RecoveR8 Team Australia hit the ground running on the opening day of the FIM International Six Days of Enduro (ISDE) in Portimao, Portugal.
Taking control of proceedings, the defending champions are out to an early lead in the FIM World Trophy class, while also topping the FIM Junior World Trophy category.
Drama struck favourites Great Britain early at the 94th edition of the FIM ISDE, with newly crowned FIM EnduroGP World Champion Brad Freeman – Beta crashing out with a suspected broken right wrist on special test three.
After much anticipation, this year’s FIM ISDE got underway in Portimao. Overnight rain dampened conditions for competitors during the opening lap of two, but from the off racing was hot and heavy as the 500 plus competitors from 26 nations jostled for position.
Determined to put RecoveR8 Team Australia out front, Daniel Sanders – Husqvarna was quick off the mark, setting the fastest time on the opening special test. But with United States’ Ryan Sipes – KTM and Spain’s Josep Garcia – KTM in close contention and the top-10 separated by just 15 seconds, it was all to play for.
Continuing to position himself at the sharp end of the results, Sanders led his Australia team-mates to victory on day one in Portugal. However, with the United States ending the day only 19 seconds behind, their lead is relatively slender at this early stage in the race.
“I wanted to start strong,” told Sanders. “There’s a lot of big names here this year and I wanted to put myself up there right away.”
“Honestly, I didn’t expect to lead by so much, but it means I’m in a good place and I will look to build on that while helping to grow our FIM World Trophy lead.”
Mirroring the finishing order of the 2018 FIM ISDE, Italy slot into third, albeit already over two minutes behind the leading nations. Despite losing a rider early on, Great Britain battled hard on the opening day of racing. Hampered by starting at the rear of the category and the untimely exit of Freeman, they still placed fourth. With an improved starting position for day two, they will look to build on that.
So too will Finland. Also hampered by a late start, the Finnish team ended their day 15 seconds behind Great Britain in fifth, while Spain – boosted by Garcia’s performance – complete the top six. Host nation Portugal lie 10th after the opening day of competition.
In the FIM Junior World Trophy category, RecoveR8 Team Australia enjoyed an impressively strong start to their FIM ISDE campaign. With two of their riders Fraser Higlett – Husqvarna and Lyndon Snodgrass – KTM placing inside the top-10 overall, they hold a healthy one-minute and 14 second lead over the United States.
Also performing strongly, the United States will look to bridge that gap to their rivals on day two. France — spurred on by Theo Espinasse – Sherco claiming the outright quickest time on special test three — slot into third. A slow start to their week sees defending champions Italy sit four seconds behind France in fourth. Great Britain end day one in fifth, while Spain completes the top six.
Women’s World Trophy
The opening day of racing in Portimao excitedly saw a major shakeup in the FIM Women’s World Trophy competition with Germany holding a slender advantage over the United States while defending champions RecoveR8 Team Australia were a surprise third.
Quick to make their presence felt in this year’s race, Germany have shown they will be a force to be reckoned with. Strong rides from Anne Borcher – Husqvarna and Maria Franke – KTM puts them five seconds ahead of closest rivals United States.
“I had a lot of fun out there and I think it showed in the results,” said United States’ Brandy Richards – KTM. “There were some mistakes on lap one, but I managed to iron those out for the second lap and get stronger. The times are tight for the race lead, with only five seconds between Germany and us. Hopefully we can come out on top tomorrow.”
In the Enduro 1 category, it is Josep Garcia who tops the standings on day one. Winning the final four special tests, Garcia holds a 38 second lead over Ryan Sipes, who in turn holds an 18 second advantage over Finland’s Eero Remes – Yamaha in third. French Junior Espinasse impresses with fourth. The Sherco mounted rider is two seconds behind Remes and less than one second up on Recover8 Team Australia’s Luke Styke in fifth.
United States’ Taylor Robert – KTM is out to an early lead in the Enduro 2 class. However, with 37 seconds separating the top six, the category is closely contested. Ending day one just six seconds behind his team-mate, Kailub Russell – KTM will look to close that gap tomorrow. Consistently placing inside the top six, Higlett signs off on the opening day of competition in third, while Italy’s Davide Guarneri – Honda is fourth. United States’ Junior rider Ben Kelley – KTM is fifth with Recover8 Team Australia’s Josh Green – Yamaha three seconds adrift in sixth.
Claiming the overall lead on day one, Sanders powers his way to a commanding lead in the Enduro 3 category. With a clean sweep of all seven special tests, the Husqvarna rider is one-minute and 47 seconds clear of Italy’s Rudy Moroni (KTM) in second. Moroni however has less breathing room with a determined Steward Baylor – KTM of United States 12 seconds behind. On a charge, Great Britain’s Alex Snow – Gas Gas and Danny McCanney – TM are less than three seconds adrift of Baylor in fourth and fifth respectively. Germany’s Angus Heidecke – KTM completes the top six in Enduro 3.
The battle for top honours in the Enduro Women’s category sees Brandy Richards place 15 seconds clear of Maria Franke in second. Recover8 Australia’s Tayla Jones – Husqvarna is three seconds in front of Great Britain’s Jane Daniels – Husqvarna, while Australia’s Jessica Gardiner – Yamaha and Anne Borchers complete the top six.
The FIM ISDE continues on day two with a repeat of day one’s 300-kilometre Menhir Route.