Colton Haaker of the Husqvarna Factory Racing team stamped his authority on the Madrid SuperEnduro event, claiming two out of three race wins to take the championship lead.
KTM’s Cody Webb also took a win but was unable to finish Race 3 due to a technical problem and now sits 13-points in arrears of Haaker.
Adding to the memorable night for the Husqvarna Factory Racing Team, Alfredo Gomez returned to competitive action following his injury last time out in Germany to claim third overall.
Round three of the SuperEnduro series in Spain marks the halfway point in this year’s championship battle, and two-time world champion Haaker arrived in Madrid knowing that a winning result was necessary to lift his title hopes. Feeling comfortable with the course from the off, the Husqvarna rider set some impressive lap times in training before transferring his impressive pace into the fastest time for the qualifying SuperPole.
Executing a near-perfect start in race one, Haaker immediately took control. Breaking away from the rest of the field, he secured his first victory of the night. With the start order reversed for race two, the American tried to ride cautiously on lap one and unfortunately became entangled in a multi-bike collision.
Remounting near last, he battled his way up to second. However, becoming stuck on the final rocky corner resulted in a three-way fight to the finish line. Crashing heavily with close rival Taddy Blazusiak, Haaker was lucky to walk away unscathed in third.
With the overall win up for grabs, Haaker refocused for race three and delivered arguably his best performance of the night. Riding to a commanding 26-second margin of victory, he secured the top step of the podium and took control of the championship lead.
“It’s feels great to come away tonight with the overall win and also become the new point’s leader in the championship. I really wanted to push for the victory tonight and race my way back into title contention and I definitely feel like I did that out there, despite what was a very eventful night on the track. From practice I felt good and I felt sharp. I was laying down fast times and not going above myself to do it. SuperPole was a near perfect lap and that rolled across into race one. I put myself in a great position off the start and got into an early lead and took the win. In race two I started cautiously knowing there would be carnage. Unfortunately, I got tangled up in bikes on lap one and had to come from last. I made it to second but bobbled in the final rock corner and that turned into a three-way battle to the finish line. Taddy Blazusiak and myself came together and we both hit the ground hard. Thankfully I was ok for the final race and was able to come out and win that for the overall and with it take the championship lead. We’ve Budapest in two weeks’ time and I’m looking forward to going there with the leader’s red plate.”
Cody Webb started the weekend strong, topping qualifying, however a small mistake in Race 1 saw him fight his way back to third. In race two Webb got away clean and remained unchallenged after claiming the lead on lap four.
The third and final race of the event saw Webb hot on Haaker’s tail, however a technical issue meant stopping for trackside repairs, and he was not able to classify as a finisher.
“It was a tough night for me tonight, but I’m happy to take second overall. The first race went well, I struggled to get into a good rhythm but I was pleased with third and knew what I had to do to improve for race two. I got away well in the second race and was able to control the pace from the front and take a clean win. I was probably riding my best of the whole evening in race three. Colton was in front but I was confident I could match his speed and fight for the win. Unfortunately, after a reasonably hard landing, I damaged the bike. I tried my best to fix it in time but it wasn’t quite enough. It’s upsetting but this is SuperEnduro and anything can happen. I’m looking forward to the next race and will try to win back the overall lead.”
Taddy Blazusiak claimed 21 championship points for the round, with a higherlight of second place in Prestiage Race 1, while he now sits third overall in the standings on 128 points.
“Unfortunately tonight turned out to be a rough night and so it’s going to take a little bit of time to assess what’s happened. I had a big crash in race two, but then a very strange and unlucky incident in race three, which resulted in an injury to my left knee. After placing second in race one, things unravelled quickly in race two. Almost last in the reversed start, I then crashed into a bike pile up I couldn’t see behind a jump. I remounted last and did well to work my way to fourth. However, in a three-way battle to the finish line for second, I collided with Colton Haaker and went down hard. I was banged and bruised pretty good, but lucky to walk away from it relatively unscathed and able to focus on the final moto. In race three I got a great start but then stalled in the rocks and accidentally put my left foot down into a hole. As I fell over, with the bike on top of me, my foot became trapped in the hole and twisted my knee. As yet I don’t know how serious things are until I see my doctor to get it checked out but I will do my best to be ready for round four in Budapest.”
For Alfredo Gomez, his home race in Madrid was one to savour. Deciding to return to racing following an elbow injury last time out in Germany, the Husqvarna TE 300i mounted rider hoped for a top-five result. Feeling better than expected, the Spaniard raced his way into podium contention as the evening progressed.
“I can’t honestly believe that I’ve managed to finish third overall tonight. Two days ago I wasn’t sure if I would ride because I’m still recovering from an elbow injury that I sustained last time out in Germany. I did some training laps and decided I should try to race. I was aiming for top five at best. But this is my home race and I guess that just makes you want to deliver the best result you can. I rode safe in race one for ninth and then did better in race two for fifth. I got into a good position in race three and with other riders having problems, suddenly I was in second. After that I tried to remain calm and focused and control the position to the finish. Third overall is an amazing result and I have to thank everyone who’s helped me during these last few weeks to get to this position – behind the scenes it’s been a real team effort.”
Ninth in race one, he jumped to fifth in race two. A much-improved start in race three saw him avoid trouble and after holding second place from mid-distance he did enough to secure third overall.
The 2019 FIM SuperEnduro World Championship continues with round four in Budapest, Hungary on February 9.
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