Manuel Lettenbichler has won the first day in the mountains at round three of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, Red Bull Romaniacs.
A day of two halves, Lettenbichler battled through scorching sun and finally a heavy thunderstorm on Offroad Day 1 to secure an early, but commanding, lead in Romania.
With yesterday’s all-action city prologue in Sibiu complete, today’s competitors dived into the first Red Bull Romaniacs Offroad Day at round three of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship in Romania.
A later start than is often usual saw Alfredo Gomez first to lead out the Gold Class riders at 8.00 EEST. However, that relaxed start would soon be a distant memory for competitors as the action unfolded thick and fast throughout the day.
After a very brief warm-up, competitors were straight into today’s LIVEmaniacs section called Martial Arts. Gomez arrived first at the quarry loop that was ridden three times. But Manuel Lettenbichler was right on his tail, with prologue winner Billy Bolt not too far behind.
Halfway around the opening loop, Lettenbichler overtook Gomez to lead on the road. And it would be a position he would hold for the remainder of what turned out to be an eventful day. As competitors filled the Martial Arts section, it was Trystan Hart who exited the quarry leading on corrected time. The Canadian made light work of the tricky climbs and was riding well. Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young was also looking good.
Entering the midday service and all the major contenders were in close contention. Lettenbichler held an advantage, but not by much. Under clear skies, they pushed on after service, riding relatively fast and flowing trails across the mountains.
Young was proving super consistent. Sitting just 36 seconds behind Lettenbichler at checkpoint 10. With two checkpoints remaining, the outcome of Offroad Day 1 was set to go down to the wire between the duo, with Hart two minutes behind in third.
However, the Carpathian Mountains were feeling angry and with a monumental thunderstorm rolling in during the closing stages, it would prove no easy, sun-kissed race to the finish line. Heavy rain and hail caused havoc and the final climbs were treacherous.
Coming into his own, Lettenbichler rolled up his sleeves and pushed on. Despite opening the course, he won the final two checkpoints to win the day by an astonishing 23 minutes and 47 seconds.
“That was a big adventure for Offroad Day 1,” Lettenbichler said. “When I got to the first of the final big uphills the weather was wild with hailstones. It was so hard from there on. From service until then the trail was quite fast, so these were the big climbs at the end and even tougher in that weather. I’m so glad to have made it to the finish today, it was true Red Bull Romaniacs!”
Hart dug deep into his Canadian reserves and pushed hard to take second. The KTM rider was impressive in the morning LIVEmaniacs showing and by topping checkpoints five and six, will prove strong this week.
After winning yesterday’s prologue, Bolt eased his way into the day. Strong through the LIVEmaniacs section, he exited it without mistakes. Remaining consistent throughout, he went third fastest on the final checkpoint to finish third overall.
Despite a great start to his day, Young lost time in the late slippery climbs and dropped outside the top three. Fourth today, he will be aiming to claw back that time lost tomorrow.
After a relatively steady ride until then, Michael Walkner excelled in the mud. The Austrian moved from sixth to close out the top five with some strong riding.
Ever the experienced Red Bull Romaniacs competitor, Jarvis Racing’s Graham Jarvis blasted up the final sections to finish sixth, albeit ending his day over one hour behind Lettenbichler.
In what proved to be an exceptionally eventful end to Offroad Day 1, competitors will be hoping for an easier time of things tomorrow.
Provisional Results: Round 3 – Red Bull Romaniacs Offroad Day 1
1 Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 4:46:16
2 Trystan Hart (KTM) 5:10:03
3 Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 5:20:43
4 Wade Young (Sherco) 5:27:46
5 Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 5:37:12
6 Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 5:46:17
7 Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 5:28:47
8 Mario Roman (Sherco) 6:09:56
9 Sonny Goggia (KTM) 6:30:08
10 Matthew Green (KTM) 6:36:22…
Provisional Classification (After Offroad Day 1)
1 Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 4:46:36
2 Trystan Hart (KTM) 5:11:23
3 Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 5:20:43
4 Wade Young (Sherco) 5:28:56
5 Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 5:39:52
6 Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 5:48:37
7 Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 6:00:17
8 Mario Roman (Sherco) 6:11:56
9 Sonny Goggia (KTM) 6:32:18
10 Matthew Green (KTM) 6:38:12