The opening day of competition at round five of the Borilli FIM EnduroGP World Championship saw Josep Garcia (KTM) claim a commanding victory in Portugal. With EnduroGP roaring back into life following its summer break, Spaniard Garcia was quickest to hit the ground running on day one of the TERRA Única GP of Portugal as he rode clear to claim both the EnduroGP and Enduro 2 category wins.
The Junior Enduro class saw a new winner emerge with Finland’s Roni Kytonen (Honda) topping the standings, while Sweden’s Albin Norrbin (Fantic) extended his Youth Enduro championship lead by claiming his sixth consecutive victory.
EnduroGP – Dominant Run By Garcia
After an extended summer break, the Borilli FIM EnduroGP World Championship returned to action in Santiago do Cacem in southern Portugal for the penultimate round of the 2021 season. From the word go the action came thick and fast as riders went head-to-head in the Friday evening AKRAPOVIC Super Test.
Britain’s Joe Wootton (Husqvarna) lead the way for the majority of the night until he was bested by the final two riders of Brad Freeman (Beta) and Josep Garcia (KTM). Both were almost inseparable, but it was Freeman who narrowly took the win by just one tenth of a second.
However, knowing the sandy special tests would work to his favour, Garcia was quick to take over. Winning the opening NERVE by JUST1 Extreme Test, the Spaniard then topped the next five special tests to further extend his lead. Signing his day off with the fastest times in the final CHAMPION Enduro Test and ACERBIS Cross Test, he won the day by an impressive 54 seconds.
Behind him and the fight for the remainder of the podium positions was closely contested. Freeman faced a strong challenge from Italy’s Andrea Verona (GASGAS), with Britain’s Nathan Watson (Honda) and Steve Holcombe (Beta) within striking distance. With four seconds to his advantage, Freeman held on to the runner-up position, with Verona taking third.
Watson made a welcome return to EnduroGP action for fourth, while defending EnduroGP champion Holcombe showed he’s returning to form following a difficult season plagued with injury and illness with fifth.
“I felt great on the bike to day,” told Garcia. “I knew the conditions would suit me out there, so my goal this morning was to push hard from the beginning and see how I faired. I managed to build up a good lead and from midway I managed it as best I could. I’m excited for tomorrow now.”
Enduro1 – Verona Makes Good
Locked in a battle for the overall runner-up result, Verona pulled clear of his Enduro1 classmates to take the win. A strong rider throughout the day saw him build up a comfortable 40-second margin of victory.
For Davide Guarneri (Fantic), he wasn’t able to match the pace of his countryman from the word go. Losing time in the morning, he came on stronger in the afternoon, taking two special test wins. For Sunday, he’ll look to come out swinging against Verona early on.
Ensuring an Italian sweep of the podium, Matteo Cavallo (TM) took third, with France’s Christophe Charlier (Beta) and Italy’s Samuele Bernardini (Honda) completing the top five.
Enduro2 – Garcia Takes Over Points Lead With Victory
Saturday was a day to savour for Garcia, with the Spaniard also claiming Enduro2 honours to take over the championship lead. With a dominant ride in Enduro2, the KTM rider was almost untouchable, winning by one minute and 22 seconds.
After a couple of years absence, Nathan Watson wasted no time getting back into the swing of EnduroGP action. Second on day one and edging out Holcombe by just six seconds, the addition of Watson to the series in these closing stages of the championship is exciting.
“It’s great to be back in EnduroGP,” said Watson. “Things were a little up and down today, but I thought they might be as I settled in things again. I felt like I progressed more as the day went on and I’m keen to see how tomorrow goes.”
Behind the top three of Garcia, Watson and Holcombe, Australia’s Will Ruprecht (TM) was fourth – losing his championship lead to Garcia in the process. The Australian will need to fight back on Sunday to keep those title hopes alive. Only six seconds behind Ruprecht, Italy’s Thomas Oldrati (Honda) placed fifth.
Enduro3 – Freeman Quickest
The opening day of the TERRA Única GP of Portugal marked another Enduro3 class win for Beta’s Brad Freeman. Although not the most commanding of Enduro3 victories seen from Freeman this season, he still did more than enough to secure his ninth consecutive win.
Feeling quite at home in the soft sandy terrain, Spain’s Jaume Betriu (KTM) ended his day was runner-up to Freeman. Sherco’s Danny McCanney put in a solid day to take third, closing the gap to Betriu to 10 seconds on the final test. Jamie McCanney (Husqvarna) was fourth and Andrew Wilksch (Husqvarna) took fifth.
Enduro Junior – Kytonen Comes To The Fore
The Enduro Junior class saw Roni Kytonen come to the fore to secure his first victory of the season. After an early lead by Lorenzo Macoritto (TM), Kytonen topped the second NERVE by JUST1 Extreme Test to take over proceedings. Continuing to fend off attacks from title favourites Matteo Pavoni (TM) and Macoritto, the Finn took a well-earned win.
“I wasn’t expecting this win today,” said Kytonen. “I was injured after Estonia, so I’m not 100 per cent. But I seemed to gel well with the tests and when I got into the lead I was able to hold on for the win.”
Enduro Youth – Tight Win For Norrbin
The racing was tight in Enduro Youth with Fantic riders Albin Norrbin and Kevin Cristino leading the way. Norrbin looked strong all day, but with Cristino able to match his pace, he couldn’t relax. With just five seconds separating the duo – in Norrbin’s favour – it’s sure to be another tight affair tomorrow. Behind them, Samuli Pujkainen (TM) was third, with Harry Edmondson (Fantic) and Federico Rocha (TM) rounding out the top five.