In 2018 the Enduro World Championship will return to the three-class structure from 2016. Riders will compete in the more familiar Enduro 1, Enduro 2 or Enduro 3 classes once again.
That move now sees the EnduroGP world title become the overall champion of the three classes. There are also a host of updates to the Junior rankings aimed at encouraging riders back into the series.
With just one week to go before the 2018 EnduroGP season kicks off in Finland we caught up with the man behind the championship, Alain Blanchard to ask about the new look to the series.
For 2018 the Enduro World Championship returns to three classes plus an overall champion. Why have you made this change?
Alain Blanchard: “In 2017 when we decided to have two classes it was a decision reached between everyone from the manufacturers to organisers with the objective of seeing how it worked. We always said that if it didn’t work we would come back to the old format of 2016 without any issue.”
Photo Credit: Future7Media
What did you learn from the 2017 class structure?
“For us it was not a surprise to see less riders competing in 2017, it was only maybe eight or 10 less than normal, but it was a problem that needed addressing. We’re a sport where we need more riders to help fund the individual event organisers through entry fees. Unlike a purpose-built facility it’s not really possible to charge spectators to come and watch. So with fewer riders that was going to discourage organisers from wanting to run events in the future. We feel a return to the three classes is a solution to this problem. Riders and manufacturers liked the 2016 format, it worked. What we need to do now is to mix quality and quantity and find the right balance. I hope it works and we find stability for the next few years.”
Photo Credit: Andrea Belluschi
Along with the reintroduction of three Senior classes, there a number of changes to the Junior categories too. What is the aim there?
“The goal is to bring back riders, that’s why we have two classes in Juniors — the youth and future of our sport. There will still only be one overall champion in Juniors but now there is an additional title to win within that category. Also the 125cc category moves up to 21 years of age. The Youth Cup 125cc class is a less in-depth calendar of racing with not every round of the EnduroGP calendar counting. We feel it helps their budget and makes it more easier to commit to the full series. Parents are mostly paying the way here and the riders have studies at home to do so we have tried to consider these aspects in the changes.”
Was it intentional to keep the championship in Europe for 2018?
“That was a goal. At the moment everyone wants to stay in Europe. It suits the majority of rider’s budgets. While it is good to race abroad not everyone can do so and that diminishes the quality of the entry. We’ll focus here with traditional and classic enduro, which forms the majority of the championship. Those events embody the spirit of enduro.”
Are you happy with the quality and mix of races the world championship will have in 2018?
“If you look at the 2017 changes the addition of the GP of Finland was successful and the UK race was a nice event too. It’s why we want to improve. For 2018 we’ve added a hard enduro styled race but maintain our focus to keep good traditional enduro. We want to work hard to have good events and build good relations in the traditional European enduro markets like Germany, Italy, Spain, France and England.”
Photo Credit: Jonty Edmunds
The 2018 Enduro Class Capacity Rules
Enduro 1 (E1) is reserved for machinery up to 250cc, two and four-stroke inclusive. Enduro 2 (E2) is from 250cc to 450cc four stroke, with Enduro 3 (E3) above 250cc two-stroke and 450cc four-stroke. The EnduroGP rankings are based on the combined overall standings of E1, E2 and E3.
For Juniors an overall ranking remains plus the category will be divided into two sub-categories to help encourage more riders. Junior 1 (J1) is up to 250cc two-stroke and four, with Junior 2 (J2) above 250cc two-stroke and four. The Youth Cup 125cc class ups its age limit to 21. Over the season eight days racing count towards the championship.
Robert LynnSenior Editor and Photographerrobert@future7media.com