Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia claims victory on day one at the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Skovde, Sweden. Going head-to-head with Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman, Garcia narrowly beat his rival for the win by just eight seconds after almost one hour and 30 minutes of timed racing. Yet again proving just how tight the top three are in EnduroGP, Beta’s Steve Holcombe closed out the podium 19 seconds behind his teammate Freeman.
Max Ahlin (KTM) carried over his stunning form from last night’s AKRAPOVIC Super Test to win the GALFER Junior Enduro World Championship class. Jane Daniels was the runaway winner of the Magnorange FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship with victory on day one in Skovde.
- Josep Garcia tops EnduroGP on day one with hard-fought win.
- Back-to-back enduro tests put competitors through their paces.
- Max Ahlin delivers a home win in Junior Enduro.
There was an excited atmosphere in the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship paddock as competitors rolled out for day one’s racing at round four in Skovde, Sweden. A big day at the office was on the cards for all with 11 special tests dishing out a super-sized one hour and 30 minutes of timed racing for the front runners. The big talking point for competitors as they left the MILWAUKEE Parc Ferme was the back-to-back enduro tests. With a nine-minute Cross Pro Enduro Test added to the nine-minute JUST1 Enduro Test, today was set to favour those most comfortable between the trees.
Straight off the bat, Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman kept his lead from the AKRAPOVIC Super Test alive by winning the opening POLISPORT Extreme Test and then going quickest in the JUST1 Enduro Test to open a three-second advantage over Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia, with Steve Holcombe (Beta) a further nine seconds back in third. The CH Racing Sherco duo of Hamish MacDonald and Zach Pichon were jointly five seconds behind to remain in the hunt.
While Freeman topped the opening JUST1 Enduro Test it was by a minuscule three hundredths of a second, meaning it wasn’t like the killer blow he had landed last week in Finland. Garcia was quick to sense that and won the following Cross Pro Enduro Test to halve Freeman’s lead. And with the pair virtually tying on time in the ACERBIS Cross Test, it was game on as they headed into lap two of three.
For the rest of the day the pair went toe-to-toe, with Holcombe sneaking in a Cross Pro Enduro Test win too. On the final Cross Pro Enduro Test it was Freeman who cracked. A crash handed Garcia the breathing room he needed, and with time running out, victory went the Spaniard’s way.
With Freeman forced to concede defeat today, it was Holcombe who followed him home for third. While the battle for victory grabbed the majority of the limelight, there was little to separate the gap to fourth, fifth and sixth. Putting in his best ride of the season, RedMoto Honda’s Nathan Watson won the final ACERBIS Cross test to take fourth. GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona was super consistent all day for fifth, with MacDonald placing an eventual sixth.
The Enduro1 category saw another victory for Josep Garica (KTM). Zach Pichon (Sherco) fended off Theo Espinasse (Beta) for second. Steve Holcombe (Beta) appears to have the measure of Enduro2 and won again. Nathan Watson (Honda) kept in front of Andrea Verona (GASGAS) for second. Beta’s Brad Freeman was best of the Enduro3 class for the seventh consecutive time. Morgan Lesiardo (Sherco) and Matteo Cavallo (TM Racing) rounded out the podium.
Daniels tops Women’s Enduro podium
In the Magnorange FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship, Fantic’s Jane Daniels once again put in a winning ride. After Rieju’s Rosie Rowett won the AKRAPOVIC Super Test, Daniels didn’t waste any time restoring order by going on a lap one winning spree. Winning three tests she put herself in the lead and didn’t falter for the remainder of the day.
For Rowett it was a very strong ride for second. Along with many top-two special test times, she also took an ACERBIS Cross Test win. Yamaha’s Jessica Gardiner was third. Linnes Akesson (Beta) finished fourth on home soil, with Nieve Holmes (Sherco) rounding out the top five.
Home win for Max Ahlin in Junior Enduro
The GALFER Junior Enduro World Championship was all about the battle of the Swede’s Max Ahlin (KTM) and Albin Norrbin (Fantic), with Jed Etchells (Fantic) in tow. While Ahlin enjoyed a stunning ride in the AKRAPOVIC Super Test, Norrbin did not. Ending it 39th and 23 seconds behind Ahlin, he would spend his day trying to race back into contention.
Doing exactly that he went on a winning run midday, setting the quickest time in five consecutive tests. However, Ahlin was never too far behind and with that gap only gradually closing, Ahlin did everything right to win. Despite his best efforts, Norrbin will have to try again tomorrow if he wants to stand on the top step of the podium on home soil. Coming on strong on the final lap, Etchells topped two special tests for third overall and may just have a little more in the tank for the Swedes tomorrow.
Class rookie Jeremy Sydow was much more confident in the Scandinavian terrain this race and was a competitive fourth. Always a stronger rider on day two, he could be someone the leaders will need to watch out for. Axel Semb (Husqvarna) took fifth to ensure three Swedes placed inside the top five.
In Youth Enduro, Kevin Cristino (Fantic) remains on top. However, the Italian only just got it across the line. Sherco’s Thibault Giraudon was back on song today and finished just three seconds behind as runner-up. Leo Joyon (Beta) completed the podium.
“I felt good on the bike the whole day, which was important because the fight at the top is so tight. I had a one crash, but luckily it wasn’t too major. I’m enjoying the battle now, everything is feeling good and I’m ready for more tomorrow.”
“It’s been good results all round, but I feel like I let that win slip away if I’m honest about it. Josep and myself were battling every test and in the final enduro test I lost nine seconds and that was it.”
“Finishing on the podium again is brilliant. But I wasn’t quite able to get to Josep and Brad today. After walking all the tests they didn’t cut in how I expected them too and I think that caught me off guard a bit. I’ll do some homework tonight and see if I can close the gap tomorrow.”