KTM riders in the 2012 edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs again proved that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Former winner Chris Birch of New Zealand, riding with a suspected fracture in his foot pulled out the stops to be second on Day three and Jonny Walker finished sixth even after crashing and dislocating his shoulder.
Walker hangs on to his overall third behind the two leaders Graham Jarvis (UK) and Andreas Lettenbichler (Germany) while Birch’s efforts moved him up to fourth overall. Jarvis looks set to win this Hard Enduro set in the mountains around Sibiu in picturesque Romania and Lettenbichler is well placed in second going into the final day tomorrow. Meanwhile Birch, the KTM veteran and Walker the KTM rookie are only seven minutes apart and look like they are set to flight it out for the minor podium place. Birch, the multi times winner of the Roof of Africa has won here in 2010 and has several podiums to his credit while Walker, the rising star of the Hard Enduro scene has just come off his first win in the notoriously tough Red Bull Hare Scramble at the Erzberg Rodeo last weekend.
Today’s stage started around 6.00 a.m. with riders tearing down a steep valley on a cold morning. That was just a warm-up for the day that organizers had plotted for them to ride up to 19,000 meters altitude of which 1,000 m was one single strength-sapping hill climb. While Jarvis extended his comfortable lead, Lettenbichler sacrificed 20 minutes with clutch problems. Some 50% of the track had been designed with rain in mind, which would have trimmed the field of starters in the various classes dramatically but up to now the weather has remained hot and dry.
It was in these conditions that Birch broke through the pain barrier and finished second from his seventh starting position saying “I had a beautiful day today and really got to enjoy myself again on the bike, best part was the “A8” on top of the mountain!”
Jonny Walker, the “wunderkind” was up bright and early today after almost missing the start yesterday but he had to struggle through after dislocating his shoulder in a crash. It was probably good tactics that he stuck with KTM Spanish rider Melcior Faja and Xavi Galindo who took turns to navigate during the day. The race concludes Sunday.
Image courtesy KTM Racing