Rnd 2, 2018 World Enduro Super Series – Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble, Austria

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jonny Walker has finished as runner-up at the 2018 Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble. The podium result moves him into first place in the World Enduro Super Series standings. KTM rider Manni Lettenbichler produced an extremely strong performance to complete the podium in third place.

The 24th edition of the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble was held in hot, dry conditions at the famous Iron Giant mountain at Eisenerz, Austria. Marking the second round of the inaugural World Enduro Super Series, it was the hard enduro specialists that again battled for the win.

Quickly overcoming a poor start, Jonny Walker soon moved into the second-place position early in the race. A small mistake in the first forest section cost the Brit some time but he held on to third as the race took riders into the more treacherous sections of the track.

At the section known as Green Hell, Jonny arrived in fourth place, but in battling his way up the steep slope on his own he was able to pass two of the riders ahead of him and set about chasing the race leader. Despite pushing hard during the final 15 minutes and clawing back valuable seconds, Jonny couldn’t quite take the win, ultimately crossing the line second, a mere 41 seconds behind winner Graham Jarvis.

Jonny Walker: “That was a tough race but I am happy to finish second and take the lead in the WESS standings. I didn’t get the best of starts and lost a bit of time in the dust. Taddy made a mistake and I got out in front, but then Manni and Billy passed me on a hill when I messed up a little. Their speed was way too quick and I knew I had to pace myself. Carl’s Dinner was tiring, but I kept things steady and tried to minimise any mistakes. I managed to clear Green Hell ok and came out of there in second. The rest of the race from then on was less tricky and I pushed on as hard as I could but couldn’t quite catch Graham before the finish. I’m happy with second and it’s good for the championship but it would have been nice to take the win.”

Following his podium finish at Extreme XL Lagares, Manuel Lettenbichler was keen to carry his momentum into the Erzbergrodeo. Taking an early lead, a small mistake on one of the steep climbs ultimately cost the young German some time. But by taking third Manni claimed his first ever Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble podium.

Manuel Lettenbichler: “I gave that everything I had, I wanted to win so badly but just lost out towards the end. I had a really great ride until Green Hell. Billy and myself were pushing the pace a lot and we had built up a gap on the others. I wasn’t my best in Carl’s Dinner and was still in contention. Unfortunately, things went wrong in Green Hell and Graham came past us. But this is my debut podium at the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble so it is something to celebrate. Third in Extreme XL Lagares and now third here is a very strong start to WESS, too.”

Taddy Blazusiak made a superb start, rounding the first corner in the lead. A mistake in the forest caused the five-time Hare Scramble winner to lose some time and drop down to fifth. While pushing hard to make up time, Taddy hit a large rock causing him to crash and wind himself badly. Having then to replace a crushed exhaust and regain his composure, it wasn’t until the latter half of the race that the multiple world champion felt comfortable to push again. Making his way through the pack, Taddy finally crossed the line in eighth place – an excellent result considering the difficulties he faced.

Taddy Blazusiak: “I have to be happy with that – I enjoyed the race and the fans here have been amazing. Of course, it’s not the result I wanted but after crashing so heavily I am glad to make the finish. It took a little while to feel better and at one point I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it through Carl’s Dinner. I paced myself though and felt a lot stronger at the end. Eighth place gives me some valuable championship points and keeps me inside the top-10 overall. I’ll concentrate now on Le Trefle Lozerien classic enduro next weekend and hopefully come away with a good result.”

Josep Garcia continues to impress at the hard enduro discipline. The Spaniard completed the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble at his first attempt, despite coming into the WESS with an EnduroGP background. The Enduro2 World Champion’s consistent pace throughout the event carried him over the line in 17th place. Josep now looks forward to round three of the WESS at Le Trefle Lozerien in France, an event that should suit Josep perfectly.

Following a superb performance on the Erzbergrodeo Prologue, Nathan Watson started from the first row of 500 riders in the Red Bull Hare Scramble. Still becoming accustomed to hard enduro racing the Brit held his own on the tough Austrian course. Unfortunately, Nathan was timed out on in the race and was unable to make the finish. He will now turn his attention to classic enduro and round three of the WESS in France next weekend.

FMF Factory Racing’s Cody Webb was unfortunately unable to contest the Red Bull Hare Scramble after suffering an injury to his leg in the Prologue qualifying race on Saturday.

The next event on the 2018 WESS calendar is the Trefle Lozerien AMV classic enduro, France on June 8-10.

Results – 2018 Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble
1. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 2:05:59
2. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, +0:41
3. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, +3:03
4. Wade Young (RSA) Sherco, +15:45
5. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, +24:04
Other KTM
7. Paul Bolton (GBR), KTM, +33:41
8. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, +35:52
17. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, +1:18:12

World Enduro Super Series Standings (after 2 of 8 rounds)
1. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 1700 pts
2. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 1610 points
3. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 1610 pts
4. Manni Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 1540 pts
5. Wade Young (RSA), Sherco, 1220 pts
Other KTM
6. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 1180 pts
8. Paul Bolton (GBR), KTM, 1020pts

Photo: Future7Media

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