Going from strength to strength, the FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship supported by KLIM proved to be a growing success in 2023. With a new world champion crowned, countless exciting battles throughout the season, the emergence of rising Hard Enduro stars, and well-attended training camps developed, the future looks bright for both the Junior championship and the HEWC series.
Junior class gained FIM World Championship status in 2023
Mitch Brightmore (United Kingdom) crowned world champion
US apparel brand KLIM continues as title sponsor for 2024
After a successful debut in 2022, the FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship supported by KLIM pushed hard to take another strong step forward during 2023. Building on the learnings from year one, championship promoters’ WESS GmbH continued at pace with their goal of developing the future talent of Hard Enduro.
Junior class gains FIM World Championship status
Following numerous consultations with the FIM, an important milestone was reached in early 2023 before racing began. Elevating the status of the Junior category to a full FIM World Championship ensured the foundation blocks of the class were truly in place. Competitors would now be thoroughly rewarded for their efforts in 2023.
KLIM join as title sponsor
Hot on the heels of this announcement came the news that KLIM – the US-based global leader in advanced, technical off-road riding gear and apparel - would put their full support behind the Junior class as title sponsor. With important funding in place, WESS GmbH were then able to plan fully for the season ahead.
Successful KLIM Junior Camp launched
Continuing the aim of nurturing young talent, a KLIM Junior Camp was held in Serbia prior to round one at the Xross Hard Enduro. Utilising the experience of Hard Enduro veteran Paul Bolton, competitors received valuable coaching.
Paul was on hand to offer Hard Enduro advice and tips during an initial group question and answer session before riders then enjoyed a riding workshop with Paul, gaining valuable coaching advice on the trails around Zlatibor. Completing the KLIM Junior Camp, riders gathered with Paul at the round one prologue to walk the course together.
From there, riders began the four-round championship that took in the Xross Hard Enduro in Serbia, Red Bull Erzbergrodeo in Austria, 24MX Hixpania Hard Enduro in Spain, and finally the 24MX GetzenRodeo in Germany. In total, close to 30 riders contested the 2023 season.
Brightmore and Green battle for championship honours
At the head of the standings, all eyes were on defending champion, South African Matthew Green, to see if he could win again. Straight away, the Rigo Racing rider delivered and duly won round one. However, he had some new competition in the form of TTR Squadra Corse’s Mitch Brightmore and in Serbia a close battle began that would continue throughout the year.
With the British rider finishing as runner-up to Green at round one, the duo again fought for the Junior class win at round two – Red Bull Erzbergrodeo. Green had the measure of Brightmore and pushed through to take a well-deserved victory, while also ending the race in an impressive 11th overall.
After the summer break the rivalry resumed at the third and penultimate round of the Junior series, the 24MX Hixpania Hard Enduro in Spain. Mitch arrived in Spain on top form and immediately looked comfortable on the technical terrain. Winning the prologue, he went on to win the Junior category and placed an impressive seventh overall. With Green slipping to third in the race, the advantage was suddenly Brightmore’s as they headed into the final round, the 24MX GetzenRodeo.
With just one point separating the pair, the outcome of the 2023 FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship supported by KLIM went down to the wire in Germany. Firing a sizeable warning shot, Mitch topped the Junior class in the Friday night prologue. It was a memorable start to the event for the young Brit as he also earned himself a spot on the prologue podium with third overall. With both Mitch and Matt qualifying through the Saturday morning GetzenRace to the GetzenChamp main event, there was nothing to separate them.
Getting a wheel in front, Brightmore controlled the advantage on his TTR Squadra Corse GASGAS. Despite Green’s best efforts, he couldn’t reel Mitch in and as they crossed the final finish line of 2023, it was Brightmore who rode into the record books as the newly crowned FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Champion.
Young talent coming through
While Mitch and Matthew established themselves as the riders to beat in 2023, there were many battles behind them. Notably, the fight for the final place on the overall class podium. In what proved to be a super consistent season, Britain’s Richard Moorhouse (GASGAS) secured third overall. Moorhouse never featured outside the top five all season.
Improving greatly as the year progressed, Ashton Brightmore (GASGAS) ended his year in fourth overall. Younger brother of Mitch, Ashton is already showing himself to be a force of the future, finishing on the podium at the final two rounds.
Ending his season just two points behind the younger Brightmore brother was Spain’s Marc Fernandez (KTM) in fifth. The Spaniard showed great Hard Enduro spirit to end round one in fourth, and then later backed that up with a memorable fourth place at his home race in Spain.
For 2024 the FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship supported by KLIM will continue to promote and develop young talent.
Winfried Kerschhaggl - FIM Hard Enduro World Championship Manager: “It was a great year for the FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship supported by KLIM. By bringing KLIM onboard as a title sponsor, it helped us to build on our commitment to the younger riders competing in the championship. The KLIM Junior Camp proved a great initiative and is something we’re keen to expand on. While offering the junior riders their own class to compete in, it’s also rewarding to see several of them fighting for position in the overall results too. Seeing Mitch and Matt inside the top-10 on numerous occasions is exciting and shows that when you help young talent, great things can happen. Congratulations to Mitch on becoming an FIM World Champion and we now look forward to what 2024 will bring!”