Josiah Natzke is New Zealand’s youngest Red Bull athlete, having got his hands on the sought after helmet this month.
The 17-year-old left New Zealand for his Belgium base ahead of the new European motocross season, where he will step up into the EMX 250 competition in 2016.
Last year, Natzke was runner up in the EMX 125 junior competition in Europe, behind KTM team mate Jorge Prado Garcia.
He returns to Europe to race alongside Prado again, this time in a full senior competition which will test his strength and racing ability more than ever.
To be able to wear the Red Bull helmet along with way will be a buzz for the teenager.
“They flew me down to Queenstown and surprised me with it,” Natzke said.
“They had all the staff and everyone who works for Red Bull down there, so they flew me down for a little meeting. I thought it was just a catch-up, but they pulled me up in front of everyone and surprised me with it.
“There is a lot more recognition when you’re actually branded as a Red Bull athlete, in terms of marketing me as a brand, but the coolest thing for me is to be able to wear a Red Bull hat and a Red Bull helmet.”
Natzke was a Rookie Bull previously, which was their international junior motocross programme, but that didn’t allow him to wear the Red Bull helmet riders seek.
Now he can, and he’s hoping to be able to deliver with performances on the bike in Europe.
“The European class, there isn’t an age cap. It’s an unlimited class, so it’s a real mix. There will be guys like me, who are young and eager to win, but there will be other guys who have been racing it for a few years and have a lot of experience.”
Natzke got back to New Zealand in mid-September and worked hard at improving his performances on the bike, racing at any major events in NZ.
He needed to get used to a bigger bike, moving up to a 250cc machine, and said he likes the new bike more than his old one.
“You ride it differently to a two-stroke to get the most out of it. It’s all about getting stronger and fitter because it’s a harder ride, but I love this bike way more than the 125.
“It’s a ten round schedule this year, I think it was a seven round schedule last year, so I do more Eastern European countries like Switzerland and Latvia, which I didn’t do last year.
“There are more circuits, so I’m looking forward to that this year.”