After a very rainy Spanish Grand Prix the FIM Maxxis Enduro World Championship paddock heads in the direction of Castelo Branco for the traditional Polisport Grand Prix of Portugal. This 3rd round will be another great test of skill and endurance! To ensure the success of this Polisport GP of Portugal, and to achieve a race which is of World Championship standard, the Escuderia Castelo Branco were again entrusted to organise the weekend’s proceedings. An experienced team which has proven time and time again that they are capable of organising major sporting events.
Since the 60s, this sports association has specialised in the development of motor sports and they have become the most well-known club organiser in Portugal. Making themselves known by organising major races such as the Choice Rally, the Serra da Estrela Rally and the Castelo Branco Ramp. They received recognition for ‘public benefit’ by the Portuguese Prime Minister in 1999, the Escuderia Castelo Branco is also considered the best organiser of the National Endurance Championship, the National Rally Championship, and the National Rallycross Championship in 2015. This strong team have all the cards in hand to make this Portuguese GP one big Enduro party!
The Super Test at the end of each day!
The President Antonio SEQUEIRA, the Director Helder ESTEVES, as well as 1500 members of the Escuderia Castelo Branco have put together an excellent lap for the World Enduro riders, with tests in the heart of the city as they were in 2017 - and these tricky tests will undoubtedly spring some surprises. The Polisport GP of Portugal will start on Friday at 20.00 with the Akrapovic Super Test on the military field of Montalvao, which was very popular with the fans and public last year. Then, the protagonists will start from the Paddock on Saturday and Sunday morning at 9.00 and head for the Maxxis Cross Test, next to the football field Valongo. They will then join the Technomousse Xtreme Test 2km away, and complete their route with the X-Rocks Enduro Test located just opposite the Paddock, near the Alegro shopping center. Note that for the very first time, the Super Test track will also be used on Saturday and Sunday as the last special of the day - and on Sunday afternoon this will be broadcast live on EnduroGP’s Facebook page!
Castelo Branco, a very old town of more than 50,000 inhabitants, is located in the heart of the Centro Region of Portugal and is full of history. Its proximity to the Spanish border meant it endured several invasions during the nineteenth century, and this is evidenced by the ruins of the castle that dominate the city and the beautiful park of the Old Episcopal Palace. Today, the city has grown considerably in its southern part and is one of the largest Portuguese municipalities. While we won’t encounter the same searing heat as we did in the GP last July, the weather in Castelo Branco looks, fortunately, much warmer and drier than in Santiago de Compostela last weekend!
Can SALVINI Confirm?
While Eero REMES (SF - TM) took control of the EnduroGP category, in the Enduro 2 category, the diminutive Finn could not resist the comeback of Alex SALVINI (I - Husqvarna). Now equal on points, the duel between SALVINI and REMES in Castelo Branco looks very exciting! Which of these two stars will leave Portugal in command of the ‘middle weight’ class?
But the E2 is not limited to this duel... Indeed, Loïc LARRIEU (F - Yamaha), Matthew PHILLIPS (AUS - Sherco), Christophe CHARLIER (F - Beta) and Thomas OLDRATI (I - Honda RedMoto) also have all the skill and speed to challenge for the top step. For his part, Deny PHILIPPAERTS (I - Beta Boano) will seek to confirm his good performances of the first two GPs, and will be the Brit, Josh GOTTS (TM).
Very comfortable on the Spanish terrain, Luis OLIVEIRA (P - Yamaha) will be encouraged even further this weekend by his home fans, as will Diogo VENTURA (P - Honda). Finally, this Polisport GP of Portugal will witness the highly anticipated return to the World Championship of Mathias BELLINO (F) with his new Honda! The 2015 E3 World Champion should also be a very strong contender for the victory...
In E1, Jamie MCCANNEY (GB - Yamaha) is just 4 points ahead of his compatriot Brad FREEMAN (GB - Beta), although the Manxman seemed to be on great form in Spain. He will seek to repeat his performance and arrive in Tallinn (Estonia), in one month, with a more comfortable lead. But FREEMAN has already shown that he has everything he needs to put pressure on the official Yamaha rider, and aim for the title in his first season in the Senior class.
We will also keep an eye on the performance of Antoine BASSET (F - Gas Gas), Davide GUARNERI (I - Honda RedMoto) and Victor GUERRERO (E - Yamaha) who remain very close to the two Brits. The Finns, Eemil POHJOLA (Gas Gas), Jiri LEINO (KTM) and Niko AITTA (Honda) will want to raise the bar after experiencing some difficulties in the mud of Galicia!
In Enduro 3, Steve HOLCOMBE (GB - Beta) now has a 12 point lead on Danny MCCANNEY (GB - Gas Gas) and 14 points over Christophe NAMBOTIN (F - Gas Gas), but he will still need to stay very focused to face off the Gas Gas factory pairing.
Behind this trio, look out also for the Frenchman Anthony GESLIN (Beta), who took his first World podium in Santiago, and Romain DUMONTIER (F - Yamaha) who is in search of redemption after retiring on Sunday in Spain due to mechanical issues…
Juniors: Italians Do it Better?
In the Junior categories, one nation dominates for the moment: Italy! Indeed, in Junior 1, Andrea VERONA (TM) achieved the double last weekend and is already down as the title favourite.
But nobody is safe in this highly competitive class, and riders such as Antoine MAGAIN (B - KTM), currently second, Kirian MIRABET (E - Honda), Thibault PASSET (F - Yamaha), Théo ESPINASSE (F - Sherco) and Jean-Baptiste NICOLOT (F - Yamaha) could worry the TM rider and make this class even more exciting! We will also follow with interest the progress of Antti HANNINEN (SF - Husqvarna), Leo LE QUERE (F - TM) and Bruno CRIVILIN (B - KTM) who are not very far from the leading group...
Note also the participation of the 2nd and 4th riders in the Youth 125cc provisional standings - Ruy BARBOSA (CL - Husqvarna) and Hamish MACDONALD (NZ - Sherco), who decided to come test themselves against the Junior riders in Portugal.
Finally, in Junior 2, while Matteo CAVALLO (I - Beta Boano) currently leads the way, there are many others able to fight for top! Starting with Jack EDMONDSON (GB - Sherco) and Davide SORECA (I - TM), who are tied for second place. These two riders both had one strong day and one “disappointing” day in Spain, but have proved that they have the talent and speed to catch the Beta Boano rider. Ditto for Enric FRANCISCO (E - KTM), David ABGRALL (F - Sherco) and Joseph WOOTTON (GB - Husqvarna).
We also expect a comeback from one of the great hopes of Spanish Enduro: Tosha SCHAREINA (Husqvarna)...
This 3rd Grand Prix of the season promises to be a great show, with excitement and unpredictability in all categories, and much more “favourable” weather than last weekend!
- Castelo Branco (District de Castelo Branco) ;
- Friday 4 May: Akrapovic Super Test, start 20.00
- Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th May: Start 9h00 – Finish around 16h00;
- Organisation : Escuderia Castelo Branco
- Website: www.endurogp.org ;
- Course: 70kms – 3 laps;
- Free entry;
- Airports: Lisbon (218 kms), Porto (259 kms)
- GPS Points:
• X-Rocks Enduro Test: 39°48'59.5"N 7°31'16.9"W
• Maxxis Cross Test: 39°48'03.5"N 7°30'08.2"W
• Technomousse Xtreme Test: 39°48'53.6"N 7°29'54.2"W
• Akrapovic Super Test: 39°48'53.3"N 7°30'15.6"W