Photo Credit: Gas Gas
Gas Gas mean business in 2018 with Christophe Nambotin switching to the Spanish manufacturer under Gio Sala leadership.
As the 2017 enduro season draws to a close, it seems Silly Season is in full swing.
And if rumours are to believed, then Gas Gas are strategically positioning themselves for a fighting 2018, while KTM shift their goal posts of enduro focus.
Confirmed last week, Gas Gas have acquired the services of enduro legend Gio Sala as Team Manager for the Gas Gas Enduro Factory Team.
Orange through and through, it’s come as a bolt out of the, well, red, to learn Sala signed with Gas Gas to lead the brand’s new project in EnduroGP.
Sala — a six-time World Champion, 52-time race winner and five-time winning member of the Italian ISDE team during his professional racing career — will no doubt bring a wealth of experience to the fold.
But the Gas Gas news doesn’t stop there.
Nambotin and Aubert to Gas Gas
While it’s yet to be officially confirmed, an additional two big names are signed up in the form of Christophe Nambotin and Johnny Aubert, to join the already confirmed Antoine Bassett.
No stranger to Gas Gas, Nambotin returns to the team he originally spent the early half of his professional career with to head up their EnduroGP assault.
The Frenchman raced with Gas Gas up until 2011, before switching to KTM, where he won his three world titles between 2012 and 2014.
In addition to Nambotin is news that Johnny Aubert could also be moving to the Spanish manufacturer.
Having laid low for 2017 following his departure from Beta, Aubert is believed to be focusing on the French national enduro and classic events, while also investing time in their rally programme.
Remember, Aubert raced the Dakar Rally in 2012 with a good degree of success, so the fit with Gas Gas looks right.
Photo Credit: Future7Media
KTM shifting enduro focus?
With the departure of Nambotin from KTM, it adds further fuel to the fire that KTM are undergoing changes for 2018.
Rumours are now wildfire that KTM (and Husqvarna) are withdrawing from competing at full capacity in the EnduroGP World Championship.
It’s believed they have become disillusioned with the both the direction it's taken and level of exposure it’s receiving.
What’s believed what could happen is that KTM and Husqvarna may hand pick the enduro events that offer maximum importance and exposure from a pool of eight riders (four KTM and four Husqvarna), covering traditional and hard enduro.
That could mean a factory front at a mixture of races like Erzberg, Romaniacs, French classics like Trefle Lozerien, select EnduroGP like Lake Päijänne and the Weston Beach Race just passed.
A partnership with Red Bull is also on the cards for this too, but with Rockstar Energy currently supporting Husqvarna, that rumour still requires a bit of head scratching.
FIM want traditional enduro to remain
It’s ruffled feathers at the FIM with Chairman of the Enduro Committee Jean-Guillaume Meiller stating to Motoverte that KTM are pushing for “Red Bull” styled races, whereas they (FIM) are trying to keep committed to traditional enduro.
It’s hoped that at this weekend’s EnduroGP final round of 2017, we can bring more news on this, but one thing’s for sure Silly Season is most definitely in full swing for enduro.
Robert LynnEnduro21 Editorrobert@future7media.com