Red Bull KTM Factory rider Jonny Walker on Saturday finished overall winner of the Red Bull Romaniacs on Saturday after a very tough final dash to the finish when perpetual rival Graham Jarvis stole the last day line honors. It was Walker’s second consecutive Romaniacs title and adds to a string of victories this season in the highly competitive Extreme Enduro.
Jarvis, like Walker, a UK rider, took second place and Alfredo Gomez of Spain was third.
Jonny Walker: “Getting my second win at Red Bull Romaniacs feels amazing. I reckon that was probably the hardest race I’ve ever done here. With the #1 plate there was always pressure to defend it. I was confident in myself and what I could do but the level has stepped up massively since last year. There are so many guys going fast now it’s crazy. Everyday I had to push like hell and any mistake whatsoever was costly. Starting today with about a three minute gap I couldn’t really afford to relax. I pushed as hard as I can and aside from losing time at the very end I’ve been able to win. It’s incredible.”
After five days of exhausting days over rugged terrain in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains riders were confronted with a very difficult run to the finish. They had to tackle a very steep climb of soft sand, ironically named “Highway to Heaven” by the organizers, and an unbelievable series of obstacles before they passed under the Red Bull Finishing Bridge to record their final time.
Walker slipped several meters before the crest of the climb and had to take the detour, which gave Jarvis the edge as they charged into the final obstacles. And while Walker got stuck in the mud hole, Jarvis was the first over the line to take the day’s honors. Walker, a Red Bull athlete was the overall winner by just one minute 10 seconds.
The 2015 edition was an event of many spectacular parts. Walker, deploying his trials skills, got off to a great start as the winner of the challenging prologue on Tuesday through the streets of the city of Sibiu with obstacles that would be daunting even for experienced SuperEnduro riders.
But in Day One of the Offroad competition it was Walker’s Red Bull KTM Factory teammate Andreas Lettenbichler who excelled, finishing second to veteran Jarvis. Walker had some problems with a steep climb after the service point and also made several uncharacteristic navigational errors. He was third on the podium at the end of the day but still wrote it off as a ‘bad day’.
Day Two saw Walker start with a six-minute deficit to Jarvis but with enough fire in his belly that he managed to convert to a win, saying: “Today was a much better day. After my rookie errors from yesterday I had my race face on today and was fired up to close the gap to Graham. I got handed a bit of a gift right off the start when I was the only one of the front-runners to find the correct route for the gold class. That immediately reduced my disadvantage to Graham and after a couple of checkpoints I was right with him. Then I managed to pass him before the service check and claw back the six-minute starting advantage he had on me. I knew then that was most of the hard work done. We both left the service at the same and rode together for most of the afternoon. At times I tried to break away and so did he, until finally with about 30 minutes to go I went for it and gapped him before the finish line.”
Day Two also saw Lettenbichler pick up a nasty time penalty after a high-speed crash. It also drew a line under the event for New Zealand KTM veteran Chris Birch who crashed out and had to retire. But Lettenbichler returned like a demon possessed on Day Three and was the stage winner, while Walker as back at fifth, even though he did hang onto the overall lead to take the fight with Jarvis to the finish.
Lettenbichler wrapped up his Romaniacs in overall sixth, a great effort from this veteran rider. In front of him in fifth and sixth were two KTM riders – Paul Bolton (GBR) and young South African talent Wade Young, who took third place last year.
Andreas Lettenbichler: “Red Bull Romaniacs is always full of surprises. I felt like I rode very strong all week. I had the speed to finish on the podium – maybe more – but my navigational error on Day Two ruined my chances. But like I said I’m pleased with how I rode and getting a win on Day Three was also nice too!”
The Red Bull Romaniacs, now in its twelfth year has developed into one of the most popular of the Hard Enduro events on the motorsports calendar and attracts riders in the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron classes from all over the world.
More at www.redbullromaniacs.com
Red Bull Romaniacs
Final Overall Results – Gold Class
1, Jonny Walker, GBR, KTM, 23 hours 49.42
2, Graham Jarvis, GBR, Husqvarna, 24:21.22
3, Alfredo Gomez, ESP, Husqvarna, 24:48.03
4, Paul Bolton, GBR, KTM, 25:00.10
5, Wade Young, RSA, KTM, 25:10.39
6, Andreas Lettenbichler, GER, KTM, 25:44.50
7, Philipp Scholz, GER, KTM, 26:24.37
8, Blake Gutzeit, RSA, Husqvarna, 26:26.59
9, Lars Enoeckl, AUT, KTM, 26:39.38
10, Brett Swanepoel, RSA, Yamaha, 26:44.01
Final Stage Results – Gold Class -153 km
1, Jarvis, 6:14.14
2, Walker, 6:14.51
3, Bolton, 6:31.03
4, Scholz, 6:34.01
5, Gomez, 6:34.17
6, Young, 6:36.2
7, Gutzeit, 6:36.33
8, Lettenbichler, 6:40.27
9, Enoeckl, 6:44.08
10, Swanepoel, 6:47.52
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