All content © Bob MuIIins
2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship set for Portuguese start
The wait is almost over, with just one week to go all roads lead to the inaugural round of the 2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal.
In what’s set to mark a historic moment in the sport, the infamous rocky riverbeds of Lagares will play host to the first FIM sanctioned Hard Enduro World Championship race.
Overcoming the restrictions of the ongoing Covid pandemic, the world’s best Hard Enduro athletes, together with a wealth of amateur and hobby riders, will compete for pride and glory across three demanding days of competition.
In a change to previous editions of Extreme XL Lagares due to public restrictions, the FIM World Championship category will compete in three events over two days with an Endurocross race and mountain time-trial Prologue on Saturday, followed by Sunday’s Main Race. Non-championship riders will take to the Endurocross track on Friday, followed by the Saturday Prologue and join the World Championship competitors on the start line for Sunday’s action.
As the 2019 WESS Champion and 2020 Red Bull Romaniacs winner, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manual Lettenbichler naturally starts as one of the favourites for the top step of the podium. But despite previous podium results in Portugal, Lettenbichler has yet to truly master the rigorous rocks the region is famed for, so will 2021 be his year to triumph?
Sherco on the attack
Sherco Factory Racing will be a formidable force this season, their sights very much set on success. In 2019 Mario Roman stole the show with a phenomenal ride to victory. Demonstrating a perfect mix of speed and technical ability, the Spaniard turned up the heat in the closing stages to win and will be aiming high again this year. Teammate Wade Young is a past winner of the race, in 2017, and finished as runner-up in 2019. A fan of the terrain, he’ll also be pushing for nothing less than victory too.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing boast a trio of Hard Enduro talent. Billy Bolt, Alfredo Gomez and Hard Enduro legend Graham Jarvis have all won in Portugal before, with Jarvis holding the all-time win record over Gomez. The potential for a podium-sweep can’t be ruled out with these guys.
Jonny Walker will make one of the most anticipated team debuts in Portugal with Vision Track Beta. After a decade on KTM machinery, Walker made a jump to Beta Motorcycles during the winter and Extreme XL Lagares will be his first serious outing in new colours. Vastly experienced and hungry to impress, Walker is an obvious threat for podium honours.
GASGAS Factory Racing debut their two-rider outfit of Taddy Blazusiak and Michael Walkner. A true mix of experience and youth, Blazusiak will come out swinging while Walkner is keen to demonstrate that he is a young talent to watch out for.
Trece Racing Society will be a new crew to keep an eye on as Pol Tarres rolls out on Yamaha machinery for the first time in Hard Enduro. The Spaniard’s ability on a bike knows no bounds and he’s excited to show what his Yamaha is capable of when the going gets tough.
Changing colours for 2021, TTR Squadra Corse field a three-rider team of Travis Teasdale, Kevin Gallas and Azzalini Alessandro on GASGAS machinery and will be a privateer force to be reckoned with among the factory outfits.
Jarvis Husqvarna Racing – managed by Graham Jarvis – is also a new team to watch for in 2021. The team’s five riders include Bulgaria’s Teodor Kabakchiev and Britain’s Will Hoare, Jonathan Richardson, Sam Winterburn and Grant Churchward. Featuring a real mix of raw, young talent under the guidance of Graham, expect fireworks!
Add in a wealth of youngsters like Israel’s Suff Sella, Russia’s David Leonov, Germany’s Tim Apolle and Leon Hentschel plus South Africa’s Matt Green who have all signed up, and the countdown is firmly on to round one in Portugal.
In keeping with strict government Covid guidelines, coronavirus testing facilities will be available on site. Competitors will also be able to take a test before returning home. Spectator attendance is not permitted.
The opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship takes place at Extreme XL Lagares, Portugal on May 7-9.
Extreme XL Lagares Schedule
FIM World Championship
View the Extreme XL Lagares event preview on Red Bull TV - CLICK HERE
2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship calendar
Round 1: Extreme XL Lagares - Portugal, May 7/8/9