Courtesy of Red Bull Motorsports
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.
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.
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.
🌎 Official WESS website: https://iridewess.com
Watch the World Enduro Super Series on Red Bull TV: http://win.gs/wess2019