The World Enduro Super Series enters the second half of the 2019 season with Britain’s Graham Jarvis leading the title chase on to round five at Red Bull Romaniacs. In the battle to become this year’s Ultimate Enduro Champion the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider tops the standings from Germany’s Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM), with Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman (ESP) close behind in third.
One of Enduro’s most-popular events, the 16th edition of Red Bull Romaniacs will see competitors travel to Sibiu from far and wide. The United Kingdom has the largest number of competitors at 79, followed by Germany with 60 and Australia with 31. A truly international event, riders from Hong Kong, American Samoa and Indonesia will also take to the start.
Always a challenge, Red Bull Romaniacs has long been regarded as the world’s toughest Hard Enduro Rallye, and for good reason. Gearing up for its 16th edition, to affectionally be known as ‘Sweet 16’, the vast and expansive wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains are sure to serve up plenty of bite to go with the event’s formidable bark.
As per tradition, host city Sibiu will kick things off on Tuesday July 30 with the infamous Urban Prologue, before the bumper entry of competitors from over 50 nations embark on four ultra-demanding and testing off-road days in the surrounding mountains.
As the fourth championship leader in as many races, Graham Jarvis will arrive in Romania in peak form and off the back of winning rides at rounds three and four. With a record-breaking six Red Bull Romaniacs wins already to his credit, the Husqvarna rider is determined to top the podium once again and with it increase his lead at the top of the WESS standings.
However, a long list of the world’s best Enduro riders will be focused on denying 44-year-old Jarvis his 2019 WESS hat-trick. Sitting just 120 points behind him in second position is Manuel Lettenbichler. The privateer has been on top form throughout the series, edging ever closer to that breakthrough win. In 2018 he was one of the event’s main contenders and will be expecting to fight for victory once more.
Thirty points behind Lettenbichler, Mario Roman in third is another rider delivering the goods in 2019. Already a podium finisher in all Hard Enduro races he has contested, the Sherco rider is eager to add another victory to his WESS tally. A rider who prefers the long days that Red Bull Romaniacs offers, Roman will arrive to Sibiu ready to impress.
As the 2018 winner of Red Bull Romaniacs, Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young is a rider who can’t be overlooked. Excited to start the 16th edition of the world’s toughest Hard Enduro Rallye with #1 on his bike, he will be a formidable force in the Carpathian Mountains. The South African is a powerful talent when it comes to mastering the long, energy-sapping off-road days and will be one of the main favourites for glory this time around.
Delivering some career best performances in 2019, Spain’s Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna) came agonisingly close to winning round four, just losing out on a tie-breaker to teammate Jarvis. A multi-time podium finisher at Red Bull Romaniacs, the Spaniard has what it takes to reach the top.
Regaining confidence with a strong fifth overall at round four, defending WESS champion Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) is beginning to put his pre-season injuries behind him. Hoping to continue that pace in Romania, Bolt will unquestionably be a rider to keep an eye on.
For Red Bull KTM Factory Racing the focus in Romania will be on returning to the podium having missed out since round two in France where Josep Garcia (ESP) topped Trefle Lozerien AMV. As the team’s only race winner in 2019 Garcia lies sixth overall ahead of teammate Jonny Walker (GB), Taddy Blazusiak (POL) and Nathan Watson (GB). While Classic Enduro specialists Garcia and Watson shouldn’t trouble the top five, both Walker and Blazusiak know they need podium results to return to the title fight.
A two-time winner of Red Bull Romaniacs, and third overall in 2018, Walker will aim to put his experience to good use for the weeklong event. Blazusiak put in a strong showing during the opening days last year only to have his race cut short due to food poisoning. He will hope for better luck this time around.
Seventh in 2018, Czech rider David Cyprian’s strengths lie in long distance races like Red Bull Romaniacs. A rider who lets his riding do the talking, JD Gunnex KTM mounted Cyprian tends to chip away at the results each day, getting faster as the week goes on. South Africa’s Travis Teasdale is another rider to watch out for on his Eurotek KTM. Lying 10th in the standings, Teasdale will be citing Red Bull Romaniacs as his breakthrough ride of the season. TTR Officine Rigamonti’s Pol Tarres (ESP) impressed with eighth at Hixpania Hard Enduro and targets another top-10 result at round five.
With up to 34 competitors entered in the Gold class, additional riders to watch out for include USA’s Keith Curtis (KTM), South Africa’s Matthew Green (Husqvarna) and Brett Swanepoel (Husqvarna), Austria’s Michael Walkner (KTM), Australia’s Chris Perry, Italian’s Michele Bosi (Husqvarna) and Sonny Goggia (Husqvarna) plus Israel’s Suff Sella. Placing 34th at round four, Sandra Gomez (Husqvarna) will contest the Gold class for the first time at Red Bull Romaniacs.
Regarded as the world’s toughest Hard Enduro Rallye, Red Bull Romaniacs begins on Tuesday July 30 with the city prologue in Sibiu before leading riders out into the wilderness of the surrounding Carpathian Mountains for four days of unforgettable Enduro riding. Filled with 12 artificial Enduro obstacles, Tuesday’s prologue will ensure a spectacular start to the 16th edition of the race as competitors go head-to-head in a series of qualifier races that determine the starting order for the opening day of racing.
Getting down to the business end of things, the four off-road days are a true test of stamina, skill, endurance and very often, determination. Starting at dawn, each day takes competitors deep into mountainous terrain as they scale isolated mountain peaks and navigate vast expanses of single-track forestry. Managing both machine and body, often riding alone and up to eight hours each day, is key to success in Romania.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.