Matthew Phillips charges back into EnduroGP Title contention with two podium finishes in Portugal
Just days after announcing his retirement from full-time Word Championship EnduroGP racing at the end of season 2017, Matthew Phillips has charged back onto the podium with two solid performances at the GP of Portugal.
Phillips shocked the enduro world with his surprise announcement last week, after uncharacteristic mediocre results at the previous two GP events in Greece and Hungry, the Tasmanian has fought back with his signature never-say-die attitude.
The reigning World Champion placed second on Saturday in very dusty and extremely technical terrain behind British rider Nathan Watson. Phillips fought a fierce battle with current Championship points leader Steve Holcombe who ended up third.
“Awesome felling to be back on the podium,” said Phillips. “Hats off to Nathan today and great to be fighting with Steve again. Big thanks to the Team for always giving their 110 percent.”
The second day of racing in Portugal was another dusty affair with intense racing. Phillips charged hard to claim third place behind Holcombe and Christophe Charlier.
“It was tough today,” Phillips offered after the race. “Hot and dusty but I’m happy to be on the podium.”
After entering the Portugal rounds of EnduroGP racing sitting fifth in the Championship points, Phillips has propelled himself up to third place, just 20 points in arrears of second position.
The next EnduroGP will take place at Hawstone Park in the United Kingdom, September 23 & 24.
EnduroGP World Championship Standings
- Steve HOLCOMBE 259
- Loïc LARRIEU 222
- Matthew PHILLIPS 202
- Nathan WATSON 200
- Christophe NAMBOTIN 180
- Giacomo REDONDI 154
- Cristobal GUERRERO RUIZ 145
- Jaume BETRIU 139
- Alex SALVINI 120
- Christophe CHARLIER 115
Enduro GP Day Two Report Portugal 2017
Day two of the Polisport EnduroGP of Portugal was one for the Brits as Jamie McCanney (Yamaha), Steve Holcombe (Beta) and Brad Freeman (Beta) respectively topped the Enduro 2, EnduroGP and Enduro Junior podiums. Another long, hot, dusty and demanding day in the saddle, there was plenty of drama with notable retirements in all classes.
Day two of the GP of Portugal was building towards a three-way fight in the EnduroGP class between eventual winner Steve Holcombe (Beta), Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna) and Nathan Watson (KTM).
But on the second extreme test Watson’s hopes of challenging for victory were ended when a broken gear lever left him stranded inside the extreme test. Forced to fit a new lever, he lost precious minutes and ended the day 10th.
Winning only two of the day’s special tests, consistency paid off for Holcombe who completed a strong opening lap before claiming his third day win of the season and also extending his championship lead.
“I really wanted to have a good first lap today,” explained Holcombe, “and try and make things a little more straightforward for myself. And I think it worked. I knew the rougher tests would suit me better, and I also removed the mistakes I made on the extreme test on day one. It was a tough day, three or four of us were really pushing hard. I don’t think we’ll see too much more dry and dusty conditions in the world championship now, so I’m excited to start preparing for my home GP. We’re one step closer to the end of the championship, but there’s still a lot of racing to do.”
Finishing as runner up to Holcombe, Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna) earned his best result of the season to date. Less than four seconds from the top step of the EnduroGP podium, Charlier, who returned to competition having ridden a bike just once in the past four weeks, managed to stay ahead of a hard-charging Matt Phillips (Sherco) who rounded out the podium in third.
Crashing in the final enduro test Loic Larrieu (Yamaha) finished fourth, just five seconds behind Phillips with Jaume Betriu (KTM) again delivering an impressive performance to place fifth. Cristobal Guerrero (Yamaha), Mathias Bellino (Husqvarna), Giacomo Redondi (Honda), Denny Philippaerts (Beta) and Nathan Watson (KTM) rounded out the top 10. On day two Christophe Nambotin (KTM), Alex Salvini (Beta) and local favourite Diogo Ventura (Honda) were all forced retire.
Repeating his day one victory to close the gap at the head of the Enduro 2 class to just six points, Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) earned the first double class win of his career following a consistent day-long performance. Winning five of the day’s tests yet taking things cautiously on the extreme test McCanney placed just under 12 seconds ahead of Garcia.
“Today was really tough,” explained Jamie. “I felt like I couldn’t ease off at all, not even in one corner. Like so many times this year things were so tight between myself and Garcia – it was certainly intense. I was a little too cautious in the extreme test but, yeah, we pushed each other really hard right the way to the end of the day and I’m so pleased I was able to get the win – my first double win. I took a few more points back in the championship as well so I’m really excited about the final two rounds of the series.”
Giving everything in the hope of beating Jamie, Josep Garcia in turn placed 45 seconds ahead of Eero Remes (TM). Pascal Rauchenecker (Husqvarna) improved on his day one result to finish fourth on day two, while Manuel Monni (TM) also improved his result to place fifth. Thomas Oldrati (Husqvarna), Danny McCanney (Husqvarna), Henric Stigell (Husqvarna), Rudy Moroni (KTM) and Jonathan Barragan (Gas Gas) rounded out the top 10.
Enduro GP Day One Report Portugal 2017
Day one of the Maxxis FIM EnduroGP of Portugal saw Nathan Watson (KTM) deliver one of the championship’s most dominant winning performances as the Brit secured the top step of the EnduroGP class podium by finishing one-minute and 23 seconds ahead of second placed Matthew Phillips.
A day dominated by extreme dust on the motocross and enduro tests, and featuring numerous technical trails, in the Enduro 2 class Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) was the rider to beat as he topped all but one of the day’s special tests to place 23 seconds ahead of championship rival Josep Garcia (KTM).
With few riders making it through the opening day of competition at the Polisport GP of Portugal without mistakes, in the EnduroGP class Nathan Watson made light work of the dry and extremely dusty conditions to dominate the EnduroGP class. Beaten on only two of the day’s special tests, Watson set an unmatchable pace on both the high-speed motocross and enduro tests.
“I had a really excellent day today, explained Nathan. As soon as I saw the tests I knew they would be good for me. Fast, wide and open enduro and motocross tests really suit my riding. I had a solid first lap and managed to put some time between myself and Loic. From then on, I just rode steady and kept chipping away. The dust was pretty bad today. Other than a small slip on the going the day was flawless. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow now and hope to bag another win.”
Day one in Portugal also saw a return to form for Matt Phillips (Sherco). Although one of many riders unable to match Watson’s pace, the Tasmanian managed to come out on top of a day-long battle with EnduroGP championship leader Steve Holcombe (Beta).
Enduring numerous mistakes during the day, in finishing third and ahead of Loic Larrieu (Yamaha), Holcombe extended his championship lead by two points.
With Larrieu fourth, fifth went to Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna) who returned to the championship following a hand injury picked up at the GP of Hungary. Spain’s Jaume Betriu (KTM) placed sixth, one position ahead of Mathias Bellino (Husqvarna) with local favourite Diogo Ventura (Honda) eighth, Giacomo Redondi (Honda) ninth and Christophe Nambotin (KTM) rounding out the top 10.
Claiming a winning Enduro 2 class result on day one for the first time in 2017, Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) showed his class rivals the way home, winning all but one of the day’s special tests. Starting the day unsure if the super-dry conditions would suit him, in winning all three tests on the opening lap he established himself at the top of the E2 class and remained there to the finish.
“Setting off this morning, I wasn’t sure how these fast, dry tests would suit me, admitted the Manxman. Us British riders aren’t so used to riding in these conditions. I tried to ride mistake-free and just take things lap by lap, ticking off the tests as the day went on. The dust wasn’t too bad for me, it just depended on where you hit it. I was unlucky to get caught in a cloud of dust on the cross test and ended up overshooting a corner. It cost me a few seconds getting back on track. Hopefully I can keep this form going into tomorrow and have another good day.”
Second to Jamie, Josep Garcia (KTM) fell on both the opening extreme test as well as the second enduro test. Placing an eventual 23 seconds behind McCanney, Josep nevertheless finished a sizeable 30 seconds ahead of third placed Davide Guarneri (Honda).
Continuing his impressive run of form, in finishing on the final step of the podium Guarneri secured his third consecutive third place E2 result. Finn Eero Remes (TM) eventually placed fourth, but more than one-minute behind winner Jamie McCanney.
Pascal Rauchenecker (Husqvarna) finished one-minute behind Remes in fifth but ahead of Italian Manuel Monni (TM) who placed sixth despite getting things very wrong on the second run through the rock-littered extreme test.
Danny McCanney (Husqvarna), Henric Stigell (Husqvarna), Rudy Moroni (KTM) and Thomas Oldrati (Husqvarna) rounded out the top 10.