Enduro

Stapleton breaks through in Greece

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Australia has unearthed another world enduro winner ‰ÛÒ 20-year-old TM rider Jake Stapleton. The New South Welshman dominated the fledgling junior class at the penultimate round of the Maxxis Enduro World Championship in Greece, winning both days on his factory-supported EN250. After six second place finishes in the opening seven rounds ‰ÛÒ some by a matter of seconds - Stapleton was relieved that he had finally taken the final step, in what has still been a superb year for the world championship rookie. "This is the best feeling I've ever had," said Stapleton. "I knew I would eventually break through, but to do it with my parents in town in something special again. "I was particularly happy with how I performed on day two, because my time was better than the junior champion Cristobal Guerrero, who was competing in the E2 class. "In fact, my time would have seen me finish sixth in E2, so that gives me extra confidence when I move into the class next year." Ironically, Stapleton's winning margin over Britain's Daryl Bolter (Husqvarna) on day one in Serres was a scant 1.156sec, after coming from behind in the last special test. Oriol Mena (Gas Gas) made it three manufacturers on the dais, with the same trifecta repeated on day two. This time, Stapleton thumped Bolter by over one-and-half-seconds, with the gap back to fourth-placed Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) only another 3.152sec. Stapleton, who finished 10th in the E2 class at the recent International Six Days' Enduro in Slovakia, is now on an adjusted (riders can drop their worst round) 262pts with one round to go, ahead of Bolter (253), Oriol (228) and Marc Bourgeois (Husqvarna, 223). Guerrero (Gas Gas), who wrapped up the junior title at round seven in Finland, is on 290pts. Meanwhile, the irreproachable Stefan Merriman (Yamaha WR450F) made it a stellar weekend for Aussie riders with his fourth clean sweep of the E2 (250cc 2T vs. 450cc 4T) class. Merriman, whose appeal against his exclusion from the opening day's racing in Finland was recently dismissed, easily accounted for long-time adversary Samuli Aro (KTM) in Serres, but in the championship stakes was hit hard after losing 25 points as a result of the appeal loss. "I really enjoyed the longer special tests," Merriman said. "The weather was just right and this race had a bit of everything. The Greek Moto Club have done a wonderful job of organizing the race. I am disappointed to be out of the chase for the title this year, unfortunately I had too many injuries earlier on. Now with the points allocation changed I can only make up 3 points per day on Aro, which is not enough when there is only 8 rounds of World Enduro Championship. However I am thrilled with this victory and will continue to aim to win the remaining races of the season." he concluded. Whilst Stapleton and Merriman have many miles behind them on the World Enduro scene, young Husqvarna backed Australian AJ Roberts is quickly coming to grips with world level competition as he took in his second round since remaining in Europe after the ISDE. Roberts was keen to impress in his first WEC ride with the Husqvarna factory team, CH Racing. Having started the first day without his tool bag, Roberts needed to keep it together and avoid incident. His Husqvarna WR250 was strong and Roberts put together an impressive performance throughout the day, finishing 8th in E2 class and the first Husqvarna through the finish. Starting with his tool bag on the second day, Roberts was set to improve on the previous day's result. A couple of small incidents cost the Yamaha Australian Offroad Championship winner vital time through the day and his hope of improving on 8th was not to be, eventually crossing the line in 11 th position (E2). "I Don't really know what happened out there," said AJ. "The bike had a great setup but I was a little weary and just couldn't get in a groove. I had my bumbag though!" joked a fatigued Roberts from the comfort of the Husqvarna CH Racing transporter. "I just can't wait for the final rounds (WEC) next weekend" Click here for full results Main Photo: Stefan Merriman

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