2022 FIM EnduroGP World Championship
EnduroGP of Slovakia – Round Five
TM Racing’s Wil Ruprecht won the opening day of round five of the WPTGlobal FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Gelnica, Slovakia over the weekend. A wet and muddy day of racing at the GP of Slovakia saw the Australian come good in the final test of the day to edge out GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona by 11 seconds for the win. Beta Factory Racing’s Steve Holcombe was having fun in the tricky conditions and finished third overall.
A new winner emerged in Enduro Junior with Max Ahlin (Beta) securing his first win of the season, while Samuli Puhakainen carded another win for TM Racing with victory in Enduro Youth.
Ruprecht was then able to celebrate a perfect weekend after storming to victory on Sunday, the Australian on top form, overcoming the wet and slippery conditions to top the EnduroGP podium.
Beta Factory Racing’s Steve Holcombe pushed Ruprecht all the way, finishing just under half of a second behind him as runner-up. Back from injury, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia returned to the podium with third. Honda Redmoto World Enduro’s Roni Kytonen took victory in Enduro Junior, while Fantic’s Kevin Cristino won Enduro Youth.
Friday Super Test
Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman laid down a stormer in Friday’s AKRAPOVIC Super Test. The Brit topped the time sheets by over one second from championship leader Andrea Verona (GASGAS), with Steve Holcombe (Beta) also showing well for third.
Placing just over one tenth of a second behind Holcombe, Honda RedMoto World Enduro’s Thomas Oldrati was fourth. Back in business having missed round four in Portugal due to injury, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia was just two hundredths of a second slower than Oldrati for fifth.
In the Enduro Junior category, Team Sherco CH Racing’s Zachary Pichon put in a near-perfect ride to top the classification by almost two seconds. Spain’s Alejandro Navarro took second, with Sweden’s Max Ahlin in third.
Beta’s Leo Joyon will be pleased with his efforts tonight, going fastest in the Enduro Youth class. Albert Fontova (KTM) ended his night in second, with fellow Spaniard Alex Puey (KTM) third.
EnduroGP Day 1 (Saturday)
After the hot, dry, and dusty conditions of round four in Portugal last month, competitors were greeted with cooler, wetter, and muddier conditions at round five of the WPTGlobal FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Gelnica, Slovakia. Lingering clouds ensured conditions stayed at that optimum level of tricky and challenging. Mastering the mud and adapting to changing race lines was key to success.
Brad Freeman didn’t miss a beat as he charged through the opening POLISPORT Extreme Test to extend his Friday lead to almost six seconds. However, Ruprecht was beginning to find his rhythm and on the ACERBIS Cross Test he set the fastest time to reduce that margin to two seconds.
At over 14 minutes long the JUST1 Enduro Test was set to play a big factor in the results. With Verona and Ruprecht going 1-2 respectively, the pair moved to the head of the standings as Freeman slipped from first to fifth.
On lap two, Freeman was again fastest on the POLISPORT Extreme Test to move up to fourth. Ruprecht led, but it was only just, with an incredible one hundredth of a second splitting Ruprecht and Verona. Holcombe was six seconds back and keeping the pressure on.
At the end of lap two, the positions had changed once more, with Verona now leading by three seconds. Holcombe was still third, but losing ground. Entering the final test of the day, the ACERBIS Cross Test, Verona held a three-second lead over Ruprecht. However, luck was not on his side and with two crashes coming the Italian’s way, it was just what Ruprecht needed to claim victory.
“I was fortunate to get the win today, but I wasn’t completely happy with how I rode. After my crash at the GP of Portugal my bike time was a bit limited coming into this race but, hey, I’ll definitely take a win if I can! It’s also my first win in the wet and mud, so that was cool. Hopefully I can do it again tomorrow.”
Behind Ruprecht and Verona, Holcombe – spurred on by winning the final POLISPORT Extreme Test – ended his day third overall. Returning to racing having missed round four due to injury, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia finished fourth. Freeman completed the top five.
Australia’s Daniel Milner finished the day in 18th.
In Enduro1 there was no change of race winner, with Verona riding clear to a commanding one minute and 36 second margin of victory. Honda Redmoto World Enduro’s Thomas Oldrati put in a solid ride for second. TM Racing’s Matteo Cavallo completed the top three.
With his EnduroGP victory in one back pocket, Ruprecht added the Enduro2 win to his other pocket. Holcombe finished as runner-up, with Garcia rounding out the podium.
Taking advantage of his strong start this morning, Freeman controlled Enduro3 to take the win. Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Mikael Persson enjoyed a close battle with Matteo Pavoni (TM) to finish second.
The Enduro Junior class saw Max Ahlin (Beta) land his first win of the season. Point’s leader Zach Pichon had started out strong, but lost a lot of time on the first JUST1 Enduro Test to slip down the running order. Ahlin won that test to move into the race lead and hung on to claim victory. Germany’s Luca Fischeder (Sherco) finished second, with Pichon regrouping for third.
The Enduro Youth class belonged to Samuli Puhakainen (TM) on day one in Gelnica. Clearly enjoying the conditions, he rode clear to a 47-second margin of victory over Fantic’s Harry Edmondson. Sherco’s Thibault Giraudon rounded out the podium.
Day 1 Results –
LE QUERE Leo
SANS SORIA Marc
EnduroGP Day 2 (Sunday)
Overnight rain that lingered greeted competitors for day two in Gelnica, Slovakia and already beaten-up special tests would prove all the more challenging to master this morning before the wet weather eased off during the second half of the day.
After showing yesterday that he’s an Australian who can master the mud, Wil Ruprecht was out to hammer that home again today. Unfazed by the slippery conditions, he was impressive to watch on lap one. Fastest on the opening three special tests, he built up a lead that would ultimately prove too much for everyone else to catch.
Slow to get going on lap one, Steve Holcombe found some extra pace on lap two and made an attack on Ruprecht. Winning the second ACERBIS Cross Test, he closed the gap slightly. Finding 12 seconds on Ruprecht in the following JUST1 Enduro Test, Steve was on a roll.
Exiting the final POLISPORT Extreme Test he still trailed Ruprecht by almost 11 seconds and would need to deliver an outstanding effort on the final ACERBIS Cross Test to take the win. Giving it his best shot, the seven-time world champ went to work and clocked in the fastest time of the day. However, it wouldn’t be enough and after over one hour of timed special tests he fell just four tenths of a second short of victory.
Wil Ruprecht – P1
“The tracks were so slippery this morning with the overnight rain. I went out hard this morning and it worked for me building a big lead. But I suffered for it on the final lap. The 15-minute enduro test was tough work. Steve was coming back strong, but I just managed to keep him back. Overall it’s been awesome to bounce back like this with a double win.”
Steve Holcombe – P2
“It’s been a good weekend. I really enjoyed the special tests. They were proper long, and I love that. Normally I have more confidence in the mud, but I struggled with mistakes this morning. I got it together when the rain eased and was battling for the win. It felt good to be doing that again. For sure it’s a huge confidence boost heading into Hungary next weekend.”
Building pace all weekend, Spain’s Josep Garcia fought his way onto the podium today. Putting his recent injury behind him, the KTM rider will welcome that result as he heads into the GP of Hungary next weekend.
Josep Garcia – P3
“It’s been a difficult weekend, coming back from injury to such a tough event, but I’m really pleased with how I’ve been riding here in Slovakia. I didn’t come into the weekend with any expectations, and then I had a couple of crashes in the first few tests yesterday, which put me on the back foot a little, but I was able to stay focused and find my rhythm as the day went on. Towards the end I did lose a little strength and so had to ease back a little, but I was happy to finish on the podium. On Sunday, I knew I would wake up feeling tired, but as I got going my body loosened up and I was able to fight for the top places in EnduroGP. Like yesterday, I did start to suffer a little towards the end of the day, and I had quite a big crash in the second cross test, but I’m happy to finish third overall and third in the class. Now I have just less than a week to build my strength before Hungary next weekend.”
Thomas Oldrati (Honda) had a great day at the office, racing his way to fourth overall. The Italian picked up the fastest time on the final JUST1 Enduro Test to hold off fifth-placed GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona by two seconds. Verona still maintains his overall lead in the championship.
Daniel Milner had a mechanical issue on Day 2, ending his EnduroGP early.
Daniel Milner – DNF
“Rough day one here in Slovakia EnduroGP, unfortunately had a mechanical problem towards the end of the day that will see me out of day two’s action.”
In Enduro1, Verona’s win streak finally came to an end in the rain in Gelnica. After nine consecutive victories, today was Oldrati’s turn to enjoy the top step of the podium. With Verona second, TM Racing’s Matteo Cavallo filled out an all-Italian top three in Enduro1.
“A bit of an up and down weekend for me here in Slovakia. Day one was really good. I was consistent all day and I was leading going into the final test, but two small crashes cost me the win. Overall, It was a good first day with second in EnduroGP and the win in E1. I was feeling good for day two and it started well, but on the first enduro test I crashed and lost around 40 seconds. From there all I could do was charge as hard as I could and ended up fifth in EnduroGP and second in E1. So the E1 win streak is over but the bigger picture is that I still lead both classes. I’m excited for Hungary next weekend.”
Arguably one of the most competitive classes, the results of Enduro2 mirrored that of EnduroGP, with Ruprecht, Holcombe and Garcia claiming the top three positions. Nathan Watson (Honda) and Albin Elowson (Husqvarna) were fourth and fifth respectively.
Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman was once again the rider to beat in Enduro3. The Brit had the measure of his classmates in the rain, finishing 45 seconds clear of Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Mikael Persson in second. Matteo Pavoni (TM) took third.
“It’s been a solid weekend finishing second both days in Enduro3. I’m not super happy with the result because I would like to be closer to Brad for the victory, but it’s been a good weekend. Saturday went well. I improved as the conditions dried, and I was able to finish seventh in the overall too. I was hoping for a little more on Sunday, but I lost some time in the morning and had to fight back. Overall it’s been a good challenging weekend and with the GP of Hungary next weekend I hope to get another strong result there.”
Enduro Junior saw Finland’s Roni Kytonen return to the top step of the podium. The Honda rider hit his stride on the JUST1 Enduro Test, winning both runs. Team Sherco CH Racing’s Zach Pichon finished as runner-up for the second day running, while day one winner Max Ahlin (Beta) was third.
“I started out a bit slow, but came good from lap two. I had a good pace on the enduro test and that helped for sure. I’m happy to get this win.”
In Enduro Youth, Fantic’s Kevin Cristino took the win. The Italian was impressively strong in the slippery conditions, winning five of the day’s eight special tests. Fantic’s Harry Edmondson maintains his lead at the top of the standings with another runner-up result. Albert Fontova (KTM) enjoyed his first podium visit of 2022 with third.
“I pushed hard from the start and had good times in the enduro test. I’ve worked hard to get back to this pace, so I’m excited now to keep fighting for the rest of the season.”
The WPTGlobal FIM EnduroGP World Championship continues with round six in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary on August 5-7.
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