In a blaze of Chilean sunshine the opening round of the FIM Enduro World Championship got underway. With temperatures soaring high, it was a winning start to the season in Enduro 1 for Antoine Meo and in Enduro 2 for Juha Salminen. Christophe Nambotin placed his KTM at the front of the field to secure victory in Enduro 3.
With the 150 plus riders facing extremely dry and dusty conditions it would prove to be a challenging day of racing for most involved. Facing three laps of approximately 60 km in length and a total of eight timed special tests, the opening day of the season was one to remember. Along with Meo, Salminen and Nambotin taking victory, it also marked first time podium results for TM’s Aigar Leok in Enduro 3 and Britain’s Danny McCanney (Gas Gas) in Enduro Junior.
While there were many that had reason to smile at the end of a physical day’s racing, others were not so happy. Pre race favourite, Johnny Aubert (KTM) struggled to make an impact in Enduro 2 and ended his day fifth while David Knight (KTM) battled back from a difficult start in the morning to finish fourth in Enduro 3.
Getting his day off to a strong start Meo posted the third fastest time on the first Cross Test. After a small crash during the Extreme Test, the hard charging Frenchman quickly gained control of his class. Setting the fastest time on the technical Enduro Test, the two-time EWC champion then topped the remaining five special tests to claim an 81-second victory over HM Honda’s Rodrig Thain.
“Winning this race is a dream result for me,” confirmed Meo. “I was sick during the week and didn’t expect this. This morning I found it a little difficult to adjust to the tricky conditions and ended up crashing in the enduro test. The front end washed out on the loose dirt and I hit the ground. After that I seemed to find my pace and went on to win all the remaining five special tests. It’s been a good day.”
After stealing the show by winning the Friday evening Super Test, Rodrig Thain (Honda) began his day in a determined mood. Winning the Cross Test and then the Extreme Test, Thain set a fast pace out front. However losing time on the all important Enduro Test, he found himself fending off a hard charging Marc Bourgeois. With the duo almost tied leading into the final test of the day, Thain luckily held on to the runner up position by less than one tenth of a second.
For Bourgeois his podium finish was one of the surprise results of the day. After a slow start the Frenchman upped his pace in the afternoon to earn a well-deserved third place. Behind the top three, Lorenzo Santolino made a successful debut on his Husqvarna to finish in fourth while Finland’s Eero Remes (KTM) completed the top five with Matti Seistola (Husqvarna) in sixth.
Juha Salminen got his 2012 season of to a perfect start in Chile by winning the highly competitive Enduro 2 class. After finishing sixth in the Friday Super Test, the Finnish rider quickly began to set some impressive times during the special tests. Maintaining a consistently fast pace throughout the day, Salminen ended Day One at the GP of Chile 18 seconds clear of Ivan Cervantes (Gas Gas), who placed second.
“This is the best start to the season that I could have hoped for,” confirmed Salminen. “The conditions were difficult and it was hard to see with the dust in the enduro test. There was only one line in places, which made it difficult to push hard. I just tried to ride smooth and consistent today and luckily I managed to make no major mistakes I think that was a major factor in getting the win today.”
With Cervantes chasing Salminen home for second, Italy’s Oscar Balletti (Beta) found the dusty conditions to his liking to finish in third. Sitting outside the top five after the first four tests, a fastest time during the tough Enduro Test helped to lift him onto the podium. Narrowly missing out on third place, Spain’s Cristobal Guerrero (KTM) claimed fourth. Hampered by numerous mistakes throughout the day Johnny Aubert finished in fifth while Husaberg’s Pierre-Alexandre Renet was sixth.
In Enduro 3, Nambotin made a dominant start to his championship campaign by securing the victory on Day One. Setting the fastest times in the Enduro 3 class during the day’s first five special tests, the Frenchman opened up a commanding lead to end the day almost 50 seconds in front. “I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” remarked Nambotin. “My day started perfectly and I was able to open up a comfortable lead. Hopefully tomorrow will be just as good.”
Recording his first podium result in the EWC, Aigar Leok finished second. Switching to Enduro 3 for 2012, the former GP motocross rider is now a strong contender for top honours. Also delivering his first podium result in the Senior classes, Spain’s Oriol Mena (Husaberg) finished third. Finding it hard to get to grips with the dry and dusty terrain, David Knight made the best of a bad day to finish in fourth finishing less than four seconds adrift of Leok. Husaberg’s Joakim Ljunggren was fifth with Benoit Fortunato (Gas Gas) having a strong ride to finish in sixth.
Winning five out the eight timed special test plus the Friday Super Test Husaberg’s Mathias Bellino was the clear winner of the Enduro Junior class. Leading the way from the opening special test of the morning, the Frenchman easily secured his first win of the season. Behind him Gas Gas rider Danny McCanney finished an impressive second in the dusty conditions not normally known to suit British riders. Completing the top three was Alexandre Queyreyre (Yamaha).
In the 125 Youth Cup Manxman Jamie McCanney (Husaberg) looked all but certain of victory until a crash in the final moments of the day ruled him out of contention. Inheriting the win, Chilean rider Benjamin Herrera (TM) was first. KTM’s Giacomo Redoni finished second and Stefano Caimi (Yamaha) was third.
GP of Chile – Day One
1. Antoine Meo (KTM) 56:11.20; 2. Rodrig Thain (Honda) 57:32.77; 3. Marc Bourgeois (Yamaha) 57:32.81; 4. Lorenzo Santolino (Husqvarna) 57:38.89; 5. Eero Remes (KTM) 57:56.53; 6. Matti Seistola (Husqvarna) 58:19.50; 7. Fabien Planet (Sherco) 58:46.92; 8. Jeremy Joly (Yamaha) 58:52.91; 9. Thomas Oldrati (KTM) 59:05.83; 10. Simone Albergoni (Honda) 59:50.64…
1. Juha Salminen (Husqvarna) 57:04.30; 2. Ivan Cervantes (Gas Gas) 57:22.74; 3. Oscar Balletti (Beta) 57:39.99; 4. Cristobal Guerrero (KTM) 57:41.85; 5. Johnny Aubert (KTM) 57:48.20; 6. Pierre-Alexandre Renet (Husaberg) 58:43.44; 7. Julien Gauthier (Kawasaki) 58:46.63; 8. Alex Salvini (Husqvarna) 58:47.19; 9. Antoine Basset (Yamaha) 59:13.05; 10. Franco Caimi (KTM) 59:55.49…
1. Christophe Nambotin (KTM) 56:48.16; 2. Aigar Leok (TM) 57:37.14; 3. Oriol Mena (Husaberg) 57:37.29; 4. David Knight (KTM) 57:40.44; 5. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 58:19.96; 6. Benoit Fortunato (Gas Gas) 59:05.60; 7. Marko Tarkala (Beta) 59:07.50; 8. Manuel Monni (KTM) 59:08.47; 9. Christophe Robert (Husaberg) 59:46.95; 10. Marcus Kehr (KTM) 1:00:30.38…
1. Mathias Bellino (Husaberg) 58:00.04; 2. Danny McCanney (Gas Gas) 59:16.88; 3. Alexandre Queyreyre (Yamaha) 59:33.57; 4. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 1:00:29.65; 5. Edoardo D’Ambrosio (KTM) 1:00:36.53; 6. Karl Svensson (Honda) 1:02:35.23; 7. Victor Guerrero (KTM) 1:03:11.54; 8. Johan Edlund (Husaberg) 1:03:23.31; 9. Jonathon Manzi (KTM) 1:04:42.72; 10. Diego Gutierrez (KTM) 1:05:14.62…
125 Youth Cup
1. Benjamin Herrera (TM) 1:01:11.25; 2. Giacomo Redoni (KTM) 1:03:05.17; 3. Stefano Caimi (Yamaha) 1:20:44.33; 4. Nicolas Kutulas (KTM) 1:20:45.28; 5. Nicolas Bascunan (TM) 1:27:08.99; 6. Diego Herrer (KTM) 1:33:53.18; 7. Matias Rojas (KTM) 1:35:33.21; 8. Luciano Benavides (Yamaha) 1:39:43.18; 9. Daniel Tirado (TM) 1:41:39.30