The opening day of racing at round five of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship saw Beta Factory Racing’s Steve Holcombe secure the overall victory. In what’s been a difficult 24 hours for the EnduroGP paddock following the untimely passing of Jaroslav Diro in yesterday’s AKRAPOVIC Super Test, Holcombe was joined on the podium by GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona and CH Racing Sherco’s Wil Ruprecht.
- Steve Holcombe races to EnduroGP victory on day one in Slovakia
- Championship leader Brad Freeman crashes out
- EnduroGP paddock in mourning following tragic loss of Jaroslav Diro
Tight racing at the top of EnduroGP
The POLISPORT Extreme Test marked an early wake up call for all riders. Setting the fastest time, GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona took an early lead ahead of Sweden’s Mikael Persson (Husqvarna), with CH Racing Sherco’s Wil Ruprecht close in third.
At over nine minutes in length, the ACERBIS Cross Test saw Verona continue to lead. It was clear the Italian had found his form again after a disappointing couple of rounds. But so too had Ruprecht. The defending Enduro2 champion was charging, winning the test, he sat just one hundredth of a second adrift.
With Fast Eddy Racing’s Jamie McCanney and RedMoto Honda Racing’s Nathan Watson in third and fourth, things were proving very competitive. Drama struck Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman with the EnduroGP points leader crashing out on the second test.
The JUST1 Enduro Test and Cross Pro Enduro Test were next up to close out lap one. Steve Holcombe (Beta) set an incredible time on the JUST1 Enduro Test that edged him into the lead. Verona answered back by topping the Cross Pro Test. Beginning lap two, Holcombe led by just nine hundredths of a second. Ruprecht was 23 seconds behind in third, but had Theo Espinasse (Beta), Watson, and now Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) in pursuit.
The race lead changed hands again on the second POLISPORT Extreme Test, before Holcombe won it back on the ACERBIS Cross Test. Topping the JUST1 Enduro Test and Cross Pro Enduro Test, he managed to gain some breathing room over Verona as he began lap two with a 12-second advantage.
But the Italian refused to be outdone and closed that gap to nine seconds on the final POLISPORT Extreme Test. Knowing he needed to answer back, Holcombe turned up the heat. Fastest in the final three tests, he pulled clear to win by 27 seconds. For Verona, day one in Slovakia proved an incredible comeback following a tough couple of rounds. Runner-up today, he will aim to better that tomorrow.
Likewise, Ruprecht was a welcome return to the EnduroGP podium in third, following a slow start to his season. Continuing to string together a series of impressive results, Espinasse split the CH Racing Sherco duo of Ruprecht and MacDonald with fourth.
Victory for Espinasse in Enduro1
The Enduro1 class saw Espinasse claim his second victory of the season for Beta Oxmoto. McCanney enjoyed a strong ride for second. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia battled through his shoulder injury to keep his championship lead intact with third.
The Enduro2 class results were a carbon copy of EnduroGP with Holcombe winning from Verona and Ruprecht. MacDonald and Watson completed the top five. The shock departure of Freeman on special test two saw his unbeaten run of form finally end in Enduro3. Persson raced on to secure the win from Luca Fischeder (Sherco) and Antoine Magain (Sherco).
Norrbin takes Junior win
The GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship saw Fantic’s Albin Norrbin ride clear to a comfortable victory. The Swede was on top form in the Slovakian mud and ruts. Jed Etchells (Fantic) placed 43 seconds behind in second, with Jeremy Sydow (Sherco) third.
There was a large upset in the Youth Enduro class with Thibault Giraudon (Sherco) taking victory for the first time this season. Leo Joyon (Beta) and Maxime Clauzier (Fantic) completed the podium. Championship leader Kevin Cristino (Fantic) had a tough day at the office for fifth – his first loss of the season.
“Our enduro world was rocked yesterday with the sad passing of Jaroslav Diro in yesterday’s Super Test. My thoughts are with his family today, and naturally I want to dedicate this victory to him. As ever Slovakia always puts on a great race and I really enjoyed the tests today. They got chewed out towards the end of the day. I was able to keep pushing hard and come out on top.”
“It feels great to be back on the EnduroGP podium after what’s been a difficult couple of rounds. I fought a lot with Steve today and I feel like I can build on that tomorrow. I would like to send my thoughts to the family and friends of Jaroslav Diro after yesterday’s events.”
“It was devastating to learn the passing of Jaroslav Diro and he was in my thoughts all day. He was one of us and I send my condolences to his family. Despite the difficult circumstances, it is nice to be back inside the EnduroGP top three after a tough start to the year. The course was good today and I hope to carry my form into tomorrow.”