Eisenerz, Austria – June 1, 2018 — Spain’s Josep Garcia (KTM) has established himself as the rider to beat in this year’s Erzbergrodeo Blakläder Iron Road Prolog, setting the fastest time during Friday’s opening qualification run.
Turning up the heat at round two of the World Enduro Super Series in Austria, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Garcia set a blisteringly fast qualification time to provisionally top the standings ahead of the 1530 competitors entered. Making his debut ride at the iconic Erzbergrodeo the reigning Enduro 2 World Champion wasted no time in making his presence felt by edging out 2018 Dakar Rally champion Matthias Walkner (KTM – AUT) with two-time SuperEnduro World Champion Colton Haaker (Husqvarna – USA) placing third.
With qualification starting early at 08.00 hours, clear and sunny skies greeted the 1530-strong entry, all eager to blast their way up the infamous Iron Giant. Returning to action having missed the WESS opener in Portugal due to a knee injury, 2017 Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble winner Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – Spain) led the field away. Quickly followed by three-time winner Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) and reigning SuperEnduro World Champion Cody Webb (KTM – USA) the pace was fast and frantic from the off.
However, when the times were tallied up, it was Garcia who finished on top, beating home favourite Walkner on his KTM 450 Rally bike for Friday’s win by just over one second. Two seconds further back, Haaker stopped the clocks for a top three time.
Maintaining a good run of form during the 24th edition of the Erzbergrodeo, Mitas Rocket Ride winner Ossi Reisinger (Husqvarna) was fourth and with fellow countryman Walter Feichtinger (KTM) fifth, it ensured three Austrian’s filled the top five positions in qualification.
With the fastest 50 earning a front row start for Sunday’s Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble, the main WESS contenders in this year’s race to become the ULTIMATE ENDURO CHAMPION have all provisionally made the cut.
Runner-up at round one, KTM’s Jonny Walker (GB) finished sixth, Travis Teasdale (Beta – RSA) seventh and Poland’s Taddy Blazusiak (KTM) eighth. Third at WESS round one, Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) provisionally holds 13th behind Paul Bolton (KTM – GB), Webb, Wade Young (Sherco – RSA) and Estonia’s Rannar Uusna (KTM).
Reserving himself a provisional front row for Sunday’s main race, championship leader Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB) is 15th, with team-mate Jarvis two positions further back in 17th. Aiming to make history as the first competitor on an electric-powered motorcycle to finish the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble, Alta Motors’ Ty Tremaine (USA) is off to a promising start in 43rd.
Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP): “I’m so surprised to set the fastest time in today’s prologue. As it’s my first time here I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed my run up the Iron Giant. It was a crazy feeling to ride with such speed for so long. Hopefully I can hold onto my lead and start Sunday’s race with the number one plate on my bike.”
Matthias Walkner (KTM – AUT): “The prologue was a lot of fun today. There were lots of long straights and long sweeping corners to really show what my 450 Rally bike could do. I had hoped to be fastest, I gave it my best shot, but Josep just beat me to it. I’ll try again tomorrow to take the win.”
Colton Haaker (Husqvarna – USA): “This is my third year at the Erzbergrodeo and that’s my best qualification run so far, so I’m more than pleased with that. I’m happy just to secure a front row start but it is also nice to be a top three finisher today of over 1500 riders.”
The Erzbergrodeo continues with day two of qualification on Saturday, June 2, where competitors will get a second opportunity to try and claim one of the 500 places available for Sunday’s Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble.
Results – Erzbergrodeo, Blakläder Iron Road Prolog, Friday, June 1
1. Josep Garcia (KTM) 10:11.02; 2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 10:12.58; 3. Colton Haaker (Husqvarna) 10:14.88; 4. Ossi Reisinger (Husqvarna) 10:20.27; 5. Walter Feichtinger (KTM) 10:24.10; 6. Jonny Walker (KTM) 10:25.60; 7. Travis Teasdale (Beta) 10:25.57; 8. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM) 10:26.81; 9. Paul Bolton (KTM) 10:27.69; 10. Cody Webb (KTM) 10:29.93…
Full Erzbergrodeo Blakläder Iron Road Prolog results here
May 31: Mitas Rocket Ride
June 1: Blakläder Iron Road Prolog — from 08.00hrs
June 2: Blakläder Iron Road Prolog — from 08.00hrs
June 3: Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble — 14.30-18.30hrs