EnduroGP: Steve Holcombe shines bright for season opener
Germany has once again proven its passion for Enduro which a huge number of spectators turning out to watch the day’s special tests. The loop-style lap consisted of 2 Champion Lubricants Enduro Tests, one Techomousse Extreme Test, and an Akrapovic Cross Test.
With 3 laps for all the EnduroGP riders, and 2 laps for the newly created Champion Lubricants Enduro Open categories.
In EnduroGP, Steve HOLCOMBE (GBR-Beta) has started exactly were he left off. The quadruple World Champion slotted himself quickly into the top spot despite having the tough job of opening the track. He won 8 specials and increased his gap with each passing test. HOLCOMBE completed the day with an advantage of 1 minute and 7 seconds.
The Brit took the overall top spot ahead of his compatriot, the new rider at TM: Danny MCCANNEY (GBR-TM). The rider from the Isle of Man took over second place in the middle of the morning. His pace allowed him to win two tests, but he struggled to really threaten the untouchable HOLCOMBE. Danny continued his push all afternoon to widen his gap over Brad FREEMAN (GBR-Beta). Feeling content and confident with his new bike, MCCANNEY vowed to increase his pace tomorrow.
FREEMAN was in behind HOLCOMBE for a good part of the morning. The Beta Boano rider had a dip in form and lost one place in the overall standings. He had to spend the rest of the day controlling his gap to Christophe NAMBOTIN (FRA-Gas Gas), with the Frenchman starting the season in great shape. Fourth on of this first day, the factory Gas Gas rider gains a good points haul from the beginning of the season.
Perhaps the unluckiest rider of the day was Alex SALVINI (ITA-Honda). The Honda rider lost out big time early in the day, running into radiator hose problems. This caused him to be late at the next time control and he therefore incurred a 4 minute penalty which plummeted him down the standings. SALVINI tried hard to regain a few places but mistakes set him back further. He returned to the paddock at the end of the day in 25th position, more than 7 minutes behind the winner.
In the fight for the podium, Eero REMES (FIN-Yamaha) was forced to give up after his chain broke. This DNF for REMES benefitted Loïc LARRIEU (FRA- TM), who returned to parc fermé in 5th position. The TM rider was satisfied with his confident and solid performance.
In fact, three E3 riders made up the Top 5 overall, with the big bikes showing strongly on the first day of this German GP.
In E1, despite his small drop in the overall rankings, FREEMAN won in front of 2018 Junior Champion Matteo CAVALLO (ITA-Sherco) and Davide GUARNERI (ITA-Honda).
In the E2 category, the disappointments of REMES and SALVINI benefitted Loïc LARRIEU who won ahead of Albin ELOWSON (SWE-Husqvarna) and Christophe CHARLIER (FRA-Honda), who was delayed by a crash and a pain in the shoulder.
In E3 Steve HOLCOMBE won in front of Danny MCCANNEY and Christophe NAMBOTIN.
JUNIOR CATEGORY: Verona confirms his status as favourite.
In Junior Andrea VERONA (ITA-TM) had to work hard to hold back a charge from Australia’s hot prospect Wil RUPRECHT (AUS-Yamaha). The TM rider showed his typical composure despite losing some time with a stick in his wheel. He stayed focused on making no mistakes and in the end, he crushed the competition by winning by more than 1 minute and 25 seconds ahead of his Aussie rival.
At the beginning of the day Wil RUPRECHT was fighting hard, but he ran out of steam and couldn’t hold off a quick Theo ESPINASSE (FRA-Sherco). The Frenchman put in a strong performance during the three laps. Jack EDMONDSON (GBR-Sherco) finished in 4th place, a sluggish start for the son of Paul meant he had to push hard for the rest of the day.
Matthew VAN OEVELEN (BEL-Gas Gas) finished in 5th place, this result is encouraging for the rider who has just switched teams.
In J1 VERONA showed his dominance over ESPINASSE and RUPRECHT. In J2, Jack EDMONDSON won ahead of Enric FRANCISCO (SPA-KTM) and Leo LE QUERE (FRA-Sherco)
The Youth category was dominated by Hamish MAC DONALD (NZ-Sherco), determined to leave his opponents in the dust. He won ahead of Claudio SPANU (SPA-Husqvarna) and Matteo PAVONI (ITA-Beta), who enjoyed a superb fight all day long.
The Champion Lubricants Enduro Open World Cup, a new initiative from the FIM. This has already proved a success considering the impressive number of riders entered for this first round. In the 4-stroke class Bernhard SCHOEPF (AUT-KTM) won ahead of Luis OLIVEIRA (POR-KTM) and Fraser FLOCKHART (GBR-Yamaha).
In the 2-stroke class, Portugal’s Goncalo REIS (POR-KTM) won ahead of RICHARD TUCKER (GBR-Sherco) and Martin ORTNER (AUT- Husqvarna).
In Senior, Enduro legend David KNIGHT (GBR-TM) took his first win since 2013. Werner MUELLER (AUT- Husqvarna) and the returning Euan MCCONNELL (GBR-TM) completed the top three.
What They Said:
Steve HOLCOMBE (GBR-Beta): “This victory is great for me because it is the result of my hard work of winter and all my pre-season preparation. I was not very good at the beginning of the day, opening the track was really not easy. I took my time to find my lines and I am surprised at my final result, I did not think i’d get such a big gap.”
Danny MCCANNEY (GBR-TM): “I’m really happy, I feel great in my new team and my bike suits me perfectly. I had a good day, I was able to increase the pace gradually. I was confident and did not make any mistakes. I was able to catch Brad, but Steve was really out of reach today. I hope to attack even more tomorrow.”
Brad FREEMAN (GBR-Beta): “The day started well, but like Steve I suffered with opening the track. I made a couple of mistakes and even though I fought with Danny, I remain confident about my potential.”
Eero REMES (FIN- Yamaha): “I was fighting for the podium, I felt very good all day. But at one point I felt that something was wrong with the bike. I broke my chain, it’s disappointing but it’s part of racing. I feel that I can do well with this new bike, I am confident for the season.”
Alex SALVINI (ITA-Honda): “Today was a mess, I felt great and I could fight at the front. Before the Cross Test I found that the bike was getting super hot. My mechanic found a problem with the radiator hose. I had to repair it before leaving the paddock. It cost me a lot of time. I lost focus and crashed in each of the 5 tests that followed. I have a little bit of pain everywhere but I am confident. We still have to work on the bike, but I believe in my possibilities this season.”
Andrea VERONA (ITA-TM): “I’m really happy with this win, Wil impressed me last night during the Super Test, but today it was my turn to show what I can do. I want to dedicate this victory to my Dad who left us at this time last year.”