Often referred to as the ‘most enjoyable hard enduro’ the Red Bull Sea to Sky race held on the Turkish Riviera is a favourite of the hard enduro paddock. The event is split up into three separate races – beach, forest and the final and most challenging mountain race.
The event started off well for KTM’s official team riders. Alfredo Gomez rode an excellent Beach Race, despite a nasty crash that resulted in an injured arm. Gomez finished third, only just beaten by his team-mate Jonny Walker at the final obstacle.
The forest race was a little tougher for Gomez. A couple of mistakes cost him some time early on with the Spaniard deciding to ride at a steady pace in order to reach the finish in one piece.
After a less than perfect start to the Mountain Race, Alfredo rode superbly to pick his way through the field to finish fourth and just a few minutes from the podium.
Gomez: “I’ve enjoyed my time here in Turkey, it’s always a fun event. The week started off well with a third place on the beach. That whole race was really tough and everyone was swapping positions quite often. I missed out on the runner-up position by only a couple of seconds when Jonny passed me on the last lap, but overall it was good.
“The Forest Race didn’t go so well for me. My pace was good, but the race was very hot and dusty and tougher than previous years. I tried to keep to a good rhythm in order to get to the finish safely and get a good start position for the final race.
“The Mountain Race was tough. My start wasn’t great, I got into the forest and the tracks were so dusty it was difficult to ride properly. There had been some rain over night so further up the hill the dust turned to mud, which made things even more tricky. I caught Graham and for a lot of the race we were riding quite close – he would make some time then I would catch him back up.
“Nearer the top I could see Mario and Wade up ahead and I tried my best to catch them but couldn’t quite make it. Fourth is encouraging after a bad start, but of course it would be better to finish on the podium. I’ll regroup and prepare myself for the next race.”
Jonny Walker made an excellent start in the beach race, leading the 50 top-qualifiers down the Turkish start straight. A small mistake resulted in him losing the lead but after some close racing the Brit held on for second at the line.
The Forest Race also saw Walker finish as runner-up. Catching and passing Billy Bolt on the 50km course, Walker was first to reach the finish. He was just pipped to the win by Wade Young who was slightly faster on corrected time.
Unfortunately, the Mountain Race did not go Jonny’s way. After a difficult start, and struggling with the dust, a few mistakes cost him too much time, preventing him from fighting for the podium. Pushing hard, he eventually placed sixth.
Walker: “The week has gone quite well for me, it’s just disappointing not to cap it off with a good result on the Mountain Race. Getting two second places in the beach and forest races was great. I was riding well and the bike felt good. “I really enjoyed the Beach Race, I got a good start and managed to get out in front. A couple of mistakes meant the others caught back up and it was a closely fought battle from there on.
“The Forest Race went well, it was tiring but I settled into a good pace and kept pushing. I passed Billy and crossed the line first, it just wasn’t quite enough to take the win on corrected time.
“I didn’t get the best of starts on the Mountain Race. Graham caught me in the forest and we were riding together for a while. The dust was a nightmare. I made a silly mistake and managed to get a stone wedged in the back wheel, that cost me some time and Alfredo got past.
“As we climbed the mountain I thought I would be able to make up some time on those ahead as the riding got more difficult, but that didn’t happen. I’m was glad to get to the finish without too many problems, I just wish I was a little higher up the order.”