EnduroGP: White Hell!

What a start to the season! While the stars of EnduroGP might have thought they knew how to tackle the race, as the Päijänne GP was also held last year, they might not have been counting on much more snow than in 2017! 15 to 70cms (from South to North) and temperatures dipping to -14°C. Let’s look back at the very first Grand Prix of 2018…

That’s the number of volunteers at the 83rd edition of the legendary Päijänne Enduro! Mauri PENTTINEN and Kenneth LAAKSONEN, organisers of this Finnish GP, were thrilled to have so many people ready to help the HMK during the event! The strategically placed special tests, key locations and important points on the liaison were perfectly marked and the volunteers did an incredible job… Congratulations to the Helsinki Moto Klub and these 1000 volunteers for this very professional organisation!

“It’s difficult….but I’m having a lot of fun!”
That’s how the first day of racing was described by 2017 Junior World Champion Brad FREEMAN (GB – Beta). Injured last year, the Brit had not participated in the very first Päijänne GP and he did not know what to expect… but from the first special tests onwards, the Beta Boano rider was at home in the snow and even came close to winning Enduro 1 for a good part of the first day before he made a mistake in ST 12. But this did not prevent him from winning the first two night tests on Saturday evening, and finishing 3rd on the day! He reiterated this strong result on Sunday and assumes the position of the most serious rival of his compatriot Jamie MCCANNEY (GB – Yamaha) in the battle for the E1 title!

New Experience
On Friday afternoon, ABC Communication organised a snowmobile and dog sled ride to create a nice Nordic introduction for the 26 minute magazine programme of the Finnish GP – which will be broadcast on EnduroTV on Thursday! Matthew PHILLIPS (AUS – Sherco) joined us for this unique experience and he was able to enjoy blasting around on snowmobiles, as well as his first dog sledding experience… “It was a really great experience! I had never been in a dog sled before and I loved every minute!”

Facebook Live « Press Conference »
In order to allow all fans to experience the build-up to a GP weekend, ABC Communication organised a Press Conference on Friday at 17.00. It brought together 2017 EnduroGP World Champion Steve HOLCOMBE (GB – Beta), Jamie MCCANNEY, Matthew PHILLIPS and Loïc LARRIEU (F – Yamaha), Eero REMES (SF – TM) and Christophe CHARLIER (F – Beta). To increase the visibility of the Championship on social media, this press conference was broadcast live on Facebook. Other conferences throughout the season will be organised every Friday before the Grand Prix at around 15:00 CET!

Relieved & Proud!
This was the feeling that every non-Finnish rider felt upon completing this year’s “Päitsi”! This mix of emotions at the finish line – between the relief of having finished a race as demanding and physical, as well as having the mental fortitude and a reliable bike to back it up! The joy of having got to the end of this mythical race and of conquering your own demons! Truly, each and every rider in this year’s Grand Prix of Finland became, on Sunday evening’s arrival at the airport of Malmi (Helsinki), a true hero for Finnish Enduro fans, and for fans all around the world!

In order to protect your bike from snow, cold and ice, anything goes! From the foam on the engine frame to protect it from the snow, to Matthew PHILLIPS’ (AUS – Sherco) ‘Dumbo’ handguards, we have seen a lot of ingenuity among the competitors and their mechanics. But the crown has to go to the manager of the Honda RedMoto team and legend of Enduro, Tullio PELLEGRINELLI; in order to avoid snow and ice building up between the spokes of his bikes he filled in the front wheels with… duct tape!

While some ‘favourites’ had difficulties during this weekend of racing, there were dark horses who surprised us with their brilliance – especially Deny PHILIPPAERTS (I – Beta Boano) and Josh GOTTS (GB – TM). While the Italian had announced that he was stopping at the end of the 2017 season, he finally decided to take another year and it’s a good job he did because he showed great pace in the snow and is now 5th in the Enduro 2 standings, 2 points behind 3rd place! A similar story for the Brit, who trained tirelessly in Finland before the race. He was rewarded for his hard work with an excellent and unexpected 5th place on Saturday! Just deserts for these ‘underdogs’ who may not grab the headlines but prove their skill and talent when it counts… and prove that Enduro is a very accessible sport, provided you have a strong will.

Night Mode
In 2017 the stars of EnduroGP finished the Finnish GP at dusk, but this year, they could not escape the night! Indeed, three special tests on Saturday took place in the dark! Extra lights were fitted on the headlight units, as well as on the helmets of the riders. It was finally FREEMAN who came out best in these three tests – winning two of them in front of the local specialists. A surprising performance from the Beta Boano rider who was a Päijänne rookie!

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