Spain’s Mario Roman has taken an early lead in the battle to become this year’s ULTIMATE ENDURO CHAMPION, claiming victory at round one of the 2019 World Enduro Super Series – the Toyota Porto Extreme XL Lagares, in Portugal. Putting in a determined display of riding, the Sherco Factory Racing star produced a terrific late race charge to top the podium ahead of teammate Wade Young (RSA) with early race leader Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) third.
Following two days of action-packed Endurocross and City Prologue racing, the stage was set for Sunday’s Hard Enduro feature race. Among the 300 competitors entered, over 50 Pro riders took to the start line of the demanding two-hour long course, which was to be completed twice. Notoriously difficult, the addition of blisteringly hot sunshine ensured a punishing start to the 2019 WESS championship.
Lettenbichler Sets The Pace On Lap One
Fastest seeded, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Alfredo Gomez (ESP) led the field away, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Taddy Blazusiak (POL) following suit 15 seconds later.
At the first major riverbed rock step, Blazusiak had reeled Gomez in and led from the front, with Lettenbichler hot on his heels having also caught and overtaken the Spaniard.
Midway through lap one the running order changed. Setting an insanely fast pace, Lettenbichler moved into the lead and opened up a five-minute advantage over Young with Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB), Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) and Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) all in tow. Just behind them sat Roman.
Roman Makes His Charge
Heading out for lap two, Lettenbichler was now six minutes clear and looking strong. But Roman and Young had other ideas and impressively upped their pace in the deteriorating conditions. The duo reeled in the young German, who appeared to have run out of steam at the crucial moment.
Breaking both Young and Lettenbichler, Roman put his Sherco in front and, in charging all the way to the finish, claimed a memorable victory and the opening win of the WESS season. Young finished four minutes behind as runner-up.
Jarvis initially looked to have snatched third from Lettenbichler on corrected time, but the German was awarded time he lost on lap one due to a track marking error and finished on the podium. With Jarvis content in fourth, Bolt completed the top five, while Walker rounded out the top six.
Expert Victory For Carlos Ordoa
In the one-lap Expert class race, Carlos Ordoa secured a commanding victory beating nearest rival Nuno Pereira by 31 minutes. Alberto Aramburu completed the top three.
Jose Ferreira was the winner of the Hobby class. Finishing 17 minutes behind, Ricardo Cerqueira was second with Tiago Oliveira third.
The World Enduro Super Series continues with round two, the Trèfle Lozérien AMV in France, next weekend, May 17-19.
What They Said…
Mario Roman: “I feel amazing, it’s so good to get the win. In 2016 I finished about a minute behind Alfredo and then two years in a row I had mechanical issues with my bike, but I always believed in myself and knew I could do it this year. On the first lap I was lying fifth or sixth and I couldn’t see the top two guys, but as the race went on, I started to feel stronger and was able to push 100% and pass the others one-by-one. The track was so much more difficult on the second lap and I knew I would be able to make up time on those tricky sections.”
Wade Young: “It feels great to get second today. At one point I was down in sixth and I was lacking some confidence after struggling in one of the rivers – that spent a lot of my energy. I came back strong though and towards the end people were starting to get tired and I was able to dig a little deeper and keep going.”
Manuel Lettenbichler: “I am so happy with my result and overall I had a really good race. I didn’t realise at first the gap to the others was so big. I tried to stick to the same pace on the second lap, but Mario and Wade must have been flying. I think they probably pushed each other on the difficult stuff and were able to maintain a good speed when it got really tough. Graham also caught me at a few places, but I was able to stay ahead. I had to stop to move a bridge on the first lap so that cost me some time, but thankfully they have awarded that back to me and I have come away with third. It would have been nice to get the win, especially after leading for over half of the race. But whatever the result, I am happy with my riding and it’s been a good start to this year’s WESS championship.”
Results – Round 1: Toyota Porto Extreme XL Lagares
1. Mario Roman (Sherco – ESP) 4:01:43.21
2. Wade Young (Sherco – RSA) 4:05:59.04 +4:15.83
3. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 4:07:09.68 +5:26.47
4. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 4:07:16.12 +5:32.91
5. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 4:15:19.68 +13:36.47
6. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 4:29:26.58 +27:43.37
7. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 4:34:51.08 +33:07.87
8. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 4:53:58.02 +52:14.81
9. Travis Teasdale (KTM – RSA) 5:01:43.91 +1:00:00.70
10. Jonathan Richardson (Husqvarna – GB) 5:11:22.83 +1:09:39.70
2019 World Enduro Super Series Standings (after round 1)
1. Mario Roman (Sherco – ESP) 1000 points
2. Wade Young (Sherco – RSA) 850 pts
3. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 770 pts
4. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GBR) 690 pts
5. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 610 pts
6. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 570 pts
7. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 530 pts
8. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 490 pts
9. Travis Teasdale (KTM – RSA) 460 pts
10. Jonathan Richardson (Husqvarna – GB) 430 pts
Photo credit: Future7Media