HEWC Rnd 1: Extreme XL Lagares – Let’s do this!
The opening round of the 2021 Hard Enduro World Championship has arrived at last with three days of action at Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal this weekend. With no form book and only one major extreme race in 18 months, victory at the inaugural HEWC event is anyone’s for the taking.
It arrives a full 18 months after Manuel Lettenbichler won the World Championship formerly known as WESS in November 2019. Some are calling this weekend a historic moment in our sport. At Enduro21 we’re just calling it a goddam relief to finally be witnessing some topflight Extreme Enduro action on the infamous rocky riverbeds of Lagares.
Who’s got this?
It is your guess. Honestly. There are many factors at play in this twisted plot not least that the leading riders have not been racing much, if at all. In some cases that is not since Romaniacs last year. Sure, the time off due to cancelled events has meant plenty of practice for all but practice all you like, there’s nothing like real racing to sharpen the mind and body.
Of those potential race winners, Mario Roman and Jonny Walker have notched up some Spanish Hard Enduro Championship racing but not since March for Mario and January for Jonny.
Manuel Lettenbichler and Wade Young both contested the Italian Enduro Championship last month, as did Alfredo Gomez and Pol Tarres in the Spanish Enduro series but it was hardly Hard Enduro.
There is one notable exception here, the new Jarvis Husqvarna Racing Team rider, Teodor Kabakchiev. The Bulgarian has raced in the Spanish Hard Enduro series, hopped over to the USA for the RevLimiter AMA Extreme and then last weekend popped up in the UK at the Extreme Ravines British Extreme Enduro Championship. No pressure Teodor!
2021 Lagares form book – pick a winner:
- As the 2019 WESS Champion and 2020 Red Bull Romaniacs winner, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manual Lettenbichler naturally starts as one of the favourites. Mani knows what the podium looks like in Portugal but as the event promoters point out, there are some formidable forces lined-up at this race who are no slouches on these lethal rocks.
- If form makes you formidable then Mario Roman has to also be a favourite to match his impressive win the last time the Lagares ran in 2019. His teammate Wade Young is also a past winner, in 2017, and finished as runner-up in 2019.
- Billy Bolt won Lagares in 2018 and went on to take the WESS title in the same year. Bolt is not the only Rockstar Husqvarna rider to have won here however. Alfredo Gomez and of course Graham Jarvis, have won in Portugal previously – Jarvis has the most wins of anyone at this event.
- Between the Sherco and the Husky boys, the rivalry within the teams should be enough to inspire some fireworks.
- Jonny Walker will make his long-awaited major race debut on the Vision Track Beta. Walker is an obvious threat for podium honours and is fired-up on the 300 two-stroke Beta.
- Taddy Blazusiak is joined by Michael Walkner in the GASGAS official team this season and given the amount of development the Austrian two-strokes (KTM, Husqvarna and GASGAS) between the old WESS bikes and now, we’re expecting a different Taddy.
- That’s not to mention Mr Showtime, Pol Tarres who will be well-worth keeping an eye on as he rolls out on a ‘Trece racing Society’ Yamaha YZ 250 two-stroke for the first time.
- Pol’s former team, the TTR Squadra Corse have three riders: Travis Teasdale, Kevin Gallas and Azzalini Alessandro this year on GASGAS machinery. Travis looks fired up and ready to prove some doubters wrong and Kevin has some form at Lagares too.
- Jarvis Husqvarna Racing is a new team to watch for in 2021 with Teodor Kabakchiev, Will Hoare and Jonathan Richardson each capable of making a mark high on the scoresheets – Hoare pipped his new teammates last weekend at a British Extreme race.
- The wealth of talent capable of mixing it in the top 10 also includes the likes of Suff Sella, David Leonov, Tim Apolle and Leon Hentschel.
2021 Extreme XL Lagares Schedule
The 2021 Extreme XL Lagares will see the FIM World Championship category compete in three events over two days with an Endurocross race and mountain time-trial Prologue on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s Main Race.
Non-championship riders will take to the Endurocross track on Friday, followed by the Saturday Prologue and those who qualify will join the World Championship competitors on the start line for Sunday’s action.
Sadly this year, due to Covid restrictions, there will be no showpiece street prologue in the historic quarter of Porto city.
Thursday May 6
09:00 - 24:00: Technical and documental verifications. Covid Testing
12:00 - 24:00: Bikes in Parc Ferme
Friday May 7
09.00 - 17.00: Amateur riders Endurocross races
Saturday May 8
08.00 - 12.00: HEWC Pro riders Endurocross races
14.00 - 16.00: Amateur riders Prologue qualification
16.00 - 18.00: HEWC Pro riders Prologue qualification
Sunday May 9
10.00: Main Race + Podium from 17:00
Enduro21 will bring you all the results, news and videos across the weekend, stay tuned.
Photo Credit: Future7Media