Like always the beginning of a championship brings with a new sense of excitement and anticipation. Who has upped their game during the off-season and who will come out swinging when the start gates drops for the very first time are questions everybody asks.
With that in mind here’s our breakdown of those we expect to figure highly in Lodz…
Taddy Blazusiak (KTM)
As the defending FIM SuperEnduro World champion, KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak is the rider everyone will be aiming to beat. The Polish rider is fresh off another successful defence of the AMA EnduroCross Championship in the US. Claiming a staggering six consecutive victories during the second half of the season, Blazusiak easily wrapped up his fourth AMA EnduroCross title at the final round of the season in Las Vegas. Now with race-winning momentum on his side and the full support of his home crowd behind him, the greatest endurocross rider of all time will be a tough act to beat in Poland.
Jonny Walker (KTM)
Of those hungry for success is Jonny Walker. The young Brit became the revelation of the 2012 series when he ended it was runner up to Blazusiak. Starting the season relatively unproven in endurocross, the KTM rider surprised everyone by securing a top five result at round one in Italy before collecting his first ever world championship podium in Poland. Grabbing a main event win at the final round in Spain, Walker rounded out his debut season second overall in the championship. Now with a full year of experience behind him and a lucrative factory contract with KTM in his hand, Walker has his sights set firmly on pushing Blazusiak off his perch.
Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg)
For Husaberg’s Joakim Ljunggren last year was a bittersweet season. Starting off extremely strong with a podium result in Italy, the Swede was favourite to end the year as the second best to Blazusiak. However, round two in Poland told a different story. Bad starts held him back and the Husaberg rider couldn’t react to challenge set by the vastly improved Walker. Although ending the night in third place he slipped back to third overall in the championship chase behind Blazusiak and Walker and it ultimately became a position he wouldn’t recover from. For the 2013 series he’s made big changes. Switching to the FE 350, Ljunggren is hoping the smoother power delivery of the four-stroke is just what he needs to bag better starts and challenge for the top step of the podium.
Alfredo Gomez (Husaberg)
In what was his debut season of endurocross, Spain’s Alfredo Gomez delivered some notable standout results in 2012. But unlike fellow rookie Walker, his progress was hampered by numerous crashes, the biggest of which came during a training crash before round two in Poland. Suffering a huge get-off, the Husaberg rider was hospitalised just days before the race began. But by showing incredible grit and determination, despite his severely bruised arm, the former trials rider still managed to race. Fully mended for his home race in Barcelona, Gomez fought hard and almost wrestled a race win away from Walker. As a rider that’s fast, skilful and definitely not afraid to get into the mix of things, he’s one to watch in Lodz.
David Knight (Honda)
As a former endurocross champion on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, David Knight is a rider with a proven pedigree indoors. He’s also one of the few riders to have ever beaten Taddy Blazusiak and he’s eager to do it again. How well he has adapted to his new Honda is unknown but based on talent alone, the Manxman could easily end his night on the podium – but on what step?
Add in riders like Germany’s Mike Hartmann (Husaberg), Italy’s Thomas Oldrati (Husaberg) and France’s Christophe Bruand (Gas Gas) amongst others and the stage is set for an action packed season opener inside the Atlas Arena.
Who’ll win is a question that remains unanswered but one thing that’s certain is Enduro21 will be there to capture the action every step of the way.