The atmosphere in in Bilbao was electric for the fourth round of the 2018 SuperEnduro World Championship, as a little over 6000 fans came to the Biskaïa Exhibition Center to cheer on the best international riders, with some shockingly unpredictable racing adding to the thrills!
From the Super Pole onwards the vibe of the evening was set, with Brits Jonny Walker and Billy Bolt leading in front of Colton Haaker, Taddy Blazusiak, and the seemingly off-form Cody Webb who could only grab fifth place.
The first race, which was led early on by Colton Haaker, was eventually won by Cody Webb, who pulled out a huge gap at the front, and took advantage of an error from Haaker, as well as putting distance between himself, Taddy Blazusiak and Jonny Walker, Webb’s rivals had no answer for his strong pace.
The second race started with drama – there was a bottleneck on the first corner and many riders were held up. Blazusiak took the lead over Walker, but the KTM pair were closely followed by their team-mate, Cody Webb. The American wore down his combatants and moved into top spot.
The final lap became very tense, and left onlookers in suspense, as Taddy edged ever closer to Cody. The Pole pushed hard in the closing moments, and finished mere meters behind a victorious Webb!
The third and final race was extremely exciting, Blazusiak got off to a good start, and behind him Webb and Walker were struggling against the risky rock garden. Webb then opened the gas to try to recover the time he’d lost, but several mistakes and a couple of big crashes prevented him from reaping any rewards in the race.
And so it was that Taddy Blazusiak not only took the race win thanks to his incredible performance – but also the overall GP of Euskadi victory, to the surprise of many! The Pole said he hadn’t felt like himself all night, but in the end his determination and experience saw him top the leaderboard on the night.
His victory reduces his deficit in the championship standings to just 17 points ahead of the final round in Sweden remaining.
Taddy Blazusiak – P1 Overall
“Things went well and I’m super happy with the overall outcome tonight. It feels great to get another overall victory on the board. To be honest coming into Bilbao I wasn’t feeling too great because I’m still carrying some niggling injuries from my crash last time out in Malaga. I wasn’t able to ride and train as much as I would have normally done. I rode steady in the first two races trying to find my rhythm and confidence again. I got a great start in the final race and knew it was my chance to strike. I gave it everything I had and came away with the victory. Overall, it’s been a good night and I’ve closed the gap to Cody to 17 points. I’ve got three races left to make it happen so I’m just going to make the best of what I can.”
For Jonny Walker, Bilbao marked yet another strong showing in his superenduro campaign. Firmly putting to bed his disappointing performances in rounds one and two, Jonny ended his night as runner-up for the second round in a row. Kicking things off with the fastest lap in the Akrapovic SuperPole, the KTM rider then placed a solid third in each of the three finals to secure the overall runner-up result.
Jonny Walker – P2 Overall
“Winning the Akrapovic SuperPole was a great start to the night and ultimately helped me to finish in the runner-up spot. In the three races I think I rode too tense. I’m not sure why but I found it hard to get a decent flow on the track. I seemed to hit a wall after the third lap and wasn’t able to keep charging. Race three was my best of the night. I didn’t get the best of starts but was consistent the whole way and put in a good ride. Overall, I’m really happy to come away with the runner-up result to match the one I got last time out in Malaga. After a disappointing start to the series, to now have two podium results in a row shows that things have definitely moved in the right direction. I think finishing third overall in the final standings is now within my reach so that’s the target in Sweden.”
As championship leader, Cody Webb looked set to extend his advantage in the series with an impressive showing during the first two finals. Racing hard with close rival Blazusiak, the American secured two wins from two starts. But a succession of crashes in the third final saw his chances of a third overall victory unravel.
Crashing twice within the space of a lap, Cody lost ground on the leaders and eventually finished eighth. Ending his night on the third step of the podium behind Blazusiak and Walker, he nevertheless holds a 17-point lead in the championship with just the final round in Sweden remaining.
Cody Webb – P3 Overall
“The first two races went very well. I felt like I was riding smooth and consistent and came away with the win in each race. Unfortunately, my opportunity to take my third overall victory came undone in the third and final race. I was running second but when I came around to the matrix section I made a big mistake. I just didn’t get the angle right when I lifted the front wheel and ended up falling off the side of the track. I panicked a little and then pushed too hard to regroup and ended up having a huge crash shortly afterwards. It messed my bike up a bit and I couldn’t ride properly. After winning the first two races I was disappointed to let the overall win slip away like that.”
Frustratingly, a series of bad starts hampered his progress during the first two finals, with Billy finishing fourth each time out. Working hard to turn his fortunes around, the young Brit started second behind the event’s eventual overall winner Taddy Blazusiak in the third final and controlled his position during the six-minute plus one lap race to leave Bilbao on a positive note.
Billy Bolt – P4 Overall
“It’s been a bit of a frustrating night for me here in Bilbao. I’m not really able to pin-point why but I wasn’t happy with my riding in all three races. Honestly, I just never felt comfortable all night and when I needed to up my pace to catch someone I wasn’t really able to do it. Of course there are positives to take from it, I’m still a rookie in this series so finishing fourth overall despite the issues, I suppose is not too bad. Also, I’m still third overall in the championship heading into the final round in Sweden at the end of the month. I really want to end the championship inside the top three, so I’ll work hard, come in focused to Sweden and hopefully deliver a better result.”
For defending champion Colton Haaker, the night’s racing didn’t go as he’d hoped. Despite feeling comfortable and riding well during the afternoon’s practice sessions, a succession of unfortunate crashes and arm pump prevented the Husqvarna rider from showing his true form. Ending with a 5-6-5 scorecard for sixth overall, Colton will aim to turn his fortunes around at the championship finale in Lidköping, Sweden at the end of the month.
Colton Haaker – P6 Overall
“I don’t really know what to say — tonight was tough, tougher than it should have been. I felt good in practice and was riding well but once the start gate dropped on the main event weird things happened. I led race one for three laps but soon struggled with arm pump and just wasn’t able to ride like I should. I couldn’t really shake that arm pump off for the remainder of the night and as a result I had too many crashes. Overall, it was a night I’d rather forget. We have about three weeks now to prepare for the final round of the series in Sweden and I want to set things right there and at the very least end the championship on a high note.”
The FIM SuperEnduro World Championship concludes with the fifth and final round in Lidköping, Sweden on March 31st.
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.