Germany’s Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) takes control of the World Enduro Super Series lead with victory at round five’s Red Bull Romaniacs. Securing the win on the final day of racing in Romania, Lettenbichler claimed his debut victory in WESS. He was joined on the podium by Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Alfredo Gomez (ESP) and Graham Jarvis (GB).
Holding the provisional lead at the end of the penultimate day, Lettenbichler was determined to claim the top step of the podium on the final day of racing. With a slender one-minute and seven-second lead over Gomez, the German pushed hard from the off and following the early climbs maintained his position at the front.
Gomez appeared to struggle to find his rhythm early on, dropping back behind a charging Jonny Walker (GB). The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider was on top form and provisionally led on corrected time entering the service point.
Rain Challenges All
But with heavy rain greeting riders, the already challenging trails proved slippery and unpredictable. Gomez found his rhythm in the rain and brought the fight back to Lettenbichler. The duo swapped and changed position with each passing section.
Lettenbichler entered the Gusterita finishing arena first and worked hard to complete the remaining climbs as quickly as possible. Anxiously waiting for Gomez to arrive, the KTM rider kept one eye on the clock and one on his rival as the seconds ticked by.
The nerves soon turned to joy and with Lettenbichler declared the winner, the celebrations could begin. For Gomez it was a case of close, but not close enough. Despite giving his best effort on arguably the toughest day of this year’s race it was not to be and he had to settle for the runner-up result. Putting hopes of another victory in this year’s championship on hold, Jarvis ended his week on the third step of the podium.
Blazusiak Recovers For Fourth
With the top three proving themselves the main contenders, Blazusiak was a definite improver as the week wore on. Hampered by his technical issue on day one, a strong ride on the final two days brought him back up the leaderboard for fourth. A really strong ride from Walker for third on Off Road Day Four, saw him complete the top five in the final classification.
Behind the top five, drama struck Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman. Holding fourth overall, the Spaniard had a bad day at the office in seventh. Despite a strong three days previous, he slipped to seventh overall. His loss was Billy Bolt’s gain, with the British rider moving up to sixth overall.
Signing off on an impressive week, JD Gunnex KTM Racing privateer David Cyprian (CZ) placed ninth in the rain to end round five eighth overall. TTR Officine Rigamonti’s Pol Tarres (ESP) and Josep Garcia (KTM-ESP) completed the top 10 in ninth and tenth respectively.
Artola Wins Silver Class
In the Silver class a final day win for Britain’s Sam Winterburn couldn’t deny Spain’s Josu Artola the top step of the podium. Opting to play safe and settle for second was enough to see the Spaniard win the Silver category outright. Spain’s Alberto Aramburu placed third overall in Silver.
Romania’s Radu Sardarescu grabbed the final day’s win, but shadowing him home for second saw Poland’s Marcin Welglarz claim the overall Bronze class victory. In the final classification he was joined on the podium by Eric Slominski (USA) and Jean Michel Vigand (FRA).
History was made in the Iron class with Anna Schmolzl becoming the first woman to ever win a category in Red Bull Romaniacs. The German was a model of consistency this week never faltering outside the top three, earning her a commanding 20-minute margin of victory over Danny Melvin (USA) and Mexico’s Eduardo Martinez.
The World Enduro Super Series continues with round six at Hawkstone Park Cross-Country, UK on September 21-22.
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER): “I’m over the moon right now, I really can’t believe it. This race is really something special and to win here feels amazing. The event is so long and so hard and anything can happen, so I’m so pumped to take the win. It’s been an incredible five days and so gnarly, especially with all the rain we’ve had. Some of the uphills that would have been tricky anyway have become near impossible today. It’s 10 years since my dad won Red Bull Romaniacs so it’s great to be able to match his achievement – the Lettenbichlers are definitely going to celebrate tonight!”
Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP): It’s been an amazing race, I’m so happy to get on the podium. The first day didn’t go so well for me but then on the second day I had a better feeling on the bike and was able to take the win. The last two days also went well and it was great to have such a close fight with Mani and Graham. Obviously I’m disappointed not to have taken the win but it still feels great to come second after such a long and demanding race. Thank you to everyone who helped me over the event – my team and all the fans – I’ll come back even stronger next year.”
Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB): “It was definitely the hardest day today – it was so slippery on the hills after the rain and there was a lot of pushing. I’m happy just to get to the finish today – I was going well up to the service point then I had a crash and lost my GPS. After that I just tried to tag onto the other riders so I knew where to go. I did get lost a couple of times, so I’m really happy to get third. Overall the event has gone well, it’s been one of the closest and I’m happy that I was still in contention right up to the end.”
Josu Artola (Husqvarna – ESP) – Silver Class Winner: “I’m so pleased to win the Silver Class. I won the first three days and it would have been great to have posted the fastest time today, but I decided it would be better to take it steady to make sure I got the victory. The hills were so slippery and at Red Bull Romaniacs anything can happen, so I just followed today’s winner to the finish. It feels great to win here at one of the toughest races – I’m so happy.”
Winfried Kerschhaggl – WESS Series Manager: “Once again Red Bull Romaniacs has shown itself as one of the pinnacle Enduro races in the world. Competitors from 50 nations enjoyed five incredible days of racing that showed exciting race-action, big drama and lots of camaraderie among competitors – plus two days of live coverage on Red Bull TV. Now in our second season of competition, WESS has quickly grown to become the world’s most prestigious Enduro Series, captivating audiences worldwide. We believe our concept of combining the most attractive events within one series, which respects professional and privateer competitors alike, proves to be the right one, while strictly following our key objective to find out who is the Ultimate Enduro World Champion.”
Results: Red Bull Romaniacs, Day 4
- Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 5:37:59; 2. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 5:39:16; 3. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 5:43:27; 4. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 5:46:11; 5. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 5:53:39; 6. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 6:54:00; 7. Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 6:55:41: 8. Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 7:05:03; 9. David Cyprian (KTM – CZ) 7:17:24; 10. Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 7:24:43…
- Sam Winterburn (GB) 4:57:55; 2. Josu Artola (ESP) 5:02:00; 3. Alberto Aramburu (ESP) 5:06:13; 4. Emanuel Gyenes (ROU) 5:14:09…
- Radu Sardarescu (ROU) 4:33:18; 2. Marcin Welglarz (POL) 4:35:26; 3. Eric Slominski (USA) 4:35:43; 4. Marius Muntean (ROU) 4:37:38; 5. Mark Galbraith (NZL) 4:49:25…
- Tom Simpson (GB) 4:11:57; 2. Danny Melvin (USA) 4:17:54; 3. Anna Schmolzl (GER) 4:26:32; 4. Eduardo Martinez (MEX) 4:25:01…
Red Bull Romaniacs Final Event Classification
- Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 20:39:51; 2. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 20:42:15; 3. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 20:52:12; 4. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 21:25:36; 5. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 21:30:40; 6. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 23:16:34; 7. Mario Roman (Sherco – ESP) 23:36:25; 8. David Cyprian (KTM – CZ) 23:48:33; 9. Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 24:42:30; 10. Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 25:08:26…
- Josu Artola (ESP) 18:57:20; 2. Sam Winterburn (GB) 19:39:55; 3. Alberto Aramburu (ESP) 20:18:14; 4. Emanuel Gyenes (ROU) 20:31:54; 5. Dustin McCarthy (USA) 20:35:35…
- Marcin Weglarz (POL) 17:43:32; 2. Eric Slominski (USA) 17:53:43; 3. Jean Michel Vigand (FRA) 18:03:04; 4. Radu Sardarescu (ROU) 18:17:13; 5. Brent Brady (AUS) 18:45:04…
- Anna Schmolzl (GER) 16:09:43; 2. Danny Melvin (USA) 16:31:13; 3. Eduardo Martinez (MEX) 16:35:17; 4. Tom Simpson (GB) 16:48:18; 5. Agostino Crema (ITA) 17:11:07…
WESS Championship Standings (After round 5)
- Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 3570 pts; 2. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 3460 pts; 3. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 3164; 4. Mario Roman (Sherco – ESP) 2940 pts; 5. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 2725 pts; 6. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 2700 pts; 7. Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 2615 pts; 8. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 2590 pts; 9. Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 2091 pts; 10. Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 1965 pts…
Photo credit: Future7Media