The Grand Prix of Italy always has a festival atmosphere, organized with a single passion: ENDURO. And the latest Italian GP, held in Spoleto last weekend, did not deviate from the rule. We look back at the news from the 3rd round of the 2017 Maxxis FIM EnduroGP Championship…
The Bike Festival
Together with Spoleto town the event organisers, Moto Club Spoleto, successfully put everything together to ensure this Italian GP celebrated ‘real Enduro', as well as motorcycle sport in general. Throughout the weekend firework displays, entertainment, and stunt shows were put on to the delight of nearly 15,000 spectators. On Friday and Saturday night, fans of FMX were able to marvel at a great show inside the Stadio Communale featuring some of Italy’s top Freestyle riders. In order to delight all audiences, the organisers also programmed numerous concerts; from live music to comedians. The presence of four knowledgeable commentators and catering stands on every special test allowed for an all inclusive feel to the race weekend, and attracted a large number of enduro enthusiasts. Undoubtedly, the Spoleto Grand Prix fulfilled all its promises.
« One day is like an entire ISDE! »
Mike BROWN (USA - Husqvarna), is well known in the off-road world for his glory years in MXGP and his highly successful career in Endurocross. For Enduro fans, his name is synonymous with the ISDE. Indeed, the rider from Tennessee has frequently represented the USA during the legendary Enduro team race. But, at 45 years old, and after making his debut at an EnduroGP round (16/12), "Brownie" told us: "One day of EnduroGP is more difficult than an entire ISDE! I cannot believe how much the tests get cut out and change from lap to lap... it is very hard for the youngsters!” The Husqvarna rider, who is supported by JET Racing, also told us that he would like to come back to the Championship at the UK Grand Prix in September. Let's keep our fingers crossed!
Italian Young Guns
Whenever World Enduro ventures to Italy there is the chance to discover new stars for the future. In the past, the Maxxis FIM EnduroGP World Championship allowed the initiation of Giacomo REDONDI (2010) and Davide SORECA (2012). This year was no exception and onlookers were surprised by the speed and talent of wildcards Matteo PAVONI (KTM), Lorenzo MACORITTO (Husqvarna) and Claudio SPANU (Husqvarna). In any case, it will be necessary to keep an eye on the Italian youth led by SORECA (Honda) and the current leader of the FIM Youth 125cc Andrea VERONA (TM)...
At the Italian Grand Prix, Simone ALBERGONI (I - Kawasaki) returned to EnduroGP with the KE Moto team. Very popular with the Italian public, "Simo" decided at the end of 2016 to retire from international competition. For the occasion of his one-off return, his wife Elena CIOCCA and his team organised a surprise party in his honour on Saturday evening just before the podium... his former team-mates, team managers and all his Enduro friends gathered under the awning of the KE Moto team. We are hoping to see ALBERGONI again, as a manager!
On Friday morning in the paddock at 09:00... Nicolo MORI (I - KTM) and Paolo LUCCI (I - KTM) realised that three of their motorcycles had been stolen; including their race bikes! The theft saw the end of a dream for LUCCI, who was going to participate in his first Grand Prix. A little later in the paddock, a motorcycle was also stolen from the Husqvarna Kytönen team... by a stroke of "luck" it was an official Follower bike and not a race bike. Thanks to the loan of two motorbikes from their friends, MORI and LUCCI managed to present themselves at technical control before its closure at 14.00 and to take their place on the EnduroGP start line. But it is still sad to see that the theft of motorcycles in the paddocks of Championships, whether World or National, has become more and more frequent. Reflecting a society and attitudes that have changed a lot...
This Italian GP made it possible to introduce the general public to a brand new rider from the “land of the rising sun", Japan’s Ogami TOMOKI. It had been 7 years since the Maxxis FIM EnduroGP World Championship had hosted an Asian rider. It was with great enthusiasm but also with apprehension that the 24-year-old embarked on his quest against the top riders in the Enduro 2 category. With his Husqvarna 250 FE, Ogami TOMOKI struggled to adapt to Italy’s challenging tests but his determination never let up during the two days of racing. Supported and encouraged by the Italian public, the friendly Japanese rider won’t forget his first EnduroGP experience in a hurry... "I really enjoyed it!” TOMOKI told us. "It was a dream for me to meet these riders and participate in the Championship. I will definitely be back! "
Legends Come to Visit
Italy is synonymous with Enduro legends... last weekend it was with great pleasure that we met the six-time World Champion and former FIM Track Inspector Giovanni SALA! Fresh from a hip operation, "Gio" has kept his smile and his legendary good humour and is still highly revered by the public who were thrilled to see him. We also met Gian Piero FINDANNO (star of the Dakar in the 80s) and Mario RINALDI in the paddock ... "Super Mario" was present to support his son Enrico RINALDI (KTM), who was a wildcard in EY. It is always a pleasure to see these key figures of the sport happily returning to visit EnduroGP!
The beautiful course created by the Moto Club Spoleto caused quite a bit of difficulty for the world’s top riders. Indeed, in Enduro 2, Frenchman Jeremy JOLY (Beta) suffered a huge crash and damaged ligaments in his finger. And in EnduroGP, Christophe CHARLIER (F - Husqvarna) joined the infirmary. After a very promising start to the day (he won the first two Xtreme Tests), the Corsican rider hit a tree on the last lap on Saturday. A big haematoma on his elbow meant that the factory Husqvarna rider preferred not to attempt the hard course on Sunday, after a tough round he should be back to 100% in Hungary. Finally, the victim of a heavy fall on the last special test on Saturday, the Finnish rider Antti HELLSTEN (Husqvarna) could not finish the weekend. His right wrist injury prevented him from taking the start on Sunday morning. Let's hope for a good recovery for these riders and a quick return to the Maxxis FIM EnduroGP World Championship.
In addition to the Italian wildcards we were joined by riders from the United States, Japan and Germany. But we also saw the Czech Republic proudly represented this weekend! Indeed, Ondrzej HELMICH (KTM) did rather a good job in EnduroGP (18/15). It has been a long time since we’ve seen a Czech rider in the World Championship (2012) and we hope to see more of them in the future, especially as the Czech Republic was a dominant nation in Enduro in the past. We were also able to see Daan BRUIJSTEN (KTM) heading the pack for the Netherlands... he finished up in the points in E2 on Saturday (21) but was forced to retire on Sunday, we would like to see him again soon in the Championship.
Visits from our Partners
Throughout the weekend we had the pleasure of hosting many sponsors of EnduroGP. Important partners for the Championship; Scott Sports, Sidi Sports, Just1 and FunnelWeb Filter packed their bags and unfolded their stands in the Spoleto paddock. Note also the first visit of the title sponsor of the Championship: Maxxis Tires. Two engineers and one representative of Maxxis Europe were present in Italy, sponsors of the Beta Boano team since the beginning of the season, Robin LEE, Jimmy WANG and Sjoerd FOKKENS bore witness to the double podium of Jarno BOANO’S team in the Junior class on Sunday. Finally, Gregor ZUPAN and Goran DUKIC were present to represent Akrapovic Exhaust, as was Yuri DANESI for Acerbis...