France led the way on day one of the Maxxis Enduro World Championship GP of Romania. French riders claimed the top steps of the podium on the opening day of competition in Buzau withAntoine MEO (KTM), Johnny AUBERT (KTM) and Christophe NAMBOTIN (KTM) all winning their respective classes. In the Enduro Junior category Spain’s Mario ROMAN (Husaberg) put an end to Australian Matt PHILLIPS’ (Husqvarna) winning streak by securing victory while Roman’s compatriot Laia SANZ (Honda) ruled supreme in the Women’s Cup class. Manxman Jamie MCCANNEY (Husaberg) continued his run of wins by topping the Enduro Youth Cup class. With theGP of Romania featuring the first true woodland based enduro test it was actually the tricky extreme test that caused quite an upset. On the opening lap many riders were caught off guard by the steep slippery grassy climbs and the technical rocky uphill. Unfortunately, the day also featured some notable retirements as David KNIGHT (GB-Honda) and Manuel Monni (I-KTM) both succumbed to injury.
In the Enduro 2 category the day belonged to KTM’s Johnny AUBERT. After his injury at the GP of Portugal, the Frenchman finally enjoyed some good fortune. Maintaining a strong advantage throughout the day, the KTM rider secured his first victory of the season. “It’s been a really great day for me,” confirmed AUBERT. “Despite not being able to ride since the GP of Portugal due to my broken ribs I felt very comfortable on the bike. I didn’t make any major mistakes and that helped me to win.” After a strong start to his day by winning the first enduro test and cross test, Italy’s Alex SALVINI (Honda) saw his lead evaporate with numerous crashes on the first enduro test. Losing valuable time, the Italian eventually recovered to end his day as runner-up to AUBERT. Delivering a strong ride in the latter half of the day, France’s Pela RENET (Husaberg) placed within five seconds ofSALVINI to claim third position. Spain’s Ivan CERVANTES (KTM) and Oriol MENA (Husaberg)completed the top five.
Continuing his winning ways in the Enduro 3 class, Christophe NAMBOTIN (KTM) claimed a comfortable 29-second margin of victory. Setting the fastest time in seven of the day’s 11 special tests, the Frenchman overcame a crash on the final extreme test and won the day. “I’m pleased with how I rode today,” commented NAMBOTIN. “Despite some small mistakes and then a really big one on the final extreme test I felt good on my bike. This win was important for the championship.” Continuing to impress in his debut season in the Senior ranks, Husaberg’s Mathias BELLINO (F)claimed the runner-up result to NAMBOTIN. Fastest on the extreme test, BELLINO now looks to be over his wrist injury that slowed him during the early part of the season. Still suffering from injuries sustained during the GP of Spain and Portugal, Estonia’s Aigar LEOK (TM) gritted his teeth to end his day on the podium in third position. Placing just 10 seconds behind Leok, France’sFabien PLANET (Sherco) claimed his best result of the season with fourth position. Portugal’s Luis CORREIA (Beta) rounded out the top five.
Struggling to find his rhythm on the opening lap, KTM’s Antoine MEO picked up his pace during the second half of the day to beat Finland’s Juha SALMINEN (Husqvarna) by seven seconds and take the win. “It’s been a strange day for me,” toldMEO. “I couldn’t get going this morning. I didn’t feel comfortable on the bike and was finding it hard to match Juha’s pace. Then as the day progressed things began to feel better and I was able to challenge for the lead. It’s a relief to have won.” Holding the upper hand over his rival during the during the opening lap, SALMINEN was unable to match MEO’S pace during the final stages of the day and was forced to settle for second position. In the battle for the final step of the podium Spain’s Cristobal GUERRERO (KTM) delivered a strong final lap to beat Finland’s Eero REMES (TM) by less than three seconds and claim third pushing REMES back to fourth. Despite suffering a badly injured toe Finland’s Matti SEISTOLA (Husqvarna) gritted his teeth to finish the day in fifth place.
In the Enduro Junior class, Mario ROMAN (Husaberg) dominated his class to secure his debut win by over one-minute. Despite falling victim to the tricky rock sections on the extreme test, Matt PHILLIPS (Husqvarna) regrouped to place as runner-up to ROMAN. Returning to the podium for the first time since South America, Manxman Danny MCCANNEY (Gas Gas) ended his day four seconds behind PHILLIPS to place third. Sweden’s Robert KVARNSTROM (Beta) and Italy’sGiacomo Redondi (KTM) completed the top five.
Setting the quickest time in all but three of the day’s special tests Jamie MCCANNEY (Husaberg)claimed another win in the Enduro Youth class. Sweden’s Albin ELOWSON (Husaberg) and Chilean Benjamin HERRERA (TM) placed second and third respectively. Sweden’s Jesper BORJESSON (Husaberg) and France’s Mika BARNES (KTM) rounded out the top five.
In the Women’s Cup Laia SANZ (Honda) again proved unbeatable and topped her class by over five minutes. Australia’s Jessica GARDINER (Sherco) beat France’s Juliette BERREZ (Yamaha) by over one-minute to place as runner-up to Sanz. With BERREZ in third, Australia’s Jemma WILSON (Honda) and Britain’s Jane DANIELS (Husaberg) rounded out the top five.