The paddock area used for the GP of Portugal was one of the best ever. Situated at the town’s local exhibition centre, the location offered ample parking for all the team trucks as well as the KTM super test. A trade village was also set up with stands ranging from motorcycle manufactures to local graffiti artists spray-painting murals. In between all of that was a skateboard park with local skateboarders and BMX’ers throwing out some kickflips and 180’s on a half pipe.
Carbon Copy Specials
Although the standard of the EWC in Portugal was extremely high, many riders felt the enduro test lacked a little imagination. With both the cross test and the enduro test situated in the same location, organisers used one half of the field to mark out the high speed cross test that incorporated some jumps. With the enduro test starting on the other side of the field, it was effectively a carbon copy of the cross test giving many of the former motocross riders a real advantage throughout the weekend.
The opening obstacle on the Friday’s super test caused quite a stir with competitors. Organiser’s set up two skips toe-to-tail with the second skip upside down, presenting an opportunity for riders to jump across the first skip onto the flat top of the other. With the majority feeling the risk was not the worth the reward only a few people opted for the somewhat dangerous fast line. Showing his peers just how it should be done, Italy’s Davide Soreca in the Enduro Youth Cup was first to launch his Yamaha across the gap, much to the astonishment of just about everybody present.
The rocky Portuguese terrain quickly took its toll on competitors with some notable retirements at the end of lap one. Enduro 1 championship leader Antoine Meo saw his chances of a possible perfect season evaporate when he holed the engine casing of his KTM on the first extreme test on day one. Although carrying some liquid metal to repair the crack, his KTM had already lost too much oil. Sensibly retiring to repair the damage, Meo then returned to the top of the podium with victory on day two.
Gas Gas’ Ivan Cervantes was another rider that failed to see the end of lap one on day one. With his bike developing a miss fire during the dry and dusty enduro test, Cervantes soon ground to a halt. However, his misfortune would continue on day two when he recorded his worst result of season with tenth in Enduro 2.
As part of the clubs ethos of promoting the reduction of carbon gasses in motor sport, some of the enduro world championship competitors gathered for the official opening a newly planted forest park while also helping to plant a few trees themselves. Riders present included Christophe Nambotin (KTM), Pela Renet (Husaberg), Goncalo Reis (Gas Gas), Jessica Gardiner (Yamaha) and the Bordone Ferrari team of Thomas Oldrati, Jonathan Manzi, and Eduaro D’Ambrosio plus Laia Sanz (Gas Gas).
The super slick organisers – Clube Ecomotor – also had on hand a qualified masseur on hand for competitors. Stretching and massaging tired limbs into shape at the end of each day, most riders remarked at how beneficial the service was to their progress the following day and hoped it could continue for the rest of the season
Along with being hard on bikes, the GP of Portugal was equally hard on bodies. Italy’s Simone Albergoni was an early casualty on day one when he crashed heavily during the opening cross test. As first rider to enter the test, the HM Honda rider landed into a crowd of spectators on the blind side of a jump when he mistimed his landing. Tumbling down the track, the pint sized Italian cracked a bone in his elbow while his Honda collided with a spectator breaking their shinbone.
Husqvarna’s Lorenzo Santolino was another rider to end day one at the GP of Portugal in cast. Hitting his foot violently on a rock during the technical extreme test, the Spaniard initially thought he had just badly sprained his foot. Although in pain, Santolino fritted his teeth to claim a ninth place finish in Enduro 1 and a tyre change before being carried back to the medical centre to get checked out. X-rays revealed that the Spaniard had indeed fractured the bone on the side of his foot and immediately set it in cast.
Both riders now face a race against time to be fit for the GP of Italy in 45 days time.