In his spare time, he helps his son and his motor sport mates with their motocross hobby. Eni products play an important role in their passion.
“It is much more than a job, it is a passion and a life style", Henning Hofstad replies when we ask him about his job at Eni. “It is a beautiful brand with nice people, high quality products, an appealing logo and a magnificent history. Eni was founded in 1926! as AGIP", says Henning, who has been working with Eni products since 2007 and the last eight years at Eni Importer NDI Norge AS. “When people in the branch see me, they connect me to Eni and the logo.”
Henning's son Erlend, eleven years old, is just as enthusiastic as he is about the brand. Which has everything to do with his passion: Erlend rides motocross and is interested in enduro as well. “I started riding ATV when I was six years old", Erlend explains. I had a Chinese quad, which was not very reliable. We spent more time repairing it than riding it. At some point, I changed to motocross. I like everything about it, both the speed as the competitive element. I also like to feel the power, the feeling that I can control it. I was riding a KTM 65 SX until end of 2018, with a 65cc two-stroke engine. Now I ride my second Yamaha YZ85 with big wheels”. That is an important distinction: there are 85cc-bikes with small wheels, using a 14” rear wheel and a 17” front wheel, but there's also an 85 “big wheel” class, using a 16” rear wheel and a 19” front wheel.
There were multiple reasons to change from KTM to Yamaha. First of all, the Yamaha has a different character. Both Yamaha and KTM use power valves. A power valve affects the exhaust port timing. The timing determines at what engine speed the engine develops the most torque. Using a power valve, the timing is variable, which means that the engine has a wider power band. De setting of the valve actuation determines the character of the engine. “The Yamaha set-up makes it feel a bit like a four-stroke engine", Henning explains. “This suits Erlend better. Another advantage of the Yamaha is the Kayaba suspension, which is way better than the KTM air suspension. Still, we changed the standard fork oil with Eni Fork Oil. You can tell the suspension works smoother with Eni Fork Oil. I also sell Eni Fork Oil to a suspension specialist in Norway. That is the only oil he wants to use", says Henning, who also uses other Eni products when he and Erlend service the bike: “We work on the bike together more and more, both for repairs as maintenance. Erlend is really becoming a partner.”
When servicing the bike, Henning and Erlend use a number of Eni products: “After washing the bike, we use Eni Penetrating Oil on the metal parts to remove and neutralize moisture to prevent rust. Eni Penetrating Oil also lubricates moving parts better than comparable products from the competition. We lubricate the drive chain with Eni Chain Oil. This flows very well between the chain rollers and it isn't sticky. That is important, because we don't want it to attract sand, as sand grinds your chain and gears down.
Father and son Hofstad also use Eni products to lubricate the engine: “We use Eni
i-Ride Racing 2T for the two-stroke mixture. It burns off very cleanly, there are very few carbon deposits on the piston and the cylinder head. Crankshaft bearing life is also much better. With some 85cc motorcycle brands, you are supposed to change the crank shaft bearings every 45 hours. We have been able to stretch that to 120 hours using ENI oil. And even then, you can hardly detect any wear at all. We have the same experiences with go-karts. It shows that Eni products are developed in the land of the two wheelers and that Eni has a long racing pedigree, even in MotoGP and Formula 1”.
In two stroke engines, the transmission is usually lubricated with four-stroke engine oil, like it is in four-stroke motorcycle engines. That's a challenge for a lubricant manufacturer, as the clutch is usually running inside the sump, lubricated by the same oil. The oil should decrease friction between the gear teeth, but should preserve friction in the clutch, so the plates won't slip. “We tested several products”, says Henning. “There are more high-quality oil brands out there, but some engines really benefit from Eni i-Ride Racing Off-road 10W-50, especially where the clutch is concerned. The clutch has to grip well, but also offer a smooth control. We get a lot of positive feedback about this from riders who change to Eni oil. They feel the difference immediately. Which oil works better, often depends on the specific motorcycle. Honda riders often prefer mineral oil. Erlend used semi-synthetic Eni i-Ride Moto 10W-40 at first. But now he gets older and stronger, he uses the clutch more and more when exiting a corner. Now fully synthetic 10W-50 seems to be the better choice. We change oil every 5 hours and examine the used oil carefully.
Motor sport isn't cheap and it is not always easy to find your way in the technology of the sport. That is why the Eni Racing team of Henning and Erlend has a wider goal than Erlends success alone. “We have a different policy. It is more of a social enterprise, in which we also support other riders. We help them in the start of their careers, so they don't have to unlearn mistakes they might learn today. Which, in return, has a positive effect on the brand image: In the sport, the Eni-logo is perceived as something positive. So, to us, it is not just about selling oil, it is much more.
In Trondheim summers are short. The motocross season runs from April to October. In that period, there are several races. Erlend trains two to three times a week. That's pretty intense, not just for Erlend: “Our home track is 45 minutes away. Oslo is a 6-hour drive. The bike has to go in the trailer, behind the car. Which means, dad has to come every time”, Henning laughs. Still, it begs the question about the future: “Until now, we were focused on growing, on getting a bigger toy in a bigger sand box for a bigger boy. But Erlend has to decide whether he wants to pursue this or not. We have come to a point, where we have to set bigger goals. Motocross is an option, but so is Enduro. You have to be 13 years old to participate in Enduro. So, we have to decide which way to go, or to do a mix. It is getting more serious though. He has been riding in the class up to 12 years of age. He's been getting fourth and fifth places. Next year he will be taking part in the class up to 13 years of age. There will be even stronger competition. We will see how he will stand his ground as a rookie!”
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