2021 Extreme XL Lagares
2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship – Round One
Billy Bolt has won the opening round of the 2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship over the weekend, outpacing Manuel Lettenbichler and Graham Jarvis to claim victory in an event disrupted by Covid.
A Covid hotspot in one of the areas the Extreme XL Lagares would travel through caused the cancellation of the initially planned Saturday prologue and Main Race, with an alternative schedule created. This was made possible due to the event’s paddock and Endurocross track being located within a closed military area, alongside rigorous Covid testing of all involved in the event.
This ensured all 350 competitors, including the 56 entries into the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, were able to race in Portugal as planned, within a Covid-safe bubble.
Further complicating things was the decision, following heavy overnight rain, that championship points would not be awarded at round one, but that racing would continue regardless.
Fast out of the gate for Final 1, Husqvarna rider Bolt charged his way to victory, which he convincingly backed up in race two with another winning ride. Aiming for a hat trick of wins, an early crash in Final 3 derailed the Brit’s ambitions. But with the overall win still for the taking, he powered his way back to second to earn the top step of the podium.
Billy Bolt – P1
“It’s been an eventful start to the season, but to get a win here in Portugal is still a good feeling. I felt ready for the original format of Extreme XL Lagares – I’d put in the ground work and wanted a good result. But after the news late on Thursday that the format was changing, I just wanted to make the best of the situation we were all in. Anytime you get on track you want to be the fastest and I managed that almost all weekend. I topped the Saturday qualification and got two wins from three starts today. Overall, I’m feeling good on the bike and looking forward to getting this championship started properly now.”
Behind Bolt, the battle for the remainder of the podium was tight. Despite a bad opening final and a subsequent eighth-place finish, Lettenbichler began to find his rhythm as the day progressed. Second in Final 2, he then delivered his best with victory in Final 3, finishing as overall runner-up to Bolt.
Manuel Lettenbichler – P2
“I’m super-stoked to take second place, especially in these conditions. It was still really tough out there, but I’m pleased we were able to get some racing out of the weekend. I think the organizers and the promotor made a good decision to scrap the points because this kind of racing is not what the championship is about – hard enduro is a different sport. Everyone did a good job to keep the ball rolling with all the restrictions and changes that had to take place and it was still a nice event, but super muddy. I’m pleased to have come away as runner-up. It was quite good fun, all-in-all it has been a good day.”
Despite an uneasy qualification on Saturday, it was Graham Jarvis who produced one of the surprise performances of the day despite initially not favouring the Endurocross format. Proving himself a model of consistency, a trio of fourth place results earned him third overall behind Bolt and Lettenbichler.
Graham Jarvis – P3
“I think I surprised myself and a few others with third overall today – not bad for an old guy! To be honest I wasn’t expecting too much with the change to Endurocross only but wanted to test my fitness during those long races. My winter prep seems to be good and I felt strong all day. I’d love to have got into the mountains here, but it is what it is – hats off to the organisers for making something happen.”
Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young was another rider to perform well in the Endurocross. Fast starting, he repeatedly placed at the sharp end of the results and thanks to a 4-3-5 scorecard earned fourth overall.
Also delivering a consistent ride, highlighted by fifth in race one, Alfredo Gomez raced his way to a solid fifth overall, wrapping up a solid performance from Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing at Extreme XL Lagares.
Alfredo Gomez – P5
“Not getting to race like we originally intended was tough for ourselves and the organisers. I know how much work they put into this race, and judging by the sections we walked, it would have been amazing. Finishing top five overall today was good.”
Polish hard enduro legend Taddy Blazusiak made a great start to the day by completing the first of three pro class finals in second place.
Pushing hard on his EC 300 in the second heat, Taddy twisted a knee on one of the many obstacles. Despite initially choosing to continue, he decided to withdraw from the event so as not to risk any further injury.
Taddy Blazusiak – P9
“Overall, it’s been a strange weekend. With the cancellation of the main race it was always going to be tough to run a full event. Qualifying yesterday went really well, I was feeling good and got third fastest, so I was pleased with that. This morning, just before the start of the first moto, the organizers told us there wouldn’t be any points on offer due to the conditions. We still lined up though, to try and do what we could. The first race went really well for me – I got second and felt I was riding well. Just a couple of laps into the second race I tweaked my knee a little though. I carried on but was in some pain and so to avoid making it any worse I decided to pull in. With no points being awarded I didn’t want to risk an injury so I thought it would be best to call it a day. I feel for the organizers as they have worked hard to make the most of a tough situation. We’ll definitely be back next year to do what everyone wants to do – race the full schedule in front of the fans.”
Winfried Kerschhaggl, FIM Hard Enduro World Championship Series Manager, also spoke of the challenges and hard decisions required in the 2021 running of the Extreme XL Lagares.
Winfried Kerschhaggl – FIM Hard Enduro World Championship Series Manager
“We tried everything possible to deliver a valid alternative of a race after the cancellation of the originally planned main event. With the bad weather conditions adding to the complications already faced, the FIM Jury – based on my recommendation – decided to award no World Championship points for this event.”
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