Antti Hellsten takes EnduroGP lead in Finnland after Round 1 – Matthew Phillips third
Daniel Sanders takes two sixths in Enduro 2 for seventh overall
As expected day one was long, tiring and challenging for all riders with a minimum of three hours of special test racing for all. Despite sub-zero temperatures during the start of the day, no snow fell with the fastest riders making it back to the paddock just before dark following more than 11 hours of riding.
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Eero Remes (TM) dominated the opening day of the FIM Maxxis EnduroGP World Championship, blitzing the Enduro 2 class. Former world championship regular Antti Hellsten (Husqvarna) battled his way to the top of the EnduroGP class. In the Enduro Junior and Enduro Youth classes Eemil Pohjola (Husqvarna) and Hugo Svärd (Husqvarna) ensured yet more Finnish victories.
Aussie Matthew Phillips (Sherco) finished fourth on Day 1 in the EnduroGP race, while Daniel Sanders (KTM) took sixth place in the Enduro 2 category.
On Day 2 Eero Remes (TM) put the finishing touches to a perfect AMV GP of Finland by wrapping up his home round of the EnduroGP series with a dominant Enduro 2 class win. Antti Hellsten (Husqvarna) topped the EnduroGP class, Eemil Pohjola (Husqvarna) dominated the Enduro Junior class, and Hermanni Haljala (Husqvarna) topped the result sheets in the Enduro Youth category.
Day 2 saw Matthew Phillips strengthen his position with third in Race 2, while fellow Aussie Daniel Sanders again took a sixth place in the second race, mirroring his Race 1 effort.
Matthew Phillips – EnduroGP
“First podium for the season! I’m happy with the result, but it didn’t come easy, battling with the guys all day. Now it’s time to head back to Italy to recover from the extreme weather conditions in time for Spain! Thanks so much to the team, this race wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
Daniel Sanders – Enduro 2
“It was a crazy first day at the Enduro GP office! The Finnish are super fast at home but I managed to bring home sixth in E2 and just outside the top 10 outright. It’s a start and we’ll push on from here! Day 2 of the Finnish Enduro GP is done! 6th in the E2 class and 15th outright was the best we could do. The locals were really quick here so I’m confident we can get to that podium when there is a little less snow in the coming rounds! Massive thanks to the team and my sponsors!”
EnduroGP – Day One
At the top of the EnduroGP results it was Antti Hellsten (Husqvarna) who claimed the win, leading home a trio of Finnish riders. Well used to racing in winter conditions, Hellsten made a strong start to the day before improving during the afternoon.
“I felt good all day but it was after the mid-day service that I upped my pace. I kind of re-started my day and found a little speed that I wasn’t able to find at the start. I pushed harder and got to the top of the results.”
Behind Hellsten was another former world championship regular – Marko Tarkkala (Husqvarna). Making a one-off EnduroGP outing, he remained consistently fast throughout the day, enjoying being back in the world championship and racing at home.
Third in EnduroGP was Aleksi Jukola (KTM), while the top ranked non-Finn in EnduroGP was Matthew Phillips (Sherco). Despite a big crash three tests from home the Tasmanian kept himself ahead of his nearest challenger, Steve Holcombe (Beta).
“I thought I’d been cold before, but today was the coldest I’ve ever been. It was tough being one of the first riders on the tests in the morning, there was no real line to follow, so at times I was a little all over the place. Generally, the day went well.”
Another rider who found it difficult being among the first riders onto the tests was Steve Holcombe (Beta). Placing fifth in EnduroGP – the first two-stroke rider home – Steve was forced to ride half of the day’s 10th special test with no front brake having bent his front brake disk on a rock.
“It was just what I didn’t need as I was starting to feel good, but that’s how it goes some times. I think both Phillips and I struggled a little in the morning but then things improved for us both. I’m happy enough with my result – there was no way I was going to catch those flying Finns.”
Rounding out the top 10 in EnduroGP was Christophe Nambotin (KTM), Loic Larrieu (Yamaha), Nathan Watson (KTM), Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna) and reigning Enduro Junior World Champion Giacomo Redondi (Honda), who crashed heavily on the penultimate test.
EnduroGP Race 1 results
- Antti Hellsten / Husq / FIN / 3:03’25.490
- Marko Tarkkala / Husq / FIN / 3:04’49.380
- Aleksi Jukola / KTM / FIN / 3:05’21.660
- Matthew Phillips / Sherco / AUS / 3:05’32.620
- Steve Holcombe / Beta / GBR / 3:06’50.930
- Christophe Nambotin / Husq / FRA / 3:07’16.890
- Loic Larrieu / Yamaha / FRA / 3:07’29.780
- Nathan Watson / KTM / GBR / 3:08’46.480
- Christophe Charlier / Husq / FRA / 3:08’55.350
- Giacomo Redondi / Honda / ITA / 3:09’15.600
- Henri Himmanen / Beta / FIN / 3:09’55.800
- Alex Salvini / Beta / ITA / 3:09’56.560
- Mika Barnes / KTM / FIN / 3:10’52.490
- Jussi Arvala / Sherco / FIN / 3:16’43.360
EnduroGP – Day Two
Antti Hellsten (Husqvarna) completed a perfect weekend with EnduroGP class victory on day two. Despite winning only four of the day’s 11 special tests the Finn did all that he needed to do in order to stay ahead of second place finisher Steve Holcombe (Beta).
With Steve upping his pace and pushing Hellsten much harder than he did on day one, the difference between the two riders was just 38 seconds at the end of close to two-and-a-half hours of special test racing.
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“I’ve really enjoyed competing in an important Finnish race, that’s also a world championship event. Today was good again, Steve was faster than on day one but I found a good rhythm and kept pushing. As much as I’d love to compete in more world championship races I think this is where I step away from the series, but I’ve enjoyed competing against Holcombe, Phillips and the world championship regulars.”
Keeping Hellsten honest throughout the opening day Holcombe, who finished in fifth behind Matt Phillips (Sherco) on day one, was able to turn the tables, taking second place on day two, with Matthew Phillips taking third.
Topping two tests Holcombe placed 21 seconds ahead of Phillips, who despite damaging his rear brake early in the day, nevertheless pushed hard to secure third overall.
Fourth in EnduroGP on day two, Nathan Watson was arguably more relieved than most riders to have finished both days. Crashing heavily while training at home in England, Nathan struggled during the opening day.
But with his confidence improving throughout the second day he finished just 17 seconds behind Phillips.
Marko Tarkkala (Husqvarna) finished fifth and as the second-best Finn behind Hellsten. Giacomo Redondi (Honda) improved on his day one result to finish sixth with Aleksi Jukola (KTM), Loic Larrieu (Yamaha), Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna) and Alex Salvini (Beta) rounding out the top 10.
EnduroGP Race 2 results
- Antti Hellsten / Husq / FIN / 2:14’22.630
- Steve Holcombe / Beta / GBR / 2:15’01.160
- Matthew Phillips / Sherco / AUS / 2:15’22.250
- Nathan Watson / KTM / GBR / 2:15’39.440
- Marko Tarkkala / Husq / FIN / 2:16’43.960
- Giacomo Redondi / Honda / ITA / 2:17’19.990
- Aleksi Jukola / KTM / FIN / 2:17’24.640
- Loic Larrieu / Yama / FRA / 2:17’27.680
- Christophe Charlier / Husq / FRA / 2:19’30.300
- Alex Salvini / Beta / ITA / 2:21’27.920
- Henri Himmanen / Beta / FIN / 2:21’41.810
- Mika Barnes / KTM / FIN / 2:23’29.640
- Deny Philippaerts / Beta / ITA / 2:25’07.560
- Juha Tirkkonen / KTM / FIN / 2:29’17.030
- Santeri Enjala / KTM / FIN / 2:29’55.460
Enduro GP Standings
- Antti Hellsten – 40
- Marko Tarkkala – 28
- Matthew Phillips – 28
- Steve Holcombe – 28
- Aleksi Jukola – 24
- Nathan Watson – 21
- Loic Larrieu – 17
- Giacomo Redondi – 16
- Christophe Charlier – 14
- Alex Salvini – 10
Enduro 2 – Day One
With Remes running away with things in Enduro 2, Henric Stigell was the only rider to get close. Although nearly three minutes behind Remes after the three hours of special test action, Stigell was impressively fast throughout the day.
Pascal Rauchenecker (Husqvarna) was the fastest non-Finn in the Enduro 2 class, finishing third to deliver one of the event’s stand-out performances.
Roni Nikander (KTM) finished just under one-minute behind Rauchenecker with Josep Garcia (KTM) fifth ahead of his team-mate Daniel Sanders (KTM) and Danny McCanney (Husqvarna) and Jamie McCanney (Yamaha).
Enduro 2 Race 1 results
- Eero Remes / TM / FIN / 3:00’58.230
- Henric Stigell / Husq / FIN / 3:03’48.630
- Pascal Rauchenecker / Husq / AUT / 3:05’57.790
- Roni Nikander / KTM / FIN / 3:06’47.830
- Josep Garcia / KTM / ESP / 3:06’56.620
- Daniel Sanders / KTM / AUS / 3:07’32.590
- Daniel McCanney / Husq / GBR / 3:08’08.860
- Jamie McCanney / Yama / GBR / 3:08’48.490
- Jiri Leino / Beta / FIN / 3:11’13.580
- Lorenzo Santolino / Sherco / ESP / 3:11’59.970
- Davide Guarneri / Honda / ITA / 3:12’42.300
- Manuel Monni / TM / ITA / 3:14’07.390
- Marcus Michelsson / KTM / FIN / 3:14’34.200
- Thomas Oldrati / KTM / ITA / 3:14’40.300
- Tommy Sjostrom / Yama / SWE / 3:15’24.840
Enduro 2 – Day Two
Faced with a shorter day, that featured 11 special tests and took riders south towards the event’s finish on the outskirts of Helsinki, it was again Remes who set the pace others tried to match.
Topping the first nine tests in the Enduro 2 class to open up a sizeable lead, Remes eased his pace a little as the day neared its close but nevertheless still placed close to three minutes ahead of class runner-up Josep Garcia (KTM).
“It was another good day for me. With the first day going so well I knew that if I rode the same way I would be able to be fast again. I felt good and everything worked out. It’s a great start to my championship and it’s been a great event. Winning in Finland is always special.”
Despite being off a bike for one month following a car accident prior to the GP of Finland, Josep Garcia (KTM) brought his first ever senior class outing to a very positive close with a strong second place result behind the flying Remes.
“I’m very pleased with this result. With my time off a bike, with this being my first senior class race, with the conditions being so tough, it’s a great start to the series for me. I was a little unsure of how I would do, but now I will work hard to be even stronger for my home GP in Spain.”
Improving on his day one result Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) finished 26 seconds behind Stigell for fourth with Roni Nikander (KTM) and Daniel Sanders (KTM) rounding out the top six.
“We’ve worked hard during the winter and there was lots of anticipation for this GP. We took a wise decision with the team to arrive in Finland a week earlier and managed to make some great improvements with the bikes and our riding in snow. In saying that, obviously local riders had a clear advantage in these conditions, but nevertheless we did our best on both days. Knowing it was going to be a long weekend I started day one more on the safe side, not taking too many risks. I started fine and got some top five times in some tests. But not having walked the tests beforehand it was hard to know where to push. I started pushing at the end of the day but my times were not improving. I decided to approach day two differently. It was a better day for sure and I was involved in a fight for the top three throughout the day, which is positive. Ending up fourth in these conditions shows the speed is there.”
Competing in his first ever EnduroGP race, Australian Sanders battled his way to the end of a challenging event in seventh overall for Enduro 2.
Enduro 2 Race 2 results
- Eero Remes / TM / FIN / 2:13’12.100
- Josep Garcia / KTM / ESP / 2:16’06.770
- Henric Stigell / Husq / FIN / 2:16’23.080
- Jamie McCanney / Yama / GBR / 2:16’48.490
- Roni Nikander / KTM / FIN / 2:17’27.650
- Daniel Sanders / KTM / AUS / 2:17’28.900
- Manuel Monni / TM / ITA / 2:19’57.170
- Pascal Rauchenecker / Husq / AUT / 2:20’02.330
- Jiri Leino / Beta / FIN / 2:20’27.800
- Lorenzo Santolino / Sherco / ESP / 2:21’02.960
- Davide Guarneri / Honda / ITA / 2:22’38.060
- Thomas Oldrati / KTM / ITA / 2:22’38.060
- Marcus Michelsson / KTM / FIN / 2:23’04.080
- Tommy Sjostrom / Yama / SWE / 2:23’42.110
- Jonathan Barragan / GasGas / ESP / 2:23’59.260
Enduro 2 Standings
- Eero Remes – 40
- Henric Stigell – 32
- Josep Garcia – 28
- Roni Nikander – 24
- Pascal Rauchenecker – 23
- Jamie McCanney – 21
- Daniel Sanders – 20
- Jiri Leino – 14
- Manuel Monni – 13
- Lorenzo Santolino – 12
Fast enough for second overall, Eemil Pohjola (Husqvarna) dominated the Enduro Junior class to finish close to eight minutes ahead of his closest rival, Italy’s Davide Soreca (Honda). Swede Mikael Persson (Yamaha) rounded out the top three.
Just as he was on day one Eemil Pohjola (Husqvarna) was in a class of his own in the Enduro Junior class. Placing close to five minutes ahead of runner-up Davide Soreca (Honda) he also finished an impressive sixth overall. Soreca’s runner-up result matched his day one finish while Henry Olenius (Honda) rounding out the top three.
In the Enduro Youth class Hugo Svärd (Husqvarna), Hermanni Haljala (Husqvarna) and Roni Kytönen (Husqvarna) finished on the podium.
With Scandinavian riders filling the top five places in the 125cc Enduro Youth class it was Finn Hermanni Haljala (Husqvarna) who topped the results, comfortably placing ahead of Emil Jonsson (KTM) from Sweden with Finn Antti Ahtila (KTM) third.
The 2017 EnduroGP World Championship next heads to Spain for the AMV GP of Spain