Swedish riders filled the podium at a wild and muddy Gotland Grand National – round seven of the World Enduro Super Series where Albin Elowson has claimed victory.
325 rain-lashed riders made the finish at an incredibly muddy 35th edition of the iconic Gotland Grand National Enduro with local Swedish riders fairing best in the conditions to claim the podium. Taking his debut Gotland Grand National victory, Albin Elowson topped Robert Kvarnstrom in second and Ken Bengtson third.
Behind them, the World Enduro Super Series contenders found the conditions more treacherous than they universally expected. Pick of the crop was the experienced Taddy Blazusiak who mastered it best with fourth place overall, well clear of his next nearest WESS rival, Josep Garcia in 12th – series leader Billy Bolt was just behind in 13th.
For Elowson it was a sweet first victory at GGN: “I’m so happy to take the win here in Gotland. I knew I had the speed before the race, but you never know what can happen around here, especially in these conditions.
“I got a decent start and tried to make some passes in the early chaos. I had a good fight with Robert Kvarnstrom but after the first pit stop I was able to open up a small gap and managed to maintain that lead for the whole race.
“It’s good to be able to show what I am capable of – especially with the GGN now part of WESS. I know I have the speed, I just have to build my confidence a little and hopefully I can get some more good results in the future.”
After a troubled opening lap, WESS points leader Billy Bolt recovered well to finish 13th overall: “I had a tough first lap. Another rider crashed in front of me and I managed to stop, but then someone else crashed into me from behind and we were all stuck in a mud puddle. I got going again but got mixed up in another crash and went down again – that’s when I broke the throttle tube. I made the mistake of stopping to try and fix it and lost so many places as a result.
“After the first pit stop I was able to push on a bit more and regain some places. I’m a little bit disappointed not to have finished higher - I think without the problems I could have - but importantly I have stretched my lead at the top of the standings as we now look towards the final round in Holland.”
Renowned as the world’s largest Enduro race, with a claimed 3000 riders competing across the weekend in Gotland, Friday kickstarted proceedings with Hobby riders enjoying near-perfect conditions. However, the weather turned from Friday evening onwards, ensuring that the 35th GGN main race was one of the wettest in its history.
The main event blasted off the start line at 12.30pm with thousands of riders heading in to a tight and muddy turn one. Clearing the early carnage, Elowson took the race lead on lap one followed by Kvarnstrom. The duo went head-to-head, distancing themselves from the pack. By midway, Elowson pulled clear of Kvarnstrom for a convincing win.
Taddy Blazusiak worked hard in the final stages of the race to claim fourth in difficult conditions for any first time competitor of the GGN: “To finish fourth for my first time riding this race and in these conditions is a result I’m pleased with.” Said Taddy after the race. “GGN is a unique race and one the Swedish riders clearly excel at. With the weather turning bad, it was always going to be difficult to match their experience in this type of mud.
“But I feel we did a good job – we worked well as a team to adapt to the changes and challenges we faced, as they happened. In total I only had two small crashes, but I did struggle with keeping clear vision especially in traffic and that cost me some time. But like I said, fourth is a good day and I’m happy with that.”
WESS title contender Josep Garcia crossed the finish line in 12th to slightly close the gap to series leader Bolt who finished 13th. Although holding 25th with one lap remaining, a crash in the closing stages of the race pushed Manuel Lettenbichler back to 43rd overall.
WESS points closing up after penultimate round…
With just the final round of the championship remaining, Billy Bolt extends his advantage over Manni Lettenbichler to 275 points in the World Enduro Super Series. Josep Garcia is third, 445 points behind second placed Letti. Taddy Blazusiak moves to fourth ahead of Wade Young, now just 25 points behind Garcia and 745 points behind Billy (was 1075 points behind the leader).
The World Enduro Super Series concludes with the eighth and final round – Red Bull Knockout – on November 10.
Results - 2018 Gotland Grand National:
- Albin Elowson (Husqvarna - SWE) 6 laps, 2:59:02
- Robert Kvarnstrom (Yamaha - SWE) 3:01:52
- Ken Bengston (Husqvarna - SWE) 3:03:38
- Taddy Blazusiak (KTM - POL) 3:06:59
- Sebastian Martensson (Husqvarna - SWE) 3:08:33
- Johan Carlsson (Husqvarna - SWE) 3:08:42
- Calle Bjerkert (Husqvarna - SWE) 3:10:10
- Joakim Ljunggren (KTM - SWE) 3:10:44
- Oskar Ljunstrom (Husqvarna - SWE) 3:11:08
- Marcus Gothenberg (Husqvarna - SWE) 3:11:16
- Oskar Olsson (KTM - SWE) 3:11:17
- Josep Garcia (KTM - ESP) 3:12:54
- Billy Bolt (Husqvarna - GB) 3:14:24
- Paul Bolton (KTM - GB) 3:15:42
- Nathan Watson (KTM - GB) 3:16:16
World Enduro Super Series Standings (after round 7):
- Billy Bolt (Husqvarna - GB) 4420pts
- Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM - GER) 4145pts
- Josep Garcia (KTM - ESP) 3700pts
- Taddy Blazusiak (KTM - POL) 3675pts
- Wade Young 3220pts; 6. Nathan Watson (KTM - GB) 3103pts
- Paul Bolton (KTM - GB) 3092pts
- Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna - GB) 3010pts
- Jonny Walker (KTM - GB) 2900pts
- Lars Enockl (Gas Gas - AUT) 2272pts
Photo Credit: Future7Media/Andrea Belluschi/Robert Lynn