In complete contrast to the sub-zero conditions at the opening round of the 2017 EnduroGP World Championship series in Finland, the AMV GP of Spain served up extreme dust as the world’s best enduro racers battled not only one another but also the hugely challenging, arid Spanish terrain.
New winners topped the podium in all classes with Matt Phillips (Sherco) earning his first EnduroGP class win of the year. Locked in a two-rider battle with Steve Holcombe (Beta) the Tasmanian did just enough to top the results, placing less than three seconds ahead of his British rival. “Man, that was a tough day,” admitted Phillips. “I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a track as rutted and beat up as that. The tests were difficult because the ground was so soft and dusty, but I think the time controls were even harder. Steve rode great today, it was cool to be battling with him. We both pushed so hard, it was so close all through the day.” Best finishing two-stroke rider in the EnduroGP class, Steve Holcombe kept the pressure up on Phillips winning three tests including the closing Motocross Test. Nathan Watson (KTM) rounded out the EnduroGP podium despite a nasty crash during the third and final lap, finally finishing ahead of team-mate Christophe Nambotin (KTM) by less than one-and-a-half seconds.
Josep Garcia (KTM) secured his first ever senior class victory by topping the Enduro 2 class ahead of Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) and Eero Remes (TM). Rising to the occasion of his home GP, Garcia hit the ground running by topping each of the three test during the opening lap. Crashing near the end of the technical enduro test on lap two he held on to his class lead to claim an eventual 15-second winning margin. “I’m so happy to win here in Spain,” explained a delighted Garcia. “The day was really tough and when I crashed on the enduro test I really made things harder for myself. But I managed to remain in the lead and completed the final lap without problems. Today was tough, but tomorrow is going to be even harder. I’ll give my best to try and get another win.” Runner-up to Garcia, Jamie McCanney enjoyed an impressive day to claim a well-deserved runner-up result. Topping two of the day’s tests in the E2 class, Jamie kept himself ahead of Eero Remes (TM) – winner of the opening round of the season in Finland. Another Spaniard to enjoy a good day in Puerto Lumbreras was Jonathan Barragan (Gas Gas). Just 14 seconds behind Remes, the Gas Gas rider was the first Enduro 2 class two-stroke rider home. Pascal Rauchenecker (Husqvarna) rounded out the top five ahead of team-mate Danny McCanney (Husqvarna), Thomas Oldrati (Husqvarna), Davide Guarneri (Honda), Henric Stigell (Husqvarna) and Jeremy Joly (Beta).
Competition was certainly close at the top of the Enduro Junior class where just 12 seconds covered the top four riders. Italy’s Davide Soreca (Honda) eventually took the class win, completing the day just under 8 seconds ahead of Brad Freeman (Beta). Unable to compete in the season opener in Finland following a pre-event crash, despite being buried deep in the dust of the EJ class throughout the day the Brit showed impressive pace. Rounding out the podium was Sweden’s Mikael Persson (Yamaha). Eventually placing fourth Spain’s Kirian Mirabet (Sherco) saw his hopes of a class win ended when he crashed on the event’s final motocross test.
The battle for the top spot in the Women’s class saw Laia Sanz (KTM) and Maria Franke (KTM) distance themselves from eventual third place finisher Jane Daniels (Husqvarna) by more than two minutes. With Sanz fastest through Friday night’s Akrapovic SuperTest a mistake in the day’s opening Extreme Test saw her fall behind Franke before the pair became locked in battle throughout the day. Although it was Franke who claimed the most test wins, Sanz eventually placed 10 seconds ahead thanks in no small part to her speed through the Enduro Test. “Making a mistake on the first Extreme Test wasn’t a great start to the day, but eventually everything worked out ok,” admitted crowd favourite Sanz. “It was a really tough day but I enjoyed the battle with Maria a lot. We pushed each other on every test, there was no time to relax. Every part of the track – the tests and the trails – are so heavily rutted, tomorrow is going to be a very hard day.”
Italian Andrea Verona (TM) won in the 125cc Youth class, finishing 20 seconds ahead of Chilean Ruy Barbosa (Husqvarna) with Frenchman Leo Le Quere (TM) completing the podium in third.