Zlatibor, Serbia - 18 May, 2023 — Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler took a convincing win on the opening offroad day at round one of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship in Serbia. The defending world champion showed true class in wet and rainy conditions to end the first full day of racing at the Xross Hard Enduro Rally as the race leader.
Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman enjoyed a strong ride in the mud to finish second, while ECONT Bulgaria’s Teodor Kabakchiev completed the top three.
Competitors faced a wet and rainy start to the Xross Hard Enduro Rally on day one
Manuel Lettenbichler excelled in the mud to win
Early pacesetter Billy Bolt dropped to 9th overall following a navigation error
After the excitement of yesterday’s AKRAPOVIC Prologue in Zlatibor, Serbia, the opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship got down to business at Xross Hard Enduro Rally with competitors facing a 100-kilometre-long day of racing. Wet and rainy weather conditions were the order of the day. With nowhere to hide from the mud, it was a true-to-form tough day in the saddle for the world’s best Hard Enduro riders.
Lettenbichler out to an early lead on day one
With his win in yesterday’s prologue, Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt was fast from the off and duly topped the opening timed sector. It wasn’t by much though, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler just two seconds behind in second. Lettenbichler took over the race lead with the fastest time on the second timed sector.
Increasing that advantage by nearly two minutes on the third timed sector, Lettenbichler was clearly in his element. With the day’s longest sector coming at checkpoint five, the KTM rider dipped inside the one-hour mark to pull away from his rivals. Pushing on he eventually topped the day by almost 13 minutes.
Roman puts in solid ride for second
Behind Lettenbichler, it was all change after the seventh timed sector. A navigation error by Bolt dropped him out of the running for second and opened the door for Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman to capitalise. Mistake-free for the remainder of the day, Roman was rewarded with a runner-up result for his efforts.
The battle for third was tight between ECONT Bulgaria’s Teodor Kabakchiev, GASGAS’ Michael Walkner, and Jarvis Magpul Racing’s Graham Jarvis. In the end, Kabakchiev edged out Walkner by just 30 seconds following over four hours of timed racing to take third. With Walkner having to settle for fourth on offroad day one, Jarvis completed the top five.
Brightmore best of the Juniors on day one
Impressing in the difficult conditions, TTR Squadra Corse’s Mitch Brightmore (GASGAS) was best of the FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship supported by KLIM riders. With the Brit finishing 10th overall today, he holds an almost 10 minute lead over Rigo Racing’s Matthew Green. Spain’s Marc Fernandez (KTM) lies third overall.
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM): “I’m happy with that start. I put in a solid day, although I was struggling to ride the riverbeds comfortably. At times I was slipping and sliding about. After the technical sections, it was cool to have a full gas gravel section to sign off the day.”
Mario Roman (Sherco): “It’s been a really good day despite the wet and muddy conditions. I felt my pace was strong and I was having a lot of fun in the slippery terrain. Of course, there’s still a long way to go, but I’ll keep pushing.”
Michael Walkner (GASGAS): “After the service point, I broke my rear brake and that made it tough to ride. I had to be super careful in the downhills and lost some of the time I had gained in the morning. Despite that I’m happy to be home today in a strong position and will fight again tomorrow!"
Results: Round 1 - Xross Hard Enduro Rally
Offroad Day 1
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 3:56:01.44
2. Mario Roman (Sherco) 4:08:48.09
3. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 4:15:29.44
4. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 4:16:01.59
5. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 4:17:27.35
6. Trystan Hart (KTM) 4:20:07.84
7. David Cyprian (KTM) 4:25:15.11
8. Will Hoare (GASGAS) 4:26:43.49
9. Dominik Olszowy (GASGAS) 4:33:20.85
10. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 4:33:39.81
Overall Results (After Day 1 + Prologue)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 3:59:01.44
2. Mario Roman (Sherco) 4:15:18.09
3. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 4:21:46.59
4. Trystan Hart (KTM) 4:22:07.84
5. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 4:22:07.84
6. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 4:24:27.35
7. Will Hoare (GASGAS) 4:31:43.49
8. David Cyprian (KTM) 4:32:15.11
9. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 4:33:39.81
10. Dominik Olszowy (GASGAS) 4:37:20.85