Manuel Lettenbichler has won the fourth round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship with victory at Red Bull Abestone in Italy.
Claiming his third win in a row, Lettenbichler led home Billy Bolt in second with Mario Roman third.
The 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship keeps getting better and better for Manuel Lettenbichler with the German racing to victory at Red Bull Abestone in Italy. Coming in strong following wins in Serbia and Austria, the KTM rider kept that momentum rolling to top the podium once again.
After Saturday’s JUST1 Straight Rhythm qualifier it was Bolt who led the field away for the LIQUI MOLY FINAL A, starting 1953 metres above sea level at the Abetone gondola. AG Racing Team 89’s Alfredo Gomez was next to leave the start line 30 seconds later, with Lettenbichler the third rider flagged away a further 30 seconds behind Gomez.
Between high temperatures and a brutally tough course, the two-lap race would prove a hard task for all. Bolt opened the course, but after 45 minutes Lettenbichler had already disposed of Gomez and was closing in on the Husqvarna rider. Despite pushing hard, Bolt had no answer for Lettenbichler and midway through lap one, the German got out in front.
Controlling the pace, Mani steadily built up a cushion that he would work to his advantage on lap two. Managing the race superbly, Lettenbichler pushed on in the final stages to claim the win by over eight minutes.
“To get three wins in a row has come as a big surprise, it wasn’t something I expected happening at the beginning of the year,” Lettenbichler confessed, “But I feel good in my riding and it’s showing in my results. The organisers did a great job this year with the track. It was hard the whole way through. I think I got into the lead after about 45 minutes. Although Billy was never too far away, I rode on my own for quite a lot. But the gap never felt too big, so I had to keep pushing on.”
For Bolt, he would not end Red Bull Abestone on the top step of the podium. Despite a powerful performance on Saturday, winning both the morning qualifier and JUST1 Straight Rhythm, he was unable to hold off Lettenbichler in the LIQUI MOLY FINAL A. An ongoing wrist injury wasn’t helping him on the steep technical downhills and with Lettenbichler proving too strong, Bolt ultimately managed second place to keep his championship lead intact.
“I was managing the difficult sections pretty good, but my wrist was hurting on the downhills, and it was hard to keep the pace with Mani,” Bolt explained. “I’m happy with second to be honest. When he came past, I made a small mistake and lost touch with him. He pulled away a bit and I pulled a gap on third place, so the final lap was about trying to manage that and bring it home safe.”
Behind the top two, the fight for the final step of the podium was exciting. Gomez held third for the majority of the race, but a late-starting Roman was charging. The Sherco rider was picking off riders left, right, and centre as he worked his way up the leaderboard. Ending lap one inside the top five, he knew a podium result was on the cards. Leaving it all on the track, he caught and passed Gomez to get the job done and claim third.
“I had my work cut out for me today,” Roman said. “I started quite far back in 13th and had a lot of guys to overtake to get near the front. On the first lap I just tried to keep steady and chip away at the positions. On the final lap I was into the top five and felt strong, so I gave it everything to catch Alfredo and got third.”
With no answer for his fellow Spaniard on the final lap, Gomez saw his hopes of a podium dashed and he had to settle for fourth.
The FIM Hard Enduro World Championship continues with round five at Red Bull Romaniacs in Romania on July 26-30.
Results – Round 4, Red Bull Abestone
1 Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 2 laps, 4:13:29553
2 Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 2 laps, 4:22:19280
3 Mario Roman (Sherco) 2 laps, 4:22:19280
4 Alfredo Gomez (GASGAS) 2 laps, 4:51:33621
5 Matthew Green (KTM) 1 lap, 2:37:23413
6 Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 1 lap, 2:46:30811
7 Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 1 lap, 2:58:33425
8 Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 1 lap, 2:43:10486
9 Eddie Karlsson (KTM) 1 lap, 2:55:13221
10 Jonathan Richardson (Husqvarna) 1 lap, 3:17:29732
Championship Standings (After round 4)
1 Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 62 Points
2 Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 60 Points
3 Mario Roman (Sherco) 58 Points
4 Alfredo Gomez (GASGAS) 47 Points
5 Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 40 Points
6 Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 38 Points