After a season of high and lows, snow and ice, rain, mud, heat, blood and at least a few tears, the FIM Maxxis World Enduro Championship arrives at the season finale this weekend in Rüdersdorf, Germany.
From a host country steeped in enduro tradition, a traditional dramatic climax to the World Championship season awaits with four senior titles still to be awarded including the overall EnduroGP World title after a season-long battle between Steve Holcombe and Alex Salvini.
Although the overall Junior World Champion and Youth 125cc champions were crowned at the previous round in France, there is plenty still to be decided in Rüdersdorf with the addition of the Women’s World Championship for this round, adding spice to the mix.
EnduroGP Champion crown awaiting
Steve Holcombe arrived at the EnduroGP of France, the penultimate round of the 2018 season, 14 points off the title lead but then everything changed for rival, Alex Salvini. The deficit turned to a 30-point lead after his former team-mate suffered an electrical problem, making the task of taking the overall title almost impossible for Salvini unless a similar fate falls on Holcombe – for sure Alex will not give up the fight.
With such a big advantage, there is no doubt Holcombe will want to finish the job on Saturday and raise the crown of EnduroGP World Champion again.
For eight Grand Prix this season Holcombe and Salvini have been the leading act but senior class rookie, Brad Freeman has been super-impressive in taking the fight to the pairing. What happened to easing yourself into the senior ranks?! For their part, Freeman and Eero Remes still must decide who will take the last step of the overall podium with only two points, to the advantage of Bradley, separating them.
Outsiders Yamaha Official riders Jamie McCanney and Loïc Larrieu will also compete for a top five place in the EGP category along with Christophe Nambotin, who has shown strong form in the latter part of the 2018 season – a strong second place on Sunday in France proved his form.
Danny McCanney, Thomas Oldrati and Antoine Basset will also seek to secure their place among the 10 fastest riders of the year.
Enduro 3 settled on day one?
Though his eyes will firmly be set on the EnduroGP title, Steve Holcombe also has the Enduro 3 title to wrap-up. The Brit is 36 points ahead of Christophe Nambotin and 44 ahead of Danny McCanney. It is hard to see how the Gas Gas team-mates could prevent Holcombe taking this one on the first day in Germany after an impressive streak of eight straight wins from Holcombe.
While the title seems almost assured for Holcombe, we should watch out for a great battle for vice-World Champion title between Nambotin and McCanney. This duel will also be watched closely by Beta France rider Anthony Geslin who has taken advantage of the slightest mistake from the two Gas Gas Factory riders all season long and has often been on the podium. Already assured of fourth place, the Geslin will be keen to finish his season with another stolen podium.
For his part, Romain Dumontier want to consolidate his place in the top five of E3, with Nico Rambow and Björn Feldt both arriving at the party on home German soil...
Junior to senior back-to-back titles for Freeman?
In Enduro 1, Brad Freeman can secure the title on Saturday. The Beta Boano rider is 28 points ahead of his compatriot Jamie McCanney and can therefore "afford" to finish in fifth place if the Manxman wins the first day of racing. But he too will have to be careful not to encounter mechanical problems or injuries when pushing at the maximum.
Deprived of podium in front of his fans three weeks ago in France, Antoine Basset will be keen to get back on the box to conclude a very solid season which has seen many podiums from the Gas Gas rider. He will face a rejuvenated Davide Guarneri back to his best and ready to pick up fifth place in the standings currently occupied by Manuel Monni.
Enduro 2 still up for grabs
The electronic failure of Alex Salvini at the previous GP in Methamis has reopened the fight in Enduro 2. Salvo now has only 14 points on Eero Remes and 21 on Loïc Larrieu which means everything is still possible and the final result could be played in the last special tests on Sunday.
Riders such as Thomas Oldrati (on form in Italian Championship) and Christophe Charlier have the weapons to interrupt the three title candidates. Look out also for Deny Philippaerts who will be keen for a good finish to his season.
Local riders, Edward Hübner, Davide von Zitzewitz and Christian Brockel will be up for the fight with the cream of the crop in World Enduro.
Juniors still battling for runners-up trophies
The interest in the Junior class will shift away from the overall title, claimed by Matteo Cavallo at the penultimate round in France, though there’s no doubt he will want to end the season in style with his eighth win in a row.
Junior runner-up, Andrea Verona has battled Cavallo all season and will want to break that stranglehold while cementing his position ahead of the 2019 season.
The battle this weekend will be between Jack Edmondson, Davide Soreca, Theo Espinasse and Joe Wootton who all have the ability to fight for the last step of the overall Junior podium. This one will be intense.
It is a similar story in J1 and J2 where Verona and Cavallo already have the titles sewn-up but the podium places will be hotly contested. The German GP will be interesting fight in J1 between Theo Espinasse, Kirian Mirabet and Antoine Magain who can all claim second place. In J2 it is a similar story for Edmondson, Soreca and Wootton who have it all to play for.
Podium places to play for in Youth 125 class
While Ruy Barbosa wrapped up the Youth 125 championship at the penultimate GP in France, it remains to be seen who will be the vice world champion in 2018.
Here again, three riders – all on Shercos – can claim the title: Dan Mundell, Hamish MacDonald and Matthew van Oevelen. British rider, Mundell is in charge but the New Zealander, MacDonald has grown in confidence and speed with each round and will seek to become the first Kiwi to get a top three finish in the Enduro World Championship. Belgium’s van Oevelen can also make enduro history for his country if he finishes on the podium.
The German Grand Prix will also host the only round of the Enduro Women's World Cup for 2018.
The 2017 Vice-Champion Jane Daniels begins as a favourite, along with is Sanna Karkkainen and they have former WMX World Champion Livia Lancelot to contend with as she makes her EGP debut.
Nieve Holmes and Spanish riders Mireia Badia, Alba Vilaplana and Humi Palau plus some Japanese entries including Mami Masuda will all add interest to the single round championship.
The German GP will host yet another climatic final to the World Enduro Championship after an intense season. After so much effort and intensity and eight months it now all comes down to this final round in four of the Senior categories and the Women’s class.
Rüdersdorf, Capital of Enduro
The final EnduroGP round of 2018 arrives in the country which “breathes enduro” and the experienced hands of MC Woltersdorf who will run the season showdown from Rüdersdorf.
On Friday evening, the Akrapovic Super Test starts at 19:00 at the Arena Kesselsee. On Saturday and Sunday, riders will leave the Industrial Zone of Tasdörf and head to a 100% natural Technomousse Xtreme Test located at the Arena Kesselsee. Riders then face the Maxxis Cross Test before the lap ends at the Arena Kesselsee, with a typically German X-Rocks Enduro Test – in the woods combining stony and sandy sections.
German GP Practical Info:
- Rüdersdorf (Brandebourg)
- 30kms from Berlin (nearest airport)
- Friday 12 October: Akrapovic Super Test: 19:00
- Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 October: 09:00 start and finish after 16:00
- Organisation: MC Woltersdorf
- Circuit: 65kms – 3 laps
- Free entry
Photo Credit: Future7Media/Andrea Belluschi/Jonty Edmunds/Robert Lynn
Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org