With round one of the Italian series in March cancelled due to heavy snowfall, the Bella Piazza marked an eagerly awaited start to the season. Following a week of inclement weather and many showery spells, the 111 competitors entered faced a challenging and testing event in Southern Italy.
Finding the wet and muddy conditions to his liking, Finland’s Juha Salminen (Husqvarna) was in confident form on day one. Making a steady start on the opening cross test, the eight times world champion quickly found his rhythm as he went on to set the fastest times in three of the day’s special tests. Topping the overall classification he also secured a solid win in the foreign riders category finishing ahead of fellow Finns Eero Remes (KTM) and Matti Seistola (Husqvarna). Although finishing fifth overall on day two, Salminen once again topped his class to place 15 seconds clear of Remes. Recovered from his difficult end to day one, Estonia’s Aigar Leok (TM) was third with Seistola in fourth.
A Noisy Exhaust Ruled Albergoni Out Of Overall Contention On Day One
Although setting the fastest time on the opening test of day one, HM Honda’s Simone Albergoni faced an uphill battle in Enduro 1 as he fought hard to recover a one-minute time penalty lost on check one due to a noisy exhaust. Fastest on the single lined enduro test on lap two, the Italian worked his way inside the top ten. Continuing to post some impressive times he eventually ended his day first in Enduro 1 and fourth in the overall classification. Alessio Paoli (Suzuki) ended day one in second with teammate Mattia Traversi in third.
After an early overall race lead, Under 23 sensation Giacomo Redondi (KTM) claimed victory in the 125 class.
Determined to make amends for his previous day’s misfortune, Albergoni proved unstoppable on day two as he repeated his Enduro 1 victory but this time also topped the overall classification. Bordone Ferrari’s Thomas Oldrati bounced back after his disappointing retirement on day one due to mechanical problems to finish second while Paoli finished in third.
Redondi once again claimed a commanding win in the 125 class.
Redondi Scored Some Impressive Results Both Days
KTM’s Jonathan Manzi was one of the surprise performers of day one as he chased home Salminen for second overall to win the Enduro 2 class. Behind Manzi, Beta’s Oscar Balletti finished second with Husqvarna’s Alex Salvini in third - who also incurred a one-minute noise penalty. Finding improved confidence in the drying conditions on day two, Salvini fended off a late charge from Manzi to secure the win in Enduro 2. Although topping the final extreme test on day two, Manzi ended his day as runner up with Balletti taking third.
In Enduro 3, Andrea Belotti (KTM) secured a double victory. KTM’s Mirko Gritti was second on day one ahead of Manuel Monni (KTM) while it was HM Honda’s Maurizio Micheluz that finished as runner up on day two ahead of Gritti in third.
The Italian Championship continues with round three on in Lumezzane, Brescia in northern Italy on June 2.
Results - Italian Championship Round One
1. Juha Salminen (Husqvarna) 52:23.88; 2. Jonathan Manzi (KTM) 53:02.53; 3. Oscar Balletti (Beta) 53:08.61; 4. Simone Albergoni (Honda) 53:26.00; 5. Eero Remes (KTM) 53:53.27; 6. Giacomo Redondi (KTM) 54:10.12; 7. Andrea Belotti (KTM) 54:24.92; 8. Alex Salvini (Husqvarna) 54:29.06; 9. Mirko Gritti (KTM) 54:45.83; 10. Fabio Mossini (KTM) 54:49.66…
1. Simone Albergoni (Honda) 36:34.85; 2. 2. Alex Salvini (Husqvarna) 36:43.88; 3. Jonathan Manzi (KTM) 36:52.21; 4. Thomas Oldrati (KTM) 36:52.39; 5. Juha Salminen (Husqvarna) 37:04.23; 6. Oscar Balletti (Beta) 37:12.75; 7. Eero Remes (KTM) 37:20.21; 8. Giacomo Redondi (KTM) 37:36.92; 9. Aigar Leok (TM) 37:37.93; 10. Matti Seistola (Husqvarna) 37:48.32…