The Gotland Grand National welcomes the World Enduro Super Series contenders for the penultimate round of the 2018 season this weekend – and it's crunch time in the championship.
Marking the 35th edition of this classic enduro, the Gotland Grand National is enduro of epic proportions on an island in the Baltic sea. With over 3000 competitors it is the ‘must-do’ event on the Swedish racing calendar. The three-hour Cross-Country race will this year have the WESS competitors added into the mix.
With six rounds complete and two rounds remaining, the WESS championship is reaching the critical point for the leading contenders. Billy Bolt heads the points standings with Manuel Lettenbichler and Josep Garcia both in close contention. With 1000 points available for a win there's still plenty to play for...
The third series leader in as many races, Billy Bolt currently holds the upper hand over his championship rivals. Winning the opening event back in May, Bolt has found rejuvenated form during the second half of the season. With back-to-back podium results at Red Bull 111 Megawatt and the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country.
Sitting just 125 points behind Bolt – and with 1000 points reward for a win – Manuel Lettenbichler is a close second. The German privateer has been sensational this season proving himself as a championship contender regardless of the terrain or Enduro discipline faced.
Weighing into the title fight with a dominant victory at round six in Great Britain, Josep Garcia will also be a rider to watch in Sweden. The Classic Enduro specialist was blisteringly fast during the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country and will be an expected front runner. Aiming to settle for nothing less than a win, Garcia also knows that the sizeable entry list in Gotland could seriously enhance his title hopes should his rivals have any problems.
Taddy Blazusiak is fifth in points and a fierce competitor, Blazusiak will be aiming for the podium in Sweden and could easily play spoiler card. Runner-up to Garcia at round six, Britain’s Nathan Watson is also very much a rider finding his groove late in the season. Favouring the faster Cross-Country riding, Watson knows that a potential debut WESS win is within his grasp.
Separated by just 16 points, Graham Jarvis and Paul Bolton sit eighth and ninth respectively in the championship standings. Gas Gas Factory Racing’s Lars Enockl completes the top 10 and will look for another strong outing this weekend.
Arguably more than any other race in the WESS season, and with 3000 competitors taking to the start line, local knowledge will be a key factor in Gotland. Winner in 2017, Norway’s Kjetil Gundersen will be a rider WESS regulars will have to watch come race day.
So too will Swede Albin Elowson. Runner-up in 2017 – his best Gotland Grand National result to date – Elowson also finished 11th at the Tréfle Lozérien AMV and will aim to show his speed once again in this year’s WESS championship.
With eight Gotland Grand National victories to his name, Mats Nilsson is the most successful rider in the history of event. Despite claiming his debut win back in 1997, 49-year-old Nilsson finished on the podium in 2017, proving age and experience is a match for youthful exuberance. Fourth last year, Rikard Hansson will look for another top result, and plenty of eye will be on Joakim Ljunggren – one of Sweden’s most successful Enduro riders – to see if he can finally win his first Gotland Grand National.
The Gotland Grand National takes place this weekend, October 26/27.
Gotland Grand National Event Information: nordicsportevent.se
Photo Credit: Future7Media