The end of the tunnel for KTM….
The summer heat of the past few days faded away this morning at the start of the first day of the POLISPORT GP of Portugal, the relief of the 105 riders involved in this 2nd Grand Prix of the season. This 72 km long circuit around the VALE de CAMBRA, particularly feared by most, was a little less difficult than previously thought. “This course is a little easier than in Spain and less difficult that the Grand Prix that we have been previously used to in Portugal…” confided Mika AHOLA (FIN - HM HONDA) at the end of the first lap…. “The Cross text Special is lovely and fast. On the other hand, the Enduro Test is rather slow and necessarily suited to my bike, where as the extreme natural Special is very technical”
In fact, the Finnish World Champion couldn’t have put it better since the battle was incredible throughout the whole day in Enduro 3, where the trio made up of Christophe NAMBOTIN (FRA - GAS GAS), David KNIGHT (GB - KTM), Mika AHOLA led a top speed race from the very first timed sections…
The incredible David KNIGHT….
Having been distances from the very first kilometres, GUILLAUME (FRA - HVA), KEHR (GER - KTM), MENA (ESP - HUSABERG), LJUNGGREN (SWE - HUSABERG) weren’t able at all to get near to the trio ahead of them…. and it is the incredible David KNIGHT (GB - KTM) who takes the lead after a lightening last lap! “ It is excellent to win here, despite the pain in my hip!” It is an enormous surprise when we know that the Brit has a serious injury on his hip and was talking about having an operation as soon as possible!!!!! Intoxication? Bluff? Henceforth, everything seems possible with David KNIGHT ! Mika AHOLA grabs the second place off the tough Christophe NAMBOTIN in the very last extreme special.
Stratospheric throughout the whole day on his KTM 350 en Enduro 2, Johny AUBERT (FRA) proves that he is still a potential candidate, despite the 50 point lag behind Antoine MEO (FRA - HVA)….. “Pela RENET helped me along for the whole day and this victory is more of a relief for the whole team, after our problems in Spain. The day was much harder than the result would indicate. The terrain is very rough with many pebbles and dust, which adds to the difficulty of the event…”
With this, his first success of the year, Johny AUBERT reduces by already 9 points his lag on the Antoine MEO, since Pierre Alexandre RENET (FRA - HUSABERG) score a remarkable second place, whilst Cristobal GUERRERO (ESP - KTM), Johny AUBERT’s teammate, reaches Antoine MEO, also taking advantage of an error made by the E1 World Champion, who stalls his engine of his 310 HVA in the last Extreme Special. Antoine MEO, just like Ivan CERVANTES (ESP - GAS GAS), pays the price for a laborious start to the race and a particular aversion to the Special Extreme.
Forgotten therefore the electrical failures of the Spanish GP for the KTM team…. But Eero REMES (FIN - KTM) will not be able to match the triumphant march of his compatriot Juha SALMINEN (FIN - HVA), ahead from beginning to end in the Enduro 1. Rodrig THAIN (FRA - HM HONDA) completes the podium and confirms his perfect relationship with his little HM HONDA 250.. The breakage of a small connecting rod in the suspension of his SHERCO, impedes Fabien PLANET (FRA) from confirming his place on the Spanish GP podium, whereas Matti SEISTOLA (FIN - HVA) 4th, loses some precious points in the championship. A nice start from the Belgian, Cedric MELOTTE on his little GAS GAS 250cc 4-stroke gaining a decent 6th place.
The Finnish are most definitely in good form at this the beginning of the championship and the most promising of all is Anti HELLSTEN (KTM) dominated without doubt the day in the ENDURO JUNIORS in front of a cohort of French riders (DUMONTIER, JOLY, FORTUNATO…) and the very fast Mario ROMAN (ESP - KTM). And then, how can we not mention the stunning duel in the 125cc 2 stroke (FIM YOUTH CUP) saw the Italian Jonathan MANZI (KTM) against the local Luis OLIVEIRA (POR - YAMAHA), wild in front of his public!! and the rider of the YAMAHA CRN FUNDADOR team , leads, much to the delight of the numerous local spectators….
Ludivine PUY (FRA - GAS GAS) leads once again with the women’s category, but Laia SANZ (ESP - HONDA) continues to creep closer to the world Champion and her first victory won’t long in the waiting. The German, Heike PETRICK (GER - KTM) finishes the day well and just gets the podium place ahead of the French Blandine DUFRENE (GAS GAS).
Tomorrow morning, from 9 am , the second part of this POLISPORT Portuguese Grand Prix takes place, followed by a highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic public….