Enduro

Steve Holcombe Crowned EnduroGP World Champion On Final Day In Portugal

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Steve Holcombe At the 2023 Enduro GP Of Portugal
In what’s proven to be a fairy tale season, Steve Holcombe has claimed the perfect ending to his 2023 FIM EnduroGP World Championship by winning the EnduroGP and Enduro2 titles. Photo: Future7Media

The 2023 Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship has drawn to a close with Steve Holcombe clinching the EnduroGP title.

The Brit capped off an exceptional season by also claiming the Enduro2 World Championship to become a nine-time world champion in Santiago do Cacem, Portugal.

There were further celebrations with Brad Freeman lifting the Enduro3 crown. Day two at the seventh and final round of the GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship saw Jed Etchells become champion.

As day one winner and the freshly crowned Enduro1 World Champion, Josep Garcia was not taking things slowly this morning. On a mission to secure third or better in the EnduroGP standings, the Spaniard blitzed the opening five special tests. In doing so he built up an early lead of 15 seconds over Steve Holcombe, with Andrea Verona six seconds back in third. With Brit Nathan Watson just one tenth behind Verona, it ensured a four-rider battle for the final podium of the season.

Comfortable in the chewed-up sandy special tests, Garcia pushed on to ultimately secure the victory. The Spaniard had done all he could to bolster his place in the final standings. Behind him though and things were spicy. With Watson putting in his best ride of the season, he was making life difficult for Verona.

Exiting the final POLISPORT Extreme Test, Watson sat in second position. Holcombe was 12 seconds behind, with Verona a further three seconds adrift in fourth. Factor in a charging Jamie McCanney, just three seconds behind Verona, and it was all too close to call.

Steve Holcombe At the 2023 Enduro GP Of Portugal
Steve Holcombe increased his tally of World Championships to nine. Photo: Future7Media

Trying to decide between pushing on for a top-three result or wrapping up the EnduroGP title, Holcombe wisely opted for the latter option in the closing stages of the day. Eventually slipping back to fifth in the closing stages, it was more than enough to see him crowned the 2023 EnduroGP World Champion, along with taking the Enduro2 world title.

“I’m a bit lost for words,” Holcombe confessed. “To win both the EnduroGP and Enduro2 titles in the one year is just incredible. After a couple of difficult seasons with injuries, I came into 2023 with the goal of staying healthy and building my confidence and speed back up. Little by little I chipped away at things and, well, it’s worked out amazingly. Once I got into the championship lead, I didn’t want to let it go. This weekend was tough with the nerves, to be honest. It was in 2020 that I was last in this position. But thankfully it all came good – I won both titles. I never dreamt of having so much success, but somehow, it’s happened, and I’m blown away. I can’t thank my team, sponsors, and supporters enough. This is a title I certainly won’t forget in a hurry. For sure we’ll celebrate tonight!”

Watson would stand firm in second to record his best result of the season. With Verona unable to get the better of the Honda rider, it saw Garcia capitalise on the result and end the season as runner-up to Holcombe in the final EnduroGP standings, beating Verona by just one point. Also enjoying a great end to his year, McCanney ended his day in fourth.

Brad Freeman At the 2023 Enduro GP Of Portugal
Brad Freeman won the E3 title by just two points. Photo: Future7Media

With Garcia and Holcombe locking down the Enduro1 and Enduro2 titles respectively, the most nail-biting end to the year was in Enduro3. Brad Freeman began the day with a comfortable looking 12 points over nearest rival Mikael Persson.

Winning the opening two tests, things looked like business as usual for Freeman, but as the day wore on he was in trouble. Slipping down the order to an eventual sixth place, and with Persson going on to win the day, resulting in many frantically doing the maths for the Enduro3 outcome. In the end, Freeman won the title by just two points and was crowned the Enduro3 World Champion.

“I’m happy to come home with the world title in Enduro3,” Freeman said. “It’s a little bit bittersweet having lost the EnduroGP lead and trying to ride through injuries. But despite the tough year, I’ve ended it with my ninth world title. I’m ready to rest up now!”

The outcome of the GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship was played out between Jed Etchells and Albin Norrbin. Etchells began the day with seven points in hand over Norrbin. If Norrbin won, Etchells needed to finish third or better to win his first world championship title.

Josep Garcia At the 2023 Enduro GP Of Portugal
Newly crowned Enduro1 World Champion Josep Garcia delivered on his promise, giving his all on the final day of competition in Portugal. Topping seven tests from 12 to take the win. Photo: Future7Media 

Topping the opening test, Etchells was off to a great start. But in the second half of the day, Norrbin was on top form. The Swede won the final six tests of the day to take the win. Australia’s Kyron Bacon was riding well and slipped in between Norrbin and Etchells to place second.

However, with Etchells hanging onto third, it was enough to seal him the GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship. Although losing out to Etchells in the overall Junior standings, Norrbin did win the Junior2 title.

“I’m over the moon to come away with the Junior title after what’s been an amazing year,” Etchells said. “My team worked so hard to get this over the line and I can’t thank them enough for helping me become a world champion. We’ll celebrate tonight!”

With the Youth Enduro and Women’s Enduro titles already wrapped up on day one by Kevin Cristino and Jane Daniels respectively, day two saw Cristino win once again to make it 11 victories in 2023. Making it a clean sweep of victories in the Magnorange FIM Women’s Enduro Championship, Daniels remained unbeaten in 2023.

Jane Daniels At the 2023 Enduro GP Of Portugal
Jane Daniels went through the season unbeaten to claim the Womens championship. Photo: Future7Media

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