Courtesy of KTM Racing
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders Jonny Walker and Taddy Blazusiak have successfully completed a tough round four of the World Enduro Super Series – Hixpania Hard Enduro – finishing in sixth and seventh respectively. Josep Garcia impressed at his home race with a ninth-place overall result, while Nathan Watson claimed 13th.
A three-day competition held in the north of Spain, Hixpania Hard Enduro opened with a SuperEnduro-style prologue on the Friday evening, followed by a gruelling five-hour cross-country race on the Saturday. A multi-lap extreme enduro challenged riders on the final day of racing (Sunday), with points from all three races making up the overall results.
Aggressive from the very start of Friday’s prologue, held in the centre of the host town of Aguilar de Campoo, Jonny Walker fought through the pack on the tight, technical track to finish third. Despite a crash early on in the Campoo X-Treme cross country race, Walker maintained his composure on Saturday and pushed on to ultimately finish a creditable sixth after close to five hours of riding. Sunday’s ‘Lost Roads’ extreme enduro presented a huge challenge to all riders, especially after the two previous demanding days. Maintaining a good pace after his strong start to the multi-lap race, Jonny fought through the pain barrier to complete the three-hour race in seventh place.
Jonny Walker:“I’m happy with my riding over the course of the weekend, but my result isn’t where I want to be. I made a stupid mistake yesterday and bent my handlebars, that cost me about seven minutes. I rode well after that and tried to save my wrist as best as I could, five hours on the bike was a long time though. I started off well today but after about an hour-and-a-half I started to struggle a bit. When you’re going up and down hills like that it’s so tough on your arms and I ran out of strength. With a bit of a rest now before Romaniacs I’ll try to work on my strength and come back stronger.”
Breaking a finger on his left hand just a week before the start of Hixpania Hard Enduro was not the ideal situation for Taddy Blazusiak, who made his event debut this year. However, Taddy gritted his teeth to complete each day, notably putting in a superb sixth-place performance on Sunday’s extreme race to finish seventh overall and earn himself 530 valuable WESS championship points.
Taddy Blazusiak:“I have gone through a lot of pain this weekend but I saved some points and my result isn’t too bad considering. I have got a few weeks to heal now as I’m sure I won’t have done my finger any good. Luckily there is a good break before Romaniacs at the end of July.”
Also making his Hixpania debut, Josep Garcia came into round four of WESS looking to claim good championship points and enjoy performing in front of the Spanish fans. The former Enduro World Champion put in one of the rides of the event, mixing it with the extreme enduro regulars to ultimately finish in ninth place overall.
Josep Garcia:“The event has been ok – I’m happy to take good points from the weekend and it’s always good to race in front of your home crowd. Yesterday’s cross-country went well and I finished inside the top 10 so today I was able to start in the cave, which was good fun. There were some sections in yesterday’s race and today that were perhaps a little too extreme, I think there needs to be the correct balance for all riders. We have Romaniacs next and I have a year’s experience now so at least I know what to expect. I’ll keep working hard with my training and hopefully get a good finish next round.”
Also putting in a strong performance at an event that arguably falls outside his comfort zone, Nathan Watson successfully completed Hixpania in a creditable 13th position overall, ahead of a number of established extreme specialists.
Nathan Watson:“I’m actually really happy with how the event has gone, especially as it was my first time here. Don’t get me wrong is was crazy tough out there, especially today. When I walked the track, I knew it would be a real test for me but I just kept going today and got to the finish. Yesterday was tough – I thought I could have done better but I got stuck really early on and was passed by everyone. I was dead last and a lot of it was all single-track so it was really tricky to get past people and then I had to wait on the hard bits and lost a load of time on the first lap.”
The next event on the 2019 WESS calendar is Red Bull Romaniacs, Romania on July 30 – August 3.
Provisional Results – 2019 Hixpania Hard Enduro
1. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 44 points
2. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), Husqvarna, 44 pts
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 43 pts
4. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 40 pts
5. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 36 pts
6. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 30 pts
7. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 29pts
9. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 21 pts
13. Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 12 pts
Provisional World Enduro Super Series Standings (after 4 of 8 rounds)
1. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 2690 points
2. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 2570 pts
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 2540 pts
4. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), Husqvarna, 2314 pts
5. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 2155 pts
6. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 2125 pts
7. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 2090 pts
8. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 1900 pts
9. Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 1631 pts