The eagerly awaited Spanish opener was a dream start to the 2012 championship for four riders. With four riders grabbing a double race victory in each of their respective classes only four pairs of eyes were smiling come Sunday evening in Spain. Juha Salminen put two years of hardship to rest when he won both days of Enduro 1. Frenchman, Antoine Meo topped the Enduro 2 standings by putting his Husqvarna on top while Mika Ahola also made it a winning start for Honda in Enduro 3. Finland’s Antti Hellsten surprised everyone with two wins in Enduro Junior.
While the winners were smiling, KTM were far from it. In what marked what was quite possibly their worst ever start to a championship campaign, two of their biggest hopefuls failed to score a single point. In a freak set of events, Johnny Aubert completed just two specials tests on Day one before being sidelined with an electrical problem. Day two saw things go from bad to worse for Aubert as a winning result on the opening test was followed by another electrical retirement, effectively ending the former world champions chances of claiming E2 class glory that season.
Catching his foot in a rut on the enduro test, the then defending champion David Knight, violently rotated his hip. That injury quickly ended his weekend but ultimately finished his season before it had even began.
Bigger Wasn’t Better
Leading into Spain one of the biggest talking points was about who would be first to win an Enduro 2 race on a bike smaller than the allowed cubic capacity. Going head to head, Husqvarna squared up against KTM. With Meo riding the TE 310 and Aubert on the KTM 350 EXC-F, Husqvarna were first to prove that bigger isn’t always better with their double race victory
Five For Five
Antti Hellsten was the surprise winner in Spain. Capping off the season opener with two wins, he would continue that winning form right up until Italy by claiming five wins on the trot.
Winners Equal Champions
It was unusual to see only four winners at the season opener. With Meo, Salminen and Ahola topping the Senior classes it showed they’d done their homework during the winter months. The trio would later prove to be the dominating forces in Enduro 1, Enduro 2 and Enduro 3 by ending the year as champions. Will the same circumstances arise in Chile?