Regarded as the toughest and most difficult race on the Swedish off road calendar, Bel-Ray Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Joakim Ljunggren produced a master class in enduro riding to comfortably secure victory in this year’s race at Vimmerby.
Knowing that he had the perfect opportunity to equal the all-time winner’s record of six victories, Ljunggren began the event in a confident mood. Taking control of the race lead during the morning section, the Husqvarna rider ended lap one of three as the initial leader.
With competitors returning to complete the final two laps of the demanding course at night, Ljunggren focused on maintaining his lead. Knowing that with almost eight hours of racing still to run, he steadily chipped away at building his advantage. Ending lap two with a comfortable cushion over his nearest rivals, Ljunggren pushed on during the final tortuous lap to claim victory by over 11 minutes.
Ensuring it was a memorable event for Husqvarna, Johan Edlund recovered strongly from some early problems to join Ljunggren on the podium in third while Carl Johan Bjerkert completed the top five.
Arriving in Sweden to sample his first taste of the Novemberkåsan, Enduro 2 World Champion Pela Renet had an enjoyable but unfortunately short-lived race. Missing out on valuable prerace testing due to his recent ISDE commitments, Renet began the 14-hour race simply focused on reaching the finish. Fairing well in the morning section, he arrived to the lunch break as a close runner-up to teammate Ljunggren.
Lacking valuable experience in night racing, Renet eased his way into things. But as conditions worsened, he struggled to maintain pace due to increasing pain in both his arms. Knowing that with over four hours of racing still remaining, Renet – although enjoying the conditions – wisely decided to call it a day at the end of lap two.
Joakim Ljunggren: “It’s an incredible feeling to have won my sixth Novemberkåsan. This is such an important race in Sweden and now I’ve been able to equal the all-time win list with this victory. The Novemberkåsan is always tough. It’s such a long race in very difficult conditions – anything can happen. Plus with Pela Renet also competing I knew I would need to ride the perfect race if I wanted to win. From the beginning I felt very comfortable and settled into a strong pace. Ending the morning race with a small advantage gave me good confidence for the night race. Straight away I felt strong and never really ran into any problems, which can happen so easily in a race like this. I pushed on during the final lap and was able to extend my lead. After such a difficult year with injury it’s perfect to have come away with the win here.”
Pela Renet: “I’ve loved my time here in Sweden at the Novemberkåsan – it’s been a fantastic experience. I’ve wanted to come and race this one for quite some time. The morning part of the race went well. It took a little bit time to settle in but once I did I felt happy with my speed. This was my first time racing in the night with lights. It was a very strange feeling but I was excited to try something new. I managed to win one of the tests on lap two but during the longest test, which was over 40 minutes long, I suffered a lot of pain in my arms. After a combination of the ISDE, Gotland and now Novemberkåsan, the tendons have become very sore and I just couldn’t hold onto my bike anymore. I wanted to continue but with the final four-hour lap still remaining it wasn’t safe for me to do so. I’ve learned a lot from this race, enjoyed racing in front of so many spectators in the forests and really want to return next year.”
Results – Novemberkåsan 2014
1. Joakim Ljunggren (Husqvarna) 6:41:14.91; 2. Henrik Lindholm (KTM) 6:52:43.40; 3. Johan Edlund (Husqvarna) 6:56:00.91; 4. Lars Lofgren (KTM) 6:56:16.07; 5. Carl Johan Bjerkert (Husqvarna) 6:59:05.57