Spanish Enduro Rnd4: Pichon shares honours with Garcia – first defeat since 2020 for Josep
Zach Pichon and Josep Garcia share the day wins at the penultimate weekend of the 2023 Spanish Enduro Championship in A Estrada, Pontevedra, a rare day defeat for the Red Bull KTM rider who still marches towards his national title with one round remaining.
We don’t write this too often on Enduro21 but Josep Garcia did not win both days at this weekend’s round of the Spanish Enduro Championship. A crash on lap three of the first day at Enduro Da Sidra de A Estrada meant the KTM factory rider was playing catch-up to Sherco Factory Racing’s Zach Pichon.
Despite overcoming the 14 seconds deficit, bringing it back to just under two seconds for the day, the Frenchman took a rare scratch win away from Garcia (the first since 2020) who has been dominant in this championship for multiple seasons now.
After his monster crash in the EnduroGP of Sweden in June, Josep has been on the road to recovery from surgery. This weekend in Spain was his first real test ahead of the final two GPs in Portugal in two weeks.
Enduro Da Sidra de A Estrada day 1 in a nutshell:
- The course featured four laps for a change due to short tests which meant times were tight and only Garcia and Pichon were able to establish a gap in the timing sheets.
- The Cross Test and the Enduro Test stood out for being short, but complicated. Especially in the Enduro test with many stones and roots emerged in the forest floor, as well as the occasional tree stump. The Extreme test was held in the same place where the Super Test was held on Friday night where Garcia set the fastest time.
- According to many of the riders, it was a race where it was difficult to maintain a constant pace and not make mistakes. “If you couldn't find a stone, it was a stump or a root” was a frequent comment in the paddock.
- Zach Pichon was the big winner today, taking the Scratch and E2 honours, concentrating on riding without making mistakes to end up taking the overall by just a second and a half. It was the first major win for Sherco and their new models too – add to that a rare win for a two-stroke and this is alsmot news on it’s own!
- “Josep had not lost a National race since 2020. Yes, it has been a good day,” admitted the Sherco rider. “Since the last race in Slovakia, I have trained a lot. I know that my physical condition was not the best and I trained a lot during the summer. I know I have good speed now.”
- “This morning I felt good in the specials. It wasn’t that far from him. In the second lap, I got closer. And in the third he had a big fall in the Enduro. I was able to overtake him and I tried not to make up my time. I'm happy, Josep is one of the best enduro riders. I'm happy to have beaten him in Spain.”
- Garcia looked to a poor choice of tyre, the beaten-up terrain and the crash in the third enduro test for his second position, although he still comfortably took the E1 victory.
- Day one’s surprise result came from Beta Trueba rider Julio Pando with a third place finish in scratch and first in the Junior Open where he gapped second place Àlex Puey by 30 seconds.
- “I still can't believe it,” admitted Pando, “Today I went very well, starting by opening the track and making good times and I was able to keep it that way for the four laps, doing second and third scratch times and I am very happy with the day. I was comfortable all morning and I was there holding on and I was able to stop Betriu who was close behind.”
- The fourth Scratch position went to Jaume Betriu, who also took the victory in E3, ahead of Sergio Navarro who completed the top five on day one.
Day 1 scratch results:
Enduro Da Sidra de A Estrada day 2 in a nutshell:
- With the tests getting pretty battered after day one, day two saw riders taking extra care to avoid crashing. Being such short specials meant mistakes could be costly, as Garcia found yesterday...
- Josep got into his groove on day two though and with Pichon having some problems on the first lap in the Enduro test, the reigning champion established a lead early. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider was able to shake off yesterday’s problems and with the better suited tyre choice, took a comfortably 36 seconds victory.
- “I’ve been out since good morning pushing, giving everything.” Garcia said. “The specials were short and ended quickly but we were able to open up a margin and ride the bike as I know how. We also made some changes to the bike, because the terrain here was quite difficult, with a lot of stones, roots...
- “It has gone very well this weekend. Zach has been fast too and that helps me push harder and push to the limits for the World Championship. Now I want to finish outlining this week of training and look ahead to the finals of the World Championship in Portugal.”
- Zach Pichon had to settle for second position on day two but remained the closest rival to García, only losing 36 seconds to the KTM rider, and both were clear away from the rest of the field.
- “I haven't found the feeling I had yesterday, but I tried not to be too far from Josep throughout the day,” said the Sherco rider also using the contest to prepare for the final EnduroGP rounds.
- Third place in Scratch, and second position in E1, went to Sergio Navarro who managed to stop the attacks of Leo Le Quere and Jaume Betriu, fourth and fifth in Scratch and first and second in E3 respectively. The classification was tight between these three who were only separated by five seconds.
- Yesterday's revelation, Julio Pando, won again in the Junior Open and Mireia Badia delivered a masterclass in the Women’s category, comfortably minutes clear of her rivals as she heads towards the Spanish Women’s Championship title.
Day 2 scratch results:
Photo Credit: Future7Media | Nicki Martinez