Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt tops the standings on day one at round four of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship at Italy’s Red Bull Abestone. Defending world champion Bolt was fastest in the morning qualification before going on to win the evening’s JUST1 Straight Rhythm over AG Racing Team 89’s Alfredo Gomez. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler edged out Sweden’s Eddie Karlsson (KTM) to complete the top three in Val di Luce.
Round four gets underway at Red Bull Abestone
Billy Bolt proves top dog on opening day of racing
Sweden’s Eddie Karlsson puts in surprise top-four ride
Round four of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship got underway at the now infamous Red Bull Abestone in Italy. Nestled in the Tuscany mountain peaks, it’s become a firm rider favourite thanks to its amazing landscape, stunning trails, and welcoming Italian hospitality.
After Friday afternoon’s warm up for competitors to stretch their legs, today saw racing begin in earnest. Spilt into two parts, the morning saw riders battle it out for a top-30 place in Sunday afternoon’s LIQUI MOLY FINAL A, with the remainder of the entry contesting the Sunday morning Mitas Final B. The fastest 16 qualifiers also advanced through to this evening’s high action JUST1 Straight Rhythm in Val di Luce. With the Straight Rhythm results also determining the starting order for Sunday’s final, it ensured there was a lot to play for.
Just like he had done in 2021, Billy Bolt was on top form from the off. The Husqvarna rider clearly favours Red Bull Abestone and was quick to make his mark in the morning qualifier. Setting the combined quickest time on the two special test loops, Billy topped the standings by an impressive 45 seconds over Lettenbichler in second.
Poland’s Dominik Olszowy (GASGAS) was third fastest this morning ahead of Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young, with Eddie Karlsson completing the top five. However, with the evening’s JUST1 Straight Rhythm still to come, that order was set to change as riders went head-to-head.
The first round of racing saw all of the heavy favourites advance through to round two where they were whittled down to four riders for the semi-finals. With pressure ramping up, Bolt disposed of Karlsson to secure his place in the final, while Gomez got the better of Lettenbichler.
Just like we had seen at the Straight Rhythm session from round two in Serbia, the final was a Bolt versus Gomez matchup. Gomez was determined not to be outdone this time around. However, Billy once more had the measure of him and pulled out all of the stops to take the win.
With Bolt and Gomez first and second respectively, Lettenbichler held off a hard-charging Karlsson to complete the top three in Val di Luce.
With qualification complete, Red Bull Abestone gets down to the business end of things on Sunday. First up is the two-hour long Mitas Final B, with the all-important LIQUI MOLY Final A starting at 13.00CET.
Creating a spectacular backdrop, this year’s start line will be at 1953 metres above sea level at the Abetone gondola. Riders – waved away in 30-second intervals – will then face two laps of a track 31 kilometres long. With multiple signature sections to negotiate, it is set to prove quite the workout.
Results – Red Bull Abestone, JUST1 Straight Rhythm
1. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna)
2. Alfredo Gomez (GASGAS)
3. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM)
4. Eddie Karlsson (KTM)