Germany’s Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) takes the World Enduro Super Series lead with victory at round five’s Red Bull Romaniacs. Securing the win on the final day of racing in Romania, Lettenbichler claimed his debut victory in WESS.
He was joined on the podium by Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Alfredo Gomez (ESP) and Graham Jarvis (GB).
Holding the provisional lead at the end of the penultimate day, Lettenbichler was determined to claim the top step of the podium on the final day of racing. With a slender one-minute and seven-second lead over Gomez, the German pushed hard from the off and following the early climbs maintained his position at the front.
Gomez appeared to struggle to find his rhythm early on, dropping back behind a charging Jonny Walker (GB). The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider was on top form and provisionally led on corrected time entering the service point.
But with heavy rain greeting riders, the already challenging trails proved slippery and unpredictable. Gomez found his rhythm in the rain and brought the fight back to Lettenbichler. The duo swapped and changed position with each passing section.
Lettenbichler entered the Gusterita finishing arena first and worked hard to complete the remaining climbs as quickly as possible. Anxiously waiting for Gomez to arrive, the KTM rider kept one eye on the clock and one on his rival as the seconds ticked by.
The nerves soon turned to joy and with Lettenbichler declared the winner, the celebrations could begin. For Gomez it was a case of close, but not close enough. Despite giving his best effort on arguably the toughest day of this year’s race it was not to be and he had to settle for the runner-up result. Putting hopes of another victory in this year’s championship on hold, Jarvis ended his week on the third step of the podium.
Manuel Lettenbichler said: “I’m over the moon right now, I really can’t believe it. This race is really something special and to win here feels amazing. The event is so long and so hard and anything can happen, so I’m so pumped to take the win. It’s been an incredible five days and so gnarly, especially with all the rain we’ve had. Some of the uphills that would have been tricky anyway have become near impossible today. It’s 10 years since my dad won Red Bull Romaniacs so it’s great to be able to match his achievement – the Lettenbichlers are definitely going to celebrate tonight!”
With the top three proving themselves the main contenders, Blazusiak was a definite improver as the week wore on. Hampered by his technical issue on day one, a strong ride on the final two days brought him back up the leaderboard for fourth. A really strong ride from Walker for third on Off Road Day Four, saw him complete the top five in the final classification.
Behind the top five, drama struck Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman. Holding fourth overall, the Spaniard had a bad day at the office in seventh. Despite a strong three days previous, he slipped to seventh overall. His loss was Billy Bolt’s gain, with the British rider moving up to sixth overall.
Signing off on an impressive week, JD Gunnex KTM Racing privateer David Cyprian (CZ) placed ninth in the rain to end round five eighth overall. TTR Officine Rigamonti’s Pol Tarres (ESP) and Josep Garcia (KTM-ESP) completed the top 10 in ninth and tenth respectively.
History was made in the Iron class with Anna Schmolzl becoming the first woman to ever win a category in Red Bull Romaniacs. The German was a model of consistency this week never faltering outside the top three, earning her a commanding 20-minute margin of victory over Danny Melvin (USA) and Mexico’s Eduardo Martinez.
The World Enduro Super Series continues with round six at Hawkstone Park Cross-Country, UK on September 21-22.
Red Bull Romaniacs overall
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 5:37:59;
2. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 5:39:16;
3. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 5:43:27;
4. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 5:46:11;
5. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 5:53:39;
6. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 6:54:00;
7. Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 6:55:41:
8. Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 7:05:03;
9. David Cyprian (KTM – CZ) 7:17:24;
10. Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 7:24:43
WESS Championship Standings (After Round 5 of 8)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) 3570 pts;
2. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) 3460 pts;
3. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP) 3164;
4. Mario Roman (Sherco – ESP) 2940 pts;
5. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) 2725 pts;
6. Jonny Walker (KTM – GB) 2700 pts;
7. Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP) 2615 pts;
8. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) 2590 pts;
9. Nathan Watson (KTM – GB) 2091 pts;
10. Pol Tarres (Husqvarna – ESP) 1965 pts