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.
The Borilli FIM EnduroGP World Championship fires back into life this coming weekend with the first of two long-awaited final rounds, the TERRA ÚNICA GP of Portugal. With 11 weeks having passed since the GP of Sweden, during which time the 95th running of the FIM International Six Days of Enduro took place in Italy, the series is set to deliver fireworks as riders chase championship titles and strong end-of-season results before heading directly to Langeac in France for the grand finale – the GP of France.
Returning to the country where the 2021 Borilli FIM EnduroGP World Championship started, the TERRA ÚNICA GP of Portugal will also see a return to sandy conditions. In contrast to the grass tracks and forest trails that riders will face in France, the Portuguese special tests will ensure all-out action and full-gas racing.
Headed into the closing rounds of the championship, the narrative in the EnduroGP class remains the same as it has since round one – Brad Freeman (Beta) leads, is very much the rider to beat, and now has a 22-point championship lead. Extending his class advantage with every stop of the series, the tall Brit is unlikely to back down, even if he can now manage that advantage and not worry too much about day wins. Never a rider to ease off, Freeman will likely do all he can to further strengthen his lead ahead of the final round in France.
Still in with a mathematical chance of denying Freeman the 2021 EnduroGP title, Josep Garcia (KTM) and Wil Ruprecht (TM) will be first in line to challenge the Brit in both Portugal and France. Separated by just four points, the Spanish and Australian duo will lead Freeman’s challengers, with the return of Great Britain’s Nathan Watson expected to mix things up further. 2020 EnduroGP World Champion Steve Holcombe will also be looking for a strong end to the series, while Andrea Verona (GASGAS), Davide Guarneri (Fantic), and Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) will also have their sights set on the EnduroGP podium.
The Italian battle for supremacy in the Enduro1 championship is set to continue through the final two EnduroGP events of 2021. With current class leader Andrea Verona (GASGAS), second placed Davide Guarneri (Fantic), and EnduroGP rookie Samuele Bernardini (Honda) – the only three riders to have earned triple-digit points from the opening four rounds of the series – it’s all eyes on Verona and Guarneri in Portugal and France as only 10 points separate the two riders with 40 points up for grabs.
At the top of the Enduro2 World Championship standings, and separated by just five points, both current class leader Wil Ruprecht (TM) and second placed Josep Garcia (KTM) will be going all-out to put their name at the top of the class at the close of the Terra Unica GP of Portugal. With little to separate the two riders in Portugal, Italy, Estonia, and Sweden, neither can afford to hand any kind of an advantage to the other. Topping day two at the GP of Sweden before going on to top the FIM International Six Days of Enduro in Italy as the outright fastest competitor, Garcia arguably enters the final rounds of the series a faster rider than when he started it. But, having recently wrapped up the Italian Enduro Championship, Ruprecht will be every bit as determined, and ready, to win as Garcia.
One rider who could cause an upset this weekend in Santiago do Cacem is Nathan Watson (Honda). Returning to the series to compete in the final two rounds, the British rider will want to make an immediate impression. Despite his recent lack of special test racing, Nathan is known to have the speed to challenge for the podium. If things ‘click’ for the Brit, he could well find himself on the top step of the podium. Steve Holcombe (Beta), Hamish MacDonald (Sherco), as well as Eero Remes (TM), Joe Wootton (Husqvarna), and Albin Elowson (Husqvarna), will also all be focused on positive end-of-season results.
If things go the way Beta’s Brad Freeman hopes they will, the Brit might wrap up the Enduro3 World Championship at the TERRA ÚNICA GP of Portugal. A country mile ahead of his nearest class rival Jaume Betriu (KTM) in the point standings, Freeman is so far undefeated on his 300cc two-stroke and will unquestionably be a hard rider to beat in Santiago do Cacem. If Betriu can maintain his impressive form and place as runner-up to Freeman on both days, the title won’t be decided until the GP of France. But if Betriu runs into any issue on either day, Freeman, and Beta, could be celebrating come Sunday night.
One of the closest battles for supremacy in the Enduro Junior World Championship is between TM team-mates Matteo Pavoni and Lorenzo Macoritto. Separated by just six points in Pavoni’s favour, the junior title fight will unquestionably go down to the wire in France.
In contrast, in the Enduro Youth World Championship, Sweden’s Albin Norrbin (Fantic) all but has one hand on the championship trophy. 32 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Brit Harry Edmondson (Fantic), Norrbin could well secure the title at the TERRA ÚNICA GP of Portugal.
Sure to inject even more excitement into the closing round of the 2021 Borilli FIM EnduroGP World Championship, the GP of France will welcome the return of the Enduro Women’s class back to the series. With Laia Sanz (GASGAS) having etched out a slender eight-point advantage at the top of the class – as well as winning the TrialGP Women World Championship title since the GP of Sweden – the Spaniard will be going all-out to become a double world champion in 2021. But with both Mireia Badia (GASGAS) and Jane Daniels (Fantic) certain to make it a three-way fight for the win in Langeac, just like in most classes, victory is anything but assured in the Enduro Women’s class.
Stay tuned to www.enduroGP.com throughout the weekend for championship updates and live results, and to @Enduro_GP on Instagram for event story content.
The final two rounds of the 2021 Borilli FIM EnduroGP World Championship are set to welcome a familiar face back into the paddock as popular British rider Nathan Watson returns to the series to compete for RedMoto Honda in the Enduro2 class.
Initially switching to enduro from motocross in 2016, the now 26-year-old Watson earned his first ever woods win in Sweden of that same year, where he topped the Enduro1 class. Establishing himself as an enduro frontrunner during the years after his debut season, Nathan will compete in the Enduro2 class at the Terra Unica GP of Portugal and GP of France before, possibly, making a full-time return to EnduroGP in 2022.
“Things have come together pretty quickly, to be honest,” explained Nathan. “I’m really looking forward to racing in Portugal and France. There’s no pressure, I just want to enjoy it, get to know the team better, and do the best I can.
“I haven’t been doing too much riding recently, I was taking some time off after a really hard year. I’d been training all last winter for the French beach racing series, which got cancelled, then the team I was with decided to take me to the MXGP, so I worked hard to get ready for that as best I could. That obviously didn’t go too well, and generally I had a bit of a rough time. I guess I had a ‘what if?’ with motocross and wanted to get back and see how I could do. But now I realise it’s not for me, not the world championship anyway. And I just needed a bit of time out in the last few months.
“That’s when Matteo contacted me, a few weeks back. He asked if I’d be interested in racing the final two EnduroGP events. And here I am, getting ready for those races. I’m just back in the UK after a few days testing with the team in Italy. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the EnduroGP paddock. There’re no expectations, I’m not fully race fit, and obviously I’ve not raced in EnduroGP for a while, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’d certainly like to get back into enduro. I think I was pretty good at it, so let’s see how things go in the next couple of weeks.”
Confirming Nathan’s participation in the Enduro2 class, RedMoto Honda team manager Matteo Boffelli is looking forward to welcoming Nathan back to EnduroGP.
“We are proud to have Nathan Watson join our team for the final two rounds of the FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Portugal and France. He will compete in E2 on the Honda RedMoto CRF450RX where he will be up against the best riders in what is considered the top category of Enduro World Championship. At this time of the season, we are laying the foundations for the future, and Nathan has been racing with Honda for the last year, so we spoke to him a few days ago about this opportunity. It was a bit crazy, but he accepted immediately, after he flew to Italy for a few days of testing, we are ready to go.”