It’s time to take a look back at the first Maxxis Grand Prix of Estonia in the history of EnduroGP, which saw the RedMoto Klubi offer the World Enduro paddock one of the most beautiful Grand Prix of the season so far…
The RedMoto Klubi, led by its president Veiko BIENE, silenced even the most skeptical of critics. The task was not an easy one since they took the gamble of bringing EnduroGP to Estonia for the first time, and moreover in the capital of the country: Tallinn! But there was entertainment of all kinds, a very well-crafted course, and three great special tests – including a very traditional X-Rocks Enduro Test which was enjoyed by all the riders. There was nothing left wanting as the RedMoto Klubi catered to all aspects of the event throughout the weekend. They are certainly very serious contenders for the honorary title of “Best Organisation of the Year”!
On Saturday night after the race when Steve HOLCOMBE (GB – Beta) returned to the paddock after his victory in E3, he admitted to our journalist Fabien GERARD that he had been struggling for quite some time… why? Well, during a seemingly innocuous off in Spain, the Brit broke two ribs and therefore had to ride injured in Portugal. In order to heal his ribs, he was unable to train between Portugal and Estonia. Even if the pain is no longer present, the factory Beta rider admitted that he is not running at 100% fitness… But despite this he still managed two victories in E3 and two podiums EGP… not bad considering!
At this GP in Estonia, RedMoto Klubi organised a charity visit to a children’s hospital in Tallinn. Matteo CAVALLO (I – Beta Boano), his manager Jarno BOANO as well as Veiko BIENE’s son, Priit (EST – Husqvarna) spent a long time with the children of this hospital, offering them stickers, plastic motorbikes, and also signing some autographs for them…
While the ‘infirmary’ was thankfully not too busy this weekend, it still had to accommodate two top riders: Matthew PHILLIPS (AUS – Sherco) and Jamie MCCANNEY (GB – Yamaha). After falling on the last test in Portugal, PHILLIPS suffered from headaches and vision problems. These headaches came back after his fall in the Super Test Akrapovic on Friday night, accompanied by vomiting and dizziness. After a difficult day with vision problems on Saturday, the Australian decided it was better not to start on Sunday. For his part, Jamie MCCANNEY (GB – Yamaha) fell heavily on the first test of the weekend and injured his wrist. He pushed hard to gain two second positions in E1 but will need to have a medical check-up upon his return to England to know the full extent of his injury…
A part of the FIM Maxxis Enduro World Championship for at least five years, Anthony GESLIN (F-Beta) has had to wait for his second season in E3 to finally achieve his first podiums. One in Spain and one in Estonia… and they were made all the more impressive by the quality of the riders behind him; Danny MCCANNEY (GB – Gas Gas) and the vastly experienced champion Christophe NAMBOTIN (F – Gas Gas) – who GESLIN refers to as ‘The Boss’. These great performances from the young Basque are well deserved as he has long been a fine example of perseverance and determination. He is now in 4th position in the E3 standings, and 17th in the EGP standings. The Beta France rider is heading, at the same time, towards the title of “Privateer of the Year”!
One Live, 5 Cameras
The organisers didn’t do anything by halves! In order to bring every moment and every angle of the Akrapovic Super Test to the maximum number of people, they put big means in place: 5 cameras and a control room. Facebook followers of the EnduroGP page as well as the event’s page, Enduro Tallinn GP, were able to enjoy two hours of a very special and technical Friday night show…
While Hugo SVARD (SF – Husqvarna) has been the most prominent Finnish rider since the beginning of the season (he was running 3rd in the Youth standings), at this Grand Prix in Tallinn, other Finns showed their potential on terrain which was very similar to home. Starting with Roni KYTÖNEN (SF – Husqvarna), the son of Vesa, who achieved his first two podiums of the season and is now fourth in Youth. But also Antti HANNINEN (SF – Husqvarna) who raced very well in Junior 1 – he took a podium on Saturday, and a solid 4th place on Sunday, to the detriment of another Scandinavian rider, the Swede Erik APPELQVIST (Yamaha), brought on by the Yamaha Johansson MPE team. Could the future be moving back towards northern Europe?
Of course there were many Finnish fans on the tests during the weekend who had made the short trip over to Tallinn, but no-one quite expected to find a group of four French fans in Estonia. Partial to the more “exotic” races, these four friends cheered loudly for every French rider in the tests, with airhorns and chainsaw engines! In addition to that, to celebrate the double victory of Théo ESPINASSE (F – Sherco), one of them played the Marseillaise on the trumpet! No need for the recorded National Anthem, and above all these dedicated fans added a good atmosphere wherever they went.
As soon as it was announced that Davide GUARNERI (I) would be unable to compete in Estonia due to injuries suffered in Portugal, Matteo BOFFELLI and the Honda RedMoto team set out to find a replacement. This is how former MX rider Alex SNOW (GB) arrived on Wednesday in Tallinn. Suffice to say that the Brit fulfilled his role of ‘fill in rider’ since he fought on both days with Antoine BASSET (F – Gas Gas) for the podium in Enduro 1 (4/4) and scored points in EnduroGP (11/13)… SNOW confessed “It was a lot of fun, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to ride with the Honda RedMoto team again in the World Championship.”
During this 4th round of the season, the organisers as well as the municipality of Tallinn wanted to give a nod to the anniversary of Estonia. Indeed, it is 100 years this year since Estonia became independent. For this, the RedMoto Klubi gathered all the paddock’s current riders, as well as former champions, gave them all an Estonian flag, and created a wonderful souvenir photo.