The opening day of racing at round four of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia charge to victory in the POLISPORT GP of Italy. The Spaniard headed Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman in second, with GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona third in Bettola. Team KTM Pro Racing Sport’s Max Ahlin secured a commanding win in the GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship.

  • EnduroGP victory for Josep Garcia on day one in Italy
  • Max Ahlin fastest in Enduro Junior
  • Hard fought win for Mireia Badia in Enduro Women

After the excitement of Friday’s AKRAPOVIC Super Test, won by CH Racing Sherco’s Hamish MacDonald, riders rolled out early Saturday morning for the first full day of racing at round four of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Italy.

Greeted first with the super challenging POLISPORT Extreme Test, it was GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona who set the fastest time, much to the delight of his passionate home crowd. On to the MAXXIS Enduro Test, and this time it was Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman who topped the time sheets. But with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia right behind in second, it was the Spaniard who moved into the overall race lead.

Completing lap one with the fastest time in the ACERBIS Cross Test, Garcia stretched his advantage out to 15 seconds over Verona, with Honda Racing RedMoto Enduro Team’s Steve Holcombe just six hundredths of a second adrift in third. With Freeman a further three seconds back in fourth, the racing was incredibly close.

On lap two, Freeman was impressive. Winning both the POLISPORT Extreme Test and MAXXIS Enduro Test, he moved up to second and was now just seven seconds behind Garcia. At maximum attack, Garcia won the ACERBIS Cross Test and extended his lead back out to 10 seconds as they headed out for lap three.

A magical third lap from the Spaniard saw him win all three special tests, and with the final set of tests remaining, he was 22 seconds clear of his rivals. Despite renewed attacks from Freeman and Verona on the final lap, Garcia kept his cool. Managing his advantage, he cleared the 13th and final special test as the day one winner at the POLISPORT GP of Italy.

For Freeman, day one in Bettola marked the best day of his season so far. The Brit proved incredibly strong all day. Capping his ride off with two more test wins on the final lap for second overall, he’ll look to challenge for the win again tomorrow.

Unfortunately, hopes of a home win didn’t materialise on day one for Verona. The Italian enjoyed a strong ride, but was ultimately hampered by his crash in the AKRAPOVIC Super Test and never fully recovered. Third today, he has one more shot tomorrow to claim the top step of the podium in Italy.

Always in the mix, but not quite in the hunt for victory, Holcombe rode a solid-but-steady day for fourth overall. The Brit will hope to find a little bit extra overnight to properly weigh into the battle for the podium. Behind Holcombe, Nathan Watson (Beta) completed the top five.

Badia and Gutish go head-to-head in Enduro Women

The Enduro Women saw a closely fought battle for victory between RIEJU Factory Racing’s Mireia Badia and Team KBS Sherco’s Rachel Gutish. Gutish had the early advantage on Badia having won the AKRAPOVIC Super Test, but Badia kept the pressure on.

A costly mistake from Gutish on the final POLISPORT Extreme Test saw positions change, putting Badia into the lead. Managing her advantage, Badia hung on to claim victory over Gutish.

In the race for the final step of the podium, France’s Elodie Chaplot (Beta) held off Britain’s Rosie Rowett (RIEJU) by 15 seconds to secure her first top three of the year.

With Garcia racing to the EnduroGP win, he also comfortably topped Enduro1. Holcombe followed him home for second, with CH Racing Sherco’s Zach Pichon beating TM MOTO’s Lorenzo Macoritto by eight seconds for third.

In Enduro2, it was Verona who secured the top step of the podium in Bettola, with Watson in second. Fantic Racing Team’s Jed Etchells made it a day to remember, with the reigning Enduro Junior champ securing his first senior class podium with third.

Freeman was untouchable in Enduro3. The Brit raced to a very commanding one minute and 19 second victory over MacDonald. TM MOTO’s Matteo Cavallo completed the top three, securing a podium result in his home race.

No stopping Ahlin in Enduro Junior

In the GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship, Team KTM Pro Racing Sport’s Max Ahlin delivered a dominant performance. The young Swede was on a charge all day long. Clearly enjoying each of the special tests, he raced clear to a commanding one minute and 46 second margin of victory.

Behind him, and placings were much closer. France’s Thibault Giraudon (Sherco) held off Fantic Racing’s Team’s Axel Semb by 12 seconds to finish as runner-up. Manolo Morettini (Honda) finished fourth on day one, with Leo Joyon (Beta) rounding out the top five.

Super tight battle in Enduro Youth

Enduro Youth saw Manuel Verzeroli claim the only Italian victory on day one at the POLISPORT GP of Italy. By the narrowest of margins, the Team KTM Pro Racing Sport rider edged out JET Zanardo Husqvarna’s Luca Colorio by just eight hundredths of a second to take the win. Losing out to Verzeroli on the final ACERBIS Cross Test, Colorio will have to wait until tomorrow to try for his first Enduro Youth victory.

Denying Italy a clean sweep of the Enduro Youth podium, France’s Romain Dagna (Sherco) finished in third. Thirteen seconds behind him, Italy’s Pietro Scardina (Fantic) took fourth, with Maxime Clauzier (Beta) fifth.

Josep Garcia (KTM): “It’s been a great day, but very hard. The Extreme Test was super tough and easy to make a mistake on. I love racing here in Italy, the fans are so passionate and it always seems extra special to win here.”

Brad Freeman (Beta): “I’m happy with this result, but know there is still more to come because I made a few too many mistakes. I’ll look to iron them out for tomorrow and be stronger than today.” 

Andrea Verona (GASGAS): “It’s been a crazy feeling all day on the tests with my home crowd cheering me on like this. I did make too many mistakes, so I’ll try again tomorrow and improve. The speed is good, the crowd is amazing, so I will go full gas!”

Max Ahlin (KTM): “It was really good today. No problems and just feeling good on the bike. I really hope I can do the same again tomorrow.”

Manuel Verzeroli (KTM): “I’m very happy with my result today. It was amazing out there, so it is fantastic to win at my home race. For sure, tomorrow I go full gas again!”

Results: Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship, Round 4 – Day 1

1. Josep Garcia (KTM) 1:12:21.62; 2. Brad Freeman (Beta) 1:12:31.89; 3. Andrea Verona (GASGAS) 1:12:48.38; 4. Steve Holcombe (Honda) 1:13:06.50; 5. Nathan Watson (Beta) 1:13:36.55; 6. Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) 1:13:51.00; 7. Matteo Cavallo (TM Racing) 1:14:20.07; 8. Zach Pichon (Sherco) 1:14:37.04; 9. Antoine Magain (Sherco) 1:14:40.16; 10. Lorenzo Macoritto (TM Racing) 1:14:45.76…