Antoine Meo the reigning E1 World Champion overcame sickness to deliver two top performances in Rounds 3 & 4 of the World Enduro Championship in San Juan Argentina this weekend with two hard fought victories. Meo was struggling with energy levels after stomach problems in conditions that were tough for all riders
Meo battled his way back into the action and the victory after an early setback and two errors in the first Extreme test on Saturday on a day where riders fought heat of 28 degrees Celsius and four instead of the customary three laps. On Sunday Meo again had trouble with the opening Extreme test but despite being weak from his illness, still managed to recover to keep his perfect scorecard of four victories in the fourth South American rounds.
Teammate Christophe Nambotin also suffered several small crashes on the opening day of competition in the E3 class, finishing back at twelfth in the opening Enduro test. But the French rider quickly got back into his stride and was fastest in 11 of the 14 tests to deliver victory on the opening day. Nambotin looked a sure fire winner on Sunday, winning every test except the final cross test where he experienced a small technical problem with his bike. He managed to fix the problem himself but lost time in the test to finish eleventh and slip down the overall order from first to seventh. The French rider then made a strong recovery in the final test to fight back to finish fourth.
In E2 the two KTM factory riders Frenchman Johnny Aubert and Ivan Cervantes of Spain split the podium glory over the two days of competition in what is shaping up to be a very competitive class. Aubert finished on the podium in third on Saturday with Cervantes in fourth place, trailing by just four seconds. Then on Sunday, Cervantes had the edge, finishing second with Aubert in fourth place at the end of the day. Aubert too experienced problems in the latter part of the race when a small stone blocked his rear brake.
Meo’s E1 teammate Cristobal Guerrero, still recovering from shoulder surgery was not able to start on Sunday. Team boss Fabio Farioli said he expected Guerrero to be completely fit and back in the top action when competition resumes in May.
“Considering all the bad luck we’ve had this weekend, I have to be very satisfied with the results,” Farioli said after Sunday’s race. He added that his riders would be contesting national championships in between now and the next two rounds in Spain. “We will also analyzing the small technical problem with Nambotin’s bike and we will be working on our bike setups ahead of the next two rounds,” he said.
In EJ competition on Sunday KTM rider Rudi Moroni of Italy won the class with standings leader Giacomo Redondi, also of Italy in fifth.
Teams now return to Europe and competition will resume in Puerto Lumbraras May 11 & 12 for rounds 5&6 of the 14-round championships.
Summary of results of KTM Factory riders for Rounds 3 & 4
Antoine Meo, France, KTM (1-1)
Cristobal Guerrero, Spain (11-DNF)
E1 Standings after Round 4
1, Antoine Meo, 80
2, Juha Salminen, 62
3, Matti Seistola, 58
4, Thomas Oldrati, 48
5, Eero Remes, 45
Johnny Aubert, France, KTM (3-4)
Ivan Cervantes, Spain, KTM (4-2)
E2 Standings after Round 4
1, Alex Salvini, 75
2, Pierre-Alexandre Renet, 65
3, Johnny Aubert, 60
4, Ivan Cervantes, 60
5, David Knight, 44
Christophe Nambotin, France, KTM (1-4)
E3 Standings after Round 4
1, Christophe Nambotin, 70
2, Joakim Ljunggren, 67
3, Aigar Leok, 57
4, Luis Correia, 50
5, Manuel Monni, 44