Marking the halfway point in the 2012 season, day one at the GP of Portugal was full of surprises as the series saw new winners emerge and championship contenders retire.
KTM’s Johnny Aubert finally returned to his winning ways with a commanding victory in Enduro 2. HM Honda’s Rodrig Thain secured his first win of 2012 in Enduro 1 while Gas Gas’ Ludivine Puy beat her teammate Laia Sanz to top the Women’s Cup.
However, it was the retirement of Enduro 1 championship leader Antoine Meo (KTM) that became the biggest talking point of day one. Damaging his engine casings on the liaison section on lap one, the Frenchman was forced to stop. Italy’s Simone Albergoni (HM Honda) was next to follow him when he crashed heavily on the second Cross Test, while in Enduro 2 Spain’s Ivan Cervantes ended his day early on lap one after a technical issue with his Gas Gas.
Victory for Rodrig Thain on day one in Portugal ©Enduro21.com
Taking advantage of the early departures of Antoine Meo and Simone Albergoni, France’s Rodrig Thain battle his way to the front of the field in Enduro 1 at the end of lap two. Setting some impressive times in the technically demanding Extreme Test, the HM Honda rider held off the late charge by Finland’s Eero Remes (KTM) to win the day.
“I have been waiting for this moment all year,” commented Thain. “When Meo and Albergoni retired I knew that I needed to attack and take advantage of the situation. I’m so happy to have finally won a race - it’s been a big relief to win.”
Charging hard towards the end of the race, KTM’s Remes was also determined to capitalise on the day’s early retirements. However, falling just five seconds short of victory, Remes had to be content with second. After a tough battle with France’s Fabien Planet (Sherco) for third place, Finland’s Matti Seistola (Husqvarna) put in his best performance of his season to claim the third step of the podium.
Setting the fastest time in the KTM Super Test, Planet finished fourth, just two seconds behind Seistola, while Jeremy Joly (Yamaha) secured fifth.
KTM's Johnny Aubert claimed his first win of 2012 in Enduro 2 ©Enduro21.com
Johnny Aubert (KTM) firmly stamped his authority on day one in Enduro 2 in Portugal. Making a fast start to the morning, the KTM rider quickly opened up a ten-second lead at the end of lap two. Fastest on the Cross Test, Aubert maintained his advantage to secure his first victory of 2012.
“Everything went excellent today,” confirmed Aubert. “I felt very comfortable with my bike and was able to lead the race early on. It’s nice to finally get my first victory of the season.”
After his double victory just one week earlier in Spain, France’s Pierre-Alexandre Renet (Husaberg) finished 20 seconds behind Aubert. Unable to match the pace set by the KTM rider, Renet maintains his championship lead with the runner up position. In only his second race in 2012, France’s Jeremy Tarroux (KTM) has already recorded his first podium result by finishing in third place on day one in Portugal.
Ending his day fourth, Finland’s Juha Salminen (Husqvarna) finished a very slender one-second behind Tarroux. Spain’s Cristobal Guerrero (KTM) placed just two hundredths of a second behind Salminen to end his day in fifth.
Seb Guillaume produced a standout ride to finish second in Enuduro 3 ©Enduro21.com
In Enduro 3 it was France’s Christophe Nambotin (KTM) who once again lead the way. Winning all of day one’s special tests bar the KTM Super Test, Nambotin comfortably placed almost 90 seconds clear of Gas Gas’s Sebastien Guillaume.
“It’s great to win again but it was a tough race for me,” remarked Nambotin. “I struggled to find a comfortable rhythm on the very dry and dusty Cross Test but in the Extreme Test I could set a fast pace. I must also thank my teammate David Knight for his very generous help. I drowned my bike in the river crossing during the final liaison section and if it wasn’t for his help it may not have been possible to finish.”
With Nambotin the clear winner of Enduro 3, it was Guillaume that claimed second overall. Setting an incredibly fast time in the final Cross Test of the day, Guillaume secured his first podium result with Gas Gas. Returning to the top three for the first time since round one in Chile, Estonia’s Aigar Leok (TM) finished two tenths of a second behind Guillaume for third.
Spain’s Oriol Mena (Husaberg) put in a solid ride to finish fourth while Finland’s Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) completed the top five.
Gas Gas' Danny McCanney just missed a podium result by two seconds to place fourth in Enduro Junior ©Enduro21.com
Proving to be a rider very much on top form, France’s Mathias Bellino (Husaberg) recorded another winning result in Enduro Junior. Making his way to the podium for the first time in 2012, Italy’s Rudi Moroni (KTM) beat Spain’s Mario Roman (KTM) to finish in second place. With Roman securing third, Britain’s Danny McCanney (Gas Gas) produced another strong result to finish fourth. Argentina’s Kevin Benavides (KTM) rounded out the top five.
Claiming his sixth win of the season, Italy’s Giacomo Redondi (KTM) was the clear winner of the Enduro Youth Cup. Portugal’s Luis Oliveira (Yamaha) ended day one at his home race on the podium with second place while Guido Conforti (Yamaha) completed the top five.
France’s Ludivine Puy (Gas Gas) returned to her winning ways by clinching victory in the Women’s Cup. Beating her rival and teammate Spain’s Laia Sanz by less than three seconds, day one was a perfect start to her GP of Portugal. With Sanz finishing second, France’s Blandine Dufrene (Husaberg) finished third with Juliette Berrez (TM) and Audrey Rossat (KTM) completing the top five.
GP of Portugal – Day One
1. Rodrig Thain (HM Honda) 55:25.10; 2. Eero Remes (KTM) 55:31.02; 3. Matti Seistola (Husqvarna) 55:50.04; 4. Fabien Planet (Sherco) 55:52.21; 5. Jeremy Joly (Yamaha) 55:56.59; 6. Nicolas Deparrois (Kawasaki) 56:13.71; 7. Thomas Oldrati (KTM) 56:55.93; 8. Goncalo Reis (Gas Gas) 56:58.81; 9. Lorenzo Santolino (Husqvarna) 57:00.42; 10. Antti Hellsten (TM) 57:22.80…
1. Johnny Aubert (KTM) 54:40.22; 2. Pierre-Alexandre Renet (Husaberg) 55:01.67; 3. Jeremy Tarroux (KTM) 55:10.55; 4. Juha Salminen (Husqvarna) 55:11.95; 5. Cristobal Guerrero (KTM) 55:11.97; 6. Luis Correia (Yamaha) 55:48.63; 7. Alex Salvini (Husqvarna) 55:54.30; 8. Oscar Balletti (Beta) 56:13.66; 9. Jordan Rose (TM) 56:21.10; 10. Armand Monleon (KTM) 56:43.34…
1. Christophe Nambotin (KTM) 54:31.47; 2. Sebastien Guillaume (Gas Gas) 55:58.97; 3. Aigar Leok (TM) 55:59.09; 4. Oriol Mena (Husaberg) 56:07.61; 5. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 56:07.61; 6. Maurizio Micheluz (HM Honda) 56:25.27; 7. David Knight (KTM) 56:52.35; 8. Marcus Kehr (KTM) 56:57.44; 9. Marko Tarkkala (Beta) 57:04.06; 10. Christophe Robert (Husaberg) 57:17.38…
1. Mathias Bellino (Husaberg) 55:25.34; 2. Rudi Moroni (KTM) 56:35.43; 3. Mario Roman (KTM) 56:44.38; 4. Danny McCanney (Gas Gas) 56:46.50; 5. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 56:47.68; 6. Jonathan Manzi (KTM) 56:57.33; 7. Arnau Sola (Yamaha) 57:27.03; 8. Alexandre Queyreyre (Yamaha) 57:50.80; 9. Kevin Rohmer (Yamaha) 57:53.67; 10. Alex Rockwell (Husaberg) 58:01.98..
Enduro Youth Cup:
1. Giacomo Redondi (KTM) 56:45.61; 2. Luis Olivera (Yamaha) 57:14.21; 3. Guido Conforti (Yamaha) 58:26.44; 4. Kirian Mirabet (KTM) 58:39.24; 5. Matteo Bresolin (Husaberg) 58:52.50; 6. Nicolo Bruschi (HM Honda) 59:23.16; 7. Davide Soreca (Yamaha) 59:46.95; 8. Mattia Giulietti (Husaberg) 1:00:12.91; 9. Carles Salsench (KTM) 1:00:57.89; 10. Andrea Castellana (HM Honda) 1:01:00.66…
1. Ludivine Puy (Gas Gas) 41:46.56; 2. Laia Sanz (Gas Gas) 41:49.50; 3. Blandine Dufrene (Husaberg) 45:08.41; 4. Juliette Berrez (TM) 45:56.83; 5. Audrey Rossat (KTM) 46:01.87; 6. Jemma Wilson (Yamaha) 50:50.73; 7. Jessica Jonsson (Gas Gas) 53:03.38; 8. Jessica Gardiner (Yamaha) 1:02:07.81