The Serbian mountains are calling as the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship heads to Xross Hard Enduro Rally for round two. A new event to the series, all eyes are on the world’s top Hard Enduro riders to see who can tame these exciting new trails.
Sherco’s Mario Roman starts as early HEWC series leader
Defending champion Billy Bolt aims for victory
Manuel Lettenbichler returns to racing at Xross
All-new FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Cup begins in Serbia
Can Mario Roman win again in Serbia?
After a winning start to the season in Israel, Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman will look to add another victory to his tally. The Spaniard rode incredibly well in the hot, dry, and dusty Dead Sea terrain, but Serbia promises to be a very different race to Israel, where rocky and root-infested forest tracks, mixed with wild and isolate mountain peaks await.
However, Roman has always performed well in these type of conditions, and at similar multi-day Hard Enduro races like Red Bull Romaniacs, so will be eager to put his Sherco on the top step of the podium once again.
Of the top Hard Enduro competitors starting the Xross Hard Enduro Rally, Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young is the only rider to have won it. And he’s done it twice! Wade will be hoping to put that past experience to excellent use next week when the going is sure to get tough.
Runner-up in Israel, Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt arrives in Serbia focused on winning. The defending champion was nursing a wrist injury last time out but looks to have put that behind him and is hungry for his first victory of the 2022 campaign.
With 300 kilometres of riding to cover in Serbia, it’s hard to rule out Hard Enduro legend Graham Jarvis when thinking about possible final podium results. The Jarvis Racing Team Husqvarna rider impressed everyone with third in Israel. With conditions likely to favour the Brit in Serbia, expect Graham to be in the mix when it matters most.
Debuting his new AG Racing Team 89, Alfredo Gomez rode well in Israel for fourth. He’s since spent some time in Romania testing with his new GASGAS preparing for what he believes will be similar conditions in Serbia. Leaving no stone unturned, the Spaniard wants to hit the podium this time out.
GASGAS Factory Racing’s Michael Walkner put in one of the best rides of his young career at round one, despite a missed checkpoint pushing him down the running order. He looks to make amends at round two. Teodor Kabakchiev (Team Bulgaria powered by ECONT), Dominik Olszowy (GASGAS) and Francesc Moret (RIEJU) will also be riders to watch.
Mani Is Back!
After sitting out round one due to injury, KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler makes a very welcome return to the Hard Enduro paddock. Runner-up to Bolt in the 2021 season, along with winning multiple races, it will be exciting to see the formidable #304 back on track. Having worked hard on his recuperation, Mani will be fighting hard to make his presence felt in Serbia.
Junior Cup – Xross Hard Enduro breaks new ground
The Xross Hard Enduro Rally will also mark round one of the FIM Hard Enduro Junior Cup for riders under the age of 22. The Junior riders will compete within the overall Pro class, but with an additional title to race for. Eleven riders have already confirmed their entries for the Serbian event.
A new category for the series, it will be difficult to call which riders will come out on top as a group of Hard Enduro newcomers square up against some already established competitors.
With a strong showing at Minus 400, Israel’s Suff Sella (AG Racing Team 89) will be looking to claim a little piece of history as the first Junior class winner in Hard Enduro. However, South Africa’s Matt Green has his sights set on that top step of the podium for Rigo Racing. Sella’s teammate Marc Fernandez also rode strongly at Minus 400 and will look to deliver his best, as too will Rieju’s Nicola Grossi.
The four-day Xross Hard Enduro Rally gets underway on Wednesday May 18, with an opening ceremony in Zlatibor, followed by the afternoon Akrapovic Straight Rhythm prologue. It’s then down to the serious business of racing on Thursday for the first of three 100-kilometre long days. Each day the riding will take the Pro, Expert, Hobby, and Amateur competitors deep into the surrounding mountains of Kopaonik, Mount Tara, and Mokra Gora, pushing everyone to their limits.
Championship Standings (after round 1 of 8)
1. Mario Roman (Sherco) 20pts; 2. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 17pts; 3. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 15pts; 4. Alfredo Gomez (GASGAS) 13pts; 5. Wade Young (Sherco) 11pts; 6. Teodor Kabakchiev (Husqvarna) 10pts; 7. Dominik Olszowy (GASGAS) 9pts; 8. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 8pts; 9. David Cyprian (KTM) 7pts; 10. Francesc Moret (Rieju) 6pts…