Matthew Phillips fourth overall in EnduroGP standings – Daniel Sanders 13th and ninth across two days
EnduroGP – Day 1
Steve Holcombe (Beta) made a winning start at the FunnelWeb Filter GP of Great Britain where the EnduroGP World Championship leader claimed a commanding win at the end of the series’ first ever enduro sprint.
Placing 31 seconds ahead of runner-up Nathan Watson (KTM) and a further 12 seconds in front of third placed Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna), Steve also extended his championship lead and is now just seven points away from the 2017 EnduroGP title.
Hitting the ground running, Steve Holcombe (Beta) dominated the six laps of the enduro test at the start of day one of the GP of Great Britain. Ending the first half of the day with a commanding lead, Steve then held his own on the six laps of the motocross test to earn a 31-second margin of victory in front of a delighted home crowd.
“It’s such a relief to have won the sprint enduro, I’ve been working for this result for close to eight weeks, at times it’s felt like the event was never going to arrive. But the hard work definitely paid off. I didn’t feel like I was riding at my limit on the enduro test, but I didn’t make any mistakes. I was surprised to win all six tests, but it was the perfect thing with the motocross test in the afternoon. I was able to manage my lead a little then as I knew a few of the riders would be faster than me there. It’s been a perfect start to the event, but I know tomorrow’s cross-country race is going to be really challenging.”
With Steve showing all others the way to go during the enduro test, Nathan Watson (KTM) was very much the rider to beat around the Hawkstone Park motocross test where he topped five of the six laps. Reducing Steve’s gap at the top of the results, Watson was ultimately unable to challenge for the day win but took a well-deserved runner-up result and managed to finish 12 seconds ahead of third placed Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna).
Missing out on a podium result by just over one-second, Loic Larrieu (Yamaha) placed fourth to end the day as the fastest rider on the 12th and final special test. More than one-minute behind Larrieu, Jaume Betriu (KTM) put in a strong performance to finish ahead of several factory-backed riders.
Next up was Alex Salvini (Beta) with Matt Phillips (Sherco), Giacomo Redondi (Honda), Cristobal Guerrero (Yamaha) and Deny Philippaerts (Beta) rounding out the top 10.
At the end of a hugely physical three-hour cross-country race around the iconic Hawkstone Park venue, Nathan Watson was the big winner on day two of the FunnelWeb Filter GP of Great Britain. The EnduroGP World Championship’s first ever XC race, the event certainly didn’t fail to deliver close, drama-filled racing across all classes.
There was happiness, relief and extreme disappointment in equal measure for the UK’s two leading riders. Steve Holcombe (Beta), who needed just a handful of points to clinch the EnduroGP title, made the perfect start to the event and lead from the start. Followed by Nathan Watson (KTM) he pushed hard from the front and looked extremely comfortable in the lead.
Aussie Matthew Phillips was a DNF on Day 2 following his seventh place finish on Day 1.
“A real season breaker this weekend. 7th and another DNF today. Great event ran here in the UK, great to see the fans out and getting into it.”
Shortly before the one-hour mark he was forced into the pits with a technical issue that saw his lead vanish. Battling his way forward and setting the fastest lap of the race Steve eventually placed fifth.
Steve Holcombe – P5
“Despite things going so, so well on the first day here at Hawkstone I can hardly put into words how disappointing it is to have a simple technical problem undo what was looking like being another great and potentially winning result. Everything went exactly to plan at the start of the cross-country race – I got the holeshot, opened up a good lead and felt great. Then I had problems with my rear wheel. I had no option but to come into the pits, which cost me the lead and five to 10 minutes. That was the win gone, so I just pushed as hard as I could to try and salvage the best result I could. Fifth is what it is, but I know it could have been so much better. Thankfully, the sprint enduro went much better. Winning the first six enduro tests was amazing. I knew it would be hard to beat the ex GP motocross riders on the six motocross tests we had but I hung on in there and got the day win. Despite the issue on day two I still have a 40-point lead going into the final round of the series. So many people helped me prepare for this event, and supported me during the weekend, I owe them a huge thank you.”
Nathan Watson (KTM) was the rider to eventually claim the EnduroGP class win, but not before he battled with Christophe Charlier (Husqvarna). Taking over the lead from Holcombe, Nathan held a comfortable advantage for much of the second hour of the race before being caught and passed by Charlier.
Nathan Watson – P1
“I’m really happy with how the weekend has gone, I put a lot of work into training for this event and I’m glad it’s paid off. I made a mistake on day one, on one of the enduro tests, and it was hard to fight back from that. The cross tests went really well but I wasn’t quite able to take the win. The cross-country race was a lot tougher than I imagined. I got a good start and was soon into second place behind Steve Holcombe. He then had some issues that meant I was able to take the lead. I tried to push on to create a gap over second but possibly used too much energy as midway through the race I began to feel tired. Charlier caught me, but after fighting with him for a few laps I was able to take the lead again and held it to the finish. That was definitely one of the hardest races I have ever done.”
Putting in one of the strongest performances of the race, Charlier charged his way to the front of the EnduroGP class following a poor start. Taking the lead from Watson he then hit a tree, yet refused to throw the towel in.
Christophe Charlier – P2
“My speed was good throughout the weekend. On day one I struggled with the different format. I did my best to get some good times in the morning enduro tests but as we headed to the cross test I soon found out the lines where nothing close to what I expected them to be. Then on day two I got off to a bad start in the cross-country race but pushed hard to find myself battling for the win. I felt quite good on my bike but a couple of crashes forced me to settle for second at the finish. Overall, it’s been a great weekend for me and I’m very happy to secure two more podium results in EnduroGP class.”
Managing to get back into the lead, in needing to make a final pit stop he fell behind Watson and eventually placed second. Putting in one of the most consistent performances of the race Loic Larrieu (Yamaha) rounded out the Enduro GP podium in third, just six seconds behind Charlier.
Loic Larrieu – P3
“This weekend we were faced with a new race format and that was a new experience for us. On day one I enjoyed the sprint racing format. I managed to put in some consistent times in the first enduro tests. Improving my speed as the day went on I topped the last motocross test and that was good going into the second day. I finished day one in fourth and just one second behind the top three. For Sunday’s GNCC-styled race our plan was to make a steady start and then keep improving on my speed as the racing went on. The track was already destroyed from Saturday’s racing so it was hard to avoid small mistakes. I started the race inside the top five and managed to make a few passes for third at the finish line. It’s been really busy for me these last couple of weeks and at the end of the weekend here in the UK I felt physically exhausted. We’re still in contention for the title and it’ll all go down to the final round in Germany in October.”
Spain’s Jaume Betriu (KTM) was another rider to put in a notably strong performance to finish fourth, ahead of the day’s unluckiest rider Steve Holcombe (Beta). Cristobal Guerrero (Yamaha), Denny Philippaerts (Beta) and Giacomo Redondi (Honda) rounded out the top eight with wild card rider Brad Anderson (KTM) finishing ninth.
In the Enduro 2 class three riders set wining times during the six enduro tests but it was championship leader Josep Garcia (KTM) who ended the day as the rider to beat.
Placing an eventual 10 seconds ahead of Finn Eero Remes (TM) Garcia extended his championship lead with third on the day going to Jamie McCanney (Yamaha), who saw his chances of fighting for the win ended with one fall on the enduro test and a stalled engine on one of the motocross tests.
“Things went really well for me today. One of my goals was to make sure I didn’t crash, which I managed to do so I’m very pleased. I had some good tests in the morning, on the enduro test, and then on the cross test I pushed but not as much as I could – I managed my lead. I enjoyed racing in the sand here, but it was a difficult day. But nowhere near as difficult as tomorrow is going to be.”
With Eero Remes (TM) ending the day as runner-up in Enduro 2, British rider Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) was one rider disappointed with his final result having had the speed to fight for the win. Falling once on the enduro test and stalling his bike once on the motocross test, Jamie ended the day 21 seconds behind Garcia in third.
“Third isn’t too bad, but if I take away the time I lost on the enduro test in the morning and the motocross test in the afternoon I know I would have been right there with Garcia. What’s done is done so now I have to focus on the cross-country race. That’s going to be really challenging, let’s see how that goes.”
Just four seconds behind Jamie, Danny McCanney (Husqvarna) saw a few mistakes prevent him from finishing on the podium but managed to finish comfortably ahead of fifth placed Davide Guarneri (Honda).
Pascal Rauchenecker (Husqvarna), Manuel Monni (TM), Rudy Moroni (KTM), Henric Stigell (Husqvarna) and Jonathan Barragan (Gas Gas) rounded out the top 10.
Australian, Daniel Sanders suffered a couple of crashes on day one to finish 13th, but improved on day two’s cross-country race to finish inside the top-10 in ninth place in the Enduro 2 class.
Enduro 2 – Day 1 results
Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 57:22.85
Eero Remes (FIN), TM, 57:33.03 +10.18
Jamie McCanney (GBR), Yamaha, 57:44.04 +21.19
Daniel McCanney (GBR), Husqvarna, 57:48.26 +25.41
Davide Guarneri (ITA), Honda, 58:32.54 1:09.69
Enduro 2 – Day 2
Without doubt one of the stand out performers of the event was Pascal Rauchenecker (Husqvarna) who topped the Enduro 2 class, as well as managing to overtake all of the EnduroGP class riders ahead of him to become the first rider to reach the finish.
Eventually finishing close to two minutes ahead of Husqvarna team-mate Danny McCanney (Husqvarna), Pascal showed no signs of fatigue during the closing stages of the race and charged to a convincing win. In doing so he became the first Austrian ever to win a day of the EnduroGP World Championship.
Pascal Rauchenecker – P1
“It was a good weekend for me and I’m happy with my first victory in the class. On day one I struggled to get a good speed in the toughest parts of the enduro test but as soon as we got to the cross test I was able to show my speed. I was happy to end the day by winning the last two tests. Then on day two we made some small changes to our set-up and it was a lot easier for me to push in the woods sections. My bike was working awesome. I knew the race would be long so I decided to keep a steady pace from the start. In the last hour I decided to up my pace a bit without pushing over the limits. Overall, it all worked according to plan and I was really glad to get the win. I’m also proud to be the first Austrian rider to win an Enduro World Championship race.”
For much of the early part of the three-hour race it looked as if any one of six riders might top the E2 class. Josep Garcia (KTM) and Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) were both left at the back of the class as their bikes were slow to fire into life.
Danny McCanney – P2
“I’ve put a lot of effort into this race and I was really looking forward to it. We had two great tests on Saturday and a long and exhausting three-hour long race on Sunday. It was a new experience for all so I just did my best for some good results. Overall, I’m really happy with fourth on Saturday and second on Sunday. It was a tough weekend and we manged to come out of it with two positive results. My bike ran great throughout the weekend and it was pleasing to get these two results. The plan now is to take some rest before going back to my normal special test training. My focus now is on the big final in Germany.”
Josep Garcia – P3
“I felt really great straight away on day one and I knew my pace was good. My goal was to make the minimum of mistakes and not crash, which I managed to do. I pushed hard on the enduro tests in order to make a gap over my rivals, I was then able to just ride sensibly on the cross tests to take the win. I had a terrible start to the cross-country race, I was left at the line. It took a while to fight through the field. That used up a bit of energy, so it was hard to catch up with the leaders. It was really tough out there – one of the most difficult races of my life – but I’m happy to get third. It’s a really important result for the championship as I finished in front of my closest rival. Now I just have to stay focused for the remaining round in Germany and hopefully will be able to take the title.”
In contention for the win throughout the race Danny McCanney (Husqvarna) eventually placed second with championship leader Josep Garcia (KTM) rounding out the top three. Looking to reduce Garcia’s advantage at the top of the E2 standings, Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) narrowly missed the podium following an eventful race.
Davide Guarneri (Honda) placed fifth ahead of early pace-setter Eero Remes (TM) with Henric Stigell (Husqvarna) and Jonathan Barragan (Gas Gas) rounding out the top eight. Eero Remes (TM) set the fastest lap of the race in the E2 class.
There was home success in the Enduro Junior class where Brad Freeman (Beta) took an 18-second second margin of victory to close to within just a handful of points of EJ class leader Davide Soreca (Honda). With Swede Albin Elowson (Husqvarna) keeping Freeman on his toes, Freeman and Elowson were in a class of their own placing close to one-and-a-half minutes ahead of third placed Matteo Cavallo (Beta).
“Things started off well for me in the morning on the first few runs through the motocross test, but then I just didn’t improve my times as the test got faster. I could see that I wasn’t quite as fast as I needed to be so I just tried to stick with it and waited till I got onto the enduro test. I knew that one good test would be enough to get to the top of the results, and pretty much that’s what I managed to do. The test was technical but it went well and I won five of the six tests. It’s great to win here, I just hope I can do the same tomorrow.”
In the 125cc Enduro Youth class competition was close for the podium positions. Chilean Ruy Barbosa (Husqvarna) claimed the win, topping six of the day’s special tests to place 14 seconds ahead of placed Leo Le Quere (TM) with class champion Andrea Verona (TM) third.
Enduro Junior & Youth – Day 2
Closing to within just four points of Enduro Junior championship leader Davide Soreca (Honda) and having been as many as 44 points behind after missing the opening round of the series, Brad Freeman (Beta) put the finishing touches to the perfect weekend by claiming a hard-fought win.
Completing 18 laps just as the fastest EnduroGP and Enduro 2 class riders did, Freeman placed two minutes ahead of Soreca.
“I had to tell myself to slow down during the second half of the race. I felt really good and was passing some of the E2 class riders and needed to remind myself that they weren’t in my race. I got a perfect start, which made things easier. I was 30 seconds ahead in the juniors at the end of the second lap, but then started catching the E2 class riders. I tangled with one and I went down pretty hard. I dropped to second in class before taking the lead again. From there I kept my head down and it all went well for me. It’s great to win here in the UK, it’s been a great event.”
With Freeman taking the Enduro Junior class win and with class leader Soreca runner-up, third went to Swede Albin Elowson (Husqvarna) who finished three minutes behind Freeman. Freeman, Soreca and Elowson were the only three junior class riders to complete 18 laps.
In the 125cc Enduro Youth class Chilean Ruy Barbosa (Husqvarna) added victory to the sprint enduro win he claimed on day one. Placing close to one-and-a-half minutes ahead of Leo Le Quere (TM) Barbosa was also joined on the podium by Andrea Verona (TM).
The 2017 Maxxis FIM EnduroGP World Championship now moves onto the eighth and final round of the series, the Acerbis GP of Germany in Zschopau on October 20-22.
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