UK’S JONNY WALKER TAKES COVETED RED BULL HARE SCRAMBLE
KTM’s UK factory rider Jonny Walker delivered a sensational ride up Austria’s Iron Mountain on Sunday to seal victory in the notorious Red Bull Hare Scramble on Sunday in what is considered the world’s toughest one-day Hard Enduro competition. It was only the 21-year-old rider’s second start in the classic endurance event.
In the absence of five-times winner, KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak who was competing in the EnduroCross World Championship second round in the USA this weekend, Walker’s victory also signaled the passing of the mantel to the next generation of great KTM riders. Walker not only won the mighty race, he did it in style and with an impressive winning margin of around 20 minutes from second placed Dougie Lampkin (Gas-Gas).
The race lived up to its international reputation for delivering not only stunning racing from the world’s toughest riders but also an element of drama. Of the 500 starters only seven were listed as official finishers when fog caused the race to be halted after three and a half hours instead of the usual four-hour limit. Six of the seven official finishers were on offroad bikes by the Austrian manufacturer.
Walker was the third fastest in the prologue and thus was in the first wave of riders to tackle the terrifying slopes of the Austrian iron ore mountain and by the first corner he was tucked in behind Austrian KTM rider Lars Enöckl. The two then proceeded to distance themselves from the rest of the field in the first of the 25 km. Behind them were Hare Scramble evergreens, Graham Jarvis of Britain and Germany’s Andreas Lettenbichler.
By the time the TV cameras had captured a glimpse of Walker 30 minutes into the race he was in the lead while Lettenbichler was hunting down Lars Enöckl. Then just minutes later came the dramatic news from race officials that both Lettenbichler and Jarvis had been disqualified for missing an entire terrace in the high-speed section “Rosina”. Neither rider saw the announcement and continued on racing.
Some 50 minutes later Walker was at Checkpoint 13, the dreaded “Carl’s Diner“ where he took a spectacular dive over the handlebars in a section of rocks that is totally unforgiving in the face of rider errors. But he quickly regained his composure and pressed on. Meanwhile Enöckl was being hunted down by Lampkin, who chose another line to overtake him, deploying all of his skills as a much rewarded trials champion.
Jonny Walker: “I knew that Jarvis had been disqualified and in the final part I didn’t take any risks. I was simply too fast at Carl’s Diner and I hurt my back a bit when I went over the handlebars. It’s simply fantastic to be the winner in only my second start here in Erzberg.
Alex Doringer (KTM Team Manager): “It’s just great for us that such a nice young guy like Jonny walker has won here. We really knew he had improved since last year. We already knew that before the race and that’s why we were counting on him. What we didn’t know is just how much he had improved and that surprised everyone. Last year’s fifth win by Taddy Blazusiak was already sensational. Now we have another great winner!”
Results Erzberg Rodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble 2012
GP VICTORY OF HERLINGS, PODIUM THIRD FOR CAIROLI IN AGUEDA
Red Bull KTM factory riders put in a good weekend of racing at the Agueda circuit in Portugal with Jeffrey Herlings taking the MX2 GP victory and Tony Cairoli securing a podium third in MX1. Both riders retained their red plates as championship leaders.
Despite rain during the first of the MX2 motos, Herlings was clearly in good form and enjoying his racing. He and factory teammate Jeremy van Horebeek took a seemingly effortless 1-2 in the opening race with the Dutch teenage crossing the line with an impressive 24 seconds lead on his teammate. It was also a very solid ride from van Horebeek who is currently carrying an injured foot from the last round.
Jeffrey was also on track in the second moto to take a 1-1 sweep but got caught up in traffic in the last lap of the race and conceded the win to his biggest rival for the title, Britain’s Tommy Searle. Herlings 1-2 was in any case sufficient to give him the overall title when compared to Searle’s 3-1 and these two were again joined on the podium with van Horebeek in overall third. Herlings remains the man to beat in the MX2 class and has a 14-pint lead over Searle with van Horebeek in third place. Jordi Tixier of France, the third member of the MX2 factory team on the KTM 250 SX-F finished a solid overall sixth after having scored a fourth in the opening moto, his best result for the season. Tixier then had a series of crashes in the second moto, broke his goggles and finished eleventh.
Jeremy van Horebeek: “I felt really good in the first race. I was second at the start and Jeffrey and I pulled away from the rest but after five laps I had to throw away my goggles and I had to let him go. Still it was good to be second and it was a good race, I wanted to stay close to Jeffrey because he has the speed. I also had a good start in the second race but I was a bit off the pace then I twisted my bad ankle again and I was in a lot of pain.”
Jordi Tixier: “The track was not easy this weekend. It was very slippery, bumpy and heavy but I got a good start in the first race and had a good feeling with the bike. My fourth place was my best result this season.”
Tony Cairoli also had a good day at the office in the MX1 class on the KTM 350 SX-F even if a small crash in the opening moto knocked him down to third place. The closing stages of the second moto had the Portuguese crowd on their feet as Cairoli and Gautier Paulin of France fought a battle right to the line. Cairoli, well known for his last lap attacks had even managed to slip past the Frenchman only a couple of corners from the flag. The competition in this class is particularly hard fought between Belgian Clement Desalle, the two Frenchmen Paulin and Christophe Pourcel and five-times world champion Cairoli. He now has a cushion of 37 points going into the next event, the GP of Belgium next weekend.
Cairoli’s factory teammate Ken de Dycker of Belgium rounded off his day with an impressive ride in the second MX1 moto. He was back in the field at 18 at the start of the race and managed to fight his way to fifth place for overall sixth. While Cairoli prefers the light and agile KTM 350 SX-F, de Dycker, since the last two rounds of the competition, is riding the latest factory model of the KTM 450 SX-F.
Tony Cairoli: “I made some mistakes in the first race when I crashed and I lost contact with the first guys and went back to fifth, anyway third was okay. I wanted to go for the win in the second race and I did get past Paulin briefly in the last lap but it was hard to block him because `I didn’t want to make contact and crash l anyway third was not what I expected because I wanted to win but it was still good for the championship.”
Ken de Dycker: “I can’t complain. I had two good races. I was a bit tired after the first race but I had a much better feeling in the second moto. I was also coming off a crash yesterday and had to start from the last place. This is good for the championship and I had the same speed and was almost closing on the first guys so I was happy with the races.”
The venue also hosted the third round of the EMX 125 championship which on Sunday saw KTM riders clean sweep the podium led by Slovenian racer Tim Gajser with Dutch rier Calvin Vlaanderen and James Dunn of Britain taking the minor podium places.
MX1 Championship Standings
MX1 Manufacturers Standings
MX2 Championship Standings
EMX 125 Overall Results – Round 3 in Portugal
EMX 125 Championship Standings
EMX 125 Manufacturers Standings