2023 FIM Hard Enduro World Champion crowned at Hixpania
The 2023 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship isn’t officially over, but Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler has wrapped up the title with a round to spare, after taking victory over the weekend at the Hixpania Hard Enduro in Spain. His fifth of the season in another dominant victory, and the racers second consecutive FIM Hard Enduro title.
It’s been an incredible year for Mani – starting with a win at the Xross Hard Enduro in Serbia, the 25-year old went on to dominate at Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, Red Bull Romaniacs, and Red Bull Outliers.
With the event’s opening prologue at Hixpania running as a non-point paying show race only due to safety reasons, qualifying was then carried over to Saturday’s Campoo X-Treme race – a 40-kilometre cross-country that circled the town’s reservoir.
Mani got off to a great start to take an early lead, but was caught and passed by closest championship rival, Billy Bolt. Ultimately settling for third place, Lettenbichler secured one championship point and a strong start position for Sunday’s Hixpania Hard Enduro ‘Lost Roads’ main race.
Starting in a cave, Sunday’s main race promised to be even tougher than expected due do the recent rain and fog. Lettenbichler emerged in second place and immediately set about chasing down the early leader. As the course led the riders into the hills, Mani moved to the front and didn’t look back. From there, the KTM 300 EXC rider delivered a masterclass in hard enduro riding, steadily increasing his advantage over the rest of the field and commanding the race from the front.
Battling his way up the final climb towards the checkered flag, Mani secured the Hixpania Hard Enduro win and with it, the 2023 FIM Hard Enduro crown.
With the title decided, Lettenbichler has one final round of the series to face – GetzenRodeo in early November. You can be sure the young German will be aiming to complete his perfect season with victory on home soil.
“Here I am now, fifth race win in a row for this season and world champion. I had to push so hard today. I got a good start and was able to pass Billy almost straight away and from there I just focused and kept up a good rhythm. Honestly, the day could not have gone any better for me, the race was awesome. What can I say? I’m just speechless.”
Billy Bolt is currently second in the standings, having taken third in Spain.
“It’s been a solid weekend. Winning the first two days and ending today on the podium has been good. I felt good in my riding all weekend and can take a lot of positives from that. I wanted to fight for the win today, but to be fair, the top two guys were riding hard too. Stopping Mani from winning the title today was always going to be tough. It would have been nice to take the battle to the final round, but he has been on a super high level all year. However, I have strengthened my second place in the standings heading into the final round, so I will do all I can now to keep that.”
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