Now firmly on the home straight, the World Enduro Super Series headed to Spain and the BR2 Enduro Solsona for the penultimate round of the season.
Eyeing up a home win, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia did exactly that, scorching his way to victory in front of friends and family.
Behind him, Nathan Watson and Jonny Walker ensured a KTM-factory clean sweep of the podium, while a fourth-place from Manuel Lettenbichler helped him to extend his points lead.
Denying a KTM top-five, Yamaha’s Cristobal Guerrero put in a stormer of a final lap on Sunday to pip Taddy Blazusiak to the post for fifth.
With a home race on the cards, Josep Garcia set about putting his disappointing outing at Hawkstone Park behind him. From the off on Saturday, he immediately began setting top test times to open out a lead.
Ending day one 45 seconds up on Watson, another strong ride and fastest time of the day, ensured the overall win was his.
“It felt great to take the win here at home in front of all my friends and family,” said Garcia. “I couldn’t have asked for more really. Yesterday I had a couple of crashes but today went perfectly.
“Naturally, I felt a little extra pressure coming here for my home event, but that only motivated me even more. Overall it’s been the perfect weekend.”
BR2 Enduro Solsona marked the end of a hectic month for Nathan Watson. From winning Hawkstone Park to third with Team GB at Motocross of Nations, he capped things off with second in Spain. Admitting to feeling weary entering Solsona, he still managed to keep local man Garcia honest throughout the weekend.
Ending Saturday 45 seconds behind Garcia, he stepped it up on Sunday, losing only 10 seconds to the Spaniard throughout the day to finish as runner-up.
“Josep was on fire here in Spain and really pushed hard, especially on that first lap yesterday,” explained Watson. “It was always going to be hard to catch him after that.
“Coming in off the back of a hectic couple of weeks wasn’t easy. From Hawkstone Park to the MXoN and now here, has been a surreal month. My energy was fading a little bit by the end of the weekend but I managed to dig deep and keep pushing, hoping a mistake from Josep might come. Unfortunately, it didn’t, but to finish second and earn more WESS points is a good weekend.”
n Walker cards second podium in a row Jonny Walker continued his strong start to the second half of the season by carding another podium result in WESS. Brimming with confidence following his ride to third at Hawkstone Park, he arrived in Solsona hungry for more. But knowing the Spanish would be fast he wasn’t taking anything for granted.
However a win at the Friday head-to-head Super Test showed he was already up to speed. Although not quite matching the pace of Garcia or Watson on the long Enduro and Cross test, he was setting the benchmark in the Extreme test. That form slotted him into third overall and although a hustle from Lettenbichler behind him, he controlled it throughout the weekend to secure a well-deserved podium result.
“It’s been a good race here in Spain,” said Walker. “I’m really happy to get on the podium again. I’m starting to feel like I am getting back into a groove.
“The race started well with a win in the Super Test and I’m really pleased with how I rode on both Saturday and Sunday – I was on top of the extreme test. The plan now is to get a good result at GetzenRodeo and hopefully come away with second in the championship.”
Behind the top three, Lettenbichler surprised all with his newfound Classic Enduro speed. Proving his runner-up result at Hawkstone Park was no fluke, the Romaniacs winner ended his weekend in a comfortable fourth to ensure a virtual-but-firm grasp on the WESS title ahead of his home round at GetzenRodeo next month.
“I feel so pleased right now,” smiled Lettenbichler. “I came here with no expectations at all, even though I was feeling quite confident after Hawkstone. I thought top-10 would be a good result, so to finish fourth feels amazing. I’m within shot of the title now, so I just need to keep things together at GetzenRodeo to get it done.”
The battle for fifth was a close affair between Guerrero and Blazusiak. The Polish rider held fifth overnight and was determined to sign out with a top-five result. A crash on lap one of Saturday saw Guerrero fight his way back into contention.
Starting Sunday in sixth, he gained time on Blazusiak in the Enduro and Cross test but lost time on the Extreme test. Putting everything into the final Super Test he managed to overthrow the KTM rider, beating him by eight seconds.
Honda’s Kirian Mirabet edged out Jaume Betriu (KTM) by just one second to take seventh, while Marzal Schareina (Husqvarna) and Ramon Quer (Husqvarna) rounded out the top-10.
Winterburn pushes on in Spanish dust
Triple D Motorsports’ Sam Winterburn also made the trip to Solsona for round seven of WESS. After a strong 12th at Hawkstone Park, he was hoping for another top result but knew the
Spanish would be hard to beat on home soil. Fighting hard each day he ended his weekend 22nd overall and 10th in Enduro 2.
“It’s been a really physical weekend, but I’ve enjoyed it too,” told Winterburn. “It was hard at first to get into the groove of riding these types of special tests, they’re pure Spanish style but I began to find a rhythm. It would have been nice to get a bit higher up the leaderboard but the Spaniards are fast in this stuff and are racing it all year.”
The 2019 World Enduro Super Series concludes with the eighth and final round at Germany’s GetzenRodeo on Saturday, November 2.
Results – World Enduro Super Series
Round 7: 1 Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 1:26:16.000, 2 Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 1:27:06.700, 3 Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 1:28:42.870, 4 Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 1:29:11.100, 5 Cristobal Guerrero (Yamaha – ESP) 1:30:08.760, 6 Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 1:30:17.120, 7 Kirian Mirabet (Honda – ESP) 1:30:51.560, 8 Jaume Betriu (KTM – ESP) 1:30:52.040, 9 Marzal Schareina (Husqvarna – ESP) 1:31:05.790, 10 Ramon Quer (Husqvarna – ESP) 1:31:35.700… 22 Sam Winterburn (KTM – GB) 1:36:57.950…
Championship Standings (After Round 7 of 8): 1 Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 5110 ,2 Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 4240 3 Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 4165, 4 Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 4034, 5 Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 3920, 6 Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 3881, 7 Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 3850, 8 Mario Roman (Sherco – ESP) 3070, 9 Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 2725, 10 Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 2520…