-- South American WEC Grand Slam For Meo and Nambotin
In what was the hardest day of racing so far in the 2012 Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship, day two of the GP of Argentina brings the EWC’s South American tour to a close.
Battling searing heat and an unrelenting course, Antoine MEO, Juha SALMINEN and Christophe NAMBOTIN were victorious in the three Senior classes on day two. Jonathan MANZI claimed his second win in the Enduro Junior class while Giacomo REDONDI topped the Enduro Youth Cup standings.
With exceptional hot weather and against a stunning Argentina backdrop, the EWC continued to deliver close racing in all classes as riders fought for final honours before returning back to Europe. In total approximately 15,000 spectators watched the world’s best enduro riders in action.
With competitors pushed to their maximum in the dusty terrain day two took its toll on machinery. KTM’s Johnny AUBERT (F) was first to retire when a technical issue ruled him out. Enduro 1 rider Nicolas DEPARROIS (Kawasaki) also failed to finish.
After his disappointment on day one, Finland’s Juha SALMINEN (Husqvarna) bounced back in style to claim the Enduro 2 win on day two. Fighting a tough battle with Spain’s Cristobal GUERRERO (KTM) and Ivan CERVANTES (E- Gas Gas), SALMINEN once again return to the top of the podium in South America.
“This is a perfect way to end this GP,” confirmed SALMINEN. “Of course it was disappointing not to finish yesterday but sometimes these problems happen in racing and it can’t be helped. It’s great to win today after a tough fight with Ivan.”
Finishing second to SALMINEN, GUERRERO won the final special test of the weekend overhaul his fellow countryman and beat CERVANTES by three tenths of a second. With his third place result on day two, CERVANTES now returns to Europe as the early points leader in Enduro 2.
Pierre-Alexandre RENET (F - Husaberg) matched his previous day’s result to finish in fourth place. Italy’s Alex SALVINI (Husqvarna) improved on his eight place of day one to finish fifth while KTM’s Fabio MOSSINI (I) finished in a very strong sixth place.
In Enduro 1, Frenchman Antoine MEO (KTM) continued to lead the way. Recording his second victory of the weekend, and his fourth in South America, MEO comfortably placed 58 seconds clear of Italy’s Simone ALBERGONI (HM Honda).
“Returning to Europe with four wins is the best start to the championship that I could have hoped for,” remarked MEO. “This was a very tough enduro so to come away with the win is another incredible result for me.”
With MEO out front, ALBERGONI, Finland’s Eero REMES (KTM) and Spain’s Lorenzo SANTOLINO (Husqvarna) battled intensely for a podium result. REMES held the advantage fin second during the morning but ALBERGONI determinedly closed the gap on the Finnish rider. Pushing through the scorching heat he beat REMES to end the day as runner up. Behind the Italian, REMES managed to fend off the challenge from SANTOLINO to finish in third place.
SANTOLINO put in his best performance of the year so far to finish fourth - six seconds behind the Finn. France’s Rodrig THAIN (HM Honda), unable to join the battle in front of him, ended day two in fifth beating sixth placed rider Italy’s Thomas OLDRATI (KTM).
France’s Christophe NAMBOTIN (KTM) completed a perfect scorecard for his South American trip by remaining unbeaten in Enduro 3. Third at the end of the first lap, NAMBOTIN quickly found his way to the front of his class after the second Cross Test. Maintaining the lead for the rest of the day, the Frenchman recorded his fourth victory of 2012.
“I made a couple of mistakes this morning and had to push hard to recover from them,” recalled NAMBOTIN. “Riding in the heat made it very physical and tiring but I’m very pleased to leave South America as the points leader in Enduro 3.”
Britain’s David KNIGHT (KTM) once again finished second behind his KTM teammate as he narrowly beat Sweden’s Joakim LJUNGGREN (Husaberg). With the two riders locked in a daylong battle for the runner-up spot, KNIGHT just pipped LJUNGGREN by five tenths of a second at the end of the 12th and final special test.
Unable to maintain the pace set by the top three, Estonia’s Aigar LEOK (TM Racing) finished a distant fourth. Finland’s Marko TARKKALA (Beta) jumped two places from day one to end his day in fifth while Spain’s Oriol MENA (Husaberg) completed the top six.
Leading the way in Enduro Junior, Jonathan MANZI (I - KTM) claimed his second victory of 2012 by winning day two in Argentina. Mathias BELLINO (F - Husaberg), powerless to match the pace of the hard charging Italian, finished in second place. Argentina’s Kevin BENAVIDES (KTM) rewarded the support of his home crowd by finishing third.
Giacomo REDONDI (KTM) enjoyed a perfect weekend in Argentina to claim his second victory in Enduro Youth Cup. Benjamin HERRERA (TM) finished in second place with Stefano CAIMI (KTM) in third.
The Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship continues on May 5/6 with the GP of Euskadi in Muntibar, Spain.
- Day One
Success for Meo, Cervantes and Nambotin on day one in Argentina
Antoine MEO and Christophe NAMBOTIN claimed their third consecutive victories in Enduro 1 and Enduro 3 classes of the 2012 Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship at the GP of Argentina. Spain’s Ivan CERVANTES secured a sensational victory in Enduro 2 to mark his first win with Gas Gas this season while Jonathan MANZI topped the Enduro Junior class.
With riders facing a long and demanding day of racing in the scorching heat of South America, day one at the GP of Argentina in San Juan proved to be a challenging one for all the 146 competitors.
Ivan CERVANTES (E – Gas Gas) secured his first victory in over one and a half years by winning Enduro 2. Marc BOURGEOIS (F- Yamaha) continues to impress in Enduro 1 as he grabbed yet another podium finish. After establishing an early lead in Enduro 2, Finland’s Juha SALMINEN (Husqvarna) became the biggest shock of day one when he retired following a stone getting caught between his front sprocket and chain, locking his rear wheel.
Gas Gas’ Ivan CERVANTES finally ended his one and a half year win drought as he took full advantage of SALMINEN’S misfortune to top Enduro 2. With SALMINEN setting the early pace, the Finnish rider caught a stone in his chain during the third Cross Test, which ended his chance of victory. With the Husqvarna rider out, CERVANTES suddenly found himself with a 30-second advantage. Controlling his lead the Spaniard took a well-earned victory. “I’m so happy to have finally won again,” declared CERVANTES after the podium celebrations. “It’s been a long time since I last won and I’m very grateful to be able to give Gas Gas this important victory.”
Behind CERVANTES a battle ensued between KTM riders Cristobal GUERRERO (E) and Johnny AUBERT (F) for runner up. AUBERT held the initial advantage until GUERRERO upped his pace on the final lap to overhaul the Frenchman and secure second. Finishing in third place, AUBERT put his disappointing results in Chile behind him.
After his win on day two in the GP of Chile, Pierre-Alexandre RENET (F - Husaberg) was unable to repeat his winning result in Argentina and finished in fourth. Although winning the final Cross Test of the day, Italy’s Alex SALVINI (Husqvarna) finished one-second behind in fifth. Fabio MOSSINI (I - KTM) completed the top six.
France’s Christophe NAMBOTIN (KTM) continues to set the pace in Enduro 3. After his double victory in Chile, the KTM rider claimed the win on day one in Argentina. Winning the Friday night Super Test, NAMBOTIN set a relentless pace throughout the day. Topping all but one of the day’s special tests, he claimed a commanding 70-second winning margin over his KTM teammate David KNIGHT (GB).
“It was difficult in the hot conditions but I was able to find a strong pace early on which helped me to open up a healthy lead,” said a pleased NAMBOTIN. “Aside from a small crash in the Extreme Test it’s been another perfect race for me and to be fastest in the overall classification is an added bonus. Hopefully I can repeat these results again tomorrow.”
KTM’s David KNIGHT was the closest challenger to the Frenchman. Finishing in second place, KNIGHT also set the fastest time in the final test to mark yet another solid result in South America. Missing out on the podium in Chile, Sweden’s Joakim LJUNGGREN (Husaberg) finished in third place on a day one in Argentina. Finding conditions to his liking he placed 37 seconds behind KNIGHT.
Estonia’s Aigar LEOK (TM Racing) looked capable of recording a podium result until a crash in the very technical Extreme Test set him back. LEOK eventually recovered to finish fourth. Germany’s Marcus KEHR (KTM) put in a strong ride to finish fifth while Oriol MENA (E - Husaberg) was sixth.
KTM’s Antoine MEO (F) was unstoppable in Enduro 1 as he took another commanding victory. Setting a blistering pace on the opening lap, MEO quickly established an early lead. Fastest in all but the final Enduro Test of the day, the Frenchman earned his third victory of 2012. “This has been another incredible day for me,” confirmed the KTM rider. “I pushed as hard as I could during the morning to try an open up an advantage as I knew it would be difficult once the special tests became rougher. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to push for the overall win as NAMBOTIN was too fast today but I’m so happy to win again.”
Frenchman Marc BOURGEOIS enjoyed a successful day as he finished runner up to MEO. Posting some very consistent times throughout the day, BOURGEOIS secured a very impressive second place in Enduro 1. Following on from his second position on day two at the GP of Chile, Italy’s Simone ALBERGONI (HM Honda) finished in third place.
For Finland’s Eero REMES (KTM) finishing in fourth place was a frustrating end to his day. Battling hard with both BOURGEOIS and ALBERGONI, REMES narrowly lost out on a podium result by less than two seconds. Italy’s Thomas OLDRATI (KTM) finished in fifth beating sixth placed Rodrig THAIN (F – HM Honda) by four-seconds.
In Enduro Junior, Italy’s Jonathon MANZI (KTM) put a stop to Mathias BELLINO’s winning ways as he took victory on day one. With BELLINO (F – Husaberg) finishing five second’s behind the Italian, Argentina’s Kevin BENAVIDES (KTM) rode a terrific race to finish third in front of his home crowd. Italy’s Giacomo REDONDI (KTM) claimed his second victory of the year in the Enduro Youth Cup. Benjamin HERRERA (CHI - TM) finished in second place while Stefano CAIMI (ARG - KTM) was third.
- KTM Report
KTM Enduro Factory rider Christophe Nambotin of France wrapped up Rd. 3 & 4 of the Enduro 3 World Championship in San Juan, Argentina with two more victories and a perfect score card as the tour leaves for Europe.
The past two weekends have not only launched Nambotin into the prospective title orbit but also proved that his biggest rival will come from his own factory team. He and KTM’s David Knight (GB) shadow-boxed their way through Sunday’s 12 tests between them winning eleven. Nambotin was fastest in the class in seven tests and Knight took three leaving only the fourth Enduro test for Husaberg rider Joakim Ljunggren of Sweden.
The weekend started well for Nambotin on the KTM 300 EXC bike when he was overall second fastest and fastest in the E3 class in KTM’s Super Test, the popular Friday night launch of the event that attracted more than 4000 Enduro enthusiasts.
Then on Day One riders faced 4 x 50 km laps ion a soft gravelly surface that tested both man and machine and established that Sunday, when the track had broken up it would be even more draining.
Saturday also confirmed that Nambotin was going to continue to deliver victories similar to the opening rounds 1&2 in Chile last weekend. The French rider set a blistering pace throughout the day and except for one special test, led the field the entire way. He wrapped up his ride with an impressive 70-second winning margin over his KTM teammate David Knight.
Christophe Nambotin after Rd 3: “It was difficult in the hot conditions but I was able to find a strong pace early on which helped me to open up a healthy lead. Aside from a small crash in the Extreme Test it’s been another perfect race for me and to be fastest in the overall classification is an added bonus. Hopefully I can repeat these results again tomorrow.”
KTM’s David Knight also delivered a strong performance on the KTM 500 EXC on Saturday to underline that he is back in form after missing most of last season due to surgery on both hips. Sweden’s Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) finished in third place on a day one, 37 seconds behind Knight. Germany’s Marcus Kehr (KTM) also put in a strong ride to finish fifth. Rain has been absent from San Juan for some considerable time so riders had to survive 4 x 50 km laps on both days in the torrid summer heat with plenty of dust and loose stones to content with.
Conditions in the Extreme Test, which was set over natural terrain were in stark contrast to last week’s races in Chile and took riders along a steep valley with many ravines. Teams now return to Europe after the four South American rounds and the competition resumes in Spain on May 5-6, 2012.
KTM factory rider Cristobal Guerrero completed another confident ride in Rd. 4 of the Enduro 2 World Championships in San Juan Argentina on Sunday when he finished second to claim his second podium in two days.
Teammate Johnny Aubert did not fare so well on Day Two when he had to retire after the second test following his podium third on Saturday. Team boss Fabio Farioli reported after the race that Aubert had experienced what they thought was a technical problem with his bike. “Johnny was unlucky today, we think it was an electrical problem and we’re working to find out what happened,” Farioli said.
He also praised the strong and very fast performance of Guerrero of Spain
this weekend. Guerrero was particularly fast in the cross tests, winning two of
four as riders spent tough days in the saddle working their way through 4 laps
of 50 km and 12 strength sapping tests in total.
While Spanish rider Ivan Cervantes finished on top of the podium on Saturday after Salminen had to retire after catching a stone in his chain, it was left to Guerrero and Aubert to soak up the minor podium places. The two KTM factory riders battled against each other for the honors with Aubert holding the advantage until a last lap spurt by Guerrero allowed him to take second place. Guerrero also proved on Sunday that he is fit enough to last the distance when he finished 1-2 in the day’s final two tests. It was a confidence boosting performance for the Spanish rider in South America ahead of his own home GP in Spain in May.
In 2012 Guerrero is riding the KTM 350 EXC-F and Aubert is on the KTM 450 EXC-F.
Antoine Meo, KTM’s latest E1 signing for the 2012 season leaves South America with four straight World Championship victories in his pocket marking him as an early title favorite for the coming season.
The French rider won both rounds in Chile last weekend and repeated them this weekend in San Juan, a venue on the other side of the Andes that offered soft gravelly terrain in sharp contract with last weekend’s hard pack surface. His E1 factory teammate, Eero Remes of Finland improved on his last week’s performance and with a late burst at the end of the day to take the final test vaulted onto the podium in third place. Meo was the fastest rider in eight of Sunday’s 12 tests with Remes in second place behind him in five of them.
Meo started the weekend with French flair when he was second on his KTM 250 EXC-F in the KTM Super test on Friday night by five tenths of a second to set up the advantage for the third round in Argentina’s San Juan.
Despite the scorching heat of the South American summer and a very demanding day in the saddle, Meo was once again unstoppable in Enduro 1 and stormed home to take his third victory. He set the pace right from the opening lap and was fastest in every test except the final Enduro Test of the day. He was justifiably satisfied with the outcome of the first race in Argentina saying he had had ‘another incredible day’. “I pushed as hard as I could during the morning to try an open up an advantage as I knew it would be difficult once the special tests became rougher. I am so happy to win another Enduro 1 race.” Sunday was to prove that he got his wish.
Frenchman Marc Bourgeois and Simone Albergoni of Italy took the minor places on Saturday while KTM’s Eero Remes finished fourth, missing the third podium spot by less than two seconds.
Rounds three and four were also good for young K TM rider Jonathon Manzi of Italy (KTM) who put a stop to Mathias Bellino’s winning ways taking two EJ victories in San Juan he took victory on both days. Local boy Kevin Benavides thrilled the partisan home crowd when he raced to third place on both days.
KTM also had two podium firsts in the Youth Cup with Italy’s Giacomo Redondi taking two more victories underlining that Italy, with its rich tradition of Enduro sport is more than capable of delivering up and coming talent.
Organizers delivered a cross test that was based on a large motocross track with both jumps and tabletops, made more difficult by Sunday’s Rd. 4 after the hot, dusty and stony track had suffered being cut up by the large number of starters in Saturday's race.NB: Join the Bikebiz MotoGP Tipping Comp' and win prizes!
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