The MAXXIS FIM Enduro World Championship opened on a balmy, almost summery Saturday and its first day the GP AMV Seguros was being held at Ponts, a sweet little Catalan town nestled between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. Last night, the 134 riders had already set the tone at the KTM SUPER TEST, held in front of almost 5000 spectators, who were delighted by the speed and technical ability shown by Johnny Aubert (FR – KTM) who set the best time conclusively of this nocturnal event, and who is also already the E2 leader.
But the KTM Factory Racing rider didn’t benefit from this lead, since he had to abandon at the end of the very first lap.
“I had a 13 second lead and all was going well for me, when, having reached the time check, my bike suddenly stopped. My mechanics immediately changed the battery, but there was nothing for it and I had to abandon. It has since been detected that it is an electrical wiring problem. I will, of course, start again tomorrow.”
Much awaited on his territory, for his big debut on the 2 stroke GAS GAS, Ivan Cervantes (ES – GAS) took the helm of the Enduro 2 category but was unable to hold out against the irresistible return of Antoine Meo (FR – HVA), who soon forgot about his disappointment at the SUPER TEST and established a lead of nearly 20 seconds ahead of the quadruple world champion.
“Today wasn’t as easy as the result would suggest. I lack some training since my winter injury on my thumb, but this was clearly an excellent start” confided the E1 World Champion, under the Husqvarna wings. Ivan Cervantes only just achieves the second step on the Podium with a 0.43 second lead on his fellow countryman, Cristobal Guerrero (ES – KTM).
Husaberg’s Oriol Mena went 4-6 in Spain despite breaking the little finger on his right hand three weeks earlier.
As predicted, the Enduro 1 category resembles a Finnish championship with three Scandinavian riders led by JUHA Salminen (FIN – HVA) who once again gets back on the path to victory after 18 months of drought.
”It feels good to re-establish links with victory and it quiets the skeptics with regards to my potential. But the season will be difficult, as my compatriots are very fast and the French are going to gain in strength!”
The new Husqvarna representative established himself upon his teammate, Matti Seistola (FIN – HVA), in terms of progress, in the last lap, thereby proving once and for all that he is aiming for an 8th World title which would be a unique feat in the annals of Enduro. The KTM representative, Eero Remes (FIN – KTM) completes the podium without having worried the two Husqvarna riders, but just brushes off the Frenchman Fabien Planet (FR – SHERCO), marvelous throughout the whole day on his astonishing SHERCO 250.
But the first big surprise of the season comes from the Enduro 3 category where the title-holder, David Knight (GB – KTM) abandons at the end of the second lap.
“I twisted my leg violently in the ENDURO TEST when going through a rut and I think I have a pelvic dislocation. I already had this problem a few months back and a scan revealed that I have a serious problem there. I hope that things will be better tomorrow morning, but I’m not very optimistic and I dread an operation that would ruin my season.”
And wincing with pain and almost in tears, the KTM representative apologized to his technical staff. Having also had a rough ride during the SUPER TEST, Mika Ahola (FIN – HM HONDA) suffered his lag against an excellent Christophe Nambotin (FR – GAS) who only bowed down in the last two timed sections against the quadruple World Champion. As is often the case, it is Sébastien Guillaume (FR – HVA) who completes the podium, ahead of the excellent Oriol Mena (ES – HUSABERG) while Taddy Blazusiak (PL – KTM) 5th saves KTM’s honor a little.
There is also a relatively big dispute in the Juniors between the Finnish Anti Hellstein (FIN – KTM) and the Frenchman Mathias Bellino (FR – HSB), remarkable considering that this is his debut in Enduro. But it is the blond Finnish who eventually establishes himself in the very last specials, giving Finland its third victory for this first grand prix of the year. Jonathan Manzi (IT – KTM) completes the podium.
Eero Remes fell several times during the event in Spain and finished the weekend fourth after going 3-6.
With a title under her belt from last year, the French Ludivine Puy (FR – GAS) had a tough time with Laia Sanz (ES – HONDA) and the brave Blandine Dufrene (F-GAS GAS) in the women’s category after two grueling laps of the circuit.
Already hugely affected by the bad luck and loss of David KNIGHT (GB – KTM), the KTM Factory Racing Team, managed by Fabio Farioli continued to accumulate problems during the second day of racing at the Spanish Grand Prix AMV Seguros held at Ponts, near Lleida.
Forced to abandon yesterday, due to an electrical wiring problem, the double E2 World Champion Johnny Aubert (FR – KTM) was faced with exactly the same problem today.
“Just like yesterday, my bike stopped suddenly at the end of the first lap and this same misfortune happened several minutes later to my team mate, Cristobal Guerrero (ES – KTM). It is clear that now my task is going to be very difficult for the rest of the season being already 50 points behind Antoine Meo in the championship!”
In fact, Cristobal Guerrero (ES – KTM) was met with the same problem as Johnny Aubert, and therefore a feeling of defeat, which up until now had never been experienced, was heavily felt in the Austrian group. And as if the “punishment” wasn’t harsh enough, KTM Racing also lost Taddy Blazusiak (PL – KTM), who injured his thumb and will not be racing next weekend. In the memories of those that observed, it has been a long time since a major team competing in this Championship has been faced with such setbacks. But we should rest assured that KTM Racing will do all it can to change their bad luck in the next few days, in order to change this trend starting with the Polisport Grand Prix being held in Portugal next weekend.
Husaberg’s Pierre Alexandre Renet of France had a strong second day in the E2 class where he finished third behind Antoine Meo and Ivan Cervantes.
This Grand Prix has been the one of doubles in all categories, with the best success shown by Juha Salminen (FIN – HVA) in Enduro 1 and another for the constructors category for Husqvarna since Matti Seistola (FIN – HVA) finishes second in front of the excellent Fabien Planet (FR – SHERCO). He in turn offers a fantastic first podium result in World Championship for the French firm SHERCO, managed by Marc Teyssier. Rodrig Thain (FR – HM HONDA) is a few seconds in front of Planet whereas the KTM representatives Tomas Oldrati (IT – KTM) and Eero Remes (FIN – KTM) who fell several times, were only 5th and 6th consecutively…
Husqvarna and Antoine Meo (FR – HVA) also achieve well in Enduro 2, despite an excellent Ivan Cervantes (ES – GAS) who affirms is rapid his adaption of the 250 GAS GAS 2 stroke.
“This result is atmosphere and almost unexpected for me. The whole team at GAS GAS works hard and the ambience is excellent in the team.”
Pierre Alexandre Renet (FR – HUSABERG) manages a good second day and climbs to the E2 podium where we also see the well-placed dutchman Hans Vogels (NL – HUSABERG) and the private Belgian rider Francois Goblet (YAMAHA)
Mika Ahola (FIN – HM HONDA) was once again imperial throughout the day in the Enduro 3 and only Christophe Nambotin (FR – GAS) was able to keep up somewhat with the one that many consider to be the best Enduro rider currently. A return to the first plan (third) for the great Finnish rider Marko Tarkkala (FIN – HUSABERG) who achieves podium results in the first two specials ahead of Sébastien Guillaume (FR – HVA), on the brand new 300 Husaberg 2 stroke.
Based in Spain for a large part of the winter months, the Finnish riders have proven that this method is well-founded throughout the weekend since the very promising Anti Hellstein (FIN – KTM) achieves as his elders Salminen and Ahola an impeccable double in the Enduro Juniors. Benoit Fortunato (FR – YAM) and Jeremy Joly (FR – HM HONDA) also score some big points and Jonathan Manzi (IT – KTM) takes the helm of the FIM Youth Cup 125cc 2-stroke….. bringing, together with Hellstein, some hope to the dejected KTM clan.
Like yesterday, Ludiviny Puy (FR – GAS) wins the women’s category but Laia Sanz (ES – HONDA) makes some progress every time she comes out and Blandine Dufrene (FR – GAS) appears to be positioning herself as the outsider of the Enduro Women.
After a well-deserved night of rest, all the participants of the MAXXIS FIM Enduro World Championship will head as of Monday in the direction of Portugal and the Vale de Cambra where an already important Grand Prix for some will take place for the stars of the World Enduro Championship…. and we readily recommend that you turn to EUROSPORT 2 this Thursday at 9pm, to see the best moments of the GP AMV SEGUROS Spain, that will remain in the annals of Enduro history and that was followed by nearly 20,000 enthusiasts.
Spain FIM World Enduro E1 Class Results 2011:
1. Juha Salminen (Husqvarna) 1-1
2. Matti Seistola (Husqvarna) 2-2
3. Fabien Planet (SHERCO) 4-3
4. Eero Remes (KTM) 3-6
5. Rodrig Thain (Honda) 5-4
6. Tomas Oldrati (KTM) 6-5
7. Julien Gauthier (TM) 7-7
8. Lorenzo Santolino (KTM) 9-8
9. Nicolas Deparrois (Kawasaki) 8-9
10. Adrien Metge (Honda) 10-11
Spain FIM World Enduro E2 Class Results 2011:
1. Antoine Meo (Husqvarna) 1-1
2. Ivan Cervantes (Gas Gas) 2-2
3. Alexandre Pierre Renet (Husaberg) 4-3
4. Simone Albergoni (Husqvarna) 5-4
5. Antoine Basset (Yamaha) 7-7
6. Jordan Curvalle (SHERCO) 9-9
7. Jean-francois Goblet (Yamaha) 13-6
8. Goncalo Reis (Honda) 11-8
9. Armand Monleon (KTM) 10-10
10. Cristobal Guerrero (KTM) 3
Spain FIM World Enduro E2 Class Results 2011:
1. Mika Ahola (Honda) 1-1
2. Christophe Nambotin (Gas Gas) 2-2
3. Sebastien Guillaume (Husqvarna) 3-4
4. Marko Tarkkala (Husaberg) 8-3
5. Oriol Mena (Husaberg) 4-6
6. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 6-5
7. Marcus Kehr (KTM) 7-7
8. Alessandro Botturi (Gas Gas) 9-8
9. Maurizio Micheluz (Fantic) 11-9
10. Torre de la Perez (KTM) 10-10