difference by pushing yourself in training. I like how physical and difficult EnduroGP is at the moment. You feel that you’re going to the limit physically, that’s very different in rally.

“Granted, you have to be fit but it’s nowhere near at the same level of intensity or corner speed. Those are the things that you lose a bit in rally. And of course there’s more risk involved. I got to taste it and I was lucky to have left without any major crashes. From that side I’m happy to have returned to enduro.

Although the money, even when riding at the highest level in enduro, is not comparable to the money at the highest level of rally. One thing that I’ve come to fully appreciate is how much fun it is to be able to call this hobby, which I love to do, my job. That’s a very fortunate position to be in.”

Thanks Jamie, good luck in Romania.


Photo Credit: Enduro21 archive + Mastorgne

Interview help: Tom Jacobs