The final day of action at round six of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship unfolded as a gripping showdown, with Josep Garcia ultimately seizing a hard-earned victory following an epic battle for the top spot on the podium.
In a thrilling display of close racing, the Spanish rider clinched victory by a mere one-second margin over Steve Holcombe, who improved upon his day one performance, while Andrea Verona secured the final podium position at Valpacos, Portugal.
Despite the gruelling conditions, marked by deteriorating special tests and scorching heat, the competitors delivered thrilling performances under the blazing Portuguese sun.
Continuing the intense rivalry that had unfolded during Saturday’s titanic battle between Josep Garcia, Steve Holcombe, and Andrea Verona, the trio wasted no time reigniting their fierce competition on the initial POLISPORT Extreme Test. Holcombe, seeking redemption for his slow start on day one, set the tone by posting the fastest time. He followed up this impressive performance by securing victory in the opening JUST1 Enduro Test, establishing an early lead over Garcia and Verona.
The battle for fourth place proved equally intense, with Australia’s Daniel Milner, CH Racing Sherco’s Hamish MacDonald and teammate Zach Pichon, along with Mikael Persson, all separated by a mere one second.
As the opening lap concluded, Garcia, determined to narrow the gap, showcased his prowess by topping the ACERBIS Cross Test. By the second lap, he intensified his efforts, emerging victorious in both the Enduro Test and Cross Test. Garcia continued this impressive form by claiming victory in the final POLISPORT Extreme Test, narrowing the gap to just two seconds behind Holcombe.
The remainder of the day witnessed a relentless battle between the two riders, with little to separate them. A late crash by Verona in the final JUST1 Enduro Test took him out of contention for the overall victory. However, Garcia’s incredible performance, which included winning the concluding ACERBIS Cross Test, allowed him to overtake Holcombe and secure the day’s victory.
Garcia, elated by his performance, expressed, “Going 1-1 in Portugal is an incredible weekend and is the perfect comeback from injury. Today the battle with Steve was awesome; we were pushing so hard in every test. To get the win today by just one second shows how good it was.”
Reflecting on his second-place finish, Steve Holcombe acknowledged the intensity of the competition, stating, “I think that was one of the hardest-fought second-place results I’ve had. The battle all day with Josep and Andrea was brilliant. To come one second short of winning sucks a little, but the racing was so, so close.”
Meanwhile, Brit Nathan Watson demonstrated remarkable pace to secure fourth place, outpacing MacDonald and Pichon, earning a well-deserved result. Daniel Milner finished eighth.
In a dominant display, Josep Garcia asserted his authority in the EnduroGP category, surging ahead of his Enduro1 counterparts. Garcia concluded the day with a commanding lead of one minute and 40 seconds over Zach Pichon in second, while Jamie McCanney secured the third position.
Steve Holcombe celebrated victory in the Enduro2 category, with Andrea Verona finishing second and Nathan Watson in third. Daniel Milner finished fifth behind Hamish MacDonald in fourth.
Despite losing contact with his EnduroGP rivals, Brad Freeman maintained his title hopes in the Enduro3 class by securing consecutive victories in Portugal. Mikael Persson narrowly held off Christophe Charlier by one second to secure the runner-up position.
In the GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship, Albin Norrbin emerged triumphant on day two. The Swedish rider, who had been narrowly defeated by Jed Etchells on the previous day, displayed unwavering determination. Norrbin claimed victory with seven test wins out of 11, securing a comfortable 26-second advantage over Etchells. Australia’s Kyron Bacon delivered an impressive performance to clinch a debut podium with third place.
In the Youth Enduro class, Kevin Cristino continued his winning streak in Portugal, securing two victories in as many starts. The Italian rider now stands as the favourite to claim the title at the final round scheduled for next weekend.
Leo Joyon maintained his position as the runner-up in Valpacos, with Pietro Scardina rounding out the top three.
The 2023 Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship will conclude with the seventh and final round scheduled for October 6-8 in Santiago do Cacém in the south of Portugal.