Matt PHILLIPS takes the double at the Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship GP Polisport of Portugal. Firmly putting himself back into the Enduro 3 championship fight, KTM’s Matt PHILLIPS (AUS) claimed a nail biting victory on day two in Gouveia. Christophe NAMBOTIN (F-KTM) delivered a near flawless performance to top the Enduro 1 classification while Antoine MEO (F-KTM) returned to the top step of the podium in Enduro 2. Elsewhere, day two marked a debut EWC victory for newcomer Steve HOLCOMBE (GB-Beta) in the Enduro Junior class as Laia SANZ (S-KTM) once again dominated proceedings in the Women’s Cup.
Testing competitors to near breaking point, the GP of Portugal’s combination of long and physically demanding special tests, unrelenting terrain and searing heat ensured that the third round of the series was not for the faint hearted.
In the Enduro 3 class it was Matt PHILLIPS who came out on top to secure his second victory of the weekend, putting himself firmly back into the title chase. Leading the way for most of the day, PHILLIPS overcame a small issue on the final two tests to win the day by one-second from Sherco’s Matti SEISTOLA (FIN). “It feels great to win both days, told PHILLIPS. “I felt good all day but on the final enduro test I overcooked the rear brake and nearly threw the win away. It was a close margin of victory but a win’s a win. I’m happy.” Pushing hard to capitalise on PHILLIPS’ mistake, SEISTOLA gave it everything in the final two tests but agonisingly came just one second short of victory. The battle for the final step of the podium was equally as close as the fight for the win. Edging out Husqvarna’s Mathias BELLINO (F) by one second, TM’s Aigar LEOK (EST) secured third. With BELLINO fourth, Thomas OLDRATI (I-Husqvarna) placed just nine seconds behind in fifth.
There was no stopping Christophe NAMBOTIN on day two in Portugal. Winning all but two of the day’s 10 special tests, the KTM rider claimed a commanding 50-second win. “What can I say, it’s been a perfect day,” commented NAMBOTIN. “My knee is sore but not too painful and I can ride normally. I pushed hard from the beginning and built up a gap and then maintained it. I’m more than happy with this result.” As the only other rider to claim a special test win in E1, TM’s Eero REMES (FIN) ended his day as runner-up to NAMBOTIN. Improving greatly over his previous day’s result, Husqvarna’s Danny MCCANNEY (GB) placed a strong third. Sherco’sLorenzo SANTOLINO (S) was fourth with Yamaha’s Cristobal GUERRERO (S) completing the top five.
The Enduro 2 class saw KTM’s Antoine MEO (F) return to the top step of the podium to record his fifth win of the series. It was a close victory for the Frenchman – beating championship rival Pela RENET (F-Husqvarna) by 11 seconds. The fight for the runner-up result was even closer as RENET hung on to beat day one winner Alex SALVINI (I-Honda) by just three tenths of a second. “The battle was really close today,” said MEO. “Alex, Pela and myself were constantly fighting for the win. I managed to pull a little gap but it was not enough to allow me to relax until the final test was over. It’s been a great fight.” In contention with the leaders early on, Spain’s Jaume BETRIU (Husqvarna)eventually dropped back as the pace increased to take fourth. Sherco’s Loic LARRIEU (F) completed the top five.
The Enduro Junior class saw EWC newcomer Steve HOLCOMBE (Beta) secure his debut victory. A revelation to the championship since joining at last weekend’s GP of Spain, HOLCOMBE is certainly now one to watch for the remainder of the year. Losing out to HOLCOMBE by six seconds, championship leader Jamie MCCANNEY (GB-Husqvarna) placed as runner-up with Beta’s Giacomo REDONDI (I)joining them on the podium in third. Honda’s Alessandro BATTIG (I) continued his strong run of form to take fourth while Gas Gas’ Diogo VENTURA (P) ended his home race in fifth. In the Youth Cup, Yamaha’s Mikael PERSSON (SWE) knocked Husqvarna’s Josep GARCIA (S) off the top step of the podium to secure his first win of 2015. With GARCIA second, France’s David ABGRALL (Yamaha) rounded out the three.
There was no stopping KTM’s Laia SANZ in the Women’s Cup who claimed a two minute plus margin of victory over Sherco’s Jessica GARDINER (AUS) in second and Husqvarna’s Jane DANIELS (GB) third.
The Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship now makes its way to Serres for round four and the GP Maxxis of Greece on June 6/7.