Hixpania Hard Enduro – HEWC title decider or not?
Who will become the 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Champion should be decided after the final hillclimb in Aguila de Campoo this weekend. But there’s a huge question mark hanging over the HEWC series outcome which will only be addressed long after the engines have cooled at Hixpania Hard Enduro, and not by the riders on track but by the FIM.
Why? Because following the conflicting decisions made by officials during rounds three and five of the 2022 Hard Enduro World Championship, Erzbergrodeo and Romaniacs, and a subsequent protest by Sherco, the winner of the Hard Enduro World Championship will remain in doubt until the FIM addresses the issue next month.
In case you missed the controversy this season, Graham Jarvis got disqualified at Erzberg for receiving outside assistance in fixing his Husqvarna not far off the start line. He tried for an hour, eventually got his bike going with a bit of help and went on to finish inside the top 10 only to be disqualified later and score no points.
Two rounds later in Romania, Manuel Lettenbichler suffered serious clutch problems while leading on day one and also had to make mechanical repairs on the course. Unlike Graham though, Mani was docked a two-hour time penalty despite having also received outside help to fix his KTM. Mani put in a remarkable comeback across the remaining three days to finish sixth and claim 10 championship points.
You can help or not?
The inconsistency between the two different decisions taken after FIM jury meetings for seemingly the same on-track crime is the crux here. It has confused many and naturally ruffled some feathers. That includes the potential champion Mario Roman’s Sherco Racing team who protested the Romaniacs decision with supporting evidence to the FIM.
We arrive at this final weekend in Spain with Mani leading Mario by four points. Sherco is pointing at the Romaniacs decision and basically asking why has the FIM rule not been applied the same as it was to Graham at Erzberg.
Crucially from Sherco’s point of view, without the Romaniacs points awarded to Lettenbichler, Roman would enter this final round with a six-point championship lead and would certainly be facing this weekend with a different mindset.
Why wait this long?
Despite the previous HEWC race being back in August (Outliers, round seven in Canada) and an imperative you would expect to have the protagonists play out the series finale fair and square on the track, the FIM have chosen to sit on the protest and decide once the season has concluded.
Why that is we’re really not sure. Enduro21 has spoken to riders, team managers, race organisers and the series promoters, and the consensus is a) why the inconsistency when the FIM rules are clear and b) why didn’t they sort this out before now?
The championship has undoubtedly grown since taking on FIM World Championship status, moving forward from the previous WESS series which openly suffered accusations of being a “KTM championship” or “owned by Red Bull”.
It has grown since for sure but this controversy knocks it back a peg or two in the eyes of the world and regular enduro riders like us.
Enduro21 has no beef with any party involved except to point out we should be looking forward to a great race at Hixpania this weekend but will instead leave Spain waiting for the world champion to be really announced at a later date. In the interest of sport, shouldn’t the riders be settling this on track?
We should be facing a similarly dramatic conclusion to the HEWC as we saw last season between Mani and Billy Bolt in Germany. That was a hell of a showstopper but instead, whoever wins on Sunday will have a cloud hanging over their glory until they that meeting takes place.
That can’t be good for the sport and postponing a decision or keeping a lid on it all this time is detrimental to the series’ credibility.
It’s a bloody shame for the riders involved too who no doubt just want to get on and do their jobs.
May the best rider win.
Photo Credit: Future7Media + Stephen Shannon