Romaniacs veteran Chris Birch of New Zealand and young Jonny Walker, KTM’s winner of last weekend’s Red Bull Hare Scramble at Erzberg opened their account in the 2012 Hard Enduro event in Romania on Thursday with a solid start to the ninth edition.
Walker had already raised eyebrows by being the overwhelming leader in the pro class in Wednesday’s prologue in downtown Sibiu to be first rider out into the spectacular forests and mountains. He finished an impressive fourth behind stalwarts Graham Jarvis, Andreas Lettenbichler and former winner KTM’s Chris Birch, who is carrying the remains of an injury.
While the 21-year old UK rider did lead the way in the opening phase, he was still experiencing his first ever race using GPS equipment and the other major riders had caught up by the second checkpoint and distance themselves by about 10 minutes. Both he and Birch are riding KTM 300 EXC bikes.
Meanwhile Jarvis surged ahead on the first technical section and put ten minutes between him and the rest of the following group, a lead he gradually stretched for the remainder of the day. Lettenbichler also made up ground in the technical sections and came home second while KTM’s Birch, eighth out of the start gate picked up a lot of time in the morning to come home in third. He was followed by Xavier Galindo, who was second in Wednesday’s prologue.
Walker admitted he had got lost several times but said the navigation had been easier than he thought. “I am happy that I finished the day all right! At one point I was even chased by shepherd dogs… We teamed up a few times with Xavi, Graham and Letti – and in the end with Chris, who was super fast in the mountains!”
Chris: “It felt pretty good today, the first part was nice with lovely scenery, after the Service point it got harder, then we reached a river section where the trial guys kicked my ass.”
Sixth place overall after the prologue and day one when to Spain’s Mecior Faja, Spain riding a KTM 250 EXC. Fifteen of the top 20 after day one are on Mae in Austria KTM offroad bikes.
The Red Bull Romaniacs is made up of four days of tough competition and draws challengers from all over the world in classes from hoppy to professional. Riders travel from all over the world and while the pros fight out their usual battle of attrition at the front, for many in the hobby classes their aim is to merely get to the finish, The course in the picturesque mountain scenery surrounding Sibiu offers challenging mountain terrain over distances between 100- and 200 km each day.
Live timing for the event and all information at www.redbullromaniacs.com
Overall results (prologue and day one)
- Graham Jarvis, Britain, Husaberg, 4 hours 28.07
- Andreas lettenbichler, Germany, Husqvarna, 4:44.44
- Chris Birch, New Zealand, KTM, 4:55.39
- Jonny Walker, Britain, KTM 4:55.39
- Xavier Galindo, Spain, Husberg, 5:06.06
- Mecior Faja, Spain, KTM, 5:30.36
Images courtesy of KTM