The Red Bull Romaniacs is the toughest Hard Enduro Rally on earth. And Jonny Walker (UK, KTM) has won it again. He was pushed hard throughout the whole race by Graham Jarvis (UK, Husqvarna), who took the final day`s win from him within the last few meters but it was Walker that held on for the overall. They had crossed some of the world’s most difficult terrain and ended up only being a few seconds apart at the end of the day.
Following the results of the previous day, the starting order at 7am this morning was Letti, Gomez, Jarvis, Young, Walker, Bolton. Paul Bolton, (UK, KTM) started the day by pushing hard and staying on the heels of the two leaders. He was riding some of the best times and caught up with the leading pack around the “Appetizer” section. He was awarded with a place on today’s podium (3rd). Bolton finished the rally as overall 4th.
In “Appetizer”, only Jarvis passed through like a champ. Everyone else was struggling in this section, including Walker, and even needed help (Letti, Bolton). Due to the favorable weather conditions throughout the race, there was hardly any water in the “Appetizer” today. However, there were still plenty of mean little pools, capable of swallowing whole bikes and riders. The “refreshment” was welcomed by Jarvis, who had just run out of drinking water. The water was less welcomed by Wade Young (SA, KTM), who drowned his bike there, shortly before the Service Point. The same fate had awaited Lars Enöckl and Jonny Walker in 2014.
A few more drowned bikes and some fast riding later, the final cruel surprise was awaiting the riders in the famous Red Bull Romaniacs finish “Gusterita”. In addition to the already existing uphill, prolog master and “Folterknecht” Andy Fazekas had added new sections just before the finish arch, causing utter carnage in front of the cheering crowd. The Bronze class riders, who had arrived there earlier, made it even more difficult by carrying mud and water from the pond onto the structures. Walker was first to arrive there, after struggling slightly with the main uphill. Only a couple of minutes ahead of Jarvis, he lost precious time in the mud-hole, which ended up costing him his victory for the day.
Jarvis, who kept chasing him like a bat out of hell throughout the race, nailed the finish-uphill in the first attempt and kept flying towards Walker. One of the most breathtaking finishes unfolded, with Walker being stuck in the mud and Jarvis approaching. Jarvis pulled smoothly through the slippery section and passed Walker only meters away from the finish-line. This last effort secured him his win for the day with a lead of just seconds. Once he had passed the Red Bull arch, Jarvis held his breath in anticipation, while Walker was struggling out of the mud and over the wet wood. But Walker pulled through and managed to preserve his overall lead, winning the 2015 Red Bull Romaniacs with just a 2 minutes 10 seconds lead over Jarvis.
Walker “It feels awesome to win again – it was a lot tougher than last year and I am looking forward to going home!”
Graham Jarvis: “It’s been an unbelievable race – I think that’s the closest and most competitive one I’ve ever done. It literally went down to the final 50 metres for the win. Of course I’m disappointed that the victory didn’t fall my way by I gave it everything I had. I rode a good week – only had a couple of mishaps – but overall it was a solid ride. It’s been a very competitive race this year. I think the level has really stepped up. It’s nearly turning into a sprint each, the pace has stepped up that much. I think with it being very dry this year that was a factor but I’m enjoying the competition. I’m not unhappy to finish second in such a strong group of riders but hopefully next year I’ll get back on the top step of the podium again.”
Alfredo Gomez: “Finishing on the podium in third is fantastic for me. Honestly, I didn’t know if it would be possible this year. Having missed last year’s race and with only one-year of experience here, I knew it would be a tough week. The first two days in the mountains were not the best I’ve ever ridden. I definitely made it hard on myself. But day three I turned things around with second place and I sort of found my Romaniacs rhythm. Starting day four I knew third could be a possibility so I pushed hard and got it. I’m super happy with this result. Also congratulations to both Graham and Jonny – they rode incredibly this week.”
All of the top-guns rode “wide open” throughout the whole race; crashed and burned many times but arrived in the finish after a gruelling 600 km and four long Offroad Days. In particular Walker and Jarvis were seen riding side by side at maximum-speed in sections like “One Day Uphill”. The trails there are so steep and uninviting, even hikers would struggle to scramble up them. The riders`s performances have now reached a level at which they arrive within seconds of each other – after hours of riding.
Martin Freinademetz: “We have invested significant effort into improving the flow of the race and each class has been spread out more, which will better separate the field of riders. It looks like it paid off – we hardly had any traffic jams! However, we noticed some large differences in the skill level of riders in each of the classes, especially in the Bronze and Silver class. The top 20% rated the race-track as moderate, occasionally easy and ended up arriving in the daily finishes up to 45 minutes early. On the other side of the scale, the weaker riders in the silver class were overwhelmed, leading to only about 50% of finishers in this class. We had an overall of ca. 75% finishers – the very mild and dry conditions certainly helped. We noticed huge smiles on the finisher`s faces!”
The Silver class was mostly reigned over by New Zealanders Archer, Herbert, Clarke, Parker, Broughton and Grey, who constantly placed in the top 10. Kevin Archer (NZL, KTM) maintained his overall lead throughout, with his closest threat being Norbert-Levente Jozsa (RO, KTM), who finished overall 2nd. The Romanian Norbert kept pushing Archer throughout the race but Archer was the stronger rider and won the Silver class.
In the Bronze class, Israeli riders, Tomer Shemesh and Ziv Kami (both KTM) performed well at this 2015 Red Bull Romaniacs, placing 1st and 3rd. Neither rider favored the prolog and chose to take it easy, preferring to preserve themselves for the Offroad Days. Unlike Sandra Gomez, Alfredo’s younger sister, who showed her fellow class riders, as well as spectators, how a technical prolog is done. Her first Hard Enduro rally was off to a great start, placing third in the prolog.
After delivering top ten performances during the first Offroad Days, the rallye had begun taking it’s toll on her and she finished only 25th overall. Sven Heidemann (GER, KTM) finished 2nd in the Bronze class.
Everything is possible at the Red Bull Romaniacs – and former winner Andreas Lettenbichler (D. KTM) had to learn it the hard way: he took a wrong turn in the morning of Offroad Day 2 and lost enough time to cost him any chance for a podium in the overall ranking. And even though he finished Offroad Day 1 in second place and completely dominated day 3, he was only able to end the race as 6th.
The majority of the motorbikes seen in the race, originate from Mattighofen (KTM, Husqvarna). A fan, who had asked our co-commentator in the Red Bull Romaniacs finish, Chris Birch, if any Hondas would be competing in the event, received the following funny answer: “No, there are more AJPs in this event than Hondas! There are no Hondas competing in the Red Bull Romaniacs!” Chris, who opted out of the race after a crash on Offroad Day 2, was welcoming fellow riders in the finish, commentating for the Red Bull Romaniacs live-feed.
Chris Birch: “These guys are on a different level to even a different level!”
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