EWC Portugal day 1: SALVINI & PHILLIPS WIN IN PORTUGAL

Alex SALVINI and Matt PHILLIPS claim their first win of 2015 in the Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship GP Polisport of Portugal. Day one at the GP Polisport of Portugal in Gouveiamarked the first victories of the series for Honda’s Alex SALVINI in Enduro 2 and KTM’s Matt PHILLIPS in Enduro 3. TM’s Eero REMES secured a hard fought win in Enduro 1.Three incredibly demanding and technical special tests put the competitors of the EWC through their paces in earnest in Gouveia. With a long day of racing and no time to rest in the Portuguese heat, the end of day one was a welcome relief for all.

In the Enduro 3 class, defending champion Matt PHILLIPS (Aus) finally got his first win of the season on the board. Close but not quite close enough in Chile and Spain, PHILLIPS this time meant business in Portugal. Powering his way forward following a slow start to the morning, the KTM rider caught pace setter Mathias BELLINO (F-Husqvarna) on the penultimate test and hung on to win the day. “I’m definitely pleased to get a win under my belt – it feels like it’s been a long time coming,” told PHILLIPS. “We changed a few things on the bike between Spain and here and it made the difference. Hopefully this is the where we get things back on track.” After a strong opening lap, BELLINO gradually found himself being reeled in by PHILLIPS. With no answer to the KTM rider in the closing stages, the Husqvarna rider slipped from first to second. In check with the leading duo, Sherco’s Matti SEISTOLA (FIN) placed just nine seconds adrift of BELLINO to claim third. Delivering a strong showing on home turf, Luis CORREIA (P-Beta) placed fourth with TM’s Aigar LEOK (EST) completing the top five.

Day one marked the second win of the season for TM’s Eero REMES (FIN) in Enduro 1. Admittedly slow to get going, Remes trailed early leader Lorenzo SANTOLINO (S-Sherco) at the end of lap one. Finding his groove, the Finn fought his way to the front of the field and secured the top step of the podium. “I think I was a little bit asleep on the first lap but after that I sort of woke up and got in the race,” admitted REMES. “When I settled into the tests I was able to push hard. It was a tough day – the toughest of the year so far. And tomorrow will be even harder!” After crashing and hurting his knee on the Friday super test, Christophe NAMBOTIN (F-KTM) needed to dig deep to start day one. With a lot of time to claw back, he won the first special test and steadily fought his way back to the front to secure the runner-up result. Fast from the get-go, Sherco’s Lorenzo SANTOLINO (S), led the E1 class at the end of lap one. With REMES and then NAMBOTIN piling on the pressure, he slipped back to third but still managed to claim his first podium result of the year. Finishing just two seconds shy of the top three, Simone ALBERGONI (I) brought his Kawasaki home in fourth with Husqvarna’s Danny MCCANNEY (GB) rounding out the top five.

Seeing the closest results of the day, the Enduro 2 category delivered a fierce battle for victory between Honda’s Alex SALVINI (I) and KTM’s Antoine MEO (F). Neck and neck throughout the day the pair fought hard to take the win. Keeping his cool as the temperatures soared, SALVINI firmly stood his ground against Meo and recorded a much-deserved win. “Wow, that was a hell of a battle,” commented SALVINI. “The pressure was intense, neither of us wanted to lose. We both gave it everything on the final lap and in the end I managed to get the victory. I’m so happy.” With MEO pushed back to second, Husqvarna’s Pela RENET (F) ended his day in a distant third. Beta’s Johnny AUBERT (F) placed a strong fourth while Jaume BETRIU (S) put his Husqvarna inside the top five with fifth.

The Enduro Junior class saw Italy’s Giacomo REDONDI put his Beta on the top step of the podium. Wining five of the final six special tests, Redondi edged out Husqvarna’s  Jamie MCCANNEY (GB) by 12 seconds for the victory. Proving that his double podium result last weekend in Spain was no fluke, EWC newcomer Steve HOLCOMBE (GB) continues to shine on his Beta and placed third. Honda’s Alessandro BATTIG (I) ended his day in fourth with Portugal’s Luis OLIVEIRA (Yamaha) completing the top five. In the Youth Cup there was no touching Husqvarna’s Josep GARCIA (S) as he ran away from the field to take a clear win. Mikael PERSSON (SWE-Yamaha) finished as the runner-up with David ABGRALL (F-Yamaha) third. Jean NICOLOT (F-Yamaha) and Valerian DEBAUD (F-Yamaha) were fourth and fifth respectively.

Claiming a two-minute plus margin of victory, KTM’s Laia SANZ (S) comfortably topped the Women’s Cup. Improving her position from the GP of Spain, Husqvarna’s Jane DANIELS (GB) was the runner-up with Sherco’s Jessica GARDINER (AUS) third. Jessica JONSSON (SWE-Kawasaki) and Blandine DUFRENE (F-KTM) rounded out the top five.