WESS round 1: Extreme XL Lagares 5 fast facts

Set yourself up for the 2019 World Enduro Super Series with five fast facts to fill you in before today’s Extreme XL Lagares SuperEnduro heats…

 

Covering eight rounds of mixed discipline Enduro racing across seven months, the World Enduro Super Series (WESS) brings together Pro and amateur riders in mix of Classic Enduro, Hard Enduro and Cross-Country racing. Like in 2018, the Toyota Porto Extreme XL Lagares will kick things off this weekend with Superenduro, Urban and Hard Enduro action across three days in northern Portugal.

 
slippery WESS Lagares 2018 560
 

1. Three distinct Enduro tests in one race

Racing begins on Friday, May 10, with Superenduro-style action which last year turned out super wet on the man-made course in Quintandona, Lagares. Heat races determine the start order for the Prologue on Saturday.

May 10: Endurocross — 09.00-14.00hrs / 16.00-23.00hrs

Saturday’s Prologue race has a unique character on the world stage taking place on the streets of Porto. Not just any streets but the narrow in the Ribeira do Porto district, a World Heritage Site no less. 

It really is something to behold as the crowds line the narrow streets. Riders set a time on a qualifying run and the fastest go to the finals. The final is all about the start because once they get into the streets, overtaking is near impossible. 

May 11: Porto Prologue — 14.00-19.00hrs

 
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Sunday is all about Hard Enduro as competitors tackle the slippery, rocky riverbeds and Penafiel forestry of Lagares.

Starting and finishing in Quintandona, the Pro class complete two laps of the course, with the remaining categories needing to complete one.

May 12: Main Event — 11.00-18.30hrs

 
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2. Alfredo Gomez and Graham Jarvis tied on the most wins 

Tied on three wins apiece, Graham Jarvis and Alfredo Gomez share the honour of having the most victories in Portugal’s toughest Hard Enduro. 

Missing the event in 2018 due to injury, Gomez returns in 2019 eager to increase his win tally. The necessary aggression in the EnduroCross and Prologue races, he also has the trials skills needed to take on the Sunday riverbeds.

Jarvis had a lack-lustre fifth (by his high standards!) in 2018 and certainly takes a back seat in the elbows out, do-or-die SuperEnduro and Porto Prologue race but cannot be counted out when the going gets tough on Sunday with his relentless pace as the going gets tougher. 

Extreme XL Lagares past winners:

2018 - Billy Bolt (Husqvarna)

2017 - Wade Young (Sherco)

2016 - Alfredo Gomez (KTM)

2015 - Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna)

2014 - Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna)

2013 - Graham Jarvis (Husaberg)

2012 - Graham Jarvis (Husaberg)

2011 - Dougie Lampkin (Gas Gas)

2010 - Graham Jarvis (Husaberg)

 
billy.bolt Lagares WESS 2018 Rnd1 12086 Enduro21 560
 

3. Round one winner takes the title?

It’s a tough call with so many, hard, enduro kilometres to cover but in 2018 the fact is round one winner went on to become the WESS champion.

The nature of the points scoring system in WESS means the winner takes a whopping 1000-point haul (850 for P2, 770 P3, 690 P4, 610 P5…) and those big numbers count for a lot come the season end.

Wins aren’t everything though. In 2018 both Jonny Walker and Manuel Lettenbichler proved the point that stacking up podiums, even if you don’t take a win, will bring the prizes (even if ultimately Walker crashed out of the series).

Billy Bolt won Lagares last year and will look to rekindle that winning form despite an off-season knee injury which side-lined him for the majority of the winter. WESS round one will mark his first competitive race of 2019.

2018 Extreme XL Lagares podium:

  1. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna - GB)
  2. Jonny Walker (KTM - GB)
  3. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM - GER)
 
wade.young Lagares WESS 2018 Rnd1 10244 Enduro21 560
 

4. WESS winners all over the shop

Manuel Lettenbichler, Wade Young, Mario Roman, Taddy Blazusiak…there are some serious contenders all capable of winning Lagares. 

Lettenbichler proved he has the all-round talent in 2018 and finished second overall and third here in Portugal. As the 2017 winner of the event, Wade Young arrived a favourite (and proved his billing with wins in Romaniacs and Megawatt later in the year) but suffered on the second lap in 2018, crashing on those slippery rocks and drowning his bike – Young eventually came home in seventh. 

Sherco Factory Racing team-mate, Mario Roman hit mechanical bad luck and surely stands ready to challenge this time around.

Though he had a bit of a nightmare in the SuperEnduro and Prologues races last year, Taddy Blazusiak pulled his socks up on Sunday. With a better Friday and Saturday you write this guy off at your peril – he’s overdue a WESS win.

 
taddy.blazusiak LagaresWESS 2018 Rnd1 9958 Enduro21 560
 

5. Sunday’s hard enduro slippery when wet

Sunday’s five hour (at least) main race is hard work chiefly because of the notoriously slippery in the riverbeds. 

Different sections of the course have different character from round, green boulders to slick, slate climbs and rock steps. These are the kind of places which are like ice and catch everyone out. If you’re fast and get there first, they are more slippery. Later riders get more grip. It is a trade-off.

On the second lap the Pro riders catch up with and have to negotiate the amateurs often in impossibly tight sections. 

Like Saturday’s prologue, the course is lined with thousands of spectators in this off-road crazy country. The more difficult sections of riverbeds lend themselves to huge galleries of spectators who bring a special atmosphere. 

 
 
Photo Credit: Future7Media
 
 
 
 
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester
jon.pearson@enduro21.com