The Acerbis French Grand Prix in Réquista, much anticipated by all Enduro fans after a long delay to the season start due to Covid-19 crisis, kept everyone in suspense on a dusty first day. The riders enjoyed themselves and put on a show over all three of the tests created by the Réquista Moto Sport club…
On top of that, we were close to witnessing ‘the comeback of the year’ already! The reigning EnduroGP World Champion, Brad FREEMAN (GB – Beta), who had a somewhat sluggish start to the day, put together a crazy last lap to put the pressure on his teammate Steve HOLCOMBE (GB). But the blond number 12 rider missed out by the tiniest margin, with the first EnduroGP class victory going to HOLCOMBE by an incredible two tenths of a second! Despite many mistakes on the last lap, HOLCOMBE impressed throughout the day, even going as far as 18 seconds ahead of FREEMAN at one point!
Another great protagonist on this first day of the 2020 season was the 2019 Junior World Champion, Andrea VERONA (I – TM). The rookie in the Senior classes was seriously quick and leading proceedings at the end of the first lap. He admitted at the end of the day that he is still a little ”green”, and the Factory TM rider made a few too many mistakes under pressure. Nevertheless, he secured a brilliant 4th place in the top class. In fact, VERONA was just one and a half seconds from 3rd place, which was occupied by a very solid Loïc LARRIEU (F – TM). The Frenchman woke up this morning with a painful shoulder but that did not prevent him from being strong and consistent throughout the day.
Last minute entry to the 2020 season, Davide GUARNERI (I – TM) shone on his first day back in the FIM Borilli World Enduro Championship and he pulled off an excellent Top 5! Two Betas and three TMs in the Top 5 meant unchallenged Italian domination in terms of manufacturers.
Note also the good performances of the returning Jérémy TARROUX (F – Sherco) and Jaume BETRIU (E – KTM) who joined the 10 fastest riders on the day.
VERONA, Unbeatable In E1!
EGP winner Steve HOLCOMBE also pocketed the victory in Enduro 2 ahead of Loïc LARRIEU and Italy’s Matteo CAVALLO (Sherco) – also a newcomer in the category. Danny MCCANNEY (GB – Honda) and Alex SALVINI (I – Honda) completed the Top 5.
In Enduro 1, Andrea VERONA made an emphatic start to his campaign with a brilliant victory. He outclassed much more experienced riders such as Thomas OLDRATI (I – Honda), 2nd, and Christophe CHARLIER (F – Beta), 3rd. The final two places in the Top 5 were occupied by Jérémy TARROUX and the promising Antoine MAGAIN (B – Sherco).
Over in E3, Brad FREEMAN claimed his first victory in the category ahead of Davide GUARNERI and Jaume BETRIU. Antoine BASSET (F – Beta) and Marc SANS SORIA (E – KTM) were next up.
The Junior classes are traditionally some of the hardest fought of the FIM Borilli World Enduro Championship, and the opening round hasn’t disappointed so far! The crowd in Requista were treated to a magnificent battle between Ruy BARBOSA (CL – Husqvarna), home rider Théo ESPINASSE (F – Sherco), Roni KYTÖNEN (SF – Honda), Hamish MACDONALD (NZ – Sherco), Lorenzo MACORITTO (I – Beta Boano) and Wil RUPRECHT (AUS – Beta Boano)! In the lead from the get-go, BARBOSA eventually cracked under the combined pressure of ESPINASSE, MACDONALD and KYTÖNEN. At the end of the 10 specials of the day it was the Frenchman, just recovering from a rupture of the cruciate ligaments, who won on Saturday in front of his Sherco team-mate, MACDONALD, and Finland’s KYTÖNEN. The Chilean had to be satisfied with 4th position while MARCORITTO stepped up his game at the end of the day to get into the Top 5, demoting his Beta Boano team-mate to 6th.
ESPINASSE & SPANU Prevail…
At the same time, ESPINASSE won J2 ahead of MACDONALD and RUPRECHT while KYTÖNEN won J1 ahead of BARBOSA and MACORITTO.
In Youth 125cc we believed that the day was going to be a 100% Fantic duel between Jed ETCHELLS (GB) and Harry EDMONDSON (GB)! The impressive Brits dominated head and shoulders above the rest of the field at the start of the day, but their charge came to an end against Claudio SPANU (I – Husqvarna) and Sergio NAVARRO (E – Husqvarna). While the Spaniard believed he could take the victory until the last stage, he was pipped to the post by the Italian! The son of legend Paul EDMONDSON, Harry, takes his very first world podium while ETCHELLS and Hugo SVARD (SF – Fantic) finished 4th and 5th. Three Fantics in the first 5 riders, not a bad return to the World Championship for the Italian brand!
Finally, in the Champion Lubricants Enduro Open World Cup, Gonçalo REIS (P – KTM) started 2020 as he finished 2019, on the top step of the 2-Stroke class podium, ahead of Trials rider Loris GUBIAN (F – Sherco) and the Czech Republic’s Robert FRIEDRICH (KTM).
In Open 4-Stroke, there were two Belgians in the top two places in the form of Damiaens DIETGER (KTM) and Mathias VAN HOOF (Husqvarna). Benet GOMEZ (E – Honda) completed the podium.
In the Senior class, David MARTINEZ CORBALAN (E – KTM) won this first day after a great battle with the Frenchman Arnaud ADAM (Honda) and the Italian Duccio GRAZIANI (Beta).
What will Day Two of the French GP have in store? One thing’s for sure, it will be fully of intense battles and impressive performances – just how we like it!
What They Said:
Steve HOLCOMBE : “I’m really satisfied with this first EnduroGP victory of the season, especially since I did not expect to be able to fight at the front immediately with the 4 stroke. I made a very good start to the day in the Cross and Enduro Tests but I never managed to find the right feeling in the Xtreme. It’s amazing because this kind of special usually suits me well. And then, on the last lap I made too many mistakes and almost paid the price as Brad (FREEMAN) was only 27 hundredths behind me! But overall, I’m happy with this first day!”
Brad FREEMAN : “It took me too long to get going today, and out in front Steve and VERONA started very strong. I want to keep a mentality where I never give up, so despite dropping 18 seconds behind HOLCOMBE, I really wanted to give my all on the last lap, and I must admit that I am a little upset to finish second. But tomorrow will be another day and I better get up to pace faster!”
Andrea VERONA : “Obviously, I am very happy with this first victory in E1! I also had the joy of being able to be EGP leader at the end of the first lap which, I must admit, put a little pressure on me. No matter how much I told myself to stay calm when I saw the provisional classification, I couldn’t prevent the errors which were linked to stress I think. But at least I was able to ensure a nice victory in E1, my first in the Senior ranks! I also know what mental aspect I have to work on now, I have to stay cool and consistent.”