Red Bull KTM’s Jonny Walker took second position in Ciocco, Italy today at the Hell’s Gate Extreme Enduro, which has been hailed as one of the event’s toughest courses yet with only two riders making it to the finish, while injured teammate Andreas Lettenbichler took a strong fourth place.
Walker enjoyed a strong qualifying race as he stretched a comfortable lead in the first two special tests, allowing him to ease the pace in the second two, as rival Graham Jarvis took up second position around the enduro course. Lettenbichler, who is suffering from a painful shoulder injury finished in fifth position.
In the afternoon race Walker made the most of his pole position and led the way into the first lap, but the 23-year-old racer struggled to find a rhythm around the ultra-technical circuit. Fellow countryman Jarvis took the lead from the KTM racer before the end of lap one, and Walker tried to follow, but the British-ace didn’t settle into the race until lap three. By then it was too late as Jarvis had gotten away, and Walker had Cody Webb to contend with, as the duo were battling close together during the mid-part of the race.
Walker put the hammer down and with a good, efficient pit stop, he found some breathing space over Webb to ride his own race into the darkness. However, the technical sections of the event proved tough for all, with only Walker and Jarvis making it into the final lap for the crowd-pleasing end at Hell’s peak. Webb rounded out the podium in third position.
Despite not making it onto the final lap, Lettenbichler was pleased with his fourth place result as an aggravating shoulder injury meant the German racer had to dig deep throughout the five-lap event just to finish.
Jonny Walker: 2nd position
“I had a good qualifying race this morning, as I made about 30-seconds on everyone in the first test, then around 10 more in the second test, which meant I could chill out a little. I was still pushing, but I could be a bit more careful not to make a mistake and I won the morning race. In the afternoon race I got a good start, and I was pushing, but Graham managed to catch me, as I couldn’t even ride in a straight line I was riding that badly. I tried to follow him, but he got away and the first two laps of the afternoon race were just horrendous, as I couldn’t get into a smooth rhythm. For the third lap I pulled myself together and the rest of the race went okay, as I got a good rhythm going, and I didn’t lose much time to him then, but the damage had already been done early on. I was riding with Cody for a while, but I had a chance to make a little break and I pushed hard to get away from him, then in the pits we had a great pit-stop with Julian and Sebastian doing a great job. I think the next race will be different, as it’s sandy ground and a lot faster, which will suit me better, but I know what I’ve got to improve and I will go back home to make those changes for the next one.”
“Today was not so bad. In qualifying this morning the ground was good and I enjoyed the special test, but the race in the afternoon was tough. I am happy, as last week we weren’t sure I was even going to ride, so fourth position is good for me. I rode okay, the bike worked well and the team was doing a good job, so I can’t complain. There were a lot of uphills here with water and rocks; it was hard, more extreme than normal, but for my first run out with the Red Bull KTM team I am feeling positive. I am very excited to race at The Tough One next, and I need to get practicing in the sand for that race.”
Hell’s Gate Final
1, Graham Jarvis, GBR Husqvarna
2, Jonny Walker, GBR, KTM
3, Cody Webb, USA, Beta
4, Andreas Lettenbichler , GER, KTM
5, Diego Nicoletti, ITA, Suzuki
Image courtesy KTM Racing