It was a day of celebration in Italy, with GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona claiming a home victory on day two at round four of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship. In wet and wild weather, the Italian narrowly beat Honda Racing RedMoto Enduro Team’s Steve Holcombe by half a second to secure the top step of the POLISPORT GP of Italy podium.

  • Verona delights home crowd with EnduroGP victory
  • Morettini takes victory in Enduro Junior
  • Conditions were wet and muddy on day two in Bettola

After the scorching heat on day one at round four of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Bettola, Italy, day two was a contrasting mud bath. Heavy overnight rain ensured the dust of day one would be a distant memory as riders battled slippery special tests, littered with lots of mud holes.

With organisers opting to reverse the POLISPORT Extreme Test, riders faced an untimed run on lap one, before taking on the MAXXIS Enduro Test, which would prove a crucial one for riders to get right throughout the day due to its testing conditions.

Honda Racing RedMoto Enduro Team’s Steve Holcombe executed it perfectly on lap one. Setting the quickest time, he held an early four-second advantage over GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona, with Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman third. There was trouble for day one winner Josep Garcia when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider crashed in the trees and cost himself almost 50 seconds.

Quickly shaking it off, Garcia topped the ACERBIS Cross Test to begin his charge back to the front as Verona overhauled Holcombe to end lap one of three as the race leader. Fastest on the following POLISPORT Extreme Test and MAXXIS Enduro Test, before finishing second to Garcia on the ACERBIS Cross Test, Verona ended lap two 18 seconds clear of Holcombe in second.

Garcia had made an incredible recovery and was up to third with one lap remaining. Freeman held fourth, while CH Racing Sherco’s Antoine Magain was holding fifth. But with the rain returning hard for lap three, positions were about to change once more.

Holcombe won the final POLISPORT Extreme Test and then the MAXXIS Enduro Test. Also capitalising on a crash from Verona, he took over the race lead with just the final ACERBIS Cross Test remaining. Could the Brit deny his Italian rival a home victory?

With it all to play for, Verona left it all on the line for his Italian fans. By the narrowest of margins, he fought back past Holcombe to secure the top step of the podium by an astonishing 46 hundredths of a second. For Holcombe it was a case of so close, but so far. Naturally disappointed, he had to settle for the runner-up result. Arguably one of the best recovery rides of the day went to Garcia in third.

For Belgium’s Magain it was a day to savour, with the Sherco rider securing one of his best results in a long time with fourth. Magain headed a Sherco freight train, with Zach Pichon and Hamish MacDonald also taking fifth and sixth respectively.

Badia makes it a double Enduro Women win in Italy

In the Enduro Women’s class, it was RIEJU Factory Racing’s Mireia Badia who mastered the mud to secure her second victory of the weekend in Bettola. The Spaniard was supreme as she made short work of the rutted MAXXIS Enduro Test and slippery ACERBIS Cross Test. Claiming a 56-second margin of victory, she was pleased with her efforts today.

Adding to the celebrations in the RIEJU camp, teammate Rosie Rowett took second. The Brit fended off a big challenge by Beta’s Elodie Chaplot to beat her rival by just three seconds. Justine Martel (Beta) and Emelie Borg (Sherco) rounded out the top five.

In Enduro1, Holcombe was rewarded with the win. The Honda rider took the top step of the podium ahead of Garcia in second, with Pichon in third.

Verona added the Enduro2 class victory to his win tally on day two in Bettola. With Jet Zanardo Husqvarna’s Matteo Pavoni in second and Honda Racing RedMoto Enduro Team’s Samuele Bernardini in third, it was an all-Italian Enduro2 podium.

The Enduro3 podium saw Sherco lockdown the top two positions. With a win for Magain, MacDonald followed him home for second. Freeman took third.

Home win for Morettini in Enduro Junior

The GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship saw Manolo Morettini (Honda) come through to win in Bettola. The young Italian was riding well in the slippery conditions and opened up an early lead. At the end of lap two, he held a 12-second advantage over Team KTM Pro Racing Sport’s Max Ahlin. Keeping his cool, he remained strong to secure his first victory of the season.

Despite a crash on the penultimate test, Ahlin ended his day in second. Australia’s Kyron Bacon (Yamaha) delivered in the tough conditions to finish third. Thibault Giraudon (Sherco) and Enrico Rinaldi (GASGAS) completed the top five.

The Enduro Youth class saw Jet Zanardo Husqvarna’s Luca Colorio come through to secure his debut victory. The young Italian had come within eight hundredths of a second from winning on day one, but today was his day. An exceptional ride saw him take a memorable win. Team KTM Pro Racing Sport’s Manuel Verzeroli was second, with TM MOTO’s Alberto Elgari third to complete an Italian clean sweep in Enduro Youth.

The Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship now heads to Gelnica in Slovakia for the POLISPORT GP of Slovakia on July 12-14.

Andrea Verona (GASGAS): “It feels amazing to win today at home. I was fighting all day long with Steve. I gapped him a little until I crashed in the last Enduro Test and I lost everything. On the final test I went full gas and managed to take the time back and win by half a second.”

Steve Holcombe (Honda): “It never feels good to lose the race on the last test, but I rode good today. Andrea just pipped me in the final test by half a second. Conditions today were wet and wild, so I’m pleased to have been strong in the mud.”

Josep Garcia (KTM): “It was a tough day for me. I crashed in the Enduro Test and got stuck in the trees. I lost nearly 50 seconds. So from that point I was only thinking to recover. Coming back to third in EnduroGP is a like a win for me today for sure!”

Mireia Badia (RIEJU): “It’s been a fantastic weekend for me. Winning both days is incredible. Day one was hot and dusty and now today was wet and muddy. It’s nice to be strong like this and take maximum points in the championship. I’m happy!”

Results: Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship, Round four – Day two

1. Andrea Verona (GASGAS) 42:11.34; 2. Steve Holcombe (Honda) 42:11.80; 3. Josep Garcia (KTM) 42:33.81; 4. Antoine Magain (Sherco) 43:05.60; 5. Zach Pichon (Sherco) 43:11.91; 6. Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) 43:12.43; 7. Matteo Pavoni (Husqvarna) 43:16.64; 8. Samuele Bernardini (Honda) 43:18.05; 9. Theo Espinasse (Beta) 43:21.43; 10. Brad Freeman (Beta) 43:32.72…

Championship Standings (After round four)

1. Josep Garcia (KTM) 144pts; 2. Andrea Verona (GASGAS) 134pts; 3. Steve Holcombe (Honda) 128pts; 4. Brad Freeman (Beta) 85pts; 5. Nathan Watson (Beta) 80pts; 6. Zach Pichon (Sherco) 63pts; 7. Samuele Bernardini (Honda) 59pts; 8. Jamie McCanney (Husqvarna) 55pts; 9. Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) 50pts; 10. Matteo Cavallo (TM Racing) 46pts…