The opening day of competition at round one of the 2023 Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship saw Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman back to his winning ways, claiming EnduroGP class victory at the ACERBIS GP of Italy.
Putting an injury plagued 2022 season firmly behind him, Freeman returned to the top step of the EnduroGP podium for the first time since winning the title in 2021. After a fierce, day-long battle, GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona took the runner-up overall result, with Beta Factory Racing’s Steve Holcombe third. The GALFER FIM Enduro Junior World Championship saw Fantic’s Jed Etchells secure a debut victory, while home favourite Kevin Cristino (Fantic) won the Enduro Youth category.
Hitting the ground running in the defence of her Magnorange FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship, Jane Daniels (Fantic) topped the classification on day one ahead of Australian Jessica Gardiner (Yamaha).
- Beta’s Brad Freeman gets back to winning ways in EnduroGP
- Andrea Verona (GASGAS) and Steve Holcombe (Beta) complete day one EnduroGP podium
- Jane Daniels (Fantic) tops the Women’s Enduro classification
After Friday’s AKRAPOVIC Super Test excitement, competitors settled in for a full day of racing today in Arma di Taggia/San Remo to truly get the 2023 Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship underway. Three different special tests were on the menu each lap, each offering a variety of challenges. The ACERBIS Cross Test weaved its way across the sandy beach in Arma di Taggia, while the POLISPORT Extreme Test and JUST1 Enduro Test, situated in the surrounding mountains, both featured dry, hard pack, rocky terrain.
Quick to make his mark, Brad Freeman (Beta) topped the opening ACERBIS Cross Test of the day to put himself into an early lead. Steve Holcombe was just one second behind, with Italian Matteo Cavallo (TM) in close contention. Into the mountains and Freeman opened up a seven second lead by winning the Just1 Enduro Test. A shakeup in the order saw defending EnduroGP champ Andrea Verona (GASGAS) jump up to second, while Sherco’s Hamish MacDonald moved to third.
With the POLISPORT Extreme Test bringing lap one to a close, Freeman held station out front. But as the day progressed, behind the Beta rider positions were continually changing with mistakes proving costly for some. With all riders keen to start the new season with a strong result, the final two steps of the podium continued to be fought over between Holcombe and Verona, while Freeman gradually edged clear to a 24-second margin of victory. With it all to play for on the final lap, Verona kept his cool to take second, denying Beta a 1-2 start to the year.
Immediately up to speed in the senior ranks, 2022 Enduro Junior champ Zach Pichon (Sherco) finished a highly impressive fourth overall, with his teammate Hamish MacDonald completing the top five.
Daniels Overcomes Crash To Win Women’s Enduro
The Magnorange FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship saw defending champion Jane Daniels (Fantic) fight back from a crash on the second JUST1 Enduro Test to secure victory. Losing almost one minute when she fell, Daniels did well to regroup and end her day with the class win. Jessica Gardiner (Yamaha) made it a successful return the world championship competition, putting in a strong ride to finish second. Francesca Nocera (Honda) took the final step of the podium with third.
The Enduro1 class saw Zach Pichon (Sherco) claim his debut senior class victory. The Frenchman was on flying form in Arma di Taggia/San Remo and delivered one of the day’s most impressive rides. Not quite up to speed on the opening lap following a big crash in the enduro test, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia came good on the final lap, winning the three special tests to place behind Pichon in second. Beta Oxmoto’s Theo Espinasse joined Zach and Josep on the podium in third, having fended off local favourite Thomas Oldrati (Honda) by two seconds.
At the top of the Enduro2 ranks it was a battle of attrition between Verona and Holcombe. Determined to get his first Enduro2 win in his first attempt, Italian Verona held off Holcombe by three seconds to get the job done on his GASGAS. Making his eagerly awaited return to racing following injury, Hamish MacDonald took a well-deserved third.
The Enduro3 category was dominated by Brad Freeman on his way to winning the EnduroGP overall. Behind him Sweden’s Mikael Persson (Husqvarna) enjoyed a solid start to his year in second, while Matteo Cavallo (TM) took third.
Etchells takes first win of Enduro Junior season
The GALFER FIM Enduro Junior World Championship saw Fantic’s Jed Etchells claim the top step of the podium on day one in Italy. The British rider was fastest in the first three tests and opened up a seven-second lead. Although admitting to struggling with the roughening conditions midway through the day, he regrouped on the final lap to pull clear and win. Chasing Etchells all day, Sweden’s Max Ahlin (KTM) placed second with Jeremy Sydow (Sherco) third.
The Enduro Youth category saw Italy’s Kevin Cristino (Fantic) take the first win of the season. The Italian was looking very comfortable in Arma di Taggia/San Remo, winning nine of the day’s 13 special tests. Thibault Giraudon (Sherco) and Leo Joyon (Beta) completed the podium.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself coming into round one to hit the ground running. After a tough 2022 I wanted to show I’ve still got it. I worked super hard this winter to be ready and was able to come out swinging and win. My nerves were so high all day, it’s been more than 12 months since I won in EnduroGP, so I’m stoked to top the podium. Hopefully tomorrow can be just as good.”
“Second overall and first in the Enduro2 class is a good way to start the year. I had a crash in the cross test, which cost me some time, but overall I’m happy with my first race on the 350F.”
“It’s a great way to start the championship with a win. I managed to win every test on the first lap and that put me in a great position early on. I struggled a bit in the middle of the day with the bumps but hung on to get the job done. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
“It’s a great way to start the championship with a win. I managed to win every test on the first lap and that put me in a great position early on. I struggled a bit in the middle of the day with the bumps
“I had a big crash on the second enduro test, which had me playing catch up. I just tried to keep chipping away at the results and work my way back into contention. With each test I got closer and closer and in the end, I managed to take the win.”