FIM Hard Enduro World Championship racing is back this coming weekend as the series heads to Italy for the Abestone Hard Enduro. Round three of this year’s series, Abetone and the Tuscan mountains are set to welcome the world’s best riders for what promises to be three days of epic competition.
After a curtailed start to the 2021 series due to Covid developments in both Portugal and Austria, Hard Enduro riders and fans thirsty for action are in for a threat as the sport makes a long-awaited return to Italy. World-renowned for its motorcycling passion, Italy was one of the originating countries of Hard Enduro thanks to events like Hells Gate, but in recent years has been out of the international spotlight. With Abestone Hard Enduro taking centre stage this weekend, all that is about to change.
Boasting altitude of almost 2,000 metres, with challenging mountain peaks and deep, forestry covered valleys there’s a lot on offer for all competitors. As one of the sport’s top riders, race organiser Michele Bosi has created a track that will both test the best in the world and offer a wealth of enjoyment to our amateur riders.
Three days of Hard Enduro
Easing us into the event, Friday is all about the short, natural Extreme Test competitors will warm up on, while also determining the starting order for Saturday – the day of Time Trial qualification. Laid out across the two peaks of Val di Luce and l’Ovovia, racing begins in earnest on Saturday with a fast but technical 10-kilometre course ridden three times throughout the day. With a rider’s best timed run counting, the top 50 competitors qualify through to Sunday’s feature race, with the remaining entry contesting Sunday’s morning race.
Things heat up for Sunday’s action when all eyes turn to the afternoon Super Final to see who will come out on top for the first time this season. Ramping up the difficulty, the forestry sections become slower and extremely technical as riders battle loose rock, steep climbs and equally steep descents as they fight to complete the 20-kilometre-long course within the available three-hour time limit. With very little room to recover between sections, it’s sure to reward those who’ve done their homework.
Who’s on form
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt proved near enough untouchable on the Endurocross style circuit in Portugal. He’s since secured himself a podium result in FIM EnduroGP, showing both his speed and technical ability are on point. With eyes set on the top step of the podium in Italy, only a winning start to the series will do for Billy. However, teammate Graham Jarvis carded a surprising third in Portugal. Getting into the mountains, Graham, and Husqvarna’s third rider Alfredo Gomez, will no doubt be feeling even more at home in the undulating and technical terrain.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler enjoyed a strong ride at Extreme XL Lagares despite having limited Endurocross training prior to the race. Also honing his skill set in Classic Enduro, the German has what it takes to stop Bolt in his tracks.
Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young and Mario Roman are two riders who have also been busy in the lead up to Abestone Hard Enduro. Roman has claimed podium results in the USA, with Young doing similar in Europe. Both favour the going when it’s tough, so expect them to rise to the fore in the closing stages on Sunday.
Vision Track Beta’s Jonny Walker showed he’s lost none of his pace with a stunningly fast hot lap in Portugal. While opting not to race on the Sunday due to a niggling injury, at Abetone, Walker will be aiming high. Benefiting from extra time to get fully set up on his new ride, delivering Beta a home win would be a dream result.
GASGAS Factory Racing’s Taddy Blazusiak and Michael Walkner will also be pushing for a top-five result, as will Trece Racing Society’s Pol Tarres on his Yamaha. TTR Squadra Corse look to come out swinging on home soil with their three riders Travis Teasdale, Kevin Gallas and Alessandro Azzalini. All earning strong results in the Italian national series, all are looking good on their GASGAS machinery.
Across the entire weekend, and in keeping with the spirit of Hard Enduro, no outside assistance is permitted during the race. Whoever stands on the top step of the podium will have truly mastered the Abestone Hard Enduro.
The Abestone Hard Enduro takes place in Abetone, Tuscany on July 9-11.
2021 Abestone Hard Enduro schedule
Thursday, June 9
09.00: Opening Paddock
10.00: Track Walking
Friday, June 10
08.00-14.00: Administrative Control – NEWFREN
08.15 – 14.15: Technical Control – BRANDINI
11.30 – 12.30: Press Conference – ACERBIS
14.00 – 16.00: Free Practice – ELEVEIT Extreme Test
17.00 – 19.00: Timed Practice (optional) – ELEVEIT Extreme Test
Saturday, June 11
07.00: Group A – Lap 1 – JUST1 Special Test
08.00: Group B – Lap 1 – JUST1 Special Test
09.00: Group C – Lap 1 – JUST1 Special Test
10.30: Group A – Lap 2 – JUST1 Special Test
11.30: Group B – Lap 2 – JUST1 Special Test
12.30: Group C – Lap 2 – JUST1 Special Test
14.00: Group A – Lap 3 – JUST1 Special Test
15.00: Group B – Lap 3 – JUST1 Special Test
16.00: Group C – Lap 3 – JUST1 Special Test
Sunday, June 12
09.00-12.00: MITAS Final
14.00-17.00: LIQUI MOLY Super Final