Explosive start to the opening day of competition in the 2015 FIM Maxxis Enduro World Championship sees Antoine Meo lead everyone home… The first day of action in the 2015 EWC series delivered tight, close racing across most classes in Talca, Chile.
Rising to the front, favourites Christophe NAMBOTIN (KTM) and Antoine MEO (KTM) secured victory in Enduro 1 and Enduro 2 respectively. Mathias BELLINO (Husqvarna) made a welcome return to action with a confident win in the Enduro 3 category while Jamie MCCANNEY (Husqvarna) claimed first blood in Enduro Junior.
As the defending champion, Christophe NAMBOTIN (F) proved that he will be the rider to beat in 2015 by claiming a massive 62-second margin of victory. Despite suffering a 10-second penalty when his engine failed to start in the morning, Nambotin kept his composure. Working his way to the front at the end of lap one, he pulled clear to win the Enduro 1 class. “It was a tough day, but I got the win so I am happy, explained NAMBOTIN. “With the 10-second penalty, and the fact that Marc Bourgeois was very fast on the first lap, I had to keep pushing all day. It was very easy to make mistakes, especially on the extreme test, but it’s great to start the new season with a win.” Back in the EWC following an injury hit 2014 season, Frenchman Marc BOURGEOIS (F-Yamaha) was in top form. Leading early on, he remained strong all day to claim second. Class rookie Husqvarna’s Daniel MCCANNEY (GB) stepped up to E1 in style and worked his way from fifth to record his debut class podium result in third. Keeping the pressure on MCCANNEY until the very end, Eero REMES (FIN-TM) placed eight seconds behind the British rider in fourth with Cristobal GUERRERO (S-Yamaha) battling back from 10th to take fifth.
The Enduro 2 class delivered plenty of excitement on the opening day of the season with Antoine MEO (F-KTM) fighting through to victory. After topping Friday’s Super Test, MEO slipped back to third midway during the day as Husqvarna’s Pela RENET controlled the race lead. But a big crash on the final enduro test from RENET turned the standings on their head. Capitalising on RENET’s error, MEO picked up his pace to take the lead and with it win the day. “The competition is always close in the Enduro 2 class and today it was exactly like that. I pushed hard during the final lap and things worked out great. The terrain was very slippery but the day ended in a very good way for me,” said MEO. With RENET dropping back to second, the fight for the final step of the podium was played out between Alex SALVINI (I-Honda) and Johnny AUBERT (F-Beta). Fastest on the final test of the day, SALVINI edged out AUBERT for third. Behind the leading quartet it was Victor GUERRERO (S-KTM) who completed the top five.
Making a very serious statement on his return to competition following a season ending knee injury last year, Husqvarna’s Mathias BELLINO (F) powered to victory in the Enduro 3 class. Clearly well adapted to his new two-stroke, the Frenchman grabbed the race lead immediately and never looked back. “It’s fantastic to start the year with a win, especially after my injury last year,” commented Mathias. “I felt good and just kept pushing throughout the day. The extreme test was difficult for me, but with no big mistakes everything went well.” With BELLINO out front, Matti SEISTOLA (FIN-Sherco) made a late race charge to snatch the runner-up result from Matt PHILLIPS (AUS-KTM). Third during the first half of the day, Seistola passed PHILLIPS on the penultimate test to secure second. For PHILLIPS it wasn’t the winning start to his title defence that he hoped for. Although topping the Super Test, the KTM rider was unable to hold off both BELLINO and SEISTOLA and following numerous crashes had to settle for third. Ensuring a strong start to his 2015 EWC campaign, Gas Gas’ Antoine BASSET (F) placed fourth with Aigar LEOK (EST-TM) finishing just over 13 seconds behind in fifth.
In the Enduro Junior class there was triumph for Husqvarna’s Jamie MCCANNEY (GB) as he claimed victory on day one. Second went to Giacomo REDONDI (I-Beta). Gas Gas rider Diogo VENTURA (PRT) produced one of the most impressive rides of the day. An early leader, VENTURA held off an attack from Alessandro BATTIG (I-Honda) in the closing stages to secure his debut EWC podium with third. One second behind DIOGO, BATTIG was fourth with local favourite Benjamin HERRERA (CHL-TM) fifth.
In the Youth Cup, Spain’s Josep GARCIA (Husqvarna) recorded a very comfortable victory from Diego HERRERA (CHL-TM) and Ruy BARBOSA (CHL-Husqvarna).
Photo: Future7Media – KTM & Husqvarna