Rnd 7, World Enduro Super Series – Gotland Grand National, Sweden

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Taddy Blazusiak has finished in an excellent fourth position at round seven of the 2018 World Enduro Super Series – the highest placed WESS regular at the tough Swedish event. Teammates Josep Garcia and Nathan Watson successfully endured the cold, wet conditions to finish 12th and 15th respectively.

The Gotland Grand National, known for its tough, slippery terrain, didn’t disappoint as overnight rain turned this year’s track into a mud bath. The 22-kilometre course proved to be hugely challenging for all riders with the near-zero temperatures adding to the difficulty.

With 3,000 riders taking to the start, getting out in front early on was key to a good result. Taddy Blazusiak, riding his first ever Gotland Grand National, made a good start to clear the huge pack of riders and was able to push hard to try and catch the leaders. A couple of small mistakes mid-race cost the experienced Polish rider some time, but using his skill and pace Taddy was able to fight back to claim a strong fourth place. The 690 championship points he earned elevate Blazusiak to fourth in the provisional WESS standings with one round remaining.

Taddy Blazusiak: “I am happy with fourth place, especially as it’s my first time racing here and we had very little preparation for such a tough race. To finish as the top international rider feels really good, too. This is such a special event – you need the right set-up and without experience, it’s difficult to find that. We expected it to be wet and a little muddy, but nothing like what we had today – it was next level out there. I had two small get-offs, which cost me some time and so it’s a little disappointing not to have finished on the podium. Fourth place has given me some good points for the championship though, especially as I finished a fair bit higher than the rest of the regulars.”

Following his win at the previous round at Hawkstone Park, Josep Garcia came to Sweden with his confidence high and aiming for another top result. The young Spaniard started well but a couple of crashes caused him to drop down through the field, making it necessary for him to pass a large number of riders while battling through the tough Gotland weather. Arriving at the finish in a creditable 12th place, Garcia was pleased with his day’s riding but disappointed not to have maximised on his pace over the three-hour event.

Josep Garcia: “Overall, I am happy with how I rode today but it would have been nicer to finish a little higher in the standings. I got a good start but crashed with another rider and a lot of the other competitors got past me – after that I had to overtake a lot of riders. Nathan and I rode together for a while and that was good, we were able to push and made up a lot of time. Unfortunately, I had another crash that damaged the bike a little so after that I just tried to make it safely to the finish. It was a tricky race for me – very cold and physically challenging racing in those conditions for three hours – but I earned some good points for the championship and now look forward to the last round in The Netherlands.”

Similarly, to his teammate Garcia, Nathan Watson suffered a crash early on that caused him to drop down the order. Fighting back and enjoying a strong second half of the race, the British rider overcame the wet and cold to ultimately place 15th. His result moves him up to sixth in the provisional WESS standings with arguably his strongest race of the season left to contest – Red Bull Knock Out.

Nathan Watson: “That was a seriously tough race – it was so cold and seemed to last forever. I started ok but collided with another rider and lost some time early on. It was tricky to make up places after that especially in the conditions. Yesterday was so dry, but the weather turned overnight and it hasn’t stopped raining since. There was so much water lying on the track and you had no option other than getting covered in mud and water all of the time. I’m happy with how the race went all things considered but I’m looking forward to getting back to the sand again for the final round and hopefully finish the season on a high.”

The World Enduro Super Series concludes with round eight, Red Bull Knock Out in The Netherlands, on November 10.

Results – Gotland Grand National, WESS Round 7

1. Albin Elowson (SWE), Husqvarna, 2:59:02
2. Robert Kvarnstrom (SWE), Yamaha, 3:01:52 +2:50
3. Ken Bengston (SWE), Husqvarna, 3:03:38 +4:36
4. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 3:06:59 +7:57
5. Sebastian Martensson (SWE), Husqvarna, 3:08:33 +9:31
Other KTM
12. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 3:12:54 +13:52
15. Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 3:16:16 +17:14

World Enduro Super Series Standings (After round 7 of 8)

1. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 4420 points
2. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 4145 pts
3. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 3700 pts
4. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 3675 pts
5. Wade Young (RSA), Sherco, 3220 pts
Other KTM
6. Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 3103 pts
7. Paul Bolton (GBR), KTM, 3092 pts
9. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 2900 pts