The opening day of racing at round three of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Romania saw GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona claim the win. Fighting hard all day, Verona held firm to secure his first EnduroGP class victory of the season. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia took second, with Honda Racing RedMoto Enduro Team’s Steve Holcombe third.

There was also a season-first victory in the GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship with Max Ahlin (KTM) taking the win on day one in Bacau.

  • Super tight racing on day one at GP of Romania
  • Andrea Verona tops EnduroGP
  • Max Ahlin claims Enduro Junior win

After the excitement of Friday’s AKRAPOVIC Super Test, which saw TM MOTO’s Matteo Cavallo take the win, riders rolled out early Saturday morning for day one at round three of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship. Clear, sunny skies would ensure conditions would be at their best for the day.

The opening ACERBIS Cross Test saw Beta Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson put in an incredible time to go fastest by three seconds. However, a major error on the following POLISPORT Extreme Test ultimately put him out of the hunt for a podium. Winning the test, Andrea Verona put his GASGAS into the lead by two seconds over Josep Garcia, with Steve Holcombe third. Moving on to the MAXXIS Enduro Test to close out the opening lap, Garcia went fastest by six seconds to take over the race lead as they headed out on lap two.

With Verona, Watson and Garcia separated by just six tenths of a second on the second ACERBIS Cross Test, the franticly fast pace continued in Bacau. Sweeping lap two by adding the POLISPORT Extreme Test and MAXXIS Enduro Test wins to his tally, Verona put his GASGAS back into the lead as they began lap three. However, it was only by four tenths of a second over Garcia, and six tests still remained.

A mistake from Verona allowed Garcia to lead by five seconds after the third ACERBIS Cross Test. But Verona kept fighting back. Entering the fourth and final lap, the duo were separated by just two seconds, and were now over 30 seconds clear of Holcombe in third.

With the pressure rising, Garcia cracked on the final POLISPORT Extreme Test. Losing seven seconds to Verona, it would now be a tall ask for the Spaniard to recover with just the MAXXIS Enduro Test remaining. But Verona didn’t give Garcia any opportunity, and signing off the day with the fastest time, he took the win by 13 seconds over Garcia.

Unable to bridge the gap to the leading duo, Holcombe had to settle for a lonely third. He will look to find some improvement for Sunday. Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman finished fourth, with Fast Eddy Racing’s Jamie McCanney 10 seconds back in fifth.

While a chance of the EnduroGP win slipped from his grasp, Garcia topped Enduro1. Holcombe followed him home for second, with McCanney in third.

Verona was the clear winner of Enduro2, placing nearly two minutes ahead of Watson in second. Watson showed he had pace by winning the ACERBIS Cross Test but will need to stay on two wheels to challenge Verona tomorrow. Ablin Elowson (Husqvarna) completed the top three.

Freeman rode to victory in Enduro3. TM MOTO’s Matteo Cavallo battled hard with Fantic Racing Team’s Albin Norrbin to take second by four seconds over the Swede.

Victory for Ahlin in Enduro Junior

The GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship saw Max Ahlin (KTM) take his first win of the season. Championship leader Axel Semb (Fantic) had set the pace during the early part of the day, but some mistakes dropped him back. Ahlin put in a solid closing lap to take a memorable victory.

Kevin Cristino (Fantic) slotted in-between Ahlin and Semb to snatch second, with Semb third. KBS Team’s Matej Skuta was fourth, with Team Beta Oxmoto’s Leo Joyon completing the top five.

The Enduro Youth class saw TM MOTO’s Alberto Elgari take his second victory of the season. The Italian won the first three tests of the day and then maintained his advantage throughout. Winning the final three tests saw him beat runner-up Manuel Verzeroli (KTM) by 16 seconds. Beta Factory Racing’s Clement Clauzier rounded out the podium in third.

Andrea Verona (GASGAS): “It feels awesome to get my first overall win of the season. I rode strong all day. I’ll try again tomorrow and push hard.”

Josep Garcia (KTM): “It was a great day and I felt great out there. But then I crashed on the final extreme test and lost the lead. The pace is fast and very close. It shows you can’t make mistakes out there.”

Steve Holcombe (Honda): “It was a good day, but I just didn’t have the pace of Andrea and Josep to bring the fight to them. I know I’m riding well, so I will have another look at the tests tonight to see where I can improve for tomorrow.”

Max Ahlin (KTM): “I didn’t watch the times so close today, but I knew it was *tight* between Axel and myself. I think he had a crash and that gave me some room. I maintained my advantage after that and took the win. It’s been a good day!”

Results: FIM EnduroGP World Championship, Round 3 Day 1

1. Andrea Verona (GASGAS) 1:12:23.92; 2. Josep Garcia (KTM) 1:12:37.54; 3. Steve Holcombe (Honda) 1:13:21.96; 4. Brad Freeman (Beta) 1:14:01.47; 5. Jamie McCanney (Husqvarna) 1:14:11.68; 6. Nathan Watson (Beta) 1:14:13.97; 7. Zach Pichon (Sherco) 1:14:25.81; 8. Theo Espinasse (Beta) 1:14:39.09; 9. Jeremy Sydow (Sherco) 1:14:43.69; 10. Albin Elowson (Husqvarna) 1:15:00.25…