The 2014 Enduro World Championship got underway in Solsana with the GP of Catalunya this weekend, with the KTM Enduro Factory Team reaping a slew of victories and podiums to launch their title bids.
Saturday’s first round proved to be particularly fruitful with wins in all three senior classes and two second places in E1 and E3 put all five factory riders in the spotlight. Riders returned on Sunday to pick up wins in E1 and E3, a podium second in E2 and a podium third in E3 to round off a great first weekend of racing.
On what was described by Frenchman Antoine Meo as a return to the days of very hard Enduro riding, the 2013 E3 World Champion Christophe Nambotin proved at home and in winning form in Saturday’s E1 on the nimble KTM 250 EXC-F, winning six tests. Teammate Cristobal Guerrero of Spain was back to top form and injury free to finish second.
Nambotin was again in great form in the E1 class on Sunday to be fastest in seven of the nine tests for another decisive victory. Teammate Guerrero looked set to seal second place after a crash had cost him three places and 12 seconds and he had to settle for fourth.
Meo (2013 E1 World Champion) was also the top rider in the highly competitive E2 class and led the field all day Saturday despite nursing a small foot injury. “It’s a long time since we had a race like that. The stages were long and very difficult. But I like the bike (350 EXC-F) a lot and the team has worked very well through the winter. The E2 is a tough class but its fun for me.”
Meo returned on Sunday to pull off second in E2 with a strong finish in the last three tests, eventually losing to Renet of France by just one second.
Ivan Cervantes, like Guerrero, well supported by the Spanish fans had a great day out on Saturday to take the E3 victory but the factory team’s rookie, Australian Matt Phillips did not make it easy for him as the two riders on their 300 EXC machines sealed the top two spots in E3.
Cervantes was again the dominant E3 rider on Sunday to comfortably take the top podium place. Phillips had a problem in the second extreme test but recovered well to hang onto a podium third on Sunday to signal the rookie will be a major player in the class this season.
Team boss Fabio Farioli said it had been a very solid weekend for the team. “Of course we would have likes to also have a win on Sunday in the E2 class but it was a good weekend, there were some very good fights for victory and we are now looking forward to the next rounds in Portugal next weekend.”
Enduro World Championship Rd.2 GP of Catalunya
1, Christophe Nambotin, FRA, KTM (2 x wins in Rds. 1 & 2)
2, Anthony Boissiere, FRA, Sherco
3, Eero Remes, FIN, TM
4, Cristobal Guerrero, ESP, KTM (placed 2-4 in Rd. 1 & 2)
5, Jeremy Tarroux, FRA, Sherco
10, Edward Hubner, GER, KTM
11, Rudy Moroni, ITA, KTM
13, Joaquim Rodrigues, POR, KTM
E1 Championship Points after Rd. 2
1, Nambotin 40
2, Guerrero 32
3, Boissiere 27
1, Pierre-Alexandre Renet, FRA, Husqvarna
2, Antoine Meo, FRA, KTM
3, Johnny Aubert, FRA, Beta
4, Jonathan Barragan, ITA Husqvarna
5, Alex Salvini, ITA, Honda
10, Mirko Gritti, ITA, KTM
12, Goncalo Reis, POR, KTM
E2 Championship Points after Rd. 2
1, Meo 37
2, Renet 35
3, Aubert 32
1, Ivan Cervantes, ESP, KTM (2 x wins in Rd.1 &2)
2, Matti Seistola, FIN, Sherco
3, Matthew Phillips, AUS, KTM (placed 2-3 in Rd. 1 &2)
4, Luis Correa, POR, Beta
5, Aigar Leok, EST, TM
7, Jeremy Joly, France, KTM
11, Oscar Balletti, ITA, KTM
13, Simone Albergoni, ITA, KTM
E3 Championship points after Rd. 2
1, Cervantes 40
2, Phillips 32
3, Seistola 27