The 2019 edition of the Hellas Rally Raid saw a little less than 200 competitors take on a 1,200km adventure in the mountains of central Greece. Opting to enter the week-long event on the potent twin-cylinder KTM 790 Adventure R, Birch went head to head against a number of racers on all kinds of enduro machines.

Putting in a consistent run in the opening stages of the race, KTM ambassador and racer Birch made full use of his vast experience to climb up in the overall rankings as the race went on. Crossing the finish line on Sunday with a total race time of 27 hours and 39 minutes, Chris was only thirty minutes behind overall winner Leonardo Tonelli.

Earning fourth in the event’s overall standings, Birch dominated the M6 class for twin-cylinder motorcycles over 660cc. Topping the class’ standings by more than seven hours to second-placed Alberto Ballardin, Birch led an all-KTM podium with Oliver Bassi finishing third in the class.

With Chris Birch demonstrating the immense potential of the new KTM 790 Adventure R in real rally racing conditions, please find more info on the bike here.

Chris Birch: “It’s been a great week of racing here in Greece and I’m very happy with fourth overall and with the win in the Adventure bike class. Ever since I rode the prototype KTM 790 Adventure R my eyes were set on racing this cool new machine. I’m happy I crossed the finish line of this rally on this bike. A huge highlight for me was learning how to get the most of this cool machine. It’s an amazing motorcycle and it’s taken me a while to learn how to explore its vast potential. The places we went in this race were incredible. From remote mountain passes with stunning scenery to enduro-styled trails in the valleys. The low point for me was losing my navigation gear for almost 250km and being forced to ride in the dust of other riders. Luckily the mechanics from the Kini Red Bull squad did a great job and fixed the issue at the next service point. Overall, it’s been an amazing experience racing the big bike in Greece and I enjoyed every moment of it.”

Words and Photos: KTM Press

 

A new chapter in the Dakar Rally story has opened with the official presentation of the 2020 edition due to take place in Saudi Arabia. After Africa and South America, the Middle East now takes up the baton of the rally-raid race par excellence. New details were unveiled yesterday in Paris.

With an audience crowded with future participants and various team leaders, the Dakar 2020 Race Director, David Castera outlined more details of the race which was first presented in Saudi Arabia a month ago. In a meeting which took place at the Institute of the Arab World in the French capital, Castera confirmed the race’s course will cover some 9000 kilometres to be tackled over a fortnight with 12 stages, as well as other as yet unknown details about the Middle East’s maiden Dakar.

After sending the participating vehicles by maritime transport from South of France to Saudi Arabia, the teams will recover them in the port of Jeddah on New Year’s Day 2019. The build-up to the race will take place in the country’s second largest city, as events get underway with the ceremonial starting ramp on January 4. The start of the first stage is scheduled for January 5. The rest day will be held on January 11 in the country’s capital, Riyadh, and the event will conclude in Al Qiddiya on January 17 where the final podium and celebrations will take place.

Furthermore, other data, as yet unknown, was revealed by Castera to those present at the conference, including a prohibition of any training in Saudi Arabia, the distribution of roadbook prior to the stage, the creation of a Super Marathon stage for motorcycles (there will be two marathon days) plus a varied route design, which will cover different types of terrain in the Arab country.

Monster Energy Honda Team has confirmed its inscription for this new edition of the most veteran Cross-Country Rally in the world, and it will do so with a mixed team which will line-up experience alongside ambition. The riders of the Monster Energy Honda Team will also participate, this July, in the Silk Way Rally, the second round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship to be held in Russia, Mongolia and China.

Words and Photos by Honda Racing Corporation

Spaniard beats 300 riders to win the opening race of WESS 2019 in Portugal.

The World Enduro Super Series roared back into life this weekend with Mario Roman coming out on top at the Toyota Porto Extreme XL Lagares to stake an early claim for the title of Ultimate Enduro Champion 2019.

Mario Roman

Here is all you need to know:

– Britain’s Jonny Walker made the early running, taking victory in Friday night’s Endurocross race. Spanish rider Alfredo Gómez then picked up the baton, winning Saturday’s Prologue on the cobbled streets of Porto.

– 300 competitors, including 50 pros, entered Sunday’s Hard Enduro feature race in the baking Portuguese heat.

– Germany’s Manuel Lettenbichler set the early pace, eating up Gómez’s hard-won headstart with ease and taking a six-minute lead into lap two.

Manuel Lettenbichler

– Lettenbichler, however, appeared to run out of steam at the crucial moment and he was soon reeled in by Roman and South Africa’s Wade Young.

– Roman then broke the resistance of both Young and Lettenbichler, opening up a gap of four minutes over Young to take an emphatic win at the first WESS event of the season.

– Graham Jarvis crossed the line in third and looked like he’d snuck in at the last for the final podium spot, but Lettenbichler reclaimed the place when he was awarded time he lost on lap one due to a track-marking error.

Graham Jarvis and Billy Bolt

– Roman said: “I feel amazing, it’s so good to get the win. In 2016 I finished about a minute behind Alfredo [Gómez] and then two years in a row I had mechanical issues with my bike, but I always believed in myself and knew I could do it this year.”

– Young said: “It feels great to get second today. At one point I was down in sixth and I was lacking some confidence after struggling in one of the rivers – that spent a lot of my energy. I came back strong though and towards the end people were starting to get tired and I was able to dig a little deeper and keep going.”

– Lettenbichler added: “I had to stop to move a bridge on the first lap so that cost me some time, but thankfully they’ve awarded that back to me and I’ve come away with third. It would have been nice to get the win, especially after leading for over half of the race. But whatever the result, I am happy with my riding and it’s been a good start to this year’s WESS championship.”

Taddy Blazusiak

The next stop for WESS 2019 is France’s Trèfle Lozérien AMV from May 17-19.

Wade Young

Alfredo Gomez

Wade Young

Words by Red Bull Content Pool, Photos by Future7Media

 

The 2019 WESS gets underway at the challenging Extreme XL Lagares stop.

Briton Billy Bolt used his victory at the 2018 World Enduro Super Series season opener to propel him towards the inaugural title, however he faces a tough task if he wants to retain his crown in 2019 with eight brutal stops on the calendar.

The rider fended off German Manuel Lettenbichler, compatriot Nathan Watson and Spaniard Josep Garcia to triumph.

Bolt and his rivals return to Portugal again for the 2019 season opener this weekend with the Toyota Porto Extreme XL Lagares the first of eight European stops that culminate in the season finale at Germany’s GetzenRodeo from November 2-3.

World Enduro Super Series 2019 calendar
May 10-12: Toyota Porto Extreme XL Lagares, Portugal
May 17-19: Trèfle Lozérien AMV, France
May 30-June 2: Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble, Austria
June 21-23: Hixpania Hard Enduro, Spain
July 30-August 4: Red Bull Romaniacs, Romania
September 21-22: Hawkstone Park Cross-Country, Great Britain
October 5-6: BR2 Enduro Solsona, Spain
November 2-3: GetzenRodeo, Germany

 

 

Here is a look at the riders to watch as champions from Beach Race, Cross-Country, Enduro, Hard Enduro, SuperEnduro and Trials take to the start line:

Billy Bolt
Nationality: British
Team: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
Bolt has had to overcome a knee injury he sustained during winter to defend his crown, however his supreme all-round bike skills mean that he is the rider to beat again.

Manuel Lettenbichler
Nationality: German
Team: KTM
Lettenbichler came of age in 2018 to take the title race down to the wire and a pre-season victory in the Dominican Republic suggests that he is firing on all cylinders again.

Nathan Watson
Nationality: British
Team: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Beach Race and Classic Enduro specialist Watson scored a fantastic victory at 2018’s Red Bull Knock Out and can use the addition of BR2 Enduro Solsona to his advantage in 2019.

Josep Garcia
Nationality: Spanish
Team: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Garcia’s Hawkstone Park Cross-Country win in 2018 saw him challenge for the title and the Classic Enduro specialist’s speed and raw talent will see him back in the mix this year.

Taddy Blazusiak
Nationality: Poland
Team: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Five-time Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble winner Blazusiak’s 2018 thumb injury ruined his chances, but he looks set to prosper fresh off his SuperEnduro campaign indoors.

Wade Young
Nationality: South African
Team: Sherco Factory Racing
Young became the youngest winner of Red Bull Romaniacs before going on to win the Red Bull 111 Megawatt, so look for the Hard Enduro rider to battle it out again with the elite.

Graham Jarvis
Nationality: British
Team: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
At 43 years of age, Jarvis is Enduro’s elder statesman however he stormed to victory at the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble in 2018 and can still excel on his day.

Jonny Walker
Nationality: British
Team: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Despite leading for the majority of 2018, Walker’s hopes of being the inaugural champion ended with a Poland crash so he will be out to rectify that now he is back healthy.

Lars Enöckl
Nationality: Austrian
Team: X-Grip
As Austria’s leading Enduro rider and top privateer, Enöckl switches colours for 2019 as he has moved from Gas Gas to X-Grip Husqvarna to try and improve on 10th overall in 2018.

Alfredo Gomez
Nationality: Spanish
Team: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
Injured prior to 2018, Gomez missed the opening three rounds of the season but he is now back to his best and more determined than ever to win every Hard Enduro on the calendar.

Travis Teasdale
Nationality: South African
Team: Eurotek KTM
Part of the new-look Eurotek KTM team for 2019, Teasdale is a rising talent on the world stage and should challenge for a top-five result on a consistent basis this season.

Will Hoare
Nationality: British
Team: Eurotek KTM
Hoare was one of the standout privateer riders during 2018 and he has since gone on to win the FIM SuperEnduro Junior World Championship so look for him to be in the 2019 running.

Pol Tarres
Nationality: Spanish
Team: TTR Officine Rigamonti
A relative newcomer to Enduro, the former FIM Trials Junior World Champion is a rider with lots of potential and has now signed to the new Italian outfit of TTR Officine Rigamonti.

Mario Roman
Nationality: Spanish
Team: Sherco Factory Racing
Aiming to excel at the series’ Hard Enduro races, Roman is a front runner and he will sight round four as his best opportunity as a proven winner of the Hixpania Hard Enduro.

David Cyprian
Nationality: Czech
Team: JD Gunnex KTM Racing Team
Cyprian is the Czech Republic’s leading Enduro rider and he heads into the new WESS season fresh off a classy top-three finish at the 2019 FIM SuperEnduro Junior World Championship.

More info on iRideWESS.com

Words, Photo, and Video by Red Bull Content Pool

ERNIE VIGIL RACES THE NEW SCRAMBLER 1200 XE
AT THE GRUELLING MEXICAN 1000
April 26 – May 3 2019

Triumph Motorcycles are excited to confirm their return to the off-road endurance racing world with the new Scrambler 1200 XE at the Norra Mexican 1000 race, piloted by stunt rider and off-road racer Ernie Vigil.

Ernie Vigil is one of Triumph’s factory riders, and an experienced off-road racer, and was very likely the first person to have completed the Mexican 1000 on board a Triumph Tiger 800.

Now fully recovered and fit for action following an injury during training in October 2018, Ernie has spent the last 3 weeks in Southern California with the race-ready Scrambler 1200 completing his final preparations for this gruelling challenge.

Ernie’s Scrambler 1200 XE is in near-standard condition, and has only had additional specific desert racing seat, lights, grips and extreme profile sand tyres. Topping off the race spec features, there is also a unique off-road racing scheme with Triumph’s signature Black and White paint and graphics.

The Scrambler 1200 XE is an all-new benchmark-setting motorcycle that represents a first for dual-purpose capability and modern custom style. This beautiful new 1200 scrambler delivers a category redefining level of performance, specification and finish, fused with Triumph’s iconic Scrambler DNA and all the capability of a genuine adventure motorcycle.

The Norra Mexican 1000 is an incredible off-road racing challenge that takes in more than 1,000 miles across rocky desert, tackling quicksand, unpredictable 1,000bhp racing trucks and the elements. If you want to compete in extreme endurance races on a motorcycle, the Mexican 1000 is one of the biggest. Starting in Ensenada, Mexico, the original 1,000-mile route (which is where it gets its name) kicked off in 1967. The route changes and the distance varies but it is always around 1,000 miles, and promises one thing: an incredible challenge.

The Mexican 1000 is being run on the very same arduous course and conditions as the Baja 1000, which is the same terrain that made the Triumph Scrambler name famous in the 1960s, so the Scrambler 1200XE will be put to the ultimate scrambling test.  As this is such a highly challenging competition, Ernie, who was selected for both his experience and incredible commitment as well as his passion for this project, has been in full training for many weeks.

Ernie Vigil

“After 9 months of training, the injury and over 6,000 off-road miles in the saddle I’m excited to be getting to the final stage of prep for one of the most challenging off-road races you can do. I literally can’t wait to get to that starting line and fire the Scrambler up! The bike has been performing amazingly well and I’m raring to go.”

Paul Stroud,Triumph’s Chief Commercial Officer

“Everyone at Triumph is rooting for Ernie, his commitment to returning to race fitness following his injury has been amazing and we just can’t wait to see the Scrambler 1200 in action. Baja desert racing has played such a big part in the history of scrambling and it was the spark that kicked off of our whole iconic Scrambler line-up.”

Words and Photos: Triumph