Matt Phillips suffers costly mechanical DNF in Italy but retains E2 and EnduroGP Championship lead
Sherco’s Matthew Phillips has endured the highs and lows of enduro racing this past weekend at the seventh round of the EnduroGP World Championship in Italy. The Tasmanian rider put in a solid performance on Saturday, placing second in the E2 category, and also second in the premier all-capacity EnduroGP class onboard the Sherco 300SEF-R.
Saturday’s result elevated Phillips to a very comfortable championship points’ margin. However, Sunday saw things turn sour, a mechanical issue saw Phillips retire after the opening four special tests, unable to complete the day.
“It was a real shame to have my first DNF of the season,” said Phillips after the race. “I felt really strong this weekend. I’m so happy with the bike and team package.I’m still 18 points in front so looking forward to another good race in France. It’s such a pity as I was in a really good position but that’s how it goes. On to the next one.”
Despite not recording any championship points from the second day of racing at the GP of Italy, Phillips is still in a strong position with an 18-point lead in the E2 class for machines 250cc to 450cc.
The fight for the overall Enduro GP championship is slightly tighter where Phillips holds a 15-point lead.
Steve Holcbome (Beta) claimed the outright EnduroGP class victory on day two in Italy, the penultimate round of the series, ahead of Finn Eero Remes (TM) and Frenchman Loic Larrieu (Yamaha).
Battling throughout the day with Remes, the young Brit kept his nerve to claim his fourth overall win of the championship to date.
Enduring more than his fair share of bad luck this season, Steve Holcombe hit the ground running on day two to deliver the fastest time during the opening enduro test. Although not winning any further tests in the EnduroGP class he remained fast and consistent and claimed an eventual 20-second margin of victory.
“All GPs are important but to be able to give my team a winning result at their home round of the series is great,” explained Steve. “I was pleased with my day one result, but knew I could ride better. As much as I liked the slippery conditions I also enjoyed the drier conditions, and had a really good day. The enduro test was great and I just kept pushing as hard as I could. It was fun battling with Remes, but I managed to get the win.”
Behind Holcombe, Remes and Larrieu both brought their Italian GPs to an impressive close by finishing on the podium in second and third.
Missing the EnduroGP top three by less than two seconds Mathias Bellino (Husqvarna) placed fourth ahead of Beta duo Alex Salvini and Johnny Aubert. Improving after his disappointing first day Nathan Watson (KTM) finished seventh with Italian Manuel Monni (TM) eighth.
“I can say that it has been a frustrating weekend for me. I made some small mistakes but I didn’t crash, which was good on the first day because the conditions were incredibly slippery in the morning. I missed the overall podium by less than one second, so that was frustrating. And then on day two I was less than two seconds from the top of the Enduro 2 podium. It’s hard not to think about the small mistakes and what the results might have been. I felt like I was riding ok, which is positive. I hope to end the championship in this way.”
Second in EnduroGP, Eero Remes comfortably topped the Enduro 1 class in Fabriano placing 33seconds ahead of his nearest challenger. Following his day two DNF at the recent GP of Spain Remes’ double winning result was both welcomed and much needed.
“It was a good day for me,” commented the Finn. “No big mistakes and an important 20 points for the championship. Now we wait for France, I hope things will go well there also.”
Unable to match Remes’ speed Nathan Watson nevertheless put a frustrating opening day’s performance behind him to finish second. Performing well on all tests, especially the extreme test, Nathan placed 31 seconds ahead of Danny McCanney (Husqvarna) who like Nathan bounced back from a disappointing first day. Failing to finish day one, Pascal Rauchenecker (Husqvarna) placed fourth ahead of Italians Alessandro Battig (Honda) and Rudy Moroni (KTM).
“Three crashes in the opening enduro test got my weekend off to the worst possible start. I lost so much time in that first test that I knew it would be rally hard to come back. Then I was too cautious in the enduro test on the second lap and it showed in my times. In general the day wasn’t good at all. But day two was much better – I started better and managed to keep pushing without mistakes all day. I felt a lot better and really enjoyed it. Even with a crash on the second enduro test my times were still good, so I’m really happy to finish on the podium in third.”
Helped by the DNF of Matt Phillips, Loic Larrieu picked up the Enduro 2 class win finishing just over one-and-a-half seconds ahead of countryman Mathias Bellino.
Despite Bellino setting the fastest time in the event’s closing extreme test, Larrieu had done enough earlier in the day to claim a hard fought win.
“I’m really pleased that the GP of Italy has ended in such a positive way for me because it certainly didn’t start like that,” joked Loic at the finish. “The wet conditions were really tough for me on the first day and I made some mistakes on the enduro test and couldn’t get a good rhythm. I felt good on the second day, apart from hitting my hand on a small track post. It’s a great result for all of the Yamaha team.”
Alex Salvini (Beta) placed a further 13 seconds behind Loic, but ahead of day one overall winner Christophe Nambotin (KTM). Knowing that his lack of physical conditioning would likely see him struggle on day two, Nambo’ pushed hard to reach what is his last GP of the season. Due to undergo knee surgery in the coming days, in winning day one and finishing fourth in E2 on day two the Frenchman showed what he’s capable of when he returns to full fitness.
Beaten by his Beta team-mate on just two of the day’s special tests Steve Holcombe stormed to yet another Enduro 3 class day win. Needing to secure as many points as possible ahead of the championship’s final event in France, Holcombe now sits 17 points ahead of Aubert in the E3 standings. Rounding out the top three in E3 was Italian Manuel Monni.
Riding as the newly crowned Enduro Junior World Champion Giacomo Redondi (Honda) secured yet another day win to continue his unbeaten run in 2016. Close to one-and-a-half minutes ahead of Spaniard Josep Garcia (Husqvarna) Giacomo topped all but three of the day’s special tests in the junior class.
“It’s been a great Italian GP for me and the Honda team. Today was a great day, without any pressure. After winning the title on day one I didn’t have to worry about anything and I really relaxed. I enjoyed the day and the race. Now I can go to France and try and finish a perfect season.”
“I’m quite pleased with the way the Italian GP has gone for me. The first day started with a small crash in the enduro test, I lost a lot of time. I pushed very hard after that to finish the day third and only a few seconds from second. I found the enduro test really difficult – I tried many things but it was hard to get a good rhythm. Because of that I needed to push hard in the extreme and the motocross tests. The drier conditions were good for me, so it was a positive end to the GP for me.”
With the 125 Enduro Youth title secured Jack Edmondson was free to enjoy the second day of the Acerbis GP of Italy, topping his class once again. Ending the day some 45 seconds ahead of countryman Lee Sealey (Yamaha), Jack showed that he’s very much the rider to beat. With Sealey the runner-up third went to Andrea Verona (Husqvarna).
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