The stars of EnduroGP had to cope with overwhelming heat on Day 1 in Greece, despite a huge storm on Friday night before the Super Test. These demanding conditions made their marks on both man and machine, as was proven when Alex Salvini suffered a shoulder injury.
We’ll start with the premier category, EnduroGP, where Salvini was looking to be one of the favouites at the beginning of the day. The Honda RedMoto rider was in the fight with Matteo Cavallo for 3rd place overall before he took a heavy hit on his shoulder in the Champion Lubricants Enduro Test. It was a similar story for Christophe Charlier, on fire at the end of the day, and closing in on Cavallo before a big mistake on the final test….
There were no such problems for the British duo of Steve Holcombe and Brad Freeman. The former, who seems to be largely recovered from the debilitating virus he’d been in the grip of since the German GP, was running well at the start of the day and held a 12 second advantage at the end of the first lap. Meanwhile Freeman initially found it tricky to ‘open the road’, but the Beta Boano rider quickly regained control of the EGP class to pull out an amazing 39 second lead on Holcombe by the end of the day.
Behind these two top guns, Matteo Cavallo achieved his first career podium in EnduroGP. He fought well to see off attacks from Oldrati and Redondi, in addition to taking advantage of the misfortunes of Salvini and Charlier. It was a nice reward for the 2018 Junior World Champion who did not expect to get on a EnduroGP podium so soon!
Neck and neck for a long time, Oldrati ended up getting the better of his compatriot Redondi and therefore took 4th place and 13 points, while Loïc Larrieu had to settle for 6th place and Eero REMES just managed a place in the Top 10.
The class which saw the most twists and turns was Enduro 2! Salvini had been establishing himself as a potential winner before he fell and injured his shoulder … And at that time, the category win was all to play for between Redondi, Loïc Larrieu and Charlier, all ready to take advantage of the 2013 World Champion’s unfortunate DNF.
Charlier made an impressive comeback to take the lead two tests before the end of the day. But the Corsican crashed in the Champion Lubricants Enduro Test and damaged his bike. He managed to finish the Technomousse Xtreme Test, but he was unable to get through the last test of the day and had to give up his first victory of the year to a very consistent Redondi…
For his part, Loïc Larrieu finished 2nd despite a big scare in the last lap and it was Chile’s Benjamin HERRERA who took advantage of the misfortune of Salvini and Charlier to finally climb onto the E2 podum in front of Eero Remes and Hugo Blanjoue. This ‘middle weight’ class remains thrilling and full of surprises.
In E1, Brad Freeman remains unbeaten in front of Matteo Cavallo and Thomas Oldrati. Davide Guarneri had to settle for 4th place and Kirian Mirabet completed the Top 5 …
In E3, Steve Holcombe was back on the top step of the podium after he lost out to his rival, Danny McCanney, in Spain. The factory TM rider, struggling with a hand injury, still clung on to 2nd place, just in front of Anthony Geslin.
In the Juniors, Andrea Verona has not yet given any chances to his rivals, and today was no different as he scored victory 47 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. The talented Italian remains unbeaten so far this season.
However, the fight for second place was very intense and interesting between Enric Francisco, Ruy Barbosa, Theo Espinasse and Roni Kytonen. After putting in another solid performance it was the Spaniard who took the second step on the podium and 17 points, despite an amazing recovery from the Kytönen Husqvarna Motorsport rider, who took his first Junior podium.
Barbosa, meanwhile, had to settle for 4th place despite a very speedy start to the day, the Chilean finished 56 hundredths of a second ahead of Espinasse.
Verona also remains undefeated in J1, today joined on the podium by Kytonen and Espinasse while Francisco pocketed a fifth victory in 2019 at the expense of Barbosa and Jack Edmondson…
In the Champion Lubricants Enduro Open World Cup, David Knight is only one victory away from the Open Senior Cup, having won his 7th race day right in front of the friendly Austrian duo of Werner Muller and Hans Peter Musil!
In Open 2-Stroke, Gonçalo Reis is also a step closer to the cup, taking his 6th victory of 2019 ahead of the Greek rider George Pisimanis, while the Open 4-Stroke was turned on its head with a 100% Greek podium following the retirement of title contender Mathias Van Hoof. It was therefore Ioannis Chasapis, Panagiotis Zafeiriou and Konstantinos Nikias in front of their home crowd.
EnduroGP of Greece – Day 2
The first victim of the tough day was Giacomo Redondi. Fifth overall yesterday and the winner of the E2 class, the Italian had a heavy fall in the first Champion Lubricants Enduro Test of the day and damaged his ribs. He lost more than 14 minutes and managed to finishes the day 19th overall by gritting his teeth.
After a DNF yesterday, Alex Salvini bravely took to the start again this morning and rode in pain to finish in an honorable 12th position overall, taking some valuable points.
But perhaps the biggest victim of this stifling weekend was Brad Freeman. Strong from the outset, and dominating Day 1, the Beta Boano rider pulled out a gap right from the start of Day 2. However, as fatigue set in the Brit had a huge crash on the last Enduro Test and injured his left shoulder.
Despite this, he was able to hold off Thomas Oldrati and Matteo Cavallo and win the EnduroGP class nevertheless. Increasing his gap on a struggling Steve Holcombe who could only managed 7th overall today. But this mistake from Freeman could cost him dearly next weekend in Italy if he does not recover quickly. This story is to be continued…
So it was in fact Oldrati who was the surprise of Serres by being the closest rider to Freeman on the second day of racing. They were joined on the podium by another Italian, the impressive Cavallo.
Fighting for the EnduroGP podium for the majority of the day, two errors relegated a resurgent Christophe Charlier to fifth position, he was beaten by Britain’s Danny McCanney who courageously put his hand injury to the back of his mind.
With a 100% win-streak in Enduro 1, Freeman took victory on Sunday ahead of Oldrati and Cavallo. Davide Guarneri and Kirian Mirabet completed the Top 5 in this small engine capacity class.
As for the Enduro 3 class, Danny McCanney took his second win of the season ahead of Steve Holcombe and the consistent Anthony Geslin…
In Enduro 2, it was another crazy and dramatic day. After his early and heavy crash, Day 1 winner Redondi was forced to try and limit the damage by finishing 8th. For his part, the “warrior” Alex Salvini holds on to the title lead in E2 before arriving at his home GP in Rovetta. He finished 5th with his damaged shoulder, only 14 seconds behind the Chilean Benjamin Herrera.
While the Italian is still the leader, the French duo of Charlier and Larrieu are edging dangerously close to him. Honda RedMoto’s Charlier took a deserved victory on Day 2 and TM’s Larrieu was just behind him in 2nd. Clearly, this category remains unpredictable and there are still at least four riders in with a shout of the title!
A couple of times this season we’ve seen Enric Francisco come close to knocking Andrea Verona off the top spot. But it has taken until the 4th GP of the season to end the 7-strong winning streak of the Italian! However, it wasn’t Ivan Cervantes’ protege who achieved this feat but instead the Finn, Roni Kytonen. Absent at the opening round in Germany, the Kytönen Motorsport rider already showed great potential during the Iberian tour and now he has proven that he can compete with the best young talents on the planet.
But Francisco gave him a hard time, and remained on the Finn’s tail until the last test of the day. Verona managed to fight his way back to a useful third place, pipping an unfortunate Antoine Magain on the last lap!
Also worth noting is the disqualification of Ruy Barbosa, taken out of the race by the FIM due to reckless and unsporting behaviour.
Naturally, Kytonen also had the beating of Verona in the J1 class, while Magain took third place. Francisco grabbed a second J2 win in as many days in front of the great Czech hope Krystof Kouble and Jack Edmondson…
This Maxxis Grand Prix of Greece also gave us our very first victor in the history of the newly-created Champion Lubricants Enduro Open World Cup. Present at every race since the start of the season and undefeated so far, ‘Enduro legend’ David Knight finished the job without a hitch on Sunday and leaves Greece, as the cup winner of the Open Senior category, 14 years after his first ever World title, also won here in Serres! Knighter beat Austria’s Werner Muller, 2nd. And Sweden’s Patrik Andersson completed the Top 3, taking his very first International podium!
In Open 2-Stroke, Gonçalo Reis did the double and is only one win away from taking the crown. Second was George Pisimanis. Let’s see if the rider from Portugal can finish the job next weekend in Rovetta.
Finally, in Open 4-Stroke, Mathias Van Hoof who had a very unlucky Day 1 with mechanical failure was finally able to take his first world level win! The Belgian took this brilliant victory ahead of Konstantinos Nikias and Panagiotis Zafeiriou.
So it’s ‘hats off’ to Serres OffRoad Premio Aris Liougas and Christos Pouftas who took on the considerable challenge of replacing the Corsican in just 3 months, something they did excellently with three high level special tests.
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