-- Husqvarna dominate World Enduro
season opener, Knight hurts pelvis
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GP AMV SEGUROS of Spain – Day 1
Whilst HUSQVARNA laughs…. KTM winces…
The opening of the MAXXIS FIM ENDURO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP on a balmy, almost summery Saturday, in its first day, the GP AMV SEGUROS is being held at PONTS, a sweet little Catalan town, nestled between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean…
Last night, the 134 riders had already set the tone at the KTM SUPER TEST, held in front of almost 5000 spectators, who were delighted by the speed and technical ability shown by Johnny AUBERT (FR - KTM) who set the best time conclusively of this nocturnal event… and who is also already the E2 leader.
But the KTM FACTORY RACING rider didn’t benefit from this lead, since he had to abandon at the end of the very first lap…. “I had a 13 second lead and all was going well for me, when, having reached the time check, my bike suddenly stopped. My mechanics immediately changed the battery, but there was nothing for it and I had to abandon. It has since been detected that it is an electrical wiring problem. I will, of course, start again tomorrow.”
Much awaited on his territory, for his big debut on the 2 stroke GAS GAS, Ivan CERVANTES (ES - GAS) took the helm of the ENDURO 2 category but was unable to hold out against the irresistible return of Antoine MEO (FR - HVA), who soon forgot about his disappointment at the SUPER TEST and established a lead of nearly 20 second ahead of the quadruple world champion…. “Today wasn’t as easy as the result would suggest. I lack some training since my winter injury on my thumb, but this was clearly an excellent start” confided the E1 World Champion, under the HUSQVARNA wings. Ivan CERVANTES only just achieves the second step on the Podium with a 0.43 second lead on his fellow countryman, Cristobal GUERRERO (ES - KTM).
As predicted, the Enduro 1 category resembles a Finnish championship with three Scandinavian riders led by JUHA SALMINEN (FIN - HVA) who once again gets back on the path to victory after 18 months of drought…..”it feels good to re-establish links with victory and it quietens the sceptics with regards to my potential. But the season will be difficult, as my compatriots are very fast and the French are going to gain in strength!”
The new HUSQVARNA representative establishes himself upon his team mate, Matti SEISTOLA (FIN - HVA), in terms of progress, in the last lap, thereby proving once and for all that he is aiming for an 8th World title which would be a unique feat in the annals of ENDURO. The KTM representative, Eero REMES (FIN - KTM) completes the podium without having worried the two HUSQVARNA riders, but just brushes off the Frenchman Fabien PLANET (FR - SHERCO), marvellous throughout the whole day on his astonishing SHERCO 250.
AUBERT and KNIGHT abandon…
But the first big surprise of the season comes from the ENDURO 3 category where the title-holder, David KNIGHT (GB - KTM) abandons at the end of the second lap… “I twisted my leg violently in the ENDURO TEST when going through a rut and I think I have a pelvic dislocation. I already had this problem a few months back and a scan revealed that I have a serious problem there. I hope that things will be better tomorrow morning, but I’m not very optimistic and I dread an operation that would ruin my season….”.
And wincing with pain and almost in tears, the KTM representative apologised to his technical staff. Having also had a rough ride during the SUPER TEST, Mika AHOLA (FIN - HM HONDA) suffered his lag against an excellent Christophe NAMBOTIN (FR - GAS) who only bowed down in the last two timed sections against the quadruple World Champion. As is often the case, it is Sébastien GUILLAUME (FR - HVA) who completes the podium, ahead of the excellent Oriol MENA (ES - HUSABERG) whilst Taddy BLAZUSIAK (PL - KTM) 5th saves KTM’s honour a little.
There is also a relatively big dispute in the Juniors between the Finnish Anti HELLSTEN (FIN - KTM) and the Frenchman Mathias BELLINO (FR - HSB), remarkable considering that this is his debut in Enduro. But it is the blond Finnish who eventually establishes himself in the very last specials, giving Finland its third victory for this first grand prix of the year. Jonathan MANZI (IT - KTM) completes the podium.
With a title under her belt from last year, the French Ludivine PUY (FR - GAS) had a tough time with Laia SANZ (ES - HONDA) and the brave Blandine DUFRENE (F-GAS GAS) in the women’s category after two gruelling laps of the circuit.
The heat will once again feature tomorrow, for the second day of this Grand Prix, brilliantly organised by the Moto Club CLUB EL SEGRE, where those that were beaten today will be seeking revenge more than ever…
- Day 2
Already hugely affected by the bad luck and loss (for several months ?) of David KNIGHT (GB - KTM), the KTM Factory Racing Team, managed by Fabio FARIOLI continued to accumulate problems during the second day of racing at the Spanish Grand Prix AMV SEGUROS held at PONTS, near LLEIDA.
Forced to abandon yesterday, due to an electrical wiring problem, the double E2 World Champion Johnny AUBERT (FR - KTM) was faced with exactly the same problem today. “Just like yesterday, my bike stopped suddenly at the end of the first lap and this same misfortune happened several minutes later to my team mate, Cristobal GUERRERO (ES - KTM). It is clear that now my task is going to be very difficult for the rest of the season being already 50 points behind Antoine MEO in the championship!” In fact, Cristobal GUERRERO (ES - KTM) was met with the same problem as Johnny AUBERT, and therefore a feeling of defeat, which up until now had never been experienced, was heavily felt in the Austrian group. And as if the “punishment” wasn’t harsh enough, KTM Racing also lost Taddy BLAZUSIAK (PL - KTM), who injured his thumb and will not be racing next weekend. In the memories of those that observed, it has been a long time since a major team competing in this Championship has been faced with such setbacks. But we should rest assured that KTM Racing will do all it can to change their bad luck in the next few days, in order to change this trend starting with the POLISPORT Grand Prix being held in Portugal next weekend.
This Grand Prix has been the one of doubles in all categories, with the best success shown by Juha SALMINEN (FIN - HVA) in Enduro 1 and another for the constructors category for HUSQVARNA since Matti SEISTOLA (FIN - HVA) finishes second in front of the excellent Fabien PLANET (FR - SHERCO). He in turn offers a fantastic first podium result in World Championship for the French firm SHERCO, managed by Marc TEYSSIER. Rodrig THAIN (FR - HM HONDA) is a few seconds in front of PLANET whereas the KTM representatives Tomas OLDRATI (IT - KTM) and Eero REMES (FIN - KTM) who fell several times, were only 5th and 6th consecutively…
HUSQVARNA and Antoine MEO (FR - HVA) also achieve well in Enduro 2, despite an excellent Ivan CERVANTES (ES - GAS) who affirms is rapid his adaption of the 250 GAS GAS 2 stroke. “This result is atmosphere and almost unexpected for me. The whole team at GAS GAS works hard and the ambience is excellent in the team.” regaled the one who they call “El toro rosso”!
Pierre ALexandre RENET (FR - HUSABERG) manages a good second day and climbs to the E2 podium where we also see the well-placed dutchman Hans VOGELS (NL - HUSABERG) and the private Belgian rider Francois GOBLET (YAMAHA).
Mika AHOLA (FIN - HM HONDA) was once again imperial throughout the day in the Enduro 3 and and only Christophe NAMBOTIN (FR - GAS) was able to keep up somewhat with the one that many consider to be the best ENDURO rider currently. A return to the first plan (third) for the great Finnish rider Marko TARKKALA (FIN - HUSABERG) who achieves podium results in the first two specials ahead of Sébastien GUILLAUME (FR - HVA), on the brand new 300 HUSABERG 2stroke.
Based in Spain for a large part of the winter months, the Finnish riders have proven that this method is well-founded throughout the weekend since the very promising Anti HELLSTEN (FIN - KTM) achieves as his elders SALMINEN and AHOLA an impeccable double in the ENDURO JUNIORS. Benoit FORTUNATO (FR - YAM) and Jeremy JOLY (FR - HM HONDA) also score some big points and Jonathan MANZI (IT - KTM) takes the helm of the FIM YOUTH CUP 125cc 2-stroke….. bringing, together with HELLSTEIN, some hope to the dejected KTM clan.
Like yesterday, Ludiviny PUY (FR - GAS) wins the women’s category but Laia SANZ (ES - HONDA) makes some progress everytime she comes out and Blandine DUFRENE (FR - GAS) appears to be positioning herself as the outsider of the ENDURO WOMEN.
After a well-deserved night of rest, all the participants of the MAXXIS FIM ENDURO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP will head as of Monday in the direction of Portugal and the Vale de Cambra where an already important Grand Prix for some will take place for the stars of the World Enduro Championship…. and we readily recommend that you turn to EUROSPORT 2 this Thursday at 9pm, to see the best moments of the GP AMV SEGUROS Spain, that will remain in the annals of Enduro history and that was followed by nearly 20 000 enthusiasts.
- Husqvarna Report
Success for Husqvarna CH Racing Monster Energy Team at ’11 Enduro World Championship opener…
Finland’s Juha Salminen and France’s Antoine Meo take early leads in Enduro 1 and Enduro 2 world championship standings, Matti Seistola and Seb Guillaume also finish on the podium
The opening round of the 2011 Enduro World Championship has delivered much in the way of success for the Husqvarna CH Racing Monster Energy Team with no fewer than five team riders enjoying podium success, with Juha Salminen and Antoine Meo taking early leads in the Enduro 1 and Enduro 2 classes respectively. With Juha and team-mate Matti Seistola claiming a double one-two finish at the top of the E1 class things couldn’t have gone better for the team. And with Antoine Meo joining Salminen in securing a double winning result in the Enduro 2 class the squad had much to be pleased about as they began early preparations for the second round of the series in Portugal next weekend.
Making his WEC debut for the team aboard a 250cc four-stoke machine, Juha Salminen immediately showed that he’s ready to do all that he can to secure world title #8 this season. Putting his many years of experience to good use Salminen trailed team-mate Seistola for much of the day before a mistake by Matti saw Juha move into the class lead. Simply making fewer mistakes than his rivals Salminen made the best possible start to his E1 championship campaign finishing 10 seconds ahead of his team-mate and claiming a deserved victory. For Seistola the disappointment of letting the win slip through his fingers was soon overcome as he claimed a strong runner-up result, ensuring a memorable one-two result for Husqvarna. Day two saw Salminen and Seistola again back on the top two steps of the E1 class podium. With Salminen taking control at the front of the class Seistola had to overcome an early mistake on the extreme test to fight his way back into contention. Eventually claiming the runner-up spot Matti finished just nine seconds behind his countryman and team-mate.
Juha Salminen – Enduro 1: ‘It’s been a great weekend for me. Also a tough weekend because the track was really bumpy and dusty, but winning both days is a great start to the championship. It’s been a good weekend, with good results, and I’m pleased that we can put the first race behind us now and focus on the rest of the championship and hopefully continue with similar results. I felt really comfortable on my bike and generally didn’t have any problems on either day. I think the important thing was that I didn’t make any mistakes, that really helped me. I would have liked to be a few seconds faster but after the last few years not going so well it’s nice to be competitive again, and competitive all the way through both days. I was able to push as hard at the end of the days as I was at the start, which was great. I’m happy with everything, it’s a great start to the championship.’
Matti Seistola – Enduro 1: ‘It’s been a great start to the world championship for me, I’m really pleased all the work during the winter paid off as I felt strong during both days and with good speed, too. The first day was really good. I did make one mistake, on the enduro test, which cost me the win. But to see that my speed was good and to start the championship on the podium was great. I didn’t feel great at the start of the second day and then made a big mistake on the first extreme test, which cost me 15 seconds. Before the last lap I was in fifth place and about 16 seconds behind the other riders, so to finish second again is great. I had to work really hard throughout the weekend, so it’s an even better result for me. Juha rode really well and without mistakes, so to finish behind him on both days was just great. A fantastic start to the year.’
As last year’s Enduro 1 World Champion all eyes were on Antoine Meo at the GP of Spain and the start of his expected Enduro 2 title fight with countryman Johnny Aubert. But making a costly mistake during the Friday night Super Test and then another early on day one Meo was forced to pull out all the stops in order to claim victory. With Aubert sidelined with a mechanical problem on day one Meo showed the kind of form that saw him win his first EWC title last year, eventually placing 20 seconds ahead of Spaniard Ivan Cervantes. Day two saw a second victory for Meo as he again proved to be too fast for his E2 class rivals. Not making any mistakes Antoine pushed himself and his bike hard throughout the day to again finish ahead of Cervantes. In doing so he took an early and important lead in the Enduro 2 championship standings. Competing alongside Antoine in the E2 class was Simone Albergoni who made a strong start to the series placing fifth on day one and fourth on day two.
Antoine Meo – Enduro 2: ‘I never imagined the first race of the year would end up like it has. The race itself was very physical and really took a lot out of me. But winning on both days is great. I’m disappointed that Johnny Aubert wasn’t able to finish either day, because for the championship it’s not a good thing. But I had my work cut out keeping Ivan Cervantes behind me. But I felt like I rode well on both days. Being in a new class and on a new bike it means that the first race is really important to see where you are, and how fast you are. And my speed was good. I was nervous before the start and made a mistake on the Friday night Super Test and lost eight seconds. Then at the start of the first day I crashed on the enduro test and had to work hard to come back. On the second day I didn’t make any mistakes and, well, I’m really happy to be leading the E2 world championship.’
Playing his part in ensuring Husqvarna placed on the podium in all three senior classes on day one Seb Guillaume claimed a hard fought third place result in the competitive Enduro 3 class, just over 30 seconds behind winner Mika Ahola. In contention for a top two result right up until the final enduro test of the opening day a mistake by the Frenchman left him unable to finish higher than third. On day two Seb narrowly missed the podium, placing just seven seconds adrift of the final rostrum spot.
Seb Guillaume – Enduro 3: ‘Third on the first day was good for me. I crashed in the last enduro test, which is when I lost contact with Ahola and Nambotin. Before that I was riding well and fighting with the other riders, so I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish higher than third. But third is still a good start to the championship. I lost a lot of time on the first extreme test on the first lap of the second day and then lost a lot of time because I lost me rear brake. I could see that I wasn’t going to be able to fight back onto the podium so I’m happy with fourth. It’s been a good start to the year.’
In the junior division Giacomo Redondi made his Enduro World Championship debut with a runner-up result in the 125cc Youth Cup his best result.
Giacomo Redondi – Enduro Junior: ‘It’s my first Enduro World Championship race so everything was new for me, but I’m pleased with everything. I had one very big crash on the first day but I still managed to finish second in the 125cc class. I was faster on the second day than on day one but I crashed on the enduro test. After the second lap I was 10th in the Enduro Junior class and second in the 125s, which I was happy with. I had a small problem during the last two tests, which didn’t help, but I enjoyed the competition and learned many, many things.’
- Honda Report
The opening of the Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship began on a balmy, almost summery Saturday, at the GP AMV Seguros held in Ponts, a sweet little Catalan town, nestled between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean.
Honda HM Zanardo rider, Mika Ahola got off to the best possible start for his 2011 championship campaign by taking victory on both days in superb style.
Ahola, who has stepped up to E3 this year, sent out a message to all of his rivals as he dominated two days of competition. Reigning E3 Champion, David Knight, was powerless to stop him; forced to sit on the sidelines after injuring himself badly at the end of the second lap on Day 1. Honda Pro Racing wishes a speedy recovery to Knight and hope to see him back soon.
Mika Ahola was only briefly troubled by Christophe Nambotin who eventually lost pace with the flying Finn in the last two timed sections of the day, as the quadruple World Champion began to show his true class.
Mika Ahola was once again imperial throughout Day 2 in the E3 class. Again Nambotin was the only rider able to keep up somewhat with the Honda man who is currently at the top of his game!
All will now head towards Portugal and the Vale de Cambra for the next Grand Prix in the World Enduro Championship which takes place this coming weekend.
Mika Ahola, Honda HM Zanardo
“When I walked the special I was thinking that it looked like my kind of race and was feeling really positive about things. It was natural and fast and my sort of terrain. I started with really bad luck though, crashing in the Super Test Prologue which affected my start position. I also had brake problems at the start of Day 1 which meant that I really needed to push to gain back the time. I knew the French guys on two-strokes would be fast but Nambotin’s pace really surprised me. With Knight out of the picture for the time being, I think he will be my strongest competitor throughout the first part of the season.”
- KTM Report
KTM's E1 and EJ riders best of the factory team in Ponts Spain
KTM's younger factory riders and supported riders emerged the best for KTM in the first two rounds of the Enduro World Championship held in Ponts, Spain on Saturday and Sunday.
Eero Remes of Finland was third on the podium on Saturday but on Sunday crashed in the Enduro test, lost time and was unable to close the gap, finally finishing in sixth place. Teammate Thomas Oldrati of Italy finished sixth on Saturday and on Sunday was locked in a close 1-2 battle with eventual double winner Juha Salminen in the final test then he too crashed, sacrificing four seconds to eventually finish in fifth place in Round 2.
The Enduro Junior Class proved to be fertile ground for the youngest KTM riders with KTM Nordic-supported rider Antti Hellsten of Finland winning both rounds for 50 championship points. KTM-supported rider Jonathan Manzi of Italy also had an excellent weekend with a third and second podium places for the two rounds and victory in the Youth Cup division. Manzi is now just eight points behind Hellsten in the standings.
Cristobal Guerrero scores only E2 podium for KTM in Rounds 1&2
While Friday night at the first rounds of the E2 world championship started with promise when KTM's E2 factory rider Johnny Aubert put on a perfect display of speed and technical ability to win the KTM Super Test, the weekend, except for a fine third placed podium by Cristobal Guerrero on Saturday, failed to deliver for the team.
Guerrero of Spain rode exceptionally well in Round 1 finishing only half a second behind countryman Ivan Cervantes in the race that was won by Frenchman Antoine Meo. Teammate Johnny Aubert was fastest in the first two tests but then had to retire with technical problems.
Aubert: "I had a 13 second lead and all was going well for me then my bike stopped at the time check. My mechanics immediately changed the battery, but there was nothing for it and I had to abandon."
The team's uncharacteristic string of bad luck ran over into Sunday when both riders were forced to retire from Round 2. The team now has to regroup and prepare for the next two rounds in Portugal.
Difficult weekend for KTMs E3 riders in Ponts Spain
The first two rounds of the World Enduro Championship in Ponts, Spain on Saturday and Sunday were fraught with difficulties for KTM Enduro Factory Team.
Saturday was a huge blow for the team's reigning E3 World Champion David Knight of Britain who was forced to abandon at the end of the second lap. "I twisted my leg badly in the Enduro Test when I went through a rut and I think I have a pelvic dislocation," David told his team when he abandoned, obviously in extreme pain. He was unable to start on Sunday and factory team boss Fabio Farioli reported on Sunday that it is possible that he may need surgery. This comes as a huge blow for the Isle of Man rider and multi world champion who is a passionate competitor.
The weekend was only marginally better for the team's second E3 rider, Taddy Blazusiak, the KTM Extreme Enduro specialist who this year is to ride selected E3 World Championship rounds. Taddy, who is also the Indoor World Champion finished in a creditable fifth in Round 1 on Saturday also crashed and had to abandon on Sunday with an injured forefinger. Fabio Farioli said he may also not be able to ride in the next two rounds in Portugal.