The South African rider beat the world championship leaders with victory at the HERO Challenge hard enduro in Poland, as Billy Bolt takes the championship lead by a point from Manuel Lettenbichler.
Poland (14 September 2021) – The Hard Enduro World Championship racers had to dig deep and flex their super powers at the HERO Challenge as they struggled to get to grips with the sandy track and back markers in a true test of skill.
Bringing 400 riders to Dąbrowa Górnicza, near Katowice in Poland, the HERO Challenge combined dirt bike disciplines on the city’s superb Enduro Park Poland and MXDG Motocross track to create a unique test of the riders’ all-round skills. It started with a high-speed prologue combining motocross, SuperEnduro and a sprint through a forest with technical rides over railway sleepers and rocks.
Wade Young, Manuel Lettenbichler and Billy Bolt celebrate on the Hero Challenge podium.
The top riders then competed in a sprint over a SuperEnduro track, with the fastest 120 riders qualifying for the main race. Home favourite Dominik Olszowy proved a surprise winner of the prologue to the delight of the home fans, while Alfredo Gómez was fastest in the SuperEnduro.
Sunday began with a two-hour race for the best of the experts, hobby and women category riders before the three-hour final for the elite ranks, making the track even tougher for the pro riders.
In the main event, Manuel Lettenbichler was fastest at the start, grabbing the holeshot from Gómez, but the world championship leader was soon joined by a host of elite riders looking to pounce on the lead. Mani, Billy Bolt, Olszowy, Gómez and Jonny Walker set the early pace and were soon joined by Wade Young.
The South African gambled by pitting one lap later than his rivals and the Sherco rider took the lead. Clearly enjoying the rough conditions, he was in the zone during in the second half of the race to claim victory in style.
“I’m so happy to pull off the win. I felt really comfortable out there today,” said Young. “My start wasn’t ideal – I got a bit boxed out – but I stayed relaxed, because I knew my pace was good. Once I got with the guys up front, I settled in. I gambled on riding an extra lap before pitting and that gained me some time, too. In the second half of the race my flow was good. I was hitting my lines, putting in my times and took it home for the win. It’s been an awesome day.”
Britain’s Bolt pushed Young, but couldn’t match his pace. After a fall, he chose to play it safe and take enough points to re-take the lead in the world championship standings.
“It was physical out there for the three hours, I don’t have much left in the tank now. I would have loved to take the win, but second place is great for the championship and now puts me in the lead by one point,” said Bolt. “I was battling with Wade at about mid distance, but I needed an extra pit stop and lost some ground. A crash then saw me lose sight of him, so I just tried to play it safe. I didn’t want to make any more mistakes and lose a position to Mani. Hats off to Wade, though, he deserved the win today.”
Lettenbichler came on strong during the final laps, but wasn’t able to bridge the gap to Bolt and had to be content with third. “I was stoked to get the holeshot. I felt pretty strong until about the fifth lap, but then began to fade a little – it was so tiring. My race was good,” said Mani.
“Towards the end I managed to get a bit closer to Billy, so I made a push on, but by that stage, when I tried to up my pace I started making mistakes and wasn’t able to get on his wheel to battle. It’s been good to stay on the podium every round now and although I lost the points lead, there’s only one point in it, so it’s still all to play for.”
For Olszowy, a broken clutch perch forced him to pit for repairs, which put a home podium out of reach. The Pole finished just over 50 seconds behind Lettenbichler in fourth however, just ahead of Young’s Sherco team-mate Mario Roman.
Hard Enduro World Championship Rd 6 results
Wade Young (Sherco) 7 laps – 3h 3m 1s
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) – 3h 6m 48s
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) – 3h 7m 9s
Dominik Olszowy (KTM) – 3h 8m 1s
Mario Roman (Sherco) – 3h 8m 31s
Jonny Walker (Beta) – 3h 13m 51s
Alfredo Gómez (Husqvarna) – 3h 14m 38s
Travis Teasdale (GAS GAS) – 3h 16m 35s
Michael Walkner (GAS GAS) – 3h 17m 35s
William Hoare (GAS GAS) – 3h 20m 52s
FIM Hard Enduro World Championship standings (after 6 of 8 rounds)
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) – 70 points
Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) – 69
Wade Young (Sherco) – 60
Mario Roman (Sherco) – 48
Jonny Walker (Beta) – 44
Alfredo Gómez (Husqvarna) – 33
Michael Walkner (GAS GAS) – 28
Taddy Blazusiak (GAS GAS) – 26
Teodor Kabakchiev (Husqvarna) – 21
Dominik Olszowy (KTM) – 21