Securing the win on the final day of racing in Romania, Manuel Lettenbichler claimed his debut victory in WESS. He was joined on the podium by Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Alfredo Gomez (ESP) and Graham Jarvis (GB).
Holding the provisional lead at the end of the penultimate day, Lettenbichler was determined to claim the top step of the podium on the final day of racing. With a slender one-minute and seven-second lead over Gomez, the German pushed hard from the off and following the early climbs maintained his position at the front.
Gomez appeared to struggle to find his rhythm early on, dropping back behind a charging Jonny Walker (GB). The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider was on top form and provisionally led on corrected time entering the service point.
But with heavy rain greeting riders, the already challenging trails proved slippery and unpredictable. Gomez found his rhythm in the rain and brought the fight back to Lettenbichler. The duo swapped and changed position with each passing section.
Lettenbichler entered the Gusterita finishing arena first and worked hard to complete the remaining climbs as quickly as possible. Anxiously waiting for Gomez to arrive, the KTM rider kept one eye on the clock and one on his rival as the seconds ticked by.
The nerves soon turned to joy and with Lettenbichler declared the winner, the celebrations could begin. For Gomez it was a case of close, but not close enough. Despite giving his best effort on arguably the toughest day of this year’s race it was not to be and he had to settle for the runner-up result. Putting hopes of another victory in this year’s championship on hold, Jarvis ended his week on the third step of the podium.
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER)
“I’m over the moon right now, I really can’t believe it. This race is really something special and to win here feels amazing. The event is so long and so hard and anything can happen, so I’m so pumped to take the win. It’s been an incredible five days and so gnarly, especially with all the rain we’ve had. Some of the uphills that would have been tricky anyway have become near impossible today. It’s 10 years since my dad won Red Bull Romaniacs so it’s great to be able to match his achievement – the Lettenbichlers are definitely going to celebrate tonight!”
Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP)
“It’s been an amazing race, I’m so happy to get on the podium. The first day didn’t go so well for me but then on the second day I had a better feeling on the bike and was able to take the win. The last two days also went well and it was great to have such a close fight with Mani and Graham. Obviously I’m disappointed not to have taken the win but it still feels great to come second after such a long and demanding race. Thank you to everyone who helped me over the event – my team and all the fans – I’ll come back even stronger next year.”
“It was definitely the hardest day today – it was so slippery on the hills after the rain and there was a lot of pushing. I’m happy just to get to the finish today – I was going well up to the service point then I had a crash and lost my GPS. After that I just tried to tag onto the other riders so I knew where to go. I did get lost a couple of times, so I’m really happy to get third. Overall the event has gone well, it’s been one of the closest and I’m happy that I was still in contention right up to the end.”
With the top three proving themselves the main contenders, Blazusiak was a definite improver as the week wore on. Hampered by his technical issue on day one, a strong ride on the final two days brought him back up the leaderboard for fourth. A really strong ride from Walker for third on Off Road Day Four, saw him complete the top five in the final classification.
“Considering what happened on day one, I’m happy with how things went. On the second day, I knew I had lost a lot of time so just kept to a solid pace to avoid making any mistakes. After that things went well and I was able to push. I was hoping for a podium, but unfortunately, I simply lost too much time early on. Still, to place fourth in what is my first ever finish at Romaniacs is not bad at all. This race is tough and especially like today when it’s raining it really pushes you to the limit. Experience and set up is also really important so I’ll take what I’ve learned and come back stronger next year.”
“Obviously it’s not been the best Romaniacs for me, it would have been nice to get on top of the podium again, but I have to take some positives from the race. I started off strong but was struggling on a lot of the hills and that was tiring me out too much, especially as my wrist is still a concern. I kept going though and then for the last day we made some big changes to the bike and suspension and it seemed to work really well – I led the final day for a good while. I’m pleased with how things ended up and feel I’ve finally turned things around now for the WESS championship. Really looking forward to my home race at Hawkstone Park now.”
Behind the top five, drama struck Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman. Holding fourth overall, the Spaniard had a bad day at the office in seventh. Despite a strong three days previous, he slipped to seventh overall. His loss was Billy Bolt’s gain, with the British rider moving up to sixth overall.
Signing off on an impressive week, JD Gunnex KTM Racing privateer David Cyprian (CZ) placed ninth in the rain to end round five eighth overall. TTR Officine Rigamonti’s Pol Tarres (ESP) and Josep Garcia (KTM-ESP) completed the top 10 in ninth and tenth respectively.
Anthony Solar was the first Australian home in the Gold Class at Red Bull Romaniacs. With a Silver top 10 finish on his first trip in 2017, he returned to the event this year to go for Gold against the best Extreme riders in the World. He completed the event in 23rd outright.
Countrymen Chris Perry and Adam Giles also took on the Gold Class challenge and while Perry made it to the last day he had to join Giles in the list of non-finishers. Still, massive respect to these guys for taking on Romaniacs in the premier category. Chris Perry spoke to Wildwood promoter Steven Braszell after the event.
“Couldn’t make it through the race track today, I was just too worn out and then with all the rain the track was just impossible. I’m totally fucked now but I’m definitely training and coming back next year! Some of these gold sections we done are just so far ridiculous I can’t explain it!”
In the Silver class a final day win for Britain’s Sam Winterburn couldn’t deny Spain’s Josu Artola the top step of the podium. Opting to play safe and settle for second was enough to see the Spaniard win the Silver category outright. Spain’s Alberto Aramburu placed third overall in Silver.
Josu Artola (Husqvarna – ESP) – Silver Class Winner
“I’m so pleased to win the Silver Class. I won the first three days and it would have been great to have posted the fastest time today, but I decided it would be better to take it steady to make sure I got the victory. The hills were so slippery and at Red Bull Romaniacs anything can happen, so I just followed today’s winner to the finish. It feels great to win here at one of the toughest races – I’m so happy.”
Shane Moss was the first Aussie home in the Silver category, finishing 18th while Adam Poole was 24th and Tim Gibson 39th.
Romania’s Radu Sardarescu grabbed the final day’s win, but shadowing him home for second saw Poland’s Marcin Welglarz claim the overall Bronze class victory. In the final classification he was joined on the podium by Eric Slominski (USA) and Jean Michel Vigand (FRA).
Brent Brady was the first Australian home in Bronze with a highly creditable sixth place. Countrymen Cameron Brice scored 22nd, Christian Barrett 33rd, Jason Beaton 49th, Raymond Borg 51st, Robert Kingston 73rd and Nicholas Kirk 74th.
History was made in the Iron class with Anna Schmolzl becoming the first woman to ever win a category in Red Bull Romaniacs. The German was a model of consistency this week never faltering outside the top three, earning her a commanding 20-minute margin of victory over Danny Melvin (USA) and Mexico’s Eduardo Martinez.
First Aussie home in Iron was Aaron Mcfadzen in 35th. Dominic Dercole was 48th, Brenden Murphy 63rd and Joshua Devine 64th.
Congratulations and respect to all the Australian riders that had a go, finishing or not.
The World Enduro Super Series continues with round six at Hawkstone Park Cross-Country, UK on September 21-22.
2019 Red Bull Romaniacs
Day Four Results
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 5:37:59
Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 5:39:16
Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 5:43:27
Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 5:46:11
Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 5:53:39
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 6:54:00
Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 6:55:41
Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 7:05:03
David Cyprian (KTM – CZ) 7:17:24
Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 7:24:43…
Sam Winterburn (GB) 4:57:55
Josu Artola (ESP) 5:02:00
Alberto Aramburu (ESP) 5:06:13
Emanuel Gyenes (ROU) 5:14:09…
Radu Sardarescu (ROU) 4:33:18
Marcin Welglarz (POL) 4:35:26
Eric Slominski (USA) 4:35:43
Marius Muntean (ROU) 4:37:38
Mark Galbraith (NZL) 4:49:25…
Tom Simpson (GB) 4:11:57
Danny Melvin (USA) 4:17:54
Anna Schmolzl (GER) 4:26:32
Eduardo Martinez (MEX) 4:25:01…
2019 Red Bull Romaniacs
Final Overall Classificiation
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 20:39:51
Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 20:42:15
Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 20:52:12
Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 21:25:36
Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 21:30:40
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 23:16:34
Mario Roman (Sherco – ESP) 23:36:25
David Cyprian (KTM – CZ) 23:48:33
Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 24:42:30
Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 25:08:26…
Josu Artola (ESP) 18:57:20
Sam Winterburn (GB) 19:39:55
Alberto Aramburu (ESP) 20:18:14
Emanuel Gyenes (ROU) 20:31:54
Dustin McCarthy (USA) 20:35:35…
Marcin Weglarz (POL) 17:43:32
Eric Slominski (USA) 17:53:43
Jean Michel Vigand (FRA) 18:03:04
Radu Sardarescu (ROU) 18:17:13
Brent Brady (AUS) 18:45:04…
Anna Schmolzl (GER) 16:09:43
Danny Melvin (USA) 16:31:13
Eduardo Martinez (MEX) 16:35:17
Tom Simpson (GB) 16:48:18
Agostino Crema (ITA) 17:11:07…
WESS Championship Standings (After round 5)
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 3570 pts
Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 3460 pts
Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 3164
Mario Roman (Sherco – ESP) 2940 pts
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 2725 pts
Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 2700 pts
Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 2615 pts
Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 2590 pts
Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 2091 pts
Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 1965 pts…
WORLD ENDURO SUPER SERIES
Round 1: Toyota Porto Extreme XL Lagares (Portugal) May 10-12
Round 2: Trèfle Lozérien AMV (France) May 17-19
Round 3: Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble (Austria) May 30-June 2
Round 4: Hixpania Hard Enduro (Spain) June 21-23
Round 5: Red Bull Romaniacs (Romania) July 30-August 3
Round 6: Hawkstone Park Cross Country (United Kingdom) September 21-22
Round 7: BR2 Enduro Solsona (Spain) October 5-6
Round 8: GetzenRodeo (Germany) November 2
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