Enduro

Brad Freeman Claims Double EnduroGP Win At Season Opener In Italy

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Photo of FIM EnduroGP World Championship enduro rider Brad Freeman at the 2023 GP of Italy
Brad Freeman topped the podium for a second consecutive day.

Day two of racing at the 2023 Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship opener in Italy saw Brad Freeman once again rise to the top to secure his second EnduroGP class win of the weekend.

The 2021 EnduroGP World Champion has shown that he’s back to his absolute best for this season, claiming the top step of the podium at what was a memorable ACERBIS GP of Italy. Mirroring yesterday’s results, Andrea Verona and Steve Holcombe finished second and third respectively.

After a daylong fight for victory, Jeremy Sydow emerged on top in the FIM Enduro Junior World Championship class, while Kevin Cristino narrowly topped the Enduro Youth class. Ensuring a perfect start to the defense of her FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship title, Jane Daniels also took her second victory of the weekend while Australian Jess Gardiner battled illness to make the podium.

Building on a thrilling start to the 2023 FIM EnduroGP World Championship with close day-long racing on Saturday in Arma di Taggia/San Remo, the action lifted to an even higher level on day two. Despite rougher conditions on all of the special tests, times were incredibly tight across the majority of the classes.

Photo of FIM EnduroGP World Championship enduro rider Brad Freeman at the 2023 GP of Italy
Brad Freeman made it two from two in the 2023 FIM EnduroGP World Championship Opening weekend.

At the head of the field, Brit Brad Freeman was out to underline his dominant day one victory. With his former EnduroGP championship winning speed returned, Freeman blitzed his rivals on the opening JUST1 Enduro Test by an astonishing 13 seconds to lead on lap one of four.

Despite Steve Holcombe winning the following Extreme Test, Freeman began lap two with the fastest time in the Cross Test and Enduro Test to extend his lead out to 20 seconds. Controlling proceedings during the second half of the day, Freeman maintained a comfortable lead to collect his second EnduroGP victory of the weekend and with it, move into an early lead in the championship.

Photo of FIM EnduroGP World Championship enduro rider Andrea Verona at the 2023 GP of Italy
Andrea Verona finished 2nd outright on Sunday mirroring his Saturday result. Photo: Future7Media

“The day started off great,” Freeman reflected. “I went for it on the first enduro test and put in a fast time to build a lead. I lost a bit of my rhythm in the middle part of the day but was able to control things and regroup for a final push on the last lap, despite a crash on the last enduro test. It was hard to judge conditions at times and I think that’s why I crashed. But a double win is a perfect start to the season!”

As was the case on Saturday, both Verona and Holcombe fought it out for the final two places on the EnduroGP podium, but today they also had Josep Garcia for company. Determined to give his best on home soil, Verona claimed four test wins to finally grab second. Holding off a late final lap charge by Garcia – who won the final JUST1 Enduro Test – Holcombe made it home for third overall.

Photo of FIM EnduroGP World Championship enduro rider Josep Garcia at the 2023 GP of Italy
Josep Garcia had a good start to the season and after wining the Enduro1 class on Sunday now leads the championship in that class. Photo: Future7Media

“Overall, I’m happy with my weekend and first race in the Enduro2 class. So twice finishing second in EnduroGP and a double win in Enduro2 is a very strong start to the year,” Verona said. “The racing is tight out there, Brad was fast this weekend and Steve was pushing hard too. But now we’re up and running I’m pleased with things. As a home round it was exciting and stressful in many ways, but having the crowd behind you in each test was wonderful.”

Giving his all, but falling just three seconds shy of the podium, Garcia had to be content with fourth overall, while Hamish MacDonald completed the top five for the second day running.

Photo of FIM EnduroGP World Championship enduro rider Jane Daniels at the 2023 GP of Italy
Defending women’s champion Jane Daniels came out on top on both days in the FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship. Photo: Future7Media

The Magnorange FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship was once again won by Jane Daniels. Fast from the off, Daniels was challenged all the way by Mireia Badia and Australian Jessica Gardiner with both riders managing to grab a couple of special test wins over Daniels to keep the pressure on. Behind the top three, Francesca Nocera and Rosie Rowett finished fourth and fifth respectively.

“It was a tough day and I had to dig deep in each test. The battle for victory was tight between myself, Jessica, and Mireia, so I’m pleased to have won.” Daniels said.

For Jessica Gardiner, it was another day of health struggles but a strong result non the less.

“My day started off tough as I didn’t get much sleep last night, coughing so much!” Gardiner explained. “I Lost a lot of time in the first enduro test (still trying to wake up properly and a lot of mistakes). Fought back strong and had some solid battles with the girls, with a few test wins to settle for 3rd by 5 secs and 20 secs to first place.”

While naturally disappointed to miss the EnduroGP podium, Josep Garcia was still pleased with a win in Enduro1. In fact, the KTM rider won all of the day’s tests in Enduro1 class to take a commanding one minute and 37-second margin of victory. Putting on a good show on home soil, Thomas Oldrati placed second, with Theo Espinasse third.

Photo of FIM EnduroGP World Championship enduro rider Jessica Gardiner at the 2023 GP of Italy
Australian Jessica Gardiner battled health woes all weekend but a 2nd on Saturday and a 3rd on Sunday was still a top result. Photo: @fredccy

In the Enduro2 class, Andrea Verona went two-for-two in Italy. However, one thing is clear, Verona likely won’t have an easy time of things this season with Steve Holcombe once again pushing him all the way. The former EnduroGP champion was looking smooth and fast in Italy and will now be aiming to get the better of Verona at round two. Hamish MacDonald completed the top three but has a little work to do to bridge the gap to the leading duo. Australian representatives Daniel Milner and Wil Ruprecht finished 6th and 9th respectively.

“I honestly didn’t expect to podium both days, so it’s been an awesome result,” Holcombe said. “I kept things as smooth as I could. In the last couple of years, I injured myself at round one, so I didn’t want to do that this year and ruin my season. San Remo has been tough riding, but it’s been good for my confidence, and I’ve really enjoyed these battles.”

Clear out front, Brad Freeman also powered his way to victory in the Enduro3 class with a clean sweep of special test wins. Sweden’s Mikael Persson was next best in second, with Antoine Magain third.

Proving as competitive as ever, the Enduro Junior World Championship dished up some close racing. Today it was the turn of Jeremy Sydow to make his mark with the German claiming a debut victory. Winner on day one, Jed Etchells was just five seconds behind as runner-up. Max Ahlin ended his day in third.

“To win here was way better than I expected. It’s my first season in EnduroGP so I didn’t know where I would fit in. My background is in motocross, so I’ve a lot to learn in enduro, but it’s exciting and so crazy to take a win,” Sydow said.

The racing was as tight as it gets in Enduro Youth with Kevin Cristino claiming victory by the narrowest of margins. Split by next to nothing, the Italian won the class by an incredible one-tenth of a second after 70 minutes of timed special test racing. Coming up agonisingly short on victory, despite topping the final test by one second, Thibault Giraudon placed as runner-up to Cristino. Leo Joyon took third.

Photo of FIM EnduroGP World Championship enduro rider Daniel Milner at the 2023 GP of Italy
Aussie Daniel Milner admitted to a rough weekend with 14th overall, 5th in E2 Saturday, and 14th overall, 6th in class Sunday, saying, “Happy that race is over, onwards and upwards from here.”

Results – ACERBIS GP of Italy, Day 2
1 Brad Freeman (Beta) 1:05:23.86
2 Andrea Verona (GASGAS) 1:05:40.05
3 Steve Holcombe (Beta) 1:05:49.16
4 Josep Garcia (KTM) 1:05.52.80
5 Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) 1:06:42.54
6 Nathan Watson (Honda) 1:07:05.28
7 Mikael person (Husqvarna) 1:07:14.22
8 Thomas Oldrati (Honda) 1:07:30.11
9 Theo Espinasse (Beta) 1:07L46.48
10 Antoine Magain (Sherco) 1:07:52.17

Full results can be found here

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