Easily one of the largest races in the world, this year’s Swedish Gotland Grand National saw over 3200 riders take to the start line to compete.
One of the most prestigious races in Sweden, alongside the Novemberkasan, the Gotland Grand National is a cross-country styled event.
Words & Photos: Kalle Lundstedt / RaceMagazine.se
Norwegian Kenneth Gundersen (Husqvarna) took his fourth Gotland victory and first in 13 years. The former MXGP rider is actually happily retired as a racer, working full time for Mapei and his own motocross school.
Gundersen first won way back in 1999 as an 18-year-old on a 125 two-stroke. He won again in 2000 and then claimed his third victory in 2003.
Having helped Norway to reach the A-Final of the Motocross of Nations in 2013, Gundersen tried his Gotland luck in 2015 but didn’t have the pace for the podium. Returning this year for one more shot he hit the bull’s eye.
“Last year kicked off the dream of returning and being competitive,” told Gundersen. “For the last half a year or so this is what I’ve been working for.
“I’ve been training every morning before work and every evening after work. This race is fantastic, the track is fantastic, the audience is fantastic. To come here and win again, almost 20 years after the first time is… just a fantastic feeling. It’s a dream come true.”
Husqvarna’s Albin Elowson had a bad start and was down the order in about 25th. By the time he worked his way inside the top five a dose of arm pump hampered him momentum.
Regrouping with about two laps to go, he dropped the hammer again managing to close the 90-second gap of Gundersen to just 16 seconds at the flag. It was an incredible effort.
With the new ruling permitting a maximum of six laps Elowson was left wishing the race was still three hours long.
Yamaha’s Mikael Persson was fighting with Gundersen during the first half of the race but then had to retire due to mechanical issues.
Eight-time Gotland winner Mats Nilsson (Yamaha) was also trying to do something, but didn’t have the speed to fight back after losing one-minute to Gundersen at the end of lap three.
Nilsson still made it onto the podium in third. God knows how many he podium results he has now in addition to his eight wins.
Joakim Ljunggren (KTM) once again didn’t enjoy any winning success in Gotland. “This is just not my race it seems,” said Jocke, who was fifth behind young motocross guy Ken Bengtsson (Yamaha).
Results - Gotland grand National (Top 59)