Billy Bolt wins the battle but Cody Webb wins SuperEnduro war
KTM’s Cody Webb has won the 2018 FIM SuperEnduro World Championship. In an action-packed final round in Sweden, Webb’s fifth place overall result was enough to clinch his first ever world title.
Topping the rostrum in the Sweden though was Husqvarna’s Billy Bolt with two wins from three starts at the final round of the championship to secure the top step of the podium.
Jonny Walker finished as runner-up on the night with Taddy Blazusiak taking third.
The four previous rounds of the 2018 SuperEnduro Championship had all delivered exciting, close racing and the final held at the Sparbanken Arena in Lidköping, Sweden was no different. Coming into the fifth and final round with a 17-point advantage over team-mate Blazusiak, Cody Webb had the championship in his sights.
The tight and technical Swedish circuit proved tricky even for the top-class field. But it was Taddy Blazusiak who tamed it best on the Akrapovic SuperPole lap, posting the fastest time ahead of team-mates Jonny Walker and Cody Webb. In race one it was Taddy who excelled again, controlling the race from the front. Behind him, mistakes by Webb and Walker cost them valuable time, relegating the pair to fourth and fifth respectively.
The reverse-grid of race two threw up its usual surprises with KTM mounted Manni Lettenbichler taking the early lead. Taddy fought his way past Webb and up into second before an unfortunate technical issue forced the six-time SuperEnduro Champion to retire. Webb completed the race in third, giving the American enough points to claim the World Championship title.
With the title decided, race three would determine the further championship placings. Blazusiak again got off to a good start, chasing down Billy Bolt but eventually settled for the runner-up position. Jonny Walker rode an excellent race finishing third, enough to give the Brit second overall on the night.
Adding the FIM SuperEnduro World Championship to his 2017 AMA Endurocross title, Cody Webb is undisputedly the man to beat in indoor enduro. Despite a tough final round, the American was overjoyed with his first ever World title.
“I am so happy, I can’t tell you what this means to me. Of course, I feel bad for Taddy, he was riding really well tonight. The championship has been great and for it to come down to the wire shows how high the quality really is – I have so much respect for every single rider in this series. I was riding really tight tonight – I think because of my nerves – and Taddy was pushing so hard. He had some bad luck tonight, but I’ve had a couple of bad rounds too. After having a year out of racing in Europe, to come back and be World Champion is amazing – this is definitely the most important title I have won so far. After my riding tonight, I know there are still some things I have to work on so I’ll go away now, regroup and prepare for the WESS this summer.”
Entering the fifth and final stop of this year’s SuperEnduro series in Lidköping on top form following a victory at last weekend’s British Extreme Enduro Championship, Billy Bolt was determined to end his first season of indoor enduro racing on a high.
Proving fast from the off, the 19-year-old put in a fantastic opening heat race to place a close second behind rival Taddy Blazusiak. Making the best of the reversed start order for heat two, Bolt put his FE 350 out front at the end of lap one. Despite slipping back to second on lap three, he continued to apply pressure on race leader Manuel Lettenbichler before retaking the lead with four laps to go. Upping his pace, he broke clear of the chasing pack to win by almost eight seconds.
Knowing the chance of winning his first overall podium was within his grasp entering the third heat of the night, Bolt kept his composure and remained focused on the job in hand. Making a near-perfect start, the Husqvarna rider took control on lap one and was never headed, despite early pressure from Blazusiak. Going on to secure a comfortable margin of victory, Bolt claimed the top step of the podium while also ending the 2018 series as runner-up.
“It’s been the perfect end to the series — winning my first round overall and then ending the championship as runner-up. I couldn’t ask for more than that, especially in my rookie season. Tonight was a great night and I felt my riding really came together to take the overall victory. We’ve worked tirelessly as a team to improve little by little and the end result has paid off with the top step of the podium here in Sweden. My speed wasn’t any better or worse than previous rounds, but my mistakes were fewer and that’s made the difference. I felt much more consistent in my riding and was able to handle the intensity better, taking two race wins tonight. Regards the final championship standings it was a shame for Taddy Blazusiak to have an issue like he did and it definitely swayed the end result in my favour, but I guess that’s the luck of racing sometimes. Finally, I just wanted to say a huge thanks to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team for their support and belief in me to get this result.”
To come back from such disappointment and challenge for the win in the final race shows the spirit of Taddy Blazusiak. Just months after announcing his return to competitive competition, Taddy was incredibly close to taking a seventh world title. The multiple world champion has vowed to come back and try again come 2019.
“I am so disappointed. Words can’t describe how I feel right now. On the positive side, I know I was fast tonight, I was riding really well. I was feeling good on the bike, practice and SuperPole went well and then in the first race, I was able to set a good, fast pace at the front. Going into the second race, I was only eight points down on Cody in the championship and I knew he had made a couple of mistakes in the first race. To be forced to retire like that is bad at any time, but to lose the championship like that is heart-breaking. I got back for the third race, but my heart wasn’t quite in it. To come back to racing and be so close to taking another world title is definitely encouraging though. I think my pace towards the end of the season was the best. I might have missed out this time, but I’ll be back next year to take my seventh championship.”
Riding consistently throughout the evening, Jonny Walker finished as runner-up and also claimed the overall Akrapovic SuperPole title for the season. The former Erzbergrodeo winner will now look ahead to the outdoor season and the World Enduro Super Series.
“It was a tough night tonight – second overall with a 5-4-3 result shows just how tricky the track was and I think everyone found it hard. My pace definitely got better as the night went on and to finish as runner-up on the night is great. I won the SuperPole award for the season, which shows my speed is definitely good enough, I just need to work a little on my consistency. With the WESS not far away now, I’ll start working on the outdoor races and the different challenges for the rest of the year.”
For out-going champion Colton Haaker, the final round of the championship in Sweden was another difficult outing. Starting things off positively with a third-place result in heat one, Haaker finished fourth in heat two. In contention for a possible podium result, numerous mistakes in heat three saw him finish seventh, dropping him back to sixth overall on the night.
“Overall, it’s just been a strange season for me in SuperEnduro. Finishing sixth overall tonight and fifth in the final standings is not the results I wanted to end my second consecutive title defence on. I need to take stock of how things went this season, of course they weren’t what I wanted but I need to look at why. Definitely starting the season coming off an injury wasn’t ideal but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. At every round I felt fast and my lap times were always strong. But through a combination of bad luck and situations out of my control, the results weren’t there to put together an overall result that I know I’m capable of.”
Results — FIM SuperEnduro World Championship, Round 5
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