Red Bull KTM’s Jonny Walker defends his title at the 2016 Red Bull 111 Megawatt
Red Bull KTM factory rider Jonny Walker made a welcome return to the winner’s circle on Sunday at the Red Bull 111 Megawatt Hard Enduro, in Poland’s Belchatow Coal Mine.
The British rider won the event from Mario Roman of Spain and South African Wade Young.
Only 18 out of 500 riders to finish the Red Bull 111 Megawatt in Poland on Sunday, with Walker retaining his title after topping the pack.
Jonny Walker’s eternal rival, veteran Graham Jarvis finished fourth in the three-lap epic, with Red Bull KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak in fifth place.
Young KTM rider Manuel Lettenbichler of Germany returned from injury to take sixth and Red Bull KTM’s Alfredo Gomez of Spain was seventh after experiencing technical issues.
Afredo Gomez, Red Bull KTM
“It was not the best day, but that’s racing and these things happen. I started very well and I took the lead for about five minutes but then I started to feel the bike was not riding as normal and the others were passing me. It was crazy though, so soft in some places you can lose the bike, but I enjoyed the last lap and I just wanted to get to the finish.”
The Red Bull 111 Megawatt saw two days of hellish enduro action in the heart of the Belchatow Coal Mine for its third running and consisted of three stages – fast motocross, technical endurocross, and the toughest extreme enduro. The last one surprised everyone with specially prepared high “mega woops”.
Mario Roman, Husqvarna
“Second is a great result with all the top riders here. It came down to a fight to the finish between myself, Jonny and Wade. I had a good start but then crashed with some other riders. The difficult hills were so, so soft. But I managed to not get stuck too much and, well, second is very good for me.”
For some of the riders, riding in the natural mining landscape turned out to be quite impossible. The different types of terrain and elevations were already unbelievably challenging, and the rain showers and wind made for even more dramatic racing.
“I didn’t get off to the best of start but it worked out well in the end, I rode a slightly smaller bike this weekend, but I feel like I was lacking a little power on some of the hills. I certainly can’t complain about a podium result though.
The hills were super soft, which made things tough. Also, the riders that were opening the track had a hard time as it wasn’t easy getting traction on the climbs. I felt good starting the last lap and managed to open up a bit of a gap over the other guys. I had to have two attempts at one of the longer, sandy hills, which is when Jonny and Mario got ahead of me. But I’m happy with third.”
Walker clocked a total time of 2:47:27.77 hours, just three seconds ahead of Mario Roman, with the win signalling his solid return to form.
At the beginning of 2016, Walker had the SuperEnduro Indoor title in his sights, then fractured his leg and has since been working on his rehabilitation.
Jonny Walker, Red Bull KTM
“I tried to pass Taddy because I was eating a lot of his roost and I didn’t want to get my goggles fogged. I passed him in some sandy bits and we were riding together, but there’s nowhere here where you can make time on these riders. I knew it was just going to be a gamble, and I tried to save as much energy as I could and then I made a break for it on the last one and managed to get about 100 meters. I was scared of the last hill, but I did get up it. As long as you stay confident, then you’re good, really. I came here just wanting a podium but my fire came back on the last lap and I was pushing. I knew coming into that final hill I could win or lose the race on that one hill. I’m back with a win, and stoked is not even the word.”
Walker was the fastest qualifier on Saturday onboard his KTM 300 EXC in what turned out to be very different conditions to race day, when it was seriously wet. He said he realised from the outset that the race was going to be a lottery, with Blazusiak fast off the start in the opening lap but Walker close behind.
“I got stuck on that hill and then, when I found the lines that everyone was using it was too late. I was so far behind in the second lap I just cruised, before I decided to go for it on the last lap and for sure I had a lot of fun jumping all the rough stuff and riding a bit harder. I am happy to have got to the finish and a good job from Jonny.”
Graham Jarvis was the only other rider to finish within a minute of the race winner. Looking very much like he had the speed to secure victory, the Erzberg and Romaniacs winner lost time to the leading trio on the faster sections of the final lap but nevertheless claimed an impressive fourth place result.
“Overall, the race went pretty well. We knew this wasn’t going to be like any other extreme enduro event. The rain made the terrain a bit tougher than last year, but still the pace was very fast in some places. During the opening lap it was kind of a struggle to find your way through the flags. Then after the second lap it was more like a motocross race. I made some good passes after the start and got the lead on lap two. I lead for a while but then started losing ground on the faster bits. I was riding good and at the end of the race my gap to first place was less than ten seconds.”
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