Nathan Watson topped the timesheets on day one of the fourth round of the 2022 WPTGlobal FIM EnduroGP World Championship in style to secure his first class and outright win of the year.
Doing everything right, Watson finished ahead of Andrea Verona with Australian Daniel Milner continuing his recent run of strong form to claim third.
Following hot on the heels of last weekend’s EnduroGP of Italy, the WPTGlobal FIM EnduroGP World Championship’s second visit of the year to Portugal certainly didn’t disappoint. Dry and stony but nowhere near as hot as the Italian event, the host towns Coimbra and Souselas served up some great special tests.
While it was Italy’s Andrea Verona who started the Portuguese event in the best way possible by topping both the Friday night AKRAPOVIC Super Test and Saturday morning’s opening Just1 Enduro Test, it was Great Britain’s Nathan Watson who ultimately went the distance and ended the day at the top of the outright EnduroGP results.
“It’s been an amazing day,” Watson said. “I finally had a good Super Test, so that set me up well for today. I made a good start to the day and just felt really good on my Honda. The times continued to come all day, and the extreme was a little easier, which helped me, so all-in-all things went really well. This is my first overall win since 2017, so it feels so, so good.”
With Verona just over 15 seconds behind Watson following a day-long battle for the win, the Italian nevertheless took advantage of Wil Ruprecht’s monster crash on the opening Just1 Enduro Test and subsequent 13th place finish to move to the top of the EnduroGP championship standings.
Rounding out the EnduroGP podium was Australian Daniel Milner. Clearly loving life on his 250cc Fantic, despite not topping any of the day’s special tests, his consistent riding enabled him to finish as a worthy third-place finisher.
“It’s been a good day for me,” Milner said. “The ground was really slick, with small stones and grit. I just did what I could and I’m so happy to have gotten onto the EnduroGP podium. I feel like I was able to get a lot closer to Verona today, so I’m stoked to be where I’m at.”
Placing fourth overall, Steve Holcombe put his troubled run through round three behind him to top the POLISPORT Extreme Test on lap one and eventually place fourth overall.
Fifth outright went to France’s Hugo Blanjouewho, like Milner, carried the impressive form he showed in Italy over to the Portuguese event. Delivering a stand-out performance to finish a strong sixth on his was Italian Samuele Bernardini. Just 0.58 of a second behind Bernardini was fellow Italian Thomas Oldrati in seventh while Matteo Cavallo, Antoine Megan, and Brad Freeman rounded out the top 10 in EnduroGP.
Marching on in his quest to defend his Enduro1 World Championship title, Andrea Verona took yet another E1 class win on day one in Portugal. Beaten on just one of the day’s nine special tests, Verona placed 25 seconds clear of runner-up Daniel Milner. With Samuele Berdardini rounding out the top three in E1 to claim his first trip to the podium of 2022, Thomas Oldrati placed fourth with Matteo Cavallo fifth.
The Enduro2 class saw a British one-two with the day’s outright winner Nathan Watson finishing comfortably ahead of Steve Holcombe, who’d missed the second day of racing at last weekend’s GP of Portugal due to his previously injured shoulder. With the GB countrymen out front, third went to Hugo Blanjoue with Wil Ruprecht battling his way back from his early morning get-off to place fourth with Czech rider Krystof Kouble rounding out the top five.
Showing that every second is worth fighting for, Brad Freeman again battled through another day of racing with his injured hand to importantly get the better of his closest challenger on the final special test of the day. In finishing six seconds up on Antoine Basset in the final ACERBIS Cross Test, Brad topped the podium by 0.27 of a second. With Basset runner-up, third went to Matteo Pavoni with Mikael Person fourth following a spill on the final extreme test.
Racing continues tomorrow with Day two of the fourth round.
Results: Round 4 – GP of Portugal
EnduroGP – DAY 1
1 Nathan Watson (Honda) 1:00:21.68
2 Andrea Verona (GASGAS) 1:00:37.33
3 Daniel Milner (Fantic) 1:01:02.96
4 Steve Holcombe (Beta) 1:01:17.23
5 Hugo Blanjoue (KTM) 1:01:43.68
6 Samuele Bernardini (Honda) 1:01:46.73
7 Thomas Oldrati (Honda) 1:01:47.31
8 Matteo Cavallo (TM) 1:01:49.22
9 Antoine Magain (Sherco) 1:01:53.62
10 Brad Freeman (Beta) 1:01:53.63