The stars of the enduro began their international season and the first day of the GRAND PRIX POLISPORT OF PORTUGAL by the first prologue of WEC’s history, the KTM SUPER TEST. Competed Friday evening in the heart of Penafiel, in front of 3.000 spectators, this special test in parallel mixing trunks crossing and stones managed to seduce the whole of the WEC observers, even the more sceptical. The world best enduro riders, riding neck and neck, offered an exceptional and never-seen show. These duels were the occasion to attend some battles of anthology, like the duel Aubert-Salminen which turned to the advantage of the French. Counting for the first day of race, the KTM SUPER TEST saw the victory of the Swede Joakim LJUNGGREN (SWE-HSB) in front of the Spaniards Ivan CERVANTES (ESP-KTM) and Cristobal GUERRERO (ESP-YAM).
The race started again Saturday morning with a tough program, a 50 kilometres lap buckled 4 times. In ENDURO 1, after a “warm-up lap” Mika AHOLA (SF-HM) took the head, being regular in the Extreme Test, precisely the special test where his adversaries made some mistakes. He imposes himself by more than one minute. On a dry terrain, where the lines quickly became ruts, courageous Antoine MEO (FRA-HVA) signed the second place in front of Simone ALBERGONI (ITA-KTM). After having dominated the beginning of race, in the first virgin special tests, Marc GERMAIN (FRA-YAM) lost his advance in the trunks of the Extreme Test, he is fourth. Author of a good start, Eero REMES (SF-KTM) loses all his capital while falling in the Enduro Test, where he lets one minute.
In ENDURO 2, Juha SALMINEN (SF-BMW) beginnings on his new BMW appeared tricky. The Finnish champion, victim of an injury to the foot, could not make better than the fifth place of the category. On the opposite, everything is going well for the outgoing champion Johnny AUBERT (FRA-KTM). The new KTM factory rider seems to be very quickly accustomed to his new machine, he wins the day with 1 minute 24 seconds in advance over his first adversary.
Johnny AUBERT: “I could not dream of a better beginning of championship. I attacked a lot on the first lap, I finished it with a 30 seconds advance. After I tried to manage, and to take a few seconds. Here it is an exhausting race, but I feel very good on my bike. With the team we did a lot of work during the winter and for the moment that’s paying. ”
Joined together for their first confrontation in 2009, Rodrig THAIN (FRA-TM), Alessandro BELOMETTI (ITA-KTM) and Bartosz OBLUCKI (POL-HVA) were decided between in the last timed portions of the day. Most regular of them, Belometti takes the second place of E2 in front of Oblucki in renewal of confidence. Thain stays at the bottom of podium.
For his come back to the big class, Ivan CERVANTES (ESP-KTM) showed himself particularly at ease with the KTM. At the same time technical and aggressive, el Torito dominated comfortably the ENDURO 3, he wins with a 28 seconds advance over his team-mate Samuli ARO (SF-KTM). Sebastien GUILLAUME (FRA-HVA) manages to finish at the top of a very tight group made up also of Christophe NAMBOTIN (FRA-GAS) fourth and Fabio MOSSINI (ITA-HM) fifth. Following the example of Salminen in E2, David KNIGHT (GB-BMW) seems to meet some difficulties with his new BMW, he finishes in an unusual sixth place of E3.
Like the classification of the day, the Junior category is announced exciting in 2009. Already singled out at the end of last season, Sebastien BOZZO (FRA-HVA) ends third. But there was nothing to do against the boosted Spanish Juniors. 6 seconds faster, Lorenzo SANTOLINO (ESP-KTM) is second. The favourite of the championship Oriol MENA (ESP-HSB) signs his first victory in 2009 after an impressive last lap.
— Day Two
After a first exhausting day, the second round of the GRAND PRIX POLISPORT OF PORTUGAL did not offer respite to the stars of MAXXIS FIM WEC. With 4 laps each day, this Portuguese opening was marked by an impressive number of special tests, with not less than 12 timed sectors. Decisive during the first day, the Extreme Test appeared as hazardous as the day before, but the Enduro Test was also the theatre of many surprises. Nevertheless, the fastest riders were the same on both days. Mika Ahola, Johnny Aubert, Ivan Cervantes and Oriol Mena double their wins, and settle down at the top of their categories.
In ENDURO 1, after a first day marked by the hegemony of Mika AHOLA (FIN-HM), the adversaries of the Finn decided to react. The Italians Thomas OLDRATI (ITA-KTM) and Simone ALBERGONI (ITA-KTM) surprised in the first morning tests. The rutted terrains succeed to the two boys, and Albergoni takes the 2nd place while Oldrati finishes in an encouraging third place, his first podium in the Seniors. Still in lack of experience of the WEC, the third KTM rider Eero REMES (SF-KTM) ends fourth of this tight category. On the other hand, there was nearly nothing to do against reigning champion Mika Ahola. However hustled by the Italians in the first times, the HM Honda factory rider testifies to a great confidence in this beginning of season. After an observation lap, he dominated the following tests and finishes the day leading by 35 seconds.
Mika Ahola: “The race was even harder than yesterday, the special tests were bumpy, with so much dust and deep sand. Simone was very fast this morning but from second lap I started to make better and better times. Last lap I really made the difference. The track was becoming more difficult each lap, and I’m faster in these conditions.”
Definitely unlucky in Portugal, French Marc GERMAIN (FRA-YAM) gave up in the Enduro Test, victim of ignition problems.
In ENDURO 2, after his disappointing 5th place on Saturday, the reaction of the ogre Juha SALMINEN (SF-BMW) was expected. In spite of a first good lap, in the rhythm of Top 3 of the category, the Finn made a mistake in the Extreme Test. Hurt, Salminen was not able to make better than a 6th final place. The disillusion of the BMW rider contrasts with the incredible serenity which reigns around Johnny AUBERT (FRA-KTM). The imperturbable world champion signs a second victory, with 1 minute 29 seconds, and positions firmly at the top of the championship. The second place of Enduro 2 returns to Cristobal GUERRERO (ESP-YAM). Handicapped by problems of brake on Saturday, the Spaniard announces himself like a serious candidate for the podiums. He precedes fast Rodrig THAIN (FRA-TM) and Alessandro BELOMETTI (ITA-KTM).
In the big class of ENDURO 3, this second day is marked by the DNF of David KNIGHT (GB-BMW). After he twisted his knee in the Enduro Test, the colossus from Isle of Man came back limping to the paddock at mid-day. It is obviously a new underachievement for the BMW team in this beginning of championship. On his way, his former sparring partner at KTM seems completely lighted up. Ivan CERVANTES (ESP-KTM) is flying over E3, with 44 seconds in advance on his first adversary. Behind the Spaniard, the positions are tightened, even if Christophe NAMBOTIN (FRA-GAS) second managed to maintain throughout the day a gap on Sebastien GUILLAUME (FRA-HVA) third and Samuli ARO (SF-KTM) fourth. The 2008 champion was slowed down by a latecomer rider in the special tests.
On the side of the JUNIORS, the “grinta” of the Spanish pilots made the difference. Oriol MENA (ESP-HSB), large winner of the weekend is announced already like the best candidate for the title. The second place offered a beautiful brawl between Lorenzo SANTOLINO (ESP-KTM) and Jérémy JOLY (FRA-HM). The French gradually increased his rhythm during the day to overtake the Spaniard at the end of the race. In spite of the bad luck of Victor GUERRERO (ESP-YAM), forced to give-up on mechanical problem, the young Spanish guard is the animator of the Junior category. We will find it again on March 28th and 29th for the GRAND PRIX AMV OF SPAIN, second part of the Iberian tour in Igualada.
— BMW Report
The opening round of the ’09 World Enduro Championship – the GP of Portugal, staged in Penafiel close to Porto – proved to be a demanding one for the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team. Confident of strong results following encouraging performances on behalf of all team riders at the recent opening round of the Spanish Enduro Championship, the two-day WEC event ended with team riders Juha Salminen, David Knight and Marko Tarkkala failing to perform at their best on the lose, dry and dusty Portuguese special tests.
With the ’09 WEC opener starting with a Friday night ‘Super test’ all riders were well placed near the top of their respective classes ahead of the first full day of competition, with David Knight starting Saturday second in the Enduro 3 class.
Encouraging special tests times followed for both David and Juha on the extreme tests on day one as both riders enjoyed class wins, but disappointingly they failed to match the pace of their class rivals on either the enduro and motocross tests.
In the Enduro 2 class Juha Salminen did everything he could to secure a podium finish yet despite winning two extreme tests and improving his pace as the day progressed was unable to finish higher than fifth in class. Finishing eighth following a consistent day’s riding was Juha’s Enduro 2 class team-mate Simo Kirssi.
On day two Juha twice crashed on the extreme test, which ended his chances of bettering his day one result. Losing a considerable amount of time on both occasions the Finn placed an eventual sixth in class with Kirssi two places behind in eighth following another consistent day.
Mirroring Salminen’s pace on the extreme test on day one David Knight secured four winning performances on the technical special test, but disappointingly also failed to reproduce those results on the enduro and motocross tests.
Following several small falls and failing to perform at his best he placed sixth. Marko Tarkkala finished two places behind David in eighth.
Unfortunately, on day two Knight was forced to withdraw after running over his foot and badly twisting his knee. Improving his day one result by one place Marko Tarkkala finished in seventh position.
The ’09 World Enduro Championship moves to Catalonia this coming weekend where the Moto Club Igualada hosts the GP of Spain.
Berti Hauser – BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “Clearly the results that we achieved are not the results we hoped for, and of course we are disappointed with the way the opening round of the ’09 World Enduro Championship has finished.
Even though we knew that this year would be anything but easy, we were looking forward to the start of the new championship with real optimism.
Firstly, we have to analyze where and why our riders lost time in the enduro and motocross special tests. Therefore we need informative feedback from the riders. One thing that is certain is that we did not do enough testing on soft, lose tracks, like in Portugal. There were some positive points, like the fact that both Juha and David won some of the extreme tests, but sadly that was overshadowed by their eventual finishing results.
Although there is just one week before the next round of the world championship we will do everything we can to improve our competitiveness there.
— KTM Report
Double victory in E3 for Ivan Cervantes in opening Enduro GP
Rounds one and two of the Enduro E1 World championships series began with flair for KTM factory rider Ivan Cervantes when he took a double victory and a maximum of 50 championship points in Portugal at the weekend to launch his 2009 title bid.
Cervantes, returning to the big bike category this season as already satisfied after taking the top spot on Saturday saying: “I had three small crashes and lost some time but apart from that it was a perfect day and I feel very positive going into the season.” Then on Sunday the Spaniard went out and picked up the double.
KTM factory teammate and reigning E3 world champion Samuli Aro can also be satisfied with his weekend with a second place on Saturday and a fourth on Sunday after getting into difficulties and sacrificing about 25 seconds.
“It was a very tough weekend but also a very positive one,” KTM team boss Fabio Farioli said on Sunday. It has been two long hard days and the riders are very tired.” Organisers on Sunday slightly altered the Extreme test making it somewhat easier than it had been on Saturday.
KTM’s Offroad racing director Pit Beirer was also very satisfied. “It was an awesome weekend. It was great to see how well the team worked together and how our riders went out and were so strong.”
The team planned to travel immediately to Spain to prepare for the next two rounds next weekend in Igualada about 60 km west of Barcelona.