The Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship had it all at round two in Valpacos, Portugal. From the Super Test on Friday night to two long and physical days of racing in spectacular landscape (that occasionally bit back...).

While the winners across the classes naturally grabbed the limelight, regular readers will know Enduro21 likes to find the talking points floating around the Valpacos paddock post-race – here’s our take on the highs and lows of the weekend.

Dislocated shoulder? Nieve Holmes just pops it back in herself

At most rounds of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship there are heroic moments from the riders and, unfortunately, a few injuries. Team KBS Sherco rider Nieve Holmes’ story from Valpacos is definitely up there.

During the second Extreme Test the former European Enduro Champion dislocated her shoulder but instead of limping off like most of us would, she not only completed the test, but continued with her day to finish eighth. Hats off to you Nieve (with a good arm, obvs).


Portugal rocks

Speaking of shoulders, the north of Portugal has a unique and impressively rocky landscape which plenty of riders were rubbing shoulders with at times.

The Extreme Test in Valpacos took advantage of the giant boulders and rugged terrain with a special test that was highly challenging. Taking three of the fastest times from a possible six, Honda Racing RedMoto Enduro Team’s Steve Holcombe showed he had the measure of everyone when the clock was ticking.


Time penalties take affect, or not?

The Friday Super Test had most watching on the edge of their seats on Friday night in Valpacos. Riders push hard, always, but when the track is tight and places to make up time are few, well, sometimes they push it too far.

Last Friday that meant a few incurred time penalties as FIM officials were quick to hand out 10-seconds for some minor off-track excursions. Those included to Zach Pichon, Samuele Bernardini, Nathan Watson and Brad Freeman.

With the Super Test actually forming part of the overall time for day one, Saturday, they all had to start with that additional 10s penalty although at the end of day one, it was Freeman who had recovered best of the four riders to take fourth overall.


Fast-forward to the final test on Sunday and Hamish Macdonald had a fast crash, by his own account knocking himself out momentarily and curtailing what looked like being a top five overall and his best result of the season.

This time however the FIM officials weren’t so fast to take a decision, despite the riders immediately following in the test all being affected by Hamish and his bike strewn across the track.

Rewind two years to a very similar scenario at the Italian GP when Josep Garcia crashed big-time, causing that test to be cancelled for the EnduroGP class to make it fair for the affected riders behind.

With riders completing the test (in both cases despite being knocked out) when that Italian GP test was cancelled everyone’s time was annulled, including Josep’s which meant the result stood despite the loss of time. If that had been the case in Valpacos Hamish would still have finished in fifth and won E3.

A lot of riders are friends, at least friendly, as well as rivals and no-one following Macdonald wasn’t going to be affected by seeing him sparked out on the floor. It seems only fair they shouldn’t be penalised, doesn’t it? There are world championships at stake here…

Fast Eddy Racing 

One team enjoying an impressive start to the 2024 Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship is Fast Eddy Racing. The privateer British outfit has fielded a very strong team of former world champions this season of Jamie McCanney, Mikael Persson and Harry Edmondson who are consistently in the hunt with the factory-backed riders for the podiums.

Claiming his first EnduroGP top five of 2024 on day two in Valpacos, McCanney lies sixth overall. Missing the Enduro1 podium only once so far this season, he’s currently third in class too.

It’s a get well soon to the unfortunate Persson, however, who looked like claiming his best result of the year on day one only to have it end in pain. A suspected ruptured Achilles tendon forced the Swede to sit out day two and he now faces a race to recover.


Tied on time

The racing at rounds one and two of the ’24 season was super tight. The outcome of the podium in the majority of classes was decided by only a handful of seconds – further down the order it became fractions of seconds.

But one result that really caught our eye on day one in Valpacos was between Fast Eddy Racing’s Mikael Persson and Fantic Racing Team’s Albin Norrbin. The duo tied on time in EnduroGP for eighth and ninth – although this was affected by persson’s injury it must be said.

Still, after over one hour and 13 minutes of timed special test racing, the pair of Swedes finished their day on the same 100th of a second.

Bent bars but battling on

There were plenty of tumbles throughout the weekend in Valpacos as riders came unstuck on the tricky Portuguese tests. Beta Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson had a nose-dive which modified his bike’s front end to look more like a Beta Alp.

Later, Watson’s day ended early when he broke a set of handlebars on the penultimate test – one spotter on the test told us, “I saw Nathan’s bike coming towards me without a Nathan onboard!”



On day two, Josep Garcia was close to a similar fate when he badly bent his handlebars in the middle of the first Enduro Test. Despite his handlebars looking even lower than the Spaniard already normally has them, and a large section of the test still to complete, Josep still managed to post the sixth-fastest time, and went on to take third in EnduroGP overall.


Come on, have a go in the Open World Cup class

The Enduro Open categories were also racing in Valpacos and if you speak to any of the organisers, promoters or FIM officials about it they all wish they could see more entries.

As well as a way of giving local riders in each nation the series visits a chance to race without the commitment, it serves as a stepping stone for amateur riders into the World Championship. A place to make a mark.

Open class riders race the exact same course as the main classes, albeit to a shorter and more relaxed time schedule.

There are three categories: Open 2stroke World Cup, Open 4stroke World Cup and Open Senior World Cup for riders to compete in. In total, the best eight results count towards the end of season overall classification.


The Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship continues with round three in Bacau, Romania, May 10-12.


Photo Credit: Future7Media | Andrea Belluschi