Juha Salminen claims BMW’s first World Enduro Championship win
Seven-time World Enduro Champion Juha Salminen has claimed the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team’s first ever World Enduro Championship win by topping the Enduro 2 class on day two of the GP of Greece, staged in Serres. Performing well at round six of the ’09 WEC series – the GP of Mexico – Salminen continued his good form in Greece despite a frustrating start to the event.
Caught out by one of the man-made obstacles on the Friday night Super Test, Juha started the first full day of competition trailing his E2 class rivals by a full 10 seconds. Then making a costly mistake on the event’s long and dusty enduro test the Finn was forced to work extremely hard as he worked his way up the results. With rival Johnny Aubert setting the pace at the top of the class Juha ended the day consistently having paced no lower that second in class on the final five special tests.
Day two saw Juha perform well right from the start of the day. Third on the opening extreme test he then recorded the fastest E2 class time on the enduro test, which set him up for his best result of the season. With Frenchman Johnny Aubert forced to withdraw from the competition on day two following a hand injury he picked up on day one, Juha continued to ride well and steadily edged ahead of hard charging Spaniard Cristobal Guerrero. Leading the E2 class as the day past the mid-way point, Juha put his many years of experience to good use and remained focused. With day one having been an extremely long, hot and dusty day all riders started to feel less than 100 per cent as day two neared it’s close. But Salminen remained in charge of the Enduro 2 class and claimed BMW’s first ever World Enduro Championship victory.
Salminen competed alone for the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team at the GP of Greece due to team-mate Simo Kirssi being forced to stay away from competition with to an injured wrist.
In the Enduro 3 class Marko Tarkkala overcame a disappointing opening day to claim a well-deserved fourth place result on day two. Unable to find his rhythm on the long enduro test Tarkkala performed well on both the motocross and extreme tests.
Juha Salminen – Enduro 2 class: “It goes without saying that it’s great to have finally given BMW their first World Enduro Championship win, although it was disappointing that Johnny wasn’t able to finish day two. The first day was tough. Physically it was really demanding because of the many hours we had to race and the heat. I made a few mistakes that stopped me from finishing with a better result on day one, but things came good towards the end of the day. I fell on the Friday night Super Test, which meant that I was already behind at the start of day one. Then I crashed on the enduro test. That made for a tough morning on day one. The afternoon was much better – things improved throughout the day. I guess day two started where the first day ended. I was able to ride well and importantly made no mistakes. It’s great for the team that everyone’s hard work has resulted in a winning result.”
Marko Tarkkala – Enduro 3 class: “It’s been a mixed weekend for me. I didn’t have such a great first day, but things improved on day two. I was losing a little time on the enduro test, which kept me off the podium, but I was riding well on the motocross and extreme tests. Of course I want to be fighting for the win and finishing on the podium but I was much more competitive on day two than I have been so for that I am pleased.”
Wolfgang Fischer – Team Manager: “In Mexico we made a big step forward in terms of our competitiveness and ever since we returned from that race we have been working hard to continue to improve things. Although it was disappointing that Johnny Aubert was unable to finish the second day Juha’s performances are the result of continued hard work from everyone within the team. On the first day Juha made a few mistakes, which prevented him from really competing with Aubert for the win. Juha did produce some very good test times, which he continued to do on day two. The big difference on day two was that Juha made no mistakes. He rode well throughout the day and it’s great that he claimed BMW’s first World Enduro Championship day win. The whole team is really looking forward to the final WEC race of the season in France now.”
2009 World Enduro Championship, Grand Prix of Greece – Day 1
1. Johnny Aubert (KTM) 55:42.12;
2. Juha Salminen (BMW) 56:09.19;
3. Cristobal Guerrero (Yamaha) 56:19.35;
4. David Knight (Kawasaki) 56:48.58;
5. Alessandro Belometti (KTM) 57:31.14;
6. Valtteri Salonen (Husaberg) 57:49.55;
7. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 58:07.50;
8. Oscar Balletti (Honda) 58:12.55;
9. Fabrizio Dini (Beta) 58:12.55;
10. Nicolas Deparrois (Gas Gas) 58:28.79
1. Ivan Cervantes (KTM) 55:31.34;
2. Sebastien Guillaume (Husaberg) 55:55.10;
3. Samuli Aro (KTM) 56:13.97;
4. Christophe Nambotin (Gas Gas) 56:17.09;
5. Fabio Mossini (Honda) 56:55.70;
6. Oriol Mena (Husaberg) 56:57.82;
7. Marko Tarkkala (BMW) 57:44.91;
8. Alessandro Botturi (KTM) 58:06.51;
9. Bjorne Carlsson (Husaberg) 58:35.87;
10. Marcus Kehr (KTM) 59:44.49
2009 World Enduro Championship, Grand Prix of Greece – Day 2
1. Juha Salminen (BMW) 51:13.10;
2. Cristobal Guerrero (Yamaha) 51:31.91;
3. David Knight (Kawasaki) 51:32.28;
4. Oscar Baletti (Honda) 52:04.11;
5. Valtteri Salonen (Husaberg) 52:27.62;
6. Alessandro Belometti (KTM) 52:33.18;
7. Fabrizio Dini (Beta) 52:43.92;
8. Nicolas Deparrois (Gas Gas) 53:01.30;
9. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 53:01.53;
10. Nicolas Paganon (Kawasaki) 53:22.93
1. Ivan Cervantes (KTM) 50:37.33;
2. Christophe Nambotin (Gas Gas) 50:40.21;
3. Sebastien Guillaume (Husqvarna) 51:25.05;
4. Marko Tarkkala (BMW) 52:38.08;
5. Marcus Kehr (KTM) 52:45.50;
6. Oriol Mena (Husaberg) 52:51.16;
7. Alessandro Botturi (KTM) 53:05.77;
8. Bjorne Carlsson 54:18.40;
9. Jordi Figueras (Gas Gas) 54:33.07;
10. Rudy Cotton (Beta) 55:12.92
Courtesy of KTM
World Champion E2 title for Johnny Aubert and KTM Enduro Factory Team
French rider and season newcomer to the KTM Enduro Factory Team Johnny Aubert continued his unblemished winning record in E2 in Serres, Greece, on Saturday to take the class world championship title with three races in the season still to go.
The victory – his thirteenth from 13 races in the current season – came after an exhausting eight hours on the bike and in temperatures in the mid 30s Celsius riding through the forests of Northern Greece. Tired but thrilled Aubert remarked:
“I am very happy for KTM because we worked very much to win it. At the beginning of the year, only a few people thought that I could defend my title, so I had a feeling of revenge. I am glad to prove to those who did not believe in me that I am always here. What I am living this year is marvellous, I won all the races, I’m signing an incredible season, and I became a dad for the second time. It is really a year of happiness.”
Aubert joined the KTM Factory Team under Fabio Farioli at the beginning of the 2009 season as reigning world champion, but his dominance on the orange racing machines and how he has engaged in the orange family has been thrilling for KTM sports fans the world over.
The entire KTM international family congratulates Johnny Aubert and the KTM Enduro Factory Team for bringing another fabulous burst of orange to the international motorcycle racing arena.
Double E3 win for KTM’s Cervantes in Serres to keep title hopes alive
Ivan Cervantes of the KTM Enduro Factory Team said he was quietly confident before racing E3 in Serres in Northern Greece this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, riding in two very hot and tough races, Cervantes proved he liked the terrain and left with a double victory.
The Spanish factory rider also marginally increased his lead in the World Championship standings to 32-points over second placed Frenchman Christophe Nambotin. Although there is still 50 points up for grabs, Nambotin has the home advantage when the final two races are run in France in two weeks time, adding an extra adrenalin rush to what will be a closely fought final.
Cervantes wins again in Greece
It was not the first time that Cervantes had won in Greece. The Spaniard won his first title there in 2005 and also picked up overall victory in the ISDE last year. Before the race he said he felt very at home on terrain that is quite similar to conditions in Catalonia. Nevertheless, the weekend was hard going for all riders. On Saturday they were in the saddle of their bikes for a full eight hours with very short breaks at the controls. High summer temperatures also sapped the strength of the riders forcing organisers to rethink the Sunday program and cut the race from four laps to three on the second day. “Ivan was riding quite okay and he had some tough fights with Nambotin on Sunday. He had a crash in the last test and even though he won, it was very close,” KTM team boss Fabio Farioli reported.
Broken finger for Samuli Aro
Meanwhile it was a mixed weekend for the still reigning world champion, KTM’s Samuli Aro of Finland. He scored a valuable 20 points for third place on Saturday but was forced to withdraw from Sunday’s race after doctors diagnosed a broken finger. Aro is currently fourth in the E3 championship standings, a position he will retain regardless of the outcome of the final two races because he has a cushion of 51 points from fifth placed Marcus Kehr of Germany, a KTM- supported rider.
Courtesy of Husaberg
Joakim Ljunggren of the Husaberg Factory Team moved by default into third place in the E2 championship standings this weekend, during long, hard races that decided the title. Meanwhile injury spoiled the party for E3 newcomer Oriol Mena after he picked.
The E2 title went to KTM’s Johnny Aubert on Saturday after what turned out to be an eight hour marathon through the hot, dusty forests of Northern Greece. But the mixed fortunes of racing also played positively into Ljunggren’s hands when his closest rival, Bartosz Oblucki of Poland, was forced to retire from Saturday’s race when he injured his foot after crashing in the Enduro Test. Ljunggren garnered more points with his eventual seventh and ninth places this weekend but admitted it had been a very tough GP.
Ljunggren happy to be in top three
“Today was very hot and very long although the special text was not so tough. It was possible to go quite fast and I really prefer it when it is more technically difficult,” Ljunggren said on Saturday. “I was riding in about fourth or fifth place. I thought I might be able to get ahead of (Alessandro) Belometti and I was having a good fight with Valtteri (Salonen of Husaberg) when I had a crash in the second last test and lost about 25 seconds. I am happy to be in the top three in the standings but of course it’s sad to move up because another guy is injured. But we have to say that can happen to any of us and it is just a part of racing.”
Ljunggren followed up with his ninth place on Sunday and even though organisers cut the race from four to three laps after a marathon 8-hour ride on Saturday, it was still no push over for the tired riders. “It was fast and hot and dusty and you had to stand up on the pegs for a lot of the time,” Ljunggren said. “Although I’m happy to be in third place in the championship, I’m not that happy with the way my race went today.”
Fifth and Sixth for Salonen in E2
It was a better weekend for Husaberg’s Valtteri Salonen who scored a fifth and sixth in the two races despite taking a knock on Saturday, after which he said: “I feel quite good after the race today although it was long and tough and hot. Also, I went over the handlebars in lap two and hit my head. I had quite a headache but the doctors checked me out and said I was okay to race tomorrow.” On Sunday Valtteri admitted that even though his results were among his best this season, he had not felt comfortable during the race. “My last lap was not good. I crashed twice and I made mistakes in the Enduro test. Now I’ll go back and compete in the Finnish National Championships next weekend before we go to France for the final rounds.”
Ninth and eighth for Bjorne Carlsson in E3
The team’s other Swedish rider, Bjorne Carlsson, admitted on Saturday that it had been hard work out in the forests. “Today was like my season has been – very tough, but considering I’ve had a lot of injury problems and it’s been difficult to keep up my physical fitness, I’m quite satisfied with my race today and I’m not so far behind in the championship. I’m a bit nervous because I don’t want to injure my knees or my ribs again. I liked the course and we were in the forest the whole time but it was four laps and we had very little time at the controls to eat and drink.” On Sunday he said although he was tired, he tried to go out and ride a safe race. I was tired,” he admitted, but was looking forward to racing in the final round in France. “It will be my final international GP. I’ve been racing since 1993 and although I’ll keep competing at other levels, I won’t compete again in the world championship series.”
Mixed weekend in E3 for Oriol Mena
After having already secured the World Junior Championship title, Husaberg’s Spanish rider Oriol Mena was free this weekend to try his hand at the E3 class. In fact he picked up 30 points for his two sixth places, but it came at a price. Mena tangled with a stray sheep in Sunday’s race and broke his collarbone.
“I had quite a bad super test on Friday night but I am happy with the bike and quite satisfied with my results for my first race in E3. After I won the Junior World Championship title in Mexico I had a talk to our team boss Thomas Gustavsson and we decided I would try the E3. I know now that I am technically good and I have the speed but I must work on my concentration and try to be more consistent,” Mena said.
Courtesy of Husqvarna
Following up on the heels of their 1-1 sweep of the World Enduro Championship rounds in Mexico City, the CH Racing Husqvarna Team continues to dominate as Enduro 1 class pilot Antoine Meo scored another double-victory in Serres, Greece. Meo turned in his best ever WEC performance by blitzing the E1 class by a wide margin both days. The Frenchman on his Husqvarna TE250 was clearly the fastest racer both days, making a minimum of mistakes on the event’s demanding special tests. Mirroring Meo’s good results, fellow Husqvarna rider Seb Guillaume came close to topping the Enduro 3 class on day one and claimed podium finishes on both days.
For many riders the opening day of the penultimate round of the WEC series proved extremely challenging. The blistering heat combined with the dry and dusty conditions cooked many competitor’s chances. However a cool, calm and collected Meo made it look relatively simple as he racked up special test win after special test win. Posting the fastest time of any rider during the Friday night Super Test, Meo also recorded the fastest E1 class time through the first seven tests on day one. By day’s end, Meo won all but one special test, finishing with more than a one-minute lead ahead of Finland’s Mika Ahola. “I think I surprised Mika with my speed on day one,” says Meo. “I pushed hard from the start and never stopped pushing hard throughout the day.”
On day two Meo showed equal domination. He quickly moved to the top of the E1 class, setting a blistering pace unmatched by any other rider in any class. Another flawless performance saw Meo ending day two with a 40-second lead and a well-deserved win. “I’m really, really happy with my results and performances,” says the elated Frenchman. “This win means much more to me than my first victory in Mexico. I felt that I was really the fastest rider here!”
According to Antoine, he expected more of a fight from Ahola, but it never materialized. “On day two I was expecting Mika to fight back a little more, but I guess he is thinking about the championship now. Anyway, I pushed hard and again, from the start of the day, I was faster than him. I was the fastest overall rider on both days, which is great for everyone within the team.”
The sudden turn of speed comes from complete confidence in the bike, claims Meo. “I feel really, really confident with my bike now. Competing in the first indoor EnduroCross race in the United States a few weeks ago really opened my eyes – I saw just how fast it was possible to go! Since then I have been working hard on all aspects of my racing.” Next for Meo is an opportunity to compete at home as the WEC series heads for a final round in France – an event that he is now favored to win.