The large crowd who attended this first day of races, were able to witness the crowning of Juha SALMINEN (FIN - HVA) in the Enduro 1 category. The HVA representative has marked his place in the history of Enduro by adding an eigth title to his personal record. To achieve this, he needed to finish ahead of his rival Eero REMES (FIN - KTM) which he did and ended the day brilliantly.
Juha Salminen (copyright ABC com / Mathew)
The thousands of spectators also celebrated the 5th consecutive title for Mika AHOLA (FIN - HM HONDA) in Enduro 3. It was a similar situation for him in that he also had to finish ahead of Christophe NAMBOTIN (FRA - Gas Gas) in order to clinch the title and left the Frenchman no hope since he breezed into first place from the beginning. « These five titles mean a lot to me… » said Mika AHOLA « Firstly because I am the first to have won in all 3 categories, secondly because it is the 5th in a row and lastly because I am the oldest champion in the world ! »
On top of these two major titles, the 108 riders displayed an exceptional first part of the final weekend. The heat of this first weekend of the month of October alongside the battles for the various titles, raised the level of the first day of races.
AHOLA : « I am the only one to have won in all three titles ! »
However, in Enduro 1, the day started off badly for Juha SALMINEN who was losing several seconds as of the very first special, due to a surprising Rodrig THAIN (FRA - HM Honda) and his compatriot Eero REMES. But the Finn began to catch up from the 2nd lap and then took control of the category and didn’t let go after that through to the end of the race. The KTM representative tried his best to keep up with his elder, but the Flying Finn was quite simply untouchable today. Fabien PLANET (FRA - Sherco) finished in 3rd place. A good battle as well for the subsequent places between Nicolas DEPARROIS (FRA - Kawa), Matti SEISTOLA (FIN - HVA) and Rodrig THAIN. And it is eventually the HVA representative who had the last word.
Mika AHOLA (Copyright ABC com / Mathew)
In the Enduro 3 category, Mika AHOLA (FIN – HM Honda) dominated the day without doubt. Taking advantage of a wrist injury sustained by his direct opponent, Christophe NAMBOTIN (FRA - Gas Gas), the Finn achieved a fantastic win and the 5th World title in a row. He once again showed the calm and serenity of a great champion. The Frenchman was unable to compete well with his painful wrist and finished in 5th place. The rookie, Alex SALVINI (ITA - HVA), in great form from the very first specials, achieved the best race of his season and finished on the second step of the podium with only fifteen seconds between him and the newly crowned 5 times World Champion. The Husaberg Joakim LJUNGGREN (SWE) – Marko TARKKALA (FIN) duo offered the crowd some great overtaking. It is eventually the Finn who, from the 3rd lap onwards, went ahead of the great Swede, achieving his third podium finish of the year. For his big comeback, David KNIGHT (GB - KTM) was forced to withdraw in the second lap due to his physical fitness not being quite there yet.
In Enduro 2, Pierre-Alexandres RENET (FRA - Husaberg) offers a prestigious victory. The newly-crowned World Champion, Antoine MEO (FRA - HVA), unrecognisable at the beginning of the day, carried out a fantastic comeback and grabbed the second place off Cristobal GUERRERO (ESP - KTM). Ivan CERVANTES (ESP - Gas Gas) had to be content with his fourth place.
Junior Enduro : Advantage to Joly !
A great battle was expected between Jérémy JOLY (FRA - HM Honda) and Mario ROMAN (ESP - KTM), which indeed took place. Unable to fight for first place, due to a very fast Romain DUMONTIER (FRA - Yam), the two rivals fought nail to nail. Eventually, it was the HM Honda representative, encouraged by the public, who showed himself to be the best and also managed to grab the second place up to that point held by the surprising Mathias Bellino (FRA - Husaberg). He regains, therefore, some precious points from the KTM Espana rider in the race for the title. Jonathan MANZI (ITA - KTM) finishing ahead of the talented Portuguese, Luis OLIVEIRA (Yam) and the British Jordan SCOTT (TM), wins the FIM Youth Cup 125 cc title. First title for the young Italian from Bergamo, who seems to hold a radiant future in this discipline and who already as of next season, could be trying for the Junior title.
5th consecutive victory for the quite amazing Ludivine PUY (FRA – Gas Gas) to whom it would seem that a second world title is imminent, other than if there are mechanical problems tomorrow. But Laïa SANZ (ESP - HM Honda) is edging ever closer to the French woman, being ahead of her for part of the day. A good third place awarded to the Swedish Jessica JONSSON (Gas Gas).
After the two magnificent titles awarded to Juha SALMINEN (FIN – HVA) and Mika AHOLA (FIN – HM Honda) today, the World Enduro has already offered the crowds an amazing final. As of tomorrow, 9 am, the 2011 EWC will live its final hours with still two titles to be awarded in Enduro Junior and Women. The suspense is still strong, therefore, and there is no doubt that the public, that will be even more numerous tomorrow, will be cheering to encourage Jérémy JOLY and Ludivine PUY towards the world title.