Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Taddy Blazusiak and Jonny Walker have successfully completed an incredibly tough 2019 Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble in sixth and eighth places respectively. KTM supported Manuel Lettenbichler finished as runner-up following a two-and-a-half-hour battle for victory.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble once again lived up to its fearsome reputation as being the world’s toughest one-day hard enduro. With rain falling on the quarry during the days leading up to the main event, huge puddles and extremely slippery conditions in the forest sections only added to the level of difficulty faced by the 500 qualified riders.
Five-time winner of the event, Taddy Blazusiak put in an excellent performance to bring his KTM 300 EXC TPI home in sixth place. Overcoming a difficult start after getting tangled up with another competitor, Blazusiak started to make his way through the field. Around the one-hour mark the experienced Polish star had broken into the top 10 and by the time he reached the infamous Carl’s Dinner rock section, he’d had fought his way to eighth. Continuing to push, Taddy then passed Billy Bolt and teammate Walker and held his position to the finish. Taddy now sits ninth in the WESS championship standings.
Taddy Blazusiak: “I feel this is one of those results that doesn’t show how well I rode. I got together with Billy off the start then got stuck with the riders who fell on the first hill, so it was a tough, tough start to the race for me. I felt good after that, and had good speed, but I knew I had a lot of work to do. It’s always hard to get through traffic here, but once you have some clear track ahead of you and are with the faster riders it’s a lot easier – you all ride the same lines and keep moving forwards. I gave my all and considering what happened at the start I’m pleased with sixth. Hat’s off to Graham for equalling the five wins.”
The second Red Bull KTM Factory racing rider to finish inside the top-10 was Jonny Walker. An early pace-setter, Walker got off to a great start, running second for the majority of the first hour. As the race progressed, the British rider began to unfortunately lose a little time on the trickier climbs. Walker gritted his teeth and maintained a strong pace through the toughest areas on the course. Arriving at the finish line in a solid eighth place, Jonny was pleased with his performance but frustrated not to have finished higher up the order.
Jonny Walker: “I’m happy to finish today as the race was very tough this year. I got a really good start but maybe pushed a little too hard early on. The faster sections and hill climbs took a lot out of my tyre and that made things a lot trickier later on. Physically I feel good, tired of course because perhaps after struggling a little on some of the hills I had to work a little harder. Eighth place is a good result, but it’s not where I want to be. There are a few things I want to work on before the next round of the WESS in Spain.”
Winner of the qualification Prologue, Josep Garcia made the most of his front-row start position to lead into the first steep climb of the race. The former enduro world champion maintained his position at the front and set a blistering pace to gap the riders behind. As the race went on and the obstacles became tougher, Josep was passed by several riders but stayed consistent, looking after both himself and his bike. Despite the severity of the course, Garcia put in an incredible ride to ultimately cross the line in 15th position, just three minutes inside the cut off time. Earning himself 325 valuable WESS points, Josep now lies fourth in the provisional WESS standings.
Josep Garcia: “Another year and another dream come true. I arrived at the finish with just three minutes to go – I was absolutely flat out through the closing section. On Green Hell I teamed up with another rider to make the top and then after that I just pushed on as hard as I could for the finish. It’s hard to find words for how this feels, it’s my second year here and my second finish. I have got good points for the championship and I have come out of the race healthy, ready for the next race.”
Despite this year’s event being hailed as one of the toughest ever, Nathan Watson impressed with a superb performance at only his second time at the event. After a very strong start, the 2019 Le Touquet Beach Race winner teamed up with several competitors to clear several of the tougher sections and ultimately reach Checkpoint 24 in 22nd place before being timed out.
Nathan Watson: “Erzberg’s been just as hard as I knew it would be. I got a great start, I think I was fifth early on through the first few check points. I faded back a little as things got tougher, but I knew that would happen. It was once I got to Carl’s Dinner that things started to get really tough for me. I went at it at a steady pace and I felt a lot better than I did last year, so I was really pleased with that. It’s just brutal. I worked together with a few riders to get through Green Hell and then onto Dynamite. I got further than I did last year, on a longer course, so I’m pleased with the way things have gone.”
Taking on her first ever Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble, Laia Sanz courageously battled her way to check point 19. Making a positive start, a fall in the forest section damaged her bike before she got stuck in deep snow on one of the highest sections of the course. Despite timing out, she successfully completing the infamous Carls Dinner section.
Laia Sanz: “It was an amazing experience, really tough. I’m happy – I started well after a good start. I was fast through the woods but then I crashed twice in a difficult uphill. I damaged my bike a little there also, so I didn’t feel that comfortable after that. Before the refuelling I got stuck in some snow. About 15 riders passed me there and I used too much energy. Going through Carl’s Dinner was so hard because I used so much energy before that. But like I said I’ve enjoyed it, I completed Carl’s Dinner, and also I learned a lot. I feel my technical skills are good, but you use so much energy during the race. It’s been an incredible experience.”
The next event on the 2019 WESS calendar is the Hixpania Hard Enduro, Spain on June 21-23.
Provisional Results – 2019 Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble
1. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 2:26:46
2. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 2:28:55
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 2:32:19
4. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), Husqvarna, 2:36:28
5. Wade Young (RSA), Sherco, 2:41:07
6. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 2:50:41
8. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 3:00:25
10. Travis Teasdale (RSA), KTM, 3:20:12
15. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM,
22. Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, CP24
Provisional World Enduro Super Series Standings (after 3 of 8 rounds)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 1960 points
2. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 1770 pts
3. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 1690 pts
4. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 1665 pts
5. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 1520 pts
9. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 1370 pts
10. Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 1271 pts