Top 3 split by a second at opening European Enduro round
A final test showdown on both days at opening round of the 2022 European Enduro Championship in Italy saw one second separate the top three riders – Erik Willems takes the overall narrowly from Dan Mundell.
The 2022 Enduro European Championship kicked-off on Saturday March 19 in the city of Pietramontecorvino with 112 riders from 15 different nations facing two days of cold and mud.
The course in the hills around Pietramontecorvino, three quarters of the way down the Italian boot flanks, contained just two tests per lap after one had to be cancelled because of white stuff falling out the skies and subsequent mud.
The Eleveit Enduro Test located within the first time check, and the Airoh Cross Test at the end of the second time check but plenty of mud greeted riders as the opened the show on Saturday morning.
Three riders within one second...
Italian Enrico Rinaldi had been leading until the end but the reigning European Junior Champion was not fast enough in the Cross test and that allowed his competitors, Belgian Erik Willems and the Briton Dan Mundell, to close right in as they faced the final test.
All three riders were separated by just seven seconds throughout the day and in the end, it was less than a single second at the final timing beam.
“I used all my motocross experience and made up over six seconds,” explained Belgian Willems after snatching the opening day win in E2 class and overall. The 23-year-old switched from motocross to enduro only two years ago and the skills are clearly still there.
British Beta rider Mundell was the British meat in the Belgian and Italian sandwich. Dan was just 0.41 seconds behind Willems and three hundredths of a second in front of 2022 Junior champion Rinaldi.
Mundell struggled in the over 10-minute long Eleveit Enduro test with slower riders in front of him: “I had such a late start time, I had to overtake four to five riders each test.” Dan explains.
Overall results, day one:
On the second day of the opening round the victory was again decided only on the very last special test.
After a heavy crash in the first enduro test of the day, reigning champion and local boy Enrico Rinaldi lost almost half a minute and had to fight his way through to third place overall – it was a case of what could have been for the GASGAS rider.
At the front, the previous day’s winner Erik Willems from Belgium was leading all day but in the last Enduro test, “was just playing it safe, but maybe a little too safe,” Willems said afterwards.
It allowed Dan Mundell to take the scratch overall lead, just half a second ahead as they set about the final Cross test. It made for another exciting finale to the day.
Willems again showed his motocross skills and won the last test by less than two seconds ahead of Mundell, which was enough to turn the tide in his favour once again. Both riders won their respective classes (E2 and E3) and Willems goes to the second round in Hungary as the overall leader.
A new E1 class classification saw Maurizio Micheluz was thrown into the same class as the four-stroke riders on his 250cc two-stroke Husqvarna. But the FIM track inspector at the EnduroGP world championship and ISDE still topped his class podium and is aiming for his 14th championship.
Holmes takes Women’s Class win
Nieve Holmes won by a clear margin on both days in Pietramontecorvino. The British rider on the Sherco got pipped by Frenchwoman Marine Lemoine by a few seconds in the cross tests but Nieve mastered the demanding enduro test by at least a minute faster than the other ladies to take a clear class win.
Juniors in the mix on day one
Junior 1 class was dominated by the Italian Carlo Minot riding a TM to fourth place scratch. With the exception of the first special ,where he lost 2.48 seconds, Minot was fastest in all the special tests.
Simone Cristini was another rider leaving it until the last special to claim first position in J1 on day two though as Minot faded. Frenchman Killian Lunier was only 1.5 seconds slower overall with Minot taking third.
New 50cc class struggle in the mud!
Italian Luca Piersigilli won the new 50cc Trophy class on his Beta. This class is only contesting the opening round in Italy this year which means 15-year-old Piersigilli is crowned the new champion already.
Of the total of five young riders in class, only two riders were classified in the end because the terrain had simply proved too difficult, both for the small-displacement bikes and for the inexperienced riders. Still, it is a start and here’s hoping the new class will grow in the near future, the sport needs it.
Overall results, day two:
Photo Credit: Robert Pairan