History has been made as Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) has completed the first ever FIM Hard Enduro World Championship perfect season with victory at the 24MX GetzenRodeo. Already crowned FIM Hard Enduro World Champion at round five in Spain, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing capped off an incredible year by remaining undefeated in 2023. In the FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship supported by KLIM, TTR Squadra Corse’s Mitch Brightmore claimed the world title.
Manuel Lettenbichler takes victory at 24MX GetzenRodeo
The KTM factory star completed 2023 HEWC season undefeated
Mitch Brightmore becomes the new FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Champion
With six wins from six starts in the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler has unquestionably confirmed himself as the rider to beat in 2023. Having clinched the world title with a round to spare at the 24MX Hixpania Hard Enduro, the German arrived at his home race with the goal of becoming the first rider to ever complete the perfect HEWC season.
Off to a perfect start by topping the Friday prologue, Lettenbichler backed it up by finishing on the top step in the Saturday morning GetzenRace. Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman was feeling good in the technical terrain and placed four minutes behind in second, with Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt third.
However, the all-important 80 minute plus one lap GetzenChamp race quickly followed, and all eyes were once again on the German. With the traditional 24MX GetzenRodeo canon blast at the start, the race was soon underway, and it was time to battle in the woods.
Lettenbichler, Bolt, and Roman were joined by GASGAS’ Michael Walkner and ECONT Bulgaria’s Teo Kabakchiev as everyone fought to gain track position on the tight and narrow woodside course. At the halfway marker, most of the front runners had completed the mandatory Joker Loop, and as the classification balanced out, it was Lettenbichler in the lead.
With 27 minutes to go, Bolt was on the move and began to quickly reel the German in. With 13 minutes to go, Bolt pounced and took over the race lead. Suddenly, Lettenbichler’s hopes of a perfect season began to fade as the Brit pulled a small but critical advantage.
With nine minutes remaining, Bolt became stuck on a rocky climb. With Lettenbichler sailing passed, the German didn’t put a foot wrong for the remainder of the race. Scaling the final water fall section, he crossed the finish line of the 24MX GetzenRodeo to make it six wins from six in 2023.
Despite his best efforts, Bolt had no answer to the charging German and had to settle for second. Roman put in a strong ride and raced his way onto the podium for third.
Behind the leading trio, Kabakchiev brought his KTM home in fourth, while Walkner completed the top five.
In the FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship supported by KLIM the battle for this year’s title went down to the wire between TTR Squadra Corse’s Mitch Brightmore and Rigo Racing’s Matthew Green. With his round five win, Brightmore arrived at the season finale as the championship leader by one point over Green. He then increased that to three points by topping the Friday night prologue.
With both riders qualifying through to the GetzenChamp the fight for championship honours was on. Early on, the duo battled back and forth, with little to separate them. As the clock passed the halfway mark, Brightmore showed he had a little more in the tank and was able to put his Trials skills to use on the rocky climbs.
Edging away from Green, the young Brit held a virtual grasp on the title and as the clock finally wound down, Brightmore topped the Junior classification, and was crowned FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Champion.
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM): “It feels incredible to make the perfect season of wins here in Germany. It’s been a hard race, but this race is unbelievable. I really had to dig deep in the final. Billy was pushing hard and when he passed me, I thought I might not get him back. Somehow, I found a second wind and came back to win. I’m so happy as the 2023 World Champion with a perfect season too. It’s been an amazing year!”
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna): “I gave it my best shot, but I just missed the win. After a tough morning, things were better for the final and I upped my riding. We were battling hard and with about 20 minutes to go I started to get onto Mani’s back wheel. I got into the lead but then missed a climb and he got me back. It was a good fight, I enjoyed it!”
Mario Roman (Sherco): “Man it was pretty crazy out there. I enjoyed it a lot, the track was super tough, but really nice. I was fighting hard for the lead, but the Joker loop wasn’t kind to me and I lost time to Mani and Billy. In the end I finished third and I’m happy with that.”
Mitch Brightmore (GASGAS): “I’m speechless. There was a lot of pressure coming into this race to take the title. Leading by one point meant it was super close and could have gone either way. Winning the prologue gave me a slight cushion but I knew today anything could happen. I kept chipping away at things and got the job done. I’m so happy, I can’t thank my team enough for their help and support in getting me here.”
Results: Round 6 - GetzenRodeo
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 1:35:52.50
2. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 1:38:25.50 +2:33.00
3. Mario Roman (Sherco) 1:36:34.89 +1 lap
4. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 1:41:38.94 +1 lap
5. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 1:51:23.60 +1 lap
Final Championship Standings
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 130pts
2. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 99pts
3. Trystan Hart (KTM) 73pts
4. Mario Roman (Sherco) 71pts
5. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 70pts