With victory on Offroad Day 3 at Red Bull Romaniacs, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler has a virtual grasp on winning round three of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship. Delivering yet another powerful performance in the Carpathian Mountains, the German has stretched his race lead to over 58 minutes.
Manuel Lettenbichler favourite to collect Red Bull Romaniacs win
Teodor Kabakchiev closes in on overall podium
Mario Roman puts in strong ride to take third
Entering the second half of a tough week, Offroad Day 3 at Red Bull Romaniacs was billed as the hardest course of the race, and it certainly delivered. With multiple back-to-back signature sections for the Gold class, the trail was relentless in what proved to be a six-hour-plus day in the saddle for those at the sharp end of the results.
Lettenbichler raises the bar again
After his brilliant performance on Offroad Day 2, ECONT Bulgaria’s Teodor Kabakchiev led the field away as they took in a short liaison to get to the morning’s LIVEmaniacs section. A staple part of Red Bull Romaniacs’ history, the Brother of K2 section featured many tricky passes that would be ridden three times.
Kabakchiev was first to arrive, but he had Lettenbichler in tow. At the end of loop one, Lettenbichler was out front and making the Brother of K2 look too easy. Fastest in two of the three loops, Manuel completed the LIVEmaniacs section 49 seconds quicker than Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman in second.
Halfway round the opening loop Lettenbichler overtook Gomez to lead on the road. And it would be a position he would hold for the remainder of what turned out to be an eventful day. As competitors filled the Martial Arts section, it was FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Trystan Hart who exited the quarry leading on corrected time. The Canadian made light work of the tricky climbs and was riding well. Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young was also looking good.
Entering the midday service and all the major contenders were in close contention. Lettenbichler held an advantage, but not by much. Under clear skies, they pushed on after service, riding relatively fast and flowing trails across the mountains.
Young was proving super consistent. Sitting just 36 seconds behind Lettenbichler at checkpoint 10. With two checkpoints remaining, the outcome of Offroad Day 1 was set to go down to the wire between the duo, with Hart two minutes behind in third.
Thunder clouds roll in to close the day
However, the Carpathian Mountains were feeling angry and with a monumental thunderstorm rolling in during the closing stages, it would prove no easy, sun-kissed race to the finish line. Heavy rain and hail caused havoc and the final climbs were treacherous.
As the day pushed on, so too did Manuel. Taking four more top checkpoint times before the service point, he then maintained his advantage for the remainder of the day to take a healthy 14-minute and 24-second win. He now enters tomorrow’s fourth and final Offroad Day with a 58-minute lead over FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Trystan Hart.
Kabakchiev hunting down overall podium result
Admitting to missing his markers on the LIVEmaniacs section, Kabakchiev soon found his rhythm as they headed into the mountains. On pace, he managed to catch back up to Lettenbichler and win checkpoint 6.
Although losing the tow to the German before service, Teodor topped one of the day’s final three checkpoints to place second. A danger man for the podium, the Bulgarian is only five minutes behind Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt, who holds third overall.
Mario Roman rises to the challenge
When the going gets tough, it seems Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman rises to the occasion. Today was the best result of the Spaniard’s week, with Mario finishing third.
The Sherco rider looked strong from the outset, placing second fastest in LIVEmaniacs and then carried that momentum throughout the remainder of the day. He’ll be hoping for another tough day at the office tomorrow.
With three Offroad Days complete, the 20th edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs looks set to conclude with tomorrow’s final day of racing. The final climb and finish line will be broadcast live on LIVEmaniacs from 12.00EEST.
Mario Roman (Sherco): “I feel like I rode well, especially in the technical stuff today. It’s been a hard week for me so far and I wasn’t able to show what I could do, but today it all came together. I like it when it’s hard section and hard section and we got that for sure!”
Michael Walkner (GASGAS): “The day was good. Until the service point it was really long and intense. I wasn’t great on the LIVEmaniacs section, but afterwards I enjoyed the long uphills and settled into a good rhythm before service.”
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM): “I felt super strong all day. After struggling a bit towards the end yesterday I wasn’t sure how things would feel this morning, but quite quickly I got up to speed. With today billed as the hardest day, I want to do my best and make it count.”
Trystan Hart (KTM): “I’m tired, everything is hurting now! But it was a good day, despite being super long and difficult. My goal is to finish strong on the final day and try to get that podium I’ve been shooting for.”
Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM): “In the beginning I was losing time, but Mani was just riding at a super high level. After he caught and passed me in LIVEmaniacs, I didn’t manage to catch back up until a long climb. But his pace was so solid and when he pulled away again, I decided to settle into my own rhythm and ride to my own pace that I was comfortable with. The podium fight is tight, I have a chance, so I’ll give it my best again tomorrow.”
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna): “That was a tough day. Trystan caught me on a climb and as we went straight into another climb I was at my limit. I regrouped a bit after service point, but it was a brutal day.”
Provisional Results: Round 3, Red Bull Romaniacs, Offroad Day 3
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 5:39:30; 2. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 5:53:54; 3. Mario Roman (Sherco) 5:59:42; 4. Trystan Hart (KTM) 5:59:47; 5. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 6:08:30; 6. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 6:15:01; 7. Wade Young (Sherco) 6:16:00; 8. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 6:48:24; 9. Matthew Green (KTM) 7:06:54; 10. Sonny Goggia (KTM) 7:12:41…
Provisional Classification (After Offroad Day 3)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 15:23:52; 2. Trystan Hart (KTM) 16:21:56; 3. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 16:45:02; 4. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 16:49:56; 5. Wade Young (Sherco) 17:04:16; 6. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 17:06:18; 7. Mario Roman (Sherco) 18:05:48; 8. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 18:22:14; 9. Sonny Goggia (KTM) 19:28:16; 10. Matthew Green (KTM) 19:37:21…