Italy’s Andrea Verona (GASGAS) claimed first blood at the end of the first full day of competition at the opening round of the 2022 FIM EnduroGP World Championship, the GP of Spain held in Lalin.
In what boiled down to a three-way fight for victory, the GASGAS Factory Racing rider emerged victorious from the final Just1 Enduro Test to secure his maiden EnduroGP overall win. With less than four seconds separating the top three, Britain’s Steve Holcombe (Beta) and Australia’s Will Ruprecht (TM) completed the EnduroGP podium on day one.
New Zealand’s Hamish Macdonald was sixth fastest on Day One, while Aussie Daniel Milner was 11th overall, but seventh in the E2 class.
Josep Garcia gave his Spanish fans plenty to cheer about on day two of the 2022 FIM EnduroGP World Championship opener in Lalin, Spain, as the KTM Factory Racing star battled his way to the top step of the EnduroGP podium in impressive style.
Day one winner Andrea Verona continued to prove himself to be a serious contenderby backing up his day one victory with a runner-up finish to Garcia on day two. Defending EnduroGP champion Brad Freeman (Beta) regrouped impressively following a disappointing performance on the opening day to complete the overall top three.
Ruprecht was just off the overall podium on Day 2 in fourth but second E2 rider, ahead of Macdonald in fifth, while Milner improved to 10th overall and fifth in the E2 class.
EnduroGP of Spain, Day One
The long-anticipated start of the 2022 WPTGlobal FIM EnduroGP World Championship began in earnest with the traditional Friday evening AKRAPOVIC Super Test. Italy’s Alex Salvini (Husqvarna) put in the best time to top the standings, but with Holcombe, defending FIM EnduroGP World Champion Brad Freeman (Beta), and Verona in close contention, the fight was on.
Holcombe wasted no time in getting up to speed on Saturday morning, winning the opening POLISPORT Extreme Test by an impressive seven seconds to take an early lead. From good, things very quickly went bad for the Brit as a heavy fall on the ACERBIS Cross Test saw him lose precious seconds. At the end of the opening lap the positions had changed – fastest in the JUST1 Enduro Test, Verona headed Holcombe by less than two tenths of a second, with Honda’s Nathan Watson close behind in third.
Throughout the day the positions chopped and changed, and with Australian Ruprecht joining the mix, it was all to play for on the final lap. Entering the final test, Holcombe, Ruprecht, and Verona were separated by just two seconds. But with the Italian bettering his rivals, he exited the JUST1 Enduro Test as a first-time EnduroGP class winner.
Behind the top three of Verona, Holcombe, and Ruprecht, a blisteringly fast final test by Spain’s Josep Garcia (KTM) slotted him into fourth. Mistakes throughout the day ultimately kept Garcia off the podium. A strong ride from Watson saw him end the day fifth overall. A difficult season opener for Freeman dropped him to ninth, but he will look to rebound on Sunday.
As the EnduroGP class winner, Verona naturally also topped the Enduro1 category, to get his title defence off to a perfect start. Behind him, Honda’s Thomas Oldrati earned a hard-fought second, with Beta-mounted Frenchman Theophile Espinasse third.
Holcombe wins E2 from Ruprecht
With the top Enduro2 competitors fighting for the EnduroGP overall, the pace was high. Despite a small mistake on the final test, Holcombe hung on to win by just one tenth of a second from Ruprecht. After a mixed start, Garcia came on strong in the closing stages to finish third and place just two seconds behind Holcombe.
“What a way to open the season, it was crazy close all day! I am happy with how I’m riding, so I’m pleased to be on the podium in this company. I’ll regroup and get ready to go again tomorrow.”
New Zealand’s Hamish Macdonald finished the day fifth in the E2 class.
Freeman fastest E3
While things didn’t go his way in the EnduroGP category, Freeman still put in a winning ride in Enduro3. Class newcomer for 2022, Davide Guarneri (Fantic), who starts his 20th season of world championship competition in 2022, didn’t waste any time in settling himself in and muscled his way onto the podium in second place. Matteo Pavoni (TM), Junior champion in 2021, made a strong step up into the senior ranks to finish on the podium in third.
Jane Daniels top Women’s rider
The Women’s class was all about one rider – Jane Daniels. The Brit was the rider to beat winning all but two special tests to secure a commanding 70-second margin of victory on her Fantic. Rieju mounted Mireia Badia enjoyed a strong ride to take second, with Rosie Rowett (KTM) third.
Pichon fights back for Junior victory
In the Junior category a new name rose to the top step of the podium as Sherco’s Zach Pichon raced his way to victory. After losing a lot of time on the opening ACERBIS Cross Test, Pichon battled his way back to the front, edging out Honda’s Roni Kytonen for the win. Fantic’s Jed Etchells placed one second behind Kytonen for third.
The Youth class saw another victory for Fantic with Harry Edmondson topping the podium. After a tight battle with Samuli Puhakainen (TM), Edmondson won by just seven tenths of a second. Sherco’s Thibault Giraudon completed the top three.
EnduroGP of Spain Day One Overall Results – Top 20
EnduroGP of Spain, Day Two
After an exciting start to the ACERBIS GP of Spain on day one, all eyes were on the front runners in the EnduroGP class to see who would take victory on day two. Brimming with confidence following his maiden EnduroGP victory on day one, GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona had his sights set on a repeat win and what he hoped would be a perfect scorecard at round one.
However, determined to make amends for his ninth-place result on Saturday, defending EnduroGP champion Brad Freeman came out swinging to win the opening POLISPORT Extreme Test.
The battle was fierce on the opening lap with Josep Garcia winning both the ACERBIS Cross Test and JUST1 Enduro Test to build a 16-second lead over Verona and Freeman. TM’s Will Ruprecht and Steve Holcombe completed the top-five at the end of lap one.
Freeman again posted the fastest time on the POLISPORT Extreme Test at the start of lap two. But Garcia had the ACERBIS Cross Test and JUST1 Enduro Test mastered as he built his advantage to 22 seconds, with just one lap to go. Controlling his lead on the final lap, Garcia ended day two as the EnduroGP winner.
Behind the Spaniard it was an intense and close fight between Freeman and Verona for the runner-up result. Freeman made it three-for-three in the POLISPORT Extreme Test with another fastest time. As they entered the final test of the day, the duo were separated by just eight hundredths of a second.
All to play for, Verona laid down a scorcher to top the time sheets by four seconds and with it end his day as runner-up. But more importantly he wrapped-up his participation in the ACERBIS GP of Spain as the early EnduroGP championship leader.
Verona dominates E1 on Day Two
In Enduro1 it was all about Verona, just as it had been on day one. His battle for position in EnduroGP saw him power ahead to a one-minute margin of victory over Thomas Oldrati (Honda). Matteo Cavallo (TM) rounded out the top three.
“Overall it has been a really great weekend. It was amazing to take my first EnduroGP day win on Saturday. There are no words to describe it. I was so, so happy, and winning a day in EnduroGP was a personal goal of mine for this season. To tick that one off my to-do list so soon in the season is awesome. Today, the second day, was tough. It was really bumpy and it was challenging from the start. Despite a slow start I was soon in the battle again for the EnduroGP win, although I came up a little short. But I secured another win in E1 so to leave here on top of both championships is amazing. Now it’s onto Portugal, I can’t wait.”
Garcia tops E2 from Ruprecht
The Enduro2 class was the Garcia show. The Spaniard had the category on lockdown and secured a 59-second win over Ruprecht. Sherco’s Hamish MacDonald finished just five seconds behind the TM mounted Australian for third and earned his first podium of the 2022 season.
The first GP of the season is done, and I’m really happy with how things ended up here in Spain, taking the overall win in front of so many fans felt amazing. Things didn’t start so well on the Saturday – I had a crash in the first Cross Test and that lost me some time. We made a few changes to the bike and after that I felt more comfortable pushing and was able to gain some time back on the final lap. Sunday went much better – I felt really strong and was able to push from the first test right through to the last one. The team worked amazing and all-in-all it was a perfect day. I’m looking forward to Portugal, and hopefully more of the same.”
Steve Holcombe had a challenging Day Two in 14th overall, but finished the weekend third in the E2 class standings.
“It’s been up and down this weekend. I came in feeling good and day one was great. I gave it everything and almost won the day outright, finishing a close second overall while winning Enduro2. I was really happy with that, but my performance was dampened slightly by a pretty massive crash I had early on in the day. Day two started off ok despite a couple of small mistakes. But on lap two I smacked my shoulder and wrist in the extreme test and that knocked me off track for the rest of the day to be honest. From there on it was a battle to the finish. We’ll regroup for next weekend in Portugal.”
Freeman again fastest in E3
Up to speed on day two, Freeman left few opportunities for his Enduro3 classmates. Convincingly winning all nine tests, he ended his day over one minute and 42 seconds clear of Fantic’s Davide Guarneri in second. Another solid outing for senior class rookie Matteo Pavoni (TM) saw him finish third.
“It’s not really been the start to the championship I hoped for, but I’m glad to have turned things around today. I gave it everything on the final lap but I just came up a little short for second. To be honest, following my recent injury and catching Covid, it’s the best I can do at the minute. It’s still early days, so we’ll try to improve a little bit more in Portugal.”
Jane Daniels fastest across both days
Dominating the Magnorange FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship in Spain from start to finish, Fantic’s Jane Daniels made it two wins from two starts in Lalin with a dominant class win on Sunday. Ever consistent, Mireia Badia (Rieju) took the runner-up spot with Rita Vieira (Yamaha) finishing third ahead of her home round of the series next weekend in Portugal
“It’s been a great start to the championship. To win both days was awesome. Overall, I felt like I had a solid weekend with no major mistakes or problems. I’m looking forward to the next round.”
Pichon claims another Junior win
Quick to build on his debut Junior win from day one, Sherco’s Zach Pichon claimed the top step of the podium on day two. Son of multi-time FIM Motocross World Champion Mickael Pichon, Zach looks determined to bring more world championship glory to the Pichon household in 2022.
Fantic again raced to top honours in Enduro Youth, though this time it was Kevin Cristino who took the win. Teammate Harry Edmondson made it a 1-2 for Fantic, while Samuli Puhakainen (TM) completed the top three.
After an exciting and explosive start to the 2022 FIM EnduroGP World Championship, the series heads to Peso da Regua for the GP of Portugal next weekend, May 13-15.
EnduroGP of Spain Day Two Overall Results – Top 20
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