Enduro

Steve Holcombe Takes EnduroGP Win On Day Two At GP Of Portugal

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Photo of Steve Holecomb At the 2024 Enduro GP Of Portugal
Brit Steve Holcombe took the win on day two at the 2024 Enduro GP Of Portugal. Photo: Future7Media

The final day of racing at the opening round of the 2024 FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Portugal saw Honda Racing RedMoto Enduro Team’s Steve Holcombe take victory.

In what proved to be an incredible day of action at the ACERBIS GP of Portugal, Holcombe shone through to claim a hard-fought win over day one winner Josep Garcia, with Nathan Watson close behind in third.

The final day of racing produced one of the most memorable races in recent times. Exceptionally close battles saw the world’s best Enduro riders fight it out with just 10 seconds separating the top three on the EnduroGP podium.

As riders left the start ramp in Fafe, Portugal, the rain soon cleared to produce bright, sunny skies. The drying weather ensured grip levels in the Portuguese dirt were at their best, allowing competitors to push the level even higher than the previous day.

Steve Holcombe fired the first warning shot to his rivals on the opening ACERBIS Cross Test by clocking in the fastest time. Josep Garcia was right behind him in second, with Nathan Watson shadowing them in third. A solid start from current Junior World Champion Jed Etchells slotted him into fifth, behind Andrea Verona in fourth.

On to the opening MAXXIS Enduro Test and Garcia immediately responded. Setting the quickest time saw him take over the lead from Holcombe. But it would prove short-lived. Holcombe answered right back on the POLISPORT Extreme Test. Taking the test win and capitalising on a mistake from the Spaniard put the Honda rider nine seconds ahead of his rival as they began lap two of three.

For the entire second lap, the pace was frantic at the front. Garcia, Watson, and Holcombe split the special test wins between them, with Verona, Samuele Bernardini, Mikael Persson and Jamie McCanney right behind them.

Photo of Josep Garcia At the 2024 Enduro GP Of Portugal
Day one winner Josep Garcia had to settle for second on day two but leads the EnduroGP standings by two points going into round two. Photo: Future7Meda

Heading into the final lap, and Holcombe still controlled the race lead by a crucial eight seconds over Garcia. With Watson only four seconds behind the Spaniard in third, it was all to play for with only three tests remaining.

Watson powered his way to the final ACERBIS Cross Test win. Closing in on the duo, he looked the danger man. Persson took the final MAXXIS Enduro Test, while Garcia, Watson, and Holcombe were separated by two seconds.

With it all boiling down to the final POLISPORT Extreme Test, nine-time world champion Holcombe utilised every ounce of experience he had to stay cool under pressure. Taking the test win saw him secure his debut EnduroGP victory in Honda colours by just four seconds.

“I’m really pumped to take the EnduroGP win today,” Holcombe enthused. “It was a heck of a battle all day between Josep (Garcia), Nathan (Watson), and myself. I felt good in my riding and could really put the bike where I wanted to on track. It feels awesome to win so soon with Honda, and also to get my first Enduro1 victory. I’m excited for the rest of the season!”

Despite his best efforts, Garcia was made to settle for second on day two in Fafe. Putting in an incredible ride, Watson could be pleased with his day’s work of third.

“I’m very happy with how the weekend has gone and it feels good to get the championship underway with strong results like this. Day one was perfect,” Garcia said. “I hardly made a mistake and won by quite a lot. Day two started good, but I had a big crash in the first extreme test that cost me a lot of time. I pushed hard and made most of the time back. It was frustrating to miss the victory by so little, but it shows just how tight the racing is. Overall, with a 1-2 result in EnduroGP, it’s been a very strong start to the season. Next weekend I’ll give it my all again.”

Sitting on the fringes of the top three, Verona wasn’t quite able to join Holcombe, Garcia, and Watson in the battle for victory and had to be content with fourth. Closing out the top five overall was Bernardini, with Persson just one second behind the Italian in sixth.

Photo of Andrea Verona At the 2024 Enduro GP Of Portugal
Andrea Verona has shown he means business this season! Claiming the Enduro2 class win at the first round of the series in Fafe, Portugal. Photo: Future7Media

CLASS RESULTS:

The FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship produced a great battle between Mireia Badia and day one winner Rachel Gutish. Badia had the measure of Gutish today and with four special test wins to her name out of a possible six, she took the win.

Gutish rode well but wasn’t able to show the same intensity as she had done on day one and placed second. Francesca Nocera finished seven seconds behind in third. Elodie Chaplot and Marie Holt were fourth and fifth, respectively.

“I’m super happy with my riding,” Badia said. “It’s been a great result today in tough conditions. The fight was good between Rachel (Gutish) and myself and it’s so nice to take the win here in Fafe.”

With Holcombe and Garcia fighting it out for the overall EnduroGP victory, it was Holcombe who also snatched the Enduro1 class win. The Brit has now secured race wins in all three senior classes during his professional career. Jamie McCanney got the better of Zach Pichon on day two to take third.

Putting the finishing touches to an incredible debut with Beta Factory Racing, Nathan Watson put his name on top of the Enduro2 results sheet on day two in Fafe. Verona and Bernardini joined the Beta rider on the podium in second and third respectively. Just missing a place in the top three by one second, Persson will look for more at round two next weekend in Valpacos. Etchells completed the top five.

In Enduro3, day one winner Brad Freeman caused a surprise when he exited the race after the first special test due to illness. Kiwi Hamish MacDonald came through to take a memorable first victory in Enduro3. Matteo Cavallo was second, with Julien Roussaly third.

Photo of Axel Semb At the 2024 Enduro GP Of Portugal
Axel Semb took the FIM Junior Enduro World Championship wins on both days at the 2024 Enduro GP Of Portugal. Photo: Future7Media

The GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship saw Axel Semb make it two wins from two starts in Fafe. However, unlike his day one victory, his advantage was only 18 seconds this time around.

“It’s been the perfect start to the season, winning both days. I’m so happy with how things went and how I felt on the bike in these conditions. Thank you to the team for all their support,” Semb said.

Antoine Alix kept him honest all day for second, while Thibault Giraudon was third. Leo Joyon and Max Ahlin rounded out the top five.

The Enduro Youth class saw a shake-up in the results with a new winner emerging on day two in Fafe. Alberto Elgari was on top form in the Portuguese special tests and powered through to take the first win of his young career. Manuel Verzeroli raised his game as well to finish second. Third on day one, Clement Clauzier returned to the podium on day two with another well-deserved top-three result.

After what proved to be an exceptionally exciting opening round of the Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship in Fafe, Portugal, the paddock now heads to nearby Valpacos in Portugal for round two next week on April 12-14.

Photo of Steve Holcombe At the 2024 Enduro GP Of Portugal
The Holcomb team celebrated their first victory of the season.

Results: Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship, Round 1 – Day 2

EnduroGP
1 Steve Holcombe (Honda) 53:32.40
2 Josep Garcia (KTM) 53:36.79
3 Nathan Watson (Beta) 53:41.95
4 Andrea Verona (GASGAS) 53:54.45
5 Samuele Bernardini (Honda) 54:17.18
6 Mikael Persson (Husqvarna) 54:18.69
7 Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) 54:48.13
8 Jamie McCanney (Husqvarna) 54:52.68
9 Matteo Cavallo (TM Racing) 54:56.41
10 Zach Pichon (Sherco) 55:17.56

Championship Standings (After Round 1)
EnduroGP
1 Josep Garcia (KTM) 37 Points
2 Steve Holcombe (Honda) 35 Points
3 Andrea Verona (GASGAS) 30 Points
4 Nathan Watons (Beta) 28 Points
5 Samuele Bernardini (Honda) 20 Points
6 Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) 19 Points
7 Mikael Persson (Husqvarna) 18 Points
8 Jamie McCanney (Husqvarna) 14 Points
9 Zach Pichon (Sherco) 13 Points
10 Matteo Cavallo (TM Racing) 12 Points

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