Fighting all the way to the finish, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Graham Jarvis has put in a heroic week-long ride to narrowly finish as runner-up at Romaniacs 2020. Joining him on the podium, teammate Alfredo Gomez charged ahead on the final day of racing to secure third overall.
Despite the uncertainty of a pandemic-hit year, the world’s toughest hard enduro rallye finally got underway in late October. Ready to deliver his best, Jarvis had his sights set on a record-breaking seventh Romaniacs crown.
From the off, the British rider was on top form on his TE 300i. Winning Offroad Day 1 set the tone for what was to come as he embraced a lengthy battle with 2019 event winner Manuel Lettenbichler.
Continually swapping positions each day, Graham held a slender 25-second advantage entering the final day of racing. But faced with the unenviable task of opening the 107-kilometre-long course, the final event outcome didn’t quite work out as he hoped it would.
An early crash saw his lead evaporate as Lettenbichler drew level. Unable to respond, Graham had to put his dream of a seventh victory on hold, ending the demanding event second overall after more than 20 hours of close racing.
For Gomez, Romaniacs 2020 was eventful from the off as numerous crashes on the opening day put him on the back foot. But by digging deep and refusing to allow the event to get the better of him the Spaniard meticulously rode his way back into contention.
With just one minute separating him from a potential podium result at the end of the penultimate day, he put all his remaining energy into action, securing third overall by just 13 seconds.
A strong start saw Billy Bolt end Offroad Day 1 in third as he chased a debut Romaniacs podium. However, a series of mistakes and crashes midweek frustratingly slipped him down the running order.
Determined to show his true worth, Bolt put in a masterclass of riding to win Offroad Day 4 and with it claim a solid fifth overall.
Graham Jarvis: “It’s been different to race here in October, but it’s worked good. I felt like I was riding really strong all week, but today Mani just had the edge. Starting out the week with a win was perfect and put me into a strong position. I knew the other guys would be pushing hard too, so I tried to play the long game and wait for another attack. I won the penultimate day but only by enough to give me a 25-second lead. With one crash early on, that advantage was quickly gone. Overall, I’ve a lot to be happy about, but I guess I’ll have to wait a little bit longer for a seventh win.”
Alfredo Gomez: “I’m delighted to come back strong for third. After a bad start to my week I rode each day never giving up. Experience has taught me that everything can happen in this race and the most important thing you can do is be patient. I stuck to that and chipped away. I had a great ride yesterday and knew it was all-or-nothing today. I gave it my best and got third. I’m happy with that.”
Billy Bolt: “Overall, I’m pretty happy. It’s not the result I wanted, but I feel like I made good progress with this race, was more consistent, and closer to the leading guys. Certainly, winning the final day has been a real boost of confidence and already has got me thinking about next year. Finally, a big thank you to the team, they worked so hard this week too. Romaniacs really is a team effort because it’s such a long and tough race.”
Results – Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rallye 2020
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 20:27:11
2. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 20:29:37 +2:26
3. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna) 20:41:20 +14:09
4. Wade Young (Sherco) 20:41:33 +14:22
5. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 20:58:29 +31:18
6. Mario Roman (Sherco) 22:11:39 +1:44:28
7. Michael Walkner (Husqvarna) 23:15:01 +2:47:50
8. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 24:57:25 +4:30:14
9. Michele Bosi (KTM) 29:22:42 +8:55:31
10. Sonny Goggia (Beta) 30:04:05 +9:36:54