WESS 2019: Erzbergrodeo lays in wait for 1700 riders

The World Enduro Super Series marches on to Austria for round three at the infamous and notorious Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble.

 

It has finally arrived, the granddaddy of the hard enduro calendar, Erzbergrodeo weekend is here and lays waiting for another monster entry of enduro riders and fans in the Austrian town of Eisenerz.

In what looks like being one of the most competitive races of recent years, Sunday’s Hare Scramble has at least a possible 10 riders who could arrive at the finish line and take hold one of the most prized trophies in motorsport – the Erzbergrodeo finishers flag.

More than 1,700 Enduro competitors will converge for this annual dirt bike festival for its 25th edition which organisers promise will be one to remember.

 
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2019 Erzbergrodeo schedule:

May 30: Mitas Rocket Ride heats 12:00 – 14:00hrs

May 30: Mitas Rocket Ride Superfinals – 20.00hrs

May 31: Blakläder Iron Road Prolog – from 08.00hrs

June 1: Blakläder Iron Road Prolog – from 08.00hrs

June 2: Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble – 14.30-18.30hrs

 
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Garcia holds WESS points lead

At the top of the 2019 World Enduro Super Series points standings heading into Erzberg is Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia. His victory at round two in France was with the form book but the championship switches back in favour of the hard enduro specialists in Austria. 

2019 will mark Garcia’s second time competing at the Iron Giant after his 17th place result last year, his aim will surely be to finish inside the top 10 to keep his points tally high.

 
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As the 2018 winner of the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Graham Jarvis has his sights firmly fixed on claiming his fifth victory. The 44-year-old British rider secured a dramatic come-from-behind win 12 months ago, proving he clearly still has what it takes. His form so far in 2019 has been strong, despite narrowly missing the podium at round one in Portugal. Graham also sat out the second round in France to focus on the extreme events so arrives at Erzberg fresh and fully focused. 

In what was one of the closest finishes in recent times, Jonny Walker followed Jarvis home for the runner-up result in 2019 – finishing just 41 seconds behind. Already a three-time winner of the race, Walker is currently third overall in WESS and says he is keen to get to that all-important finishers flag first.

 
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Can Lettenbichler or Bolt go the distance?

Both respectively chasing debut wins at the Iron Giant, Manuel Lettenbichler and Billy Bolt were almost the show-stoppers in 2018. The pair set the pace during the early stages of the race and looked on course to fight for the win until they hit the infamous Green Hell hill. It is where Jarvis caught them and took the lead. 

Though Bolt enters the event still recovering from his off-season injury, the shorter event format could play into his hands. A win by Lettenbichler would see him become the youngest winner in the 25-year history of Erzbergrodeo.

 
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Winner at round one, Extreme XL Lagares, Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman arrives in Eisenerz off the back of his greatest career win. The Spaniard is keen to put to rest his Erzbergrodeo demons which have seen him never quite hit the same results achieved at other hard enduro events. 2019 could be his year. 

Runner-up to his team-mate Roman at round one, Wade Young is another rider easily capable of the win. With WESS wins at Romaniacs and Megawatt in 2018, the South African will be determined to add one of Enduro’s most-prestigious races to his CV.

 
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With five Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble wins already to his name, Taddy Blazusiak is synonymous with the race and rightly stakes his place in the event’s 25-year history as the most decorated rider. Although last a winner in 2011, he’s never one to be counted out.

Forced to miss the main event in 2018 due to injury, 2017 winner Alfredo Gomez, returns to Austria with redemption on his mind. With the disappointment of being unable to defend his #1 plate in 2018, the Spaniard will also be fuelled by a below par performance at the opening round at Lagares.

 
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Webb aiming for first American win

Cody Webb adds to a long list of competitors capable of victory this weekend. Webb has twice finished on the podium in 2016 and 2017, only to see a crash during qualification rule him out in 2018. With potential to become the first American to win the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble, Webb could add to the enormity of the 25th edition if he reaches the finish line first.

Fellow American, Ryan Sipes is on a mission in May and arrives in Austria on the back of winning the Hawaii Supercross, racing Flattrack in Illinois and all that when we’re used to seeing him race enduro. Good luck with this change of tack Ryan!

 
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Laia Sanz makes Erzbergrodeo debut

Making her long awaited Erzbergrodeo debut, Spain’s Laia Sanz is aiming to become the first woman to complete the main race. As a 13-time Trials World Champion, five-time Enduro World Champion and top-10 Dakar finisher, Sanz has a wealth of experience and skill to use when the going gets tough at the Iron Giant. 

For further female company Sanz will have fellow Spaniard, Sandra Gomez who returns for another shot at the Iron Giant.

 
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Other riders to watch at the third stop of WESS

Travis Teasdale and Blake Gutzeit, Pol Tarres, Lars Enöckl, Kevin Gallas, Dieter Rudolf, Nathan Watson, David Cyprian, Sonny Goggia, Will Hoare and Jonathan Richardson…

 

Four days of enduro action await

Staged across four days, the action opens with the Mitas Rocket Ride. Competitors go head-to-head to conquer one of the Iron Giant’s steepest quarry climbs. 

Friday and Saturday are all about the Blakläder Iron Road Prologue where riders aim to qualify for Sunday’s main event. Against the clock, competitors compete in a time trial race on gravel-based quarry roads to become one of the fastest 500.

Sunday is all about the world’s toughest Enduro course. The 500 qualified competitors have four hours to complete the 27 checkpoints strategically placed around the Iron Giant. 

 

Live TV coverage

Watch the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble live on Red Bull TV and ServusTV Sunday June 2 from 14.00CET. Commentary available in English, German and Spanish with expert analysis from Darryl Curtis (English), Ivan Cervantes (Spanish) and Dieter Happ (German) with Busty Wolter for ServusTV. 

 
Photo Credit: Future7Media/Sebastian Marko - Red Bull Content Pool
 
 
 
 
Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21
Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester
jon.pearson@enduro21.com