Graham Jarvis heads to Sibiu for Red Bull Romaniacs next week aiming for victory number seven and leader of the 2019 WESS championship.
The veteran and already six-times Romaniacs winner, Graham Jarvis will start next week’s Sweet 16 edition of Romaniacs in the form of his life having two World Enduro Super Series victories at Erzbergrodeo and Hixpania this season.
Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rallye is, of course, widely acknowledged as the world’s toughest multi-day enduro and Jarvis can surely count that as reason enough for his former successes.
With a 16-year history of dishing up often unbelievably challenging riding beginning with the insane street prologue on Tuesday July 30, Romaniacs has a reputation for very for good reason.
The sold-out entry of competitors from over 50 nations then embarks on four days in the vast and expansive wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains which provides the ride of a lifetime for more reasons than one – it is as stunning as it is hard.
Jarvis the rider to beat
Graham Jarvis arrives in Romania in great form after winning both Erzbergrodeo and Hixpania Hard Enduro, rounds three and four of WESS. With a record-breaking six Red Bull Romaniacs wins already to his credit, the Husqvarna rider begins round five surely as favourite.
In 2018, we saw perhaps Graham’s only major DNF from a major race in a long career when illness caught out the granddaddy of hard enduro. Despite that, Jarvis says, “Red Bull Romaniacs has always been one of my favourite races. It requires seriously tough endurance and the four off road days require a lot of commitment both mentally and physically.
“I feel like I am riding strong, leading in WESS so far, I just have to maintain my strength for the Carpathian Mountains and hope the weather is kind. I have been running my Jarvis Signature Tours in Bosnia and Greece which has given me lots of enjoyable training time so I feel ready and will give it my best shot.
“Obviously being on the Red Bull Romaniacs podium again is my goal and always a special place to stand after such a long, demanding event. I look forward to being there this year.”
Reigning Romaniacs champ
South Africa’s Wade Young is certainly coming back to Sibiu as a major contender after taking victory at last year’s amazingly tough event: “Every year the race seems to just get harder and harder.” Says the Factory Sherco rider.
“I definitely look to be in similar condition to last year, it is a long race so the first goal would be to eliminate the mistakes and then aim for the top. The most challenging part is that it is a five day race so you have to stay focused the whole time and one mistake can change from you being first to not finishing. So for me the most challenging part is to stay focused through all those difficult sections.
“I really do feel like I went into last year race pretty experienced, I just think going into Romaniacs super fit and healthy is a big advantage.”
Manni ready for a WESS win
Manuel Lettenbichler is less than half the age of Jarvis and fast becoming a star of the enduro scene – a fact backed-up by regular podium visits in the WESS championship. He is currently P2 in the WESS ranking behind Jarvis, and on a mission to win his first ever WESS Hard Enduro race.
The Sweet 16 Edition would be the perfect place for this youngster to get his first win especially because his father Andreas Lettenbichler took the win at Red Bull Romaniacs 10 years ago in 2009.
“Red Bull Romaniacs is the best race in the season.” Says Manni. “And there is a good reason for that: it’s just the best feeling ever when you realize on the last kilometres of the fourth and final off road day that you will actually finish the race after four long and gruelling days on brutal tracks.
“Before the race you have mixed emotions. You know it’s going to be really, really tough but mastering and enduring all the challenges during those days and making it to the finish line: That’s priceless. It's worth so much, I can’t really describe it.
“Red Bull Romaniacs is different from the other races: It’s not about being strong for a couple of hours, it’s about being strong for four days in a row, navigating without bigger mistakes and having a bit of luck here and there, too.”
Pro riders in the super-strong entry list
Which other riders do you need to watch in Romania? Unquestionably Mario Roman is a rider to watch. After his victory at Extreme Lagares earlier in the year and podium at Hixpania, the Sherco rider has stepped up a gear in 2019 and has a point to prove in Romania after some bad luck in 2018.
With fitness and mental strength playing a huge role in the four tough days in Romania, what can we expect from WESS champion, Billy Bolt? The big guy is building back up to peak fitness and starts Romaniacs very much a podium contender.
Similarly Husqvarna team-mate to Bolt, Alfredo Gomez is certainly overdue some success in Sibiu after coming close to winning at Hixpania, WESS round four.
2018 podium finisher and two-time winner, Jonny Walker knows what it takes to succeed in the Carpathian mountains but has some work to do this year on the back of results below his own high standards.
The Factory KTM team has no shortage of talent of course and Taddy Blazusiak is another rider looking to put the 2018 event to bed with a very different performance. Illness forced him out while in a strong position last year and he could well be a dark horse this time.
Top five contenders?
A rider who spends a lot of his season competing in the eastern reaches of Europe, Czech rider David Cyprian has good form at Red Bull Romaniacs with a strong seventh in 2018.
South African Travis Teasdale is another rider certainly strong enough for the task on his Eurotek KTM. TTR Officine Rigamonti’s Pol Tarres is another rider with impressive skills and one to watch for top five positions. Could we also see traditional enduro specialist Josep Garcia inside the top five this year with a year’s experience under his belt?
34 competitors are entered in the Gold class including: USA’s Keith Curtis, South Africa’s Matthew Green and Brett Swanepoel, Austria’s Michael Walkner, Australia’s Chris Perry, Italian’s Michele Bosi and Sonny Goggia plus Israel’s Suff Sella.
Placing 34th at round four, Sandra Gomez has taken on the mighty challenge and will contest the Gold class for the first time after previously competing the Silver class.
What’s it like racing the Gold class course out in the Carpathian Mountains? Ride onboard with Manni Lettenbichler at the 2018 event…
Photo Credit: Future7Media Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org