With the opening round of the 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship locked in our sights, there’s a wealth of talent hungry for success at Minus 400.
A new season always brings heightened excitement, lots of anticipation, and plenty of pre-championship energy, and this year is no exception. Eight rounds lie ahead in this year’s fight to become the 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Champion, but it’s at the Dead Sea in Israel where everyone with title ambitions is hoping to leave their mark.
Here’s a look at who’s gunning for glory in 2022…
Billy Bolt – Husqvarna Factory Racing
As the defending FIM Hard Enduro World Champion, Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt will naturally start off as title favourite. The Brit is on peak form right now having just defended his FIM SuperEnduro World Championship crown. Indoors nobody came close to matching Billy’s pace, and you can be sure he will want to keep things that way outdoors too. Although Minus 400 will be new to all, Billy has proven himself in the past to be a fast learner, winning the first ever running of the Abestone Hard Enduro in 2021. It will be tough to rule the champ out of a winning ride next week.
Wade Young – Sherco Factory Racing
South African Wade Young has had a relatively quiet winter grinding out the training at home in preparation for Israel. The Sherco rider is a fan of long and physically demanding style courses and with Thursday’s Minus 400 Main Event featuring a 75-kilometre-long course that increases with difficulty, that’s when we expect Young to make his mark on the race. A race winner in 2021 at Hero Challenge, along with finishing on the final championship podium alongside Bolt and Manuel Lettenbichler, Wade will be eager to get 2022 off to a strong start.
Mario Roman – Sherco Factory Racing
Spain’s Mario Roman has enjoyed a busy off-season, focusing solely on his Hard Enduro riding. With success in his national series, along with a win at the notoriously tough Ales Trem event in France, Roman is bustling for success in Israel. The dry, dusty, and slippery Dead Sea terrain should play into the hands of the Sherco rider.
Jonny Walker – Vision Track Beta
Always a crowd favourite wherever he lines up, Vision Track Beta’s Jonny Walker will be a rider to watch for. Consistently strong during his 2021 campaign as a privateer with Beta Motorcycles, Walker looks to have built on that pace during the winter by finishing as runner-up to Bolt in SuperEnduro. With a silky-smooth riding style and now well-suited on his Italian two-stroke, Walker will be pushing every step of the way to end round one on the podium.
Alfredo Gomez – AG Racing Team 89
Alfredo Gomez makes an eagerly anticipated debut with his new privateer team AG Racing Team 89 in Israel. The Spaniard has switched his programme up during the off-season and similar to Walker is running his own setup. Riding GASGAS machinery, it will be exciting to see how he’s settled into this new role.
Graham Jarvis – Jarvis Racing Team
Injured during 2021 at Red Bull Romaniacs, Graham Jarvis makes a welcomed return to racing at Minus 400. Arguably the greatest Hard Enduro rider of all time, Graham – despite his age – is a serious contender to deliver a special result next week. Once again going up against much younger competition, Graham, as always, will use his experience and race savvy to do all that he can to start the 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship on the box.
Michael Walkner – GASGAS Factory Racing
Austria’s Michael Walkner was a rider that went from strength-to-strength during 2021. Delivering numerous impressive rides, the relative newcomer to the elite of Hard Enduro found his feet and his confidence while racing against the best riders in the world. Highly talented, Walkner will be targeting a top-five result.
Teodor Kabakchiev – Econt Bulgaria
Young Bulgarian Teodor Kabakchiev is a racer on the rise in Hard Enduro. 2021 saw many breakout performances from the Husqvarna rider. With another year’s experience under his belt, Kabakchiev will be aiming to work his way more consistently into the top-five during 2022.
Suff Sella – Home Hero
Suff Sella will be one rider fired up for success in Israel. A home round for the 18-year-old, Suff will be eager to show what he can do on familiar terrain. A rider with good technical ability and willing to dig deep when the going gets tough, you can be sure he’ll be doing all he can to figure at the sharp end of the results.
Unfortunately, round one will see two well-known faces absent due to injury. Runner-up in 2021, KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler will sit this round out as he continues to recover from knee surgery, while GASGAS Factory Racing’s Taddy Blazusiak broke his wrist at the SuperEnduro finale last month.
The opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship takes place at Minus 400 in Israel from Tuesday April 5 to Thursday April 7. Don’t forget to watch all the action on our social media, plus 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
Photo credit: Future7Media, Sebas Romero – Red Bull Content Pool