All content © Bob MuIIins
WESS 2018 Fires Into Life With Thrilling Endurocross Action
The World Enduro Super Series has begun with Britain’s Billy Bolt taking the Endurocross win on day one of the Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal.
In a thrilling battle, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Bolt edged out Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jonny Walker (Britain) for the win following a final lap pass, while Germany’s Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) took third.
With the inaugural WESS championship getting down to business in Portugal, the 252 competitors from 20 nations faced a tough opening day of challenging Endurocross action. Rocks, water, logs, mud and tyre crossings became all the more challenging when heavy evening rain made conditions extremely slippery.
At the head of the field, the battles were intense in the Pro class as the race to become this year’s ULTIMATE ENDURO CHAMPION took hold. From five qualifying heats, the 47-strong entry was whittled down into two semi-finals and a night ending seven-lap final.
Walker shot out to an early lead as Bolt, Cody Webb (KTM - USA), Colton Haaker (Husqvarna - USA), Lettenbichler and Kevin Gallas (Husqvarna - Germany) all gave chase.
By the mid-way point the fight for victory had become a three-way battle between Walker, Bolt and Haaker, with Walker holding station out front. But with one lap to go, drama struck as Haaker washed out in the water pit. Piling on the pressure, Bolt found a way past Walker when the KTM rider came unstuck in the greasy rock section. Remaining calm under pressure Bolt marched on for the win as Walker chased him home for second and Lettenbichler took advantage of Haaker’s mistake for third.
Round one of WESS at Extreme XL Lagares continues with day two’s racing in the Urban Prologue in downtown Porto. Here competitors will race through the narrow, cobbled streets of the Ribeira do Porto district.
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna - GB): “I’m delighted to come away with the win in tonight’s Endurocross. It was a great race with Jonny and Colton. We were battling back and forth and I knew it was going to come down to the final lap. I made a push and as Jonny slipped up in the rocks I got a wheel in front and that was enough to take the win.”
Jonny Walker (KTM - GB): “I’m disappointed to slip up like that on the final lap. I was riding well all night but just put a wheel wrong in the rocks and the bike fell away from me. I knew my speed was good enough to win, but unfortunately mistakes happen.”
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM - Germany): “Overall, it’s been a great night for me. I won my heat and was second in the semi-final, so to finish third in the final is perfect. It was unfortunate for Colton to crash but I’ll take the result.”