All systems go for Hard Enduro
After a stop-start beginning to 2021, the inaugural FIM Hard Enduro World Championship will get up and running again with the Abestone Hard Enduro in Italy this weekend. The series did get underway with the XL Lagares event in May but with no points awarded as COVID restrictions prevented many racers from being able to compete, then the ErzbergRodeo which was to be round two was cancelled, thus this weekend marks the real beginning for the new FIM Hard Enduro World Championship as the series heads to Italy for the Abestone Hard Enduro.
World renowned for its motorcycling passion, Italy was one of the originating countries of Hard Enduro thanks to events like Hells Gate, but in recent years has been out of the international spotlight. With Abestone Hard Enduro taking centre stage this weekend, all that is about to change.
Boasting altitude of almost 2,000 metres, with challenging mountain peaks and deep, forestry covered valleys there’s a lot on offer for all competitors. As one of the sport’s top riders, race organiser Michele Bosi has created a track that will both test the best in the world and offer a wealth of enjoyment to our amateur riders.
Three Days Of Hard Enduro
Easing us into the event, Friday is all about the short, natural Extreme Test competitors will warm up on, while also determining the starting order for Saturday – the day of Time Trial qualification. Laid out across the two peaks of Val di Luce and l’Ovovia, racing begins in earnest on Saturday with a fast but technical 10-kilometre course ridden three times throughout the day. With a rider’s best timed run counting, the top 50 competitors qualify through to Sunday’s feature race, with the remaining entry contesting Sunday’s morning race.
Things heat up for Sunday’s action when all eyes turn to the afternoon Super Final to see who will come out on top for the first time this season. Ramping up the difficulty, the forestry sections become slower and extremely technical as riders battle loose rock, steep climbs and equally steep descents as they fight to complete the 20-kilometre-long course within the available three-hour time limit. With very little room to recover between sections, it’s sure to reward those who’ve done their homework.
Who’s On Form
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt proved near enough untouchable on the Endurocross style circuit in Portugal. He’s since secured himself a podium result in FIM EnduroGP, showing both his speed and technical ability are on point. With eyes set on the top step of the podium in Italy, only a winning start to the series will do for Billy. However, teammate Graham Jarvis carded a surprising third in Portugal. Getting into the mountains, Graham, and Husqvarna’s third rider Alfredo Gomez, will no doubt be feeling even more at home in the undulating and technical terrain.
“I’ve had some really good bike-time coming into this event. Since I raced at the EnduroGP here in Italy, I’ve stayed around and rode in the mountains in preparation for this one. I’ve ridden at a lot of riding spots similar to what we’ll see this weekend, so I’m feeling confident for this one. It’s going to be a new race for everyone, which I think levels the playing field a little and it looks like it’s going to be a really technical and difficult event that I think will favour me. It’s three days of racing so my focus will be on not making mistakes and then by Sunday evening we’ll hopefully be near the sharp end of the field.”
“I feel really good ahead of this race and I’m really looking forward to it. In a way it’s like round one because of how the season started, so for myself and I think everyone, it’s going to be a really exciting event. It’s new for everyone and I think that if I can ride like I have been riding during training then I think I can be competitive. I’m looking for a good result to begin the season and I can’t wait to get started on Friday.”
“This weekend will be a brand-new event added to the calendar, which is a great thing for the sport and the series. With it being new, no one can really know how it’s going to turn out, which adds a little excitement to it. I think it’ll be really good. I’ve been riding a lot recently, not specifically in preparation for this event, but it looks technical and certainly features a lot of terrain and sections that will suit me. Overall, it’s great to be back racing and to finally get the Hard Enduro season underway.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler enjoyed a strong ride at Extreme XL Lagares despite having limited Endurocross training prior to the race. Also honing his skill set in Classic Enduro, the German has what it takes to stop Bolt in his tracks.
Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young and Mario Roman are two riders who have also been busy in the lead up to Abestone Hard Enduro. Roman has claimed podium results in the USA, with Young doing similar in Europe. Both favour the going when it’s tough, so expect them to rise to the fore in the closing stages on Sunday.
Vision Track Beta’s Jonny Walker showed he’s lost none of his pace with a stunningly fast hot lap in Portugal. While opting not to race on the Sunday due to a niggling injury, at Abetone, Walker will be aiming high. Benefiting from extra time to get fully set up on his new ride, delivering Beta a home win would be a dream result.
GASGAS Factory Racing’s Taddy Blazusiak and Michael Walkner will also be pushing for a top-five result, as will Trece Racing Society’s Pol Tarres on his Yamaha. TTR Squadra Corse look to come out swinging on home soil with their three riders Travis Teasdale, Kevin Gallas and Alessandro Azzalini. All earning strong results in the Italian national series, all are looking good on their GASGAS machinery.
“I’m excited that we’re going racing again. It’s been the longest off-season for me ever, I think. I had a good warm-up at the EnduroGP of Italy, and it gave me a full weekend of racing to test my shoulder. Now, I’m really looking forward to starting our thing – the Hard Enduro World Championship. I’m feeling good, everything seems to be working well. The bike is absolutely awesome! The race in Italy looks like it going to be a tough one, but I can’t wait to get started.”
Across the entire weekend, and in keeping with the spirit of Hard Enduro, no outside assistance is permitted during the race. Whoever stands on the top step of the podium will have truly mastered the Abestone Hard Enduro.
The Abestone Hard Enduro takes place in Abetone, Tuscany on July 9-11.
2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship calendar
Round 1: Extreme XL Lagares – Portugal, May 7/8/9 (No Points)
Round 2: Red Bull Erzbergrodeo – Austria, June 3/4/5/6 ( Cancelled)
Round 3: Abestone Hard Enduro – Italy, July 9/10/11
Round 4: Red Bull Romaniacs – Romania, July 27/28/29/30/31
Round 5: Red Bull TKO – USA, August 13/14/15
Round 6: HERO Challenge – Poland, September 11/12
Round 7: Hixpania Hard Enduro – Spain, October 1/2/3
Round 8: GetzenRodeo – Germany, October 29/30