Mario Roman has hit the ground running at the opening round of the 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, winning the Minus 400.
Continually at the front during the first two days of competition in Israel, the Spaniard raced his way to the overall win on the third and final day in the Minus 400 Main Event.
Defending FIM Hard Enduro World Champion Billy Bolt made good his start to the 2022 season placing second. Coming off the injury bench with a bang, Graham Jarvis brought his own Jarvis Racing Team Husqvarna home in third.
After a highly charged opening two days of racing, the outcome of round one of the 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship boiled down to the Minus 400 Main Event. A 75-kilometre-long course that increased in difficulty with each kilometre was made even more challenging due to the intense heat riders faced in Israel.
Showing he’s unfazed by the extreme temperatures, Wade Young – winner on day two – was out to claim victory on day three and immediately set the pace. The South African looked comfortable out front as he navigated the slippery terrain and rocky climbs with relative ease.
Billy Bolt – winner on day one – sat behind him in second and after starting in fourth, Mario Roman was charging forward. Entering the service point the trio were grouped together and as they began the second half of the race, the fight was on.
The final key sections would prove decisive in the outcome of the podium. A highly technical boulder garden, made even harder by the furnace-like heat baking the rocks, was where Roman made his move. Taking control of the race lead, he managed to put a gap into his rivals and from there to the finish line was never challenged, claiming a seven-minute margin of victory.
“Ah man, it’s amazing to get this win,” Roman said. “What a start to the season! I feel like it’s a long time coming since my last big victory. Overall the race has been very good for its first edition. The entire three days were tough with the terrain and the heat. Today was a battle. I started fourth and focused on my own pace. In the technical terrain I caught up to them and after service I pushed on again. In the final key sections I made my move and took the win.”
For Bolt, hopes of victory didn’t come his way. Still managing a wrist injury and faced with a determined Roman, he had to be content with second in Israel.
“It’s been a physical start to the season for sure,” Bolt said. “After a full superenduro season I was a little underprepared coming here. Considering how little time I’ve spent on the two-stroke prior to Israel I’m happy with second. At the service point, I could see Mario and Wade’s tyres were in better condition, so I knew I just needed to hang on to the finish to secure a podium result.”
The fight for the final step of the podium rapidly developed in the closing stages with those final technical key sections taking no prisoners. After a slow start, Graham Jarvis came on strong exiting service and was suddenly in contention. Mistakes from Young opened a gap, and the wily Brit took full advantage to take third.
“It feels brilliant to be back racing and even better to finish on the podium,” Jarvis said. “It’s been a long road to recovery to get to this point. The initial part of today’s race was fast and I wasn’t comfortable to go with the top guys straight away – I’m still thinking about my knee. But after the service point, I settled in and started to make progress. The rock section at the end was the decider and I made places there for third.”
AG Racing Team 89’s Alfredo Gomez was another rider on the move in the closing stages and he too capitalised on Young’s late errors to race his way into fourth. Despite a strong start, Young’s mistakes on the final climbs proved his undoing. With no time to regroup, the South African was naturally disappointed with fifth.
After the extreme heat and dry terrain of Israel’s Dead Sea, the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship now heads deep into the Serbian Mountains for round two with the Xross Hard Enduro Rally on May 18-21.
Minus 400 Main Event
1 Mario Roman (Sherco) 3:48.24
2 Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 3:55:37
3 Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 3:58:00
4 Alfredo Gomez (GASGAS) 4:03:08
5 Wade Young (Sherco) 4:06:48
6 Teodor Kabakchiev (Husqvarna) +2CP, 3:11:33
7 Dominik Olszowy (GASGAS) +2CP, 3:11:58
8 Michael Walkner (GASGAS) +2CP 3:15:42
9 David Cyprian (KTM) +2CP, 3:24:52
10 Francesc Moret (Rieju) +2CP 3:26:19
Championship Standings (after round 1 of 8)
1 Mario Roman (Sherco) 20 Points
2 Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 17 Points
3 Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 15 Points
4 Alfredo Gomez (GASGAS) 13 Points
5 Wade Young (Sherco) 11 Points
6 Teodor Kabakchiev (Husqvarna) 10 Points
7 Dominik Olszowy (GASGAS) 9 Points
8 Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 8 Points
9 David Cyprian (KTM) 7 Points
10 Francesc Moret (Rieju) 6 Points