Just like the season opening GP of Chile the second stop of the 2012 Enduro World Championship, the GP of Argentina held in San Juan, proved to be an anything but easy event. Extreme heat and an unforgiving, dry and stony course resulted in two punishing days of racing, yet some welcomed results for the Husaberg Factory Team.
Knowing that at the GP of Chile his results didn’t do his performances justice, Swede Joakim Ljunggren returned to the Enduro 3 class podium in style in Argentina having battled his way to two well-deserved third place results. A rider that always enjoys the challenge of tough races, Joakim got exactly what he likes in San Juan as hot weather and four laps of a demanding course saw many competitors end the event fatigued and relieved to simply see the finish.
On day one Joakim rode consistently and managed not to make any costly mistakes. With both the enduro and extreme tests causing problems for many riders, Joakim was able to keep himself out of trouble and claimed his first podium result of the 2012 EWC series. But on day two Joakim was not only notable faster but much more competitive. Failing to mount any real challenge to day one runner-up David Knight, on day two Ljunggren overcame an early mistake on the extreme test to fight with Knight. Although not quite able to overpower the Manxman come the end of the day, Joakim closed to within less than one-second to place third as he had on day one.
Oriol Mena’s hopes of finishing on the podium as he had at the season opener in Chile didn’t work out quite as the Spaniard hoped they would. Placing sixth on both days, despite normally liking dry conditions the Spaniard wasn’t able to find his rhythm on the San Juan terrain.
In the Enduro 2 class Pela Renet placed fourth on both days, results the Frenchman was happy with. Hoping to repeat the class win he enjoyed on day two of the GP of Chile, Pela made too many mistakes to challenge for the podium on day one and found himself unable to match the pace of the E2 class leaders on day two.
Continuing his impressive form in the Enduro Junior class, Mathias Bellino was unlucky not to claim victory on day one in Argentina. Ending the day just five seconds behind winner Jonathan Manzi, Bellino lost precious time on the first timed enduro test when he caught a slower rider. Unable to see in his dust, Mathias nevertheless secured a solid second place result. Day two saw Mathias again place second. With Manzi setting a superb pace at the front of the class Bellino settled for the runner-up spot. With four days of racing complete Mathias leads the Enduro Junior class by 18 points.
Joakim Ljunggren: ‘I always enjoy tough races and this weekend has definitely been tough,’ commented Joakim. ‘I can’t really be too unhappy with third on both days, but I was so close to getting second on day two. I’ve really enjoyed the GP of Argentina. The tests were really good and I enjoyed battling with David Knight on day two. I made a few mistakes in the extreme test and David was able to pull away from me a little. Then, towards the end of the day, I started to catch him again. I pushed really hard in the final motocross test but it wasn’t quite enough. Second would have been nice but I’m pleased with my riding. Things didn’t go quite the way I hoped they would in Chile so it’s great to be back on the pace and on the podium on both days here in Argentina.’
Oriol Mena: ‘It’s not been as good a race for me as it was in Chile, but generally things were not too bad,’ confirmed Mena. ‘It’s been a very difficult race with the weather and the track, and the conditions weren’t really what I like. I had some crashes on the enduro and extreme tests and so to finish sixth on both days is a little disappointing, especially after being on the podium at the first race in Chile. But this can happen some times. I pushed hard on both days but my mistakes stopped me from getting better results. I know that I am generally riding well, so I am confident that when we get back to racing in Europe I can fight for the podium again.’
Pela Renet: ‘My result of fourth on both days wasn’t too bad but of course I wanted to be on the podium,’ explained Renet. ‘I made too many mistakes and crashed a few times on the first day, and on the second I just wasn’t fast enough to fight with the top three. I have to get faster racing on the stones. I am not slow, but I just don’t have the same pace as some of the riders I’m battling with. Generally, it’s been a tough weekend. I didn’t enjoy myself like I did in Chile, but the motocross test was good for me. It’s been a good two weeks in Chile and Argentina but I’m looking forward to racing in Europe again.’
Mathias Bellino: ‘I was not happy on the first day because I should have won. On the first timed enduro test I caught a slower Enduro 1 class rider and couldn’t see anything in his dust. I was very slow on that test. I was five seconds behind the winner, and I know that I lost much more than that behind the slower rider. Second place was my place on day two because Jonathan Manzi was faster than me. I’m not disappointed with second, because it’s more good points for my championship. It’s been a fantastic start to the series for me, so I am very happy about that.’