It’s go time for the 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship. One week out from the season opener, all eyes are now focused on the Dead Sea and the Minus 400 event. A new year always brings fresh excitement and anticipation, and with a full, eight-round championship lying in wait, 2022 is set to become the most international season yet for the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship.
Breaking new ground in Israel, the Minus 400 is shaping up to be an epic opening round to the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship. Held in the infamous Dead Sea region – the lowest point on earth – it offers a Hard Enduro playground like no other we’ll see this year.
Located in the heart of the desert, the Minus 400 gets its name due to the fact that the Dead Sea area sits at an altitude of minus 400 metres below sea level. But don’t let the negative numbers fool you, as the terrain is anything but timid. A dry, baron region, it’s littered with incredible steep climbs, challenging descents, and numerous pitfalls to keep the world’s best Hard Enduro riders on their toes.
Held midweek across three days, the racing gets underway on Tuesday April 5 with the Leonardo Urban Race. Set to be spectacular, day one – like the name suggests – is an urban affair. A morning 14-kilometre loop sees riders fight it out on a mixture of dirt and street to qualify for a place in the afternoon’s SuperEnduro.
Wednesday’s Yochananof Desert Prologue mixes Cross Country racing with extreme riding. A longer 18-kilometre course filled with tough, natural Hard Enduro obstacles will be raced head-to-head, with the results determining the starting order for the third and final day.
The Minus 400 Main Event promises a demanding end to round one. Organisers have carefully crafted out a 90-kilometre-long course that increases in difficulty the deeper into the terrain riders get. From seemingly endless rocky riverbeds to narrow ridge lines and sharp climbs and descents, there is no room for error.
At the head of the field, it’s Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt who starts as one of the favourites. Crowned the inaugural FIM Hard Enduro World Champion in 2021, Billy will naturally be looking to successfully defend his crown with a winning start to the season. And as form would indicate, the Brit is a fast learner when it comes to new events having topped the Abestone Hard Enduro in 2021.
Behind Billy though there are a lot of riders all eager to not let that happen. Unfortunately, his closest rival and 2021 series runner-up Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler will be absent due to injury, but Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young is hungry to taste victory. The nature of the terrain should play into the South African’s hands, so expect him to come out swinging. So too will his teammate Mario Roman. The Spaniard has plenty of experience riding in Israel and would love to cause an upset win.
On a roll having ended his SuperEnduro campaign as runner-up to Bolt, Vision Track Beta’s Jonny Walker is a huge threat for the top step of the podium. Super smooth, his riding style may just be what’s required to get the best out of that desert terrain.
Spain’s Alfredo Gomez will make his eagerly awaited 2022 debut in Israel, competing for his own race team. A race winner in 2021, Alfredo – on GASGAS machinery – will be an exciting podium contender. Ready for his home race, rising talent Suff Sella will be another rider to watch out for. With local knowledge at his disposal, he will be hoping for a surprise result.
The opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship takes place at Minus 400 in Israel from April 5-7. Don’t forget to watch all the action on our social media channels as well as on Red Bull Motorsport.
2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship
Round 1: Minus 400 – Israel, April 5/6/7
Round 2: Xross – Serbia, May 18/19/20/21
Round 3: Red Bull Erzbergrodeo – Austria, June 16/17/18/19
Round 4: Red Bull Abestone – Italy, July 9/10
Round 5: Red Bull Romaniacs – Romania, July 26/27/28/29/30
Round 6: Red Bull TKO – USA, August 13/14
Round 7: Red Bull Outliers – Canada, August 27/28
Round 8: Hixpania Hard Enduro – Spain, October 7/8/9
Photos: Omri Gutman/Red Bull Content Pool