The going gets tough at the WEC GP of Wales
BMW Motorrad Motorsport team riders Simo Kirssi and Anders Eriksson both came through the toughest round of the â€™08 World Enduro Championship so far without problems with both riders scoring top 10 results at the GP of Wales, round five of the eighth round championship. Marking the start of the second half of the series the two-day event proved to be extremely challenging due to a combination of demanding special tests, heavy rain and a challenging forest course. With over half of the entry failing to reach the end of the first dayâ€™s competition both Kirssi and Eriksson finished the event without problems having placed in eighth and ninth respectively in the Enduro 2 and Enduro 3 classes.
Competing in the UK for the first time ever the GP of Wales proved to be a real learning experience for Kirssi as the Finn learned first hand just how challenging it is to master grass covered, slippery Welsh special tests. Starting steadily on day one Kirssi, like many riders, found it all but impossible not to make any mistakes due to the horrendous weather conditions but steadily improved his performances as the day wore on. Comfortably placed inside the top 10 of the Enduro 2 class Kirssi placed a creditable third in class on the penultimate special test to claim an eventual eighth place finish.
On day two drier conditions ensured a slightly less demanding dayâ€™s competition for all riders but with nine special tests to be completed it was to be anything but easy. Finishing 10th on the dayâ€™s opening special test before dropping to 12th on the second, Kirssi then placed inside the top 10 on tests three and four before loosing time to his rivals on lap three. Improving his results towards the end of the day Simo claimed an eventual 10th place result and having finishing in eighth on day one now sits in ninth in the Enduro 2 world championship standings.
BMW Motorrad Motorsportâ€™s hugely experienced seven-time enduro world champion Anders Eriksson was well prepared for a tough GP of Wales but even he was surprised just how demanding the race was. With heavy rain during the first dayâ€™s competition, as well as during the days leading up to the event, the fifth round of the â€™08 WEC series was anything but easy. But despite the severity of the opening day Anders completed the event without troubles and scored his second best points tally this season after his hope race in Sweden.
Finishing outside of the top 10 in the Enduro 3 class just twice during the first day Anders placed as high as fourth in class on the enduro test on lap two and although a little disappointed at having collected a one-minute time penalty after losing his way on one of the tough time controls was pleased with the way heâ€™d ridden. On day two Anders again rode consistently finishing ninth in the Enduro 3 class and just one-and-a-half minutes behind class winner Seb Guillaume from France.
BMW Motorrad Motorsportâ€™s Enduro Junior class riders Bert Meyer managed to tough things out on day one and finished as one of 12 EJ class riders to finish the day. On day two Bert placed 15th having found the GP of Wales to be extremely challenging.
Simo Kirssi â€“ Enduro 2 class: â€œItâ€™s been an interesting race for me because it was my first time competing in Wales and the first time Iâ€™ve used enduro tyres on wet grass. It was a great learning experience and a really challenging race. The first day was so slippery. All of the tests were difficult and the course was hard as well so Iâ€™m really pleased I finished with no problems. I wasnâ€™t very confident on the enduro test because I struggled in the slippery conditions. But all in all it has been a pretty good weekend.â€
Anders Eriksson â€“ Enduro 3 class: â€œIâ€™ve not finished with great results but I have really enjoyed the race and have been pleased with my riding and really pleased with the way my bike performed, really pleased. The enduro test was the best for me throughout the weekend, but I found the extreme test tough. It was really close between several riders in the E3 class, which meant you couldnâ€™t afford too many mistakes, but that was hard to do. The first day was very tiring. I lost my way on the tight time control early on day one and received a one-minute penalty, which was disappointing but it didnâ€™t change too much in the results. It was a case of survival at times on day one because the weather was so bad. Day two was very enjoyable although still tough. My bike performed perfectly all weekend. Iâ€™m looking forward to racing in France next weekend now, it should be another great race.â€
2008 World Enduro Championship
Grand Prix of Wales â€“ Day 1
Enduro 2 class
1. Juha Salminen (KTM) 52:30.26; 2. David Knight (KTM) 53:16.38; 3. Jonny Aubert (Yamaha) 54:38.74; 4. Paul Edmonson (Suzuki) 55:45.58; 5. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 55:51.91; 6. Nicolas Paganon (Aprilia) 56:26.39; 7. Jari Mattila (Honda) 56:32.92; 8. Simo Kirssi (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) 56:59.78; 9. Antoine Meo (Husqvarna) 57:24.39; 10. Fabrizio Dini (Yamaha) 59:16.84; 11. Alessandro Belometti (KTM) 59:41.92; 12. Nicolas Deparrois (Gas Gas) 59:46.67; 13. Rudy Cotton (Beta) 1:00:52.36; 14. Valtteri Salonen (Husaberg) 1:01:24.47; 15. Felipe Zanol (Yamaha) 1:07:00.37; 16. Kevin Murray (Yamaha) 1:08:09.34; 17. Justin Wilson (Yamaha) 1:13:03.98; 18. Darren Wheeler (Husaberg) 1:13:07.52; 19. Chris Hockey (Honda) 1:13:53.58; 20. Rich Warner (KTM) 1:22:16.26
Enduro 3 Class
1. Christophe Nambotin (Gas Gas) 54:07.63; 2. Sebastien Guillaume (Husqvarna) 55:17.93; 3. Marko Tarkkala (KTM) 56:15.45; 4. Samuli Aro (KTM) 57:00.40; 5. Marcus Kehr (KTM) 57:04.08; 6. Bjorn Carlsson (Husaberg) 57:06.46; 7. Xavier Galindo (KTM) 57:30.01; 8. Anders Eriksson (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) 58:11.16; 9. Euan McConnell (TM) 58:12.93; 10. Stefan Merriman (Aprilia) 1:00:16.67; 11. Stefan Svitko (KTM) 1:00:20.99; 12. Juan Knight (Gas Gas) 1:00:37.66; 13. Wayne Braybrook (Gas Gas) 1:01:11.08; 14. Edward Jones (KTM) 1:02:49.20; 15. Gordon Clarke (TM) 1:10:58.25