Graham Jarvis (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) has claimed victory at the 2017 Hixpania Hard Enduro in northern Spain, ahead of KTM’s Jonny Walker and defending champion Alfredo Gomez.
For the second edition of the Hixpania Hard Enduro, the racing was staged over three days. Friday saw competitors battle it out on a SuperEnduro-styled course in the town square of Aguilar de Campoo. Saturday delivered a 48-kilometre enduro loop around the nearby lake to be ridden three times.
Sunday’s main event was a short 15-minute extreme loop, raced over a two-hour 30-minute duration. With points allocated per race, an overall classification of the three days determined this year’s Hixpania champion.
Last away in the Le Mans style start, he steadily began to pick riders off as the race progressed. By mid-distance he had climbed up to fourth and was beginning to find his pace. With two laps to go, Jarvis launched his attack for victory and managed to break away. With an impossible climb delivering the final sting in the tail for the race, he was the first to reach the top. In doing so he also took the overall event win.
“I honestly wasn’t expecting to win this one today. Coming into the final race, Sunday’s extreme race, I was about fourth overall in the points classification and so thought the overall win was out of reach. My plan was to just fight for the win in this race and see what happened. I was actually the last rider to reach my bike at the start and so was last away. I picked off a few riders quickly enough and to be honest it helped not leading. I could read the tracks the guys had made and managed to avoid some of their mistakes with line choices. The top four riders bunched up at about the halfway point and then with about two laps to go I got into the lead and pushed on. The final hillclimb was pretty much impossible. But luckily I got there first and was roped up. I just had to watch and see what would unfold next. Jonny Walker had a crash and dropped to fourth. We tied on points but my win was enough for victory. I’m really happy with that because Hixpania was one of the few hard enduro races I’d yet to win.”
Arriving third at the base of the final hill, a mistake by Walker near the summit saw him passed by Gomez. Fourth place across the line tied him on points with Graham Jarvis, but his position on the final day would relegate Walker to second overall.
“Friday’s Prologue went really well for me. It was tough on such a short lap with so many riders, but I held on to take the win, which was great. Saturday went well too, I knew I just had to ride consistently and not make any mistakes – second place there put me joint first going into the final day. The track was great on Sunday, I enjoyed it and was really happy with my speed. I made one mistake that caused me to drop back behind Graham, but after that I was able to really push on. I reached the final hill in third behind Billy, but managed to loop the bike out nearing the top and I had to have another go. I finished tied with Graham on points, but his win on the final day gave him the overall victory. I’m disappointed not to have won, but I have to be happy with how I rode. At the end it just came down to the final hill and I lost out.”
Defending champion Alfredo Gomez, in passing his team-mate on the final hill, secured third place on the day and third place overall for the event. Unable to push on the final day due to an issue with his rear mousse, Gomez was happy with his podium result.
“I’ve really enjoyed myself, the racing was so close throughout the whole event. The final day was not too difficult so the top guys were all on the same pace. I rode well but my I have some issues with my rear mousse halfway through the day and it made it difficult to push. We all arrived at the last hill within a couple of minutes of each other, which is great for the fans, but it means the race was decided within the final 100-metres. It would have been nice to take the win again, but I’m happy to be able to step on the podium.”
For Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt, the Hixpania Hard Enduro marked his final outdoor race of 2017 and arguably his best performance of the season. Fast from the off, 19-year-old Bolt battled hard in the Friday night prologue for victory. Challenging eventual winner Jonny Walker all the way, only a very small crash at the end cost him a shot at winning. Billy eventually slipped back to third in the prologue.
Riding strong during Saturday’s race, Bolt enjoyed his fair share of the lead in the opening lap. A rear moose issue on lap two dropped him back, but fixing the issue at the service point, he regrouped strongly to claim fifth.
For Sunday’s main event, Bolt took the holeshot and led lap one. Racing hard with Alfredo Gomez during the first hour and then also Jonny Walker during the latter half of the race, Bolt held his nerve on the final climb to take second on the day and secure a strong fourth overall.
“I’ve really enjoyed racing here at Hixpania for the first time. I would have loved to sign off on my 2017 hard enduro season with a podium result but fourth is good and I feel like I put in my best ride of the year. Friday’s prologue was a lot of fun. It was a short superenduro course in the town square. I battled all race with Jonny. Initially I finished second but then there was some confusion with the results and I dropped to third. Saturday was a bit up and down. I ran into moose trouble on lap two of three and slipped way back. But once we fixed the problem I clawed my way back to fifth. For Sunday’s extreme race, I got the holeshot and led on lap one. Alfredo was pushing hard but I was able to run his pace. We swapped positions plenty of times and in the final hour there were four of us fighting for the win. On the final climb I managed to get up to where we needed to be roped up in second place. But things got a bit hectic and ropes got tangled. I nearly lost my position but managed to drag my way across the finish line to place second in the race behind Graham.”
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