Rnd 5, 2019 World Enduro Super Series – Red Bull Romaniacs, Romania
Now in it’s 16th edition, Red Bull Romaniacs has always been a true test of both man and machine. Pitting each competitor against a technical Prologue on the streets of Sibiu, before four full days of racing in the Romanian hills, the ‘world’s toughest hard enduro rallye’ covers over 520 kilometres of some of toughest terrain seen in the WESS championship.
Taddy Blazusiak made the perfect start to his Romaniacs campaign by topping the time sheets on the opening Prologue. Going into Off Road Day One, the Polish rider was confident of not only completing his first ever Romaniacs, but challenging for the podium while doing so. Unfortunately, day one didn’t go as planned for Taddy when a technical issue with his KTM 300 EXC TPI forced him to make track-side repairs. The multiple Endurocross champion was able to carry on but lost close to 30 minutes in the process. Playing catch up for the remainder of the event, Blazusiak put in three strong rides to ultimately claim fourth overall – a superb result considering the time lost.
Taddy Blazusiak: “Considering what happened on day one, I’m happy with how things went. On the second day, I knew I had lost a lot of time so just kept to a solid pace to avoid making any mistakes. After that things went well and I was able to push. I was hoping for a podium, but unfortunately, I simply lost too much time early on. Still, to place fourth in what is my first ever finish at Romaniacs is not bad at all. This race is tough and especially like today when it’s raining it really pushes you to the limit. Experience and set up is also really important so I’ll take what I’ve learned and come back stronger next year.”
Second to his teammate in the Prologue, Jonny Walker also maintained a solid pace throughout the gruelling four days off road. Heavy rain arguably made the final day of racing the most challenging, but Walker excelled in the tricky conditions to post the third-fastest time and secure his fifth place overall. Happy with his result and the progress made in terms of bike set up, the young British rider now looks forward to round six of the series at Hawkstone Park.
Jonny Walker: “Obviously it’s not been the best Romaniacs for me, it would have been nice to get on top of the podium again, but I have to take some positives from the race. I started off strong but was struggling on a lot of the hills and that was tiring me out too much, especially as my wrist is still a concern. I kept going though and then for the last day we made some big changes to the bike and suspension and it seemed to work really well – I led the final day for a good while. I’m pleased with how things ended up and feel I’ve finally turned things around now for the WESS championship. Really looking forward to my home race at Hawkstone Park now.”
Competing in only their second Red Bull Romaniacs, classic enduro experts Josep Garcia and Nathan Watson both put in incredible rides to finish in 10th and 11th place – just 30 minutes apart following over 25 hours of racing. With conditions becoming tougher as the rain fell on the final day, the two Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders got their heads down and fought to the finish. Earning themselves solid WESS championship points, Garcia now lies in seventh place with Watson ninth.
Josep Garcia: “I’m really happy to be here at the finish line of Red Bull Romaniacs. The whole event has been so tough but today was definitely the hardest. It rained a lot and there were so many tough climbs – there was one with the live TV crew that was no assistance – that one really tested me. The plan for the week was simply to make it here to the finish and I did that in a good position, too. Next is Hawkstone Park Cross-Country – a race that I won last year. Hopefully if I can earn some good points there and at Solsona it should be really good for my championship.”
Nathan Watson: “It’s been a good Romaniacs for me – a lot stronger than last year. I finished every day and in a good time too, so I’m pleased with that. It’s taken a lot of hard work – a lot of pushing – but I’m really happy to make it to the finish after four days. My riding has definitely improved each day, and although the last day was arguably the toughest, I think it was also my strongest. I was riding really well, passing all the riders ahead of me until I caught up with Billy and then we stayed together for the rest of the stage. Despite improving on these extreme races, I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to the next two WESS races at Hawkstone and in Spain. The goal is to at least finish on the podium in both and hopefully get my championship back on track.”
Claiming his first ever World Enduro Super Series win, KTM-supported Manuel Lettenbichler made history by claiming victory at Red Bull Romaniacs, 10 years after his father. The German now heads the provisional WESS rankings with three rounds left to race.
Manuel Lettenbichler: “I’m over the moon right now, I really can’t believe it. This race is really something special and to win here feels amazing. The event is so long and so hard and anything can happen so I’m so pumped to take the win.”
The next event on the 2019 WESS calendar is the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country in England on September 21-22.
Provisional Results – 2019 Red Bull Romaniacs
- Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 20:39:51
- Alfredo Gomez (ESP), Husqvarna, 20:42:15 +2:24
- Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 20:52:12 +12:21
- Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 21:25:36 45:45
- Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 21:30:40 +50:49
- David Cyprian (CZE), KTM, 23:48:33 +3:08:42
- Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 25:08:26 +4:28:35
- Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 25:38:04 4:58:13
Provisional World Enduro Super Series Standings (after 5 of 8 rounds)
- Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 3570 points
- Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 3460 pts
- Alfredo Gomez (ESP), Husqvarna, 3164 pts
- Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 2940 pts
- Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 2725 pts
- Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 2700 pts
- Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 2615 pts
- Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 2590 pts
- Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 2091 pts