Although feeling less than 100 per cent ready for the ninth edition of Italy’s #1 extreme enduro having only days earlier flown back to Europe following his winning performance in the Kings of the Motos event in the States, Graham quickly showed exactly why many had him down as the rider to beat.
Although not winning the morning qualifying race Graham’s second place result ensured a front row starting position for the main race, which he capitalised on during the first lap when he moved past Walker and into the lead. After that Graham’s pace simply proved too strong for his rivals as he maintain his lead at the front before claiming a well deserved second Hell’s Gate victory.
Appearing anything but fatigued once into the lead Graham quickly opened up a three-minute advantage. Looking like he would go on and increase his lead over the world-class field, a rare mistake from the Brit resulted in a forced pit stop to replace a bent gear lever. Graham eventually finished four minutes ahead of Jonny Walker.
For Walker the 2012 Hell’s Gate event started well with a winning ride in the morning qualifying event. 40 seconds ahead of pre-race favourite Jarvis, Walker claimed the holeshot and lead for the opening half of the first lap as the main event got underway. Making a small mistake and stalling his KTM, Jonny dropped to second as Jarvis took control at the front. Crashing soon after, which cost him yet more time, Jonny was unable to get himself back in contention for the win. Nevertheless, were Graham to have made a mistake Jonny was the only rider that realistically could have challenged for the win.
Joining Husaberg team-mate Jarvis on the podium, and in doing so claiming his first ever Hell’s Gate top three result, was Xavi Galindo. Forced to work his way forward after starting the main event in around eighth position, Xavi steadily worked his way past the majority of the riders ahead of him.
Enjoying the course, which many agreed was slightly easier than in past years, Xavi arrived in Italy without his regular mechanic who had been admitted to hospital the Friday before the event. Undeterred the plucky Spaniard upped his game and quickly moved inside the top five before maintaining an impressive pace that saw him secure third, finishing the race just 16 minutes behind winner Jarvis.
Graham Jarvis – Husaberg: ‘Getting a second win here at Hell’s Gate is great, but the event didn’t start quite as well as I hoped it would. I made a few mistakes during the morning’s qualifying race and generally didn’t quite feel 100 per cent having only recently flown back from the States. I felt a little fatigued before the start but once I got a couple of laps under my belt I felt ok.
‘The main event started well and after getting in front of Jonny I put in a couple of good laps. But then on the third lap I had a bad lap and a crash that resulted in a bent gear lever. I had to stop at the end of that lap and change it so things were tight between myself and Jonny. I put in two more good laps, with no mistakes, and managed to keep myself out front. It was hard to make up any real time but you could easily lose time with a fall. It was all about being consistent really, which apart from by one mistake I managed to do.
‘The race was really different to last year. There was a lot less water in the rivers and that made things easier. It certainly wasn’t easy but there were no majorly difficult sections. The extra lap made it tough though. After what happened a few years ago when I lead right up until the final climb I wasn’t taking anything for granted. I didn’t ease off until I got to the top of the very last hill. I was expecting Jonny to push me hard, which he did, but I enjoyed the competition. It’s great to win again and keep the good start I’ve had to 2012 going.’
Jonny Walker – KTM: ‘It’s been a great event for me, I’m well chuffed to be here on the podium in second. I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to win as I feel that my speed was good enough, but I made a few mistakes and Graham rode great. I got a good start but couldn’t get away from Graham, and then I made a small mistake that enabled him to get past me. I was trying to catch him again when I made a mistake on one of the down hills and crashed. I lost quite a lot of time then and Graham was able to get away. I found things a lot easier than last year but I guess I knew what to expect and was a lot better prepared. It was hard enough though. The morning race went really well, it was nice to win that. I didn’t push too hard so I could save as much energy as possible for the main race. All in all it’s been a great event, I’ve really enjoyed it.’
Xavi Gallindo - Husaberg: ‘It’s a fantastic feeling to have finally arrived on the podium at Hell’s Gate. I really rode hard last year to try and get on the podium but this year I did it. My mechanic had to go to hospital on Friday so he wasn’t able to travel to Italy with me, so this result is for him. It was a long, tough race for me because I started eighth or ninth and had to work my way past a lot of riders. I just tried to keep pushing and to not make too many mistakes. I didn’t have any major problems during the race, which was good. I had a lot of Spanish people supporting me, which really helped. To get on the podium is fantastic.’
Results – Hell’s Gate 2012 main event
1. Graham Jarvis (Husaberg) 5 laps; 2. Jonny Walker (KTM) + 4.02 minutes; 3. Xavi Gallindo (Husaberg) + 16.23 minutes; 4. Cody Webb (Beta) + 21.50 minutes; 5. Andreas Lettenbichler (Husqvarna) + 23.24 minutes…
Results – Hell’s Gate 2012 morning race
1. Jonny Walker (KTM) 41.50:15; 2. Graham Jarvis (Husaberg) 42.31:57; 3. Alessandro Botturi (KTM) 43.36:69; 4. Cody Webb (Beta) 43.41:13; 5. Dougie Lampkin (Gas Gas) 44.33:88; 6. Andreas Lettenbichler (Husqvarna) 44.37:44; 7. Xavi Gallindo (Husaberg) 44.39:12; 8. Paul Bolton (KTM) 45.58:08; 9. Piero Sembinini (Beta) 46.21:31; 10. Maurizio Lenzi (KTM) 47.39:44…