GT Factory Racing take 4th and 5th in Round 1 of Enduro World Series
16 year old Martin Maes put in a sensational weekend’s riding to take 4th place in the opening Round of the Enduro World series at Punta Ala, Italy with team-mate and mentor Dan Atherton taking an impressive fifth.
Local organisers claimed that the race would be “The hardest on the circuit” and there was certainly no shortage of technical trails across Sunday’s Stages.
Before the bulk of the racing on Sunday the riders took on the prologue stage on Saturday night, with damp conditions the short course took on a urban feel snaking through the streets of Castiglione della Pescaia. Martin started his campaign strong with a third spot amongst some amazing talent, Dan made a small mistake just 2 seconds back in 13th.
Back on rough ground and on the following day stage 1 was reported as greasy. Dan said “I’d been woken a few times in the night by heavy showers so we knew it was going to be muddy.” The trail was fast from the very start with tricky rock sections of varying gradient which tested both precision at speed and ability to negotiate such terrain against the gradient “The amount of mud on rider’s goggles made it really difficult to see but everybody rode it flat out regardless – they were really pinning it” Dan said. He rode the stage steadily coming in a respectable 7th then got progressively faster throughout the day, Martin blasted his way to third – announcing his presence at this level in no uncertain terms!
Because of weather warnings in the run up to the event stage 2 Sasserelli was cancelled but luckily on the day the rain held off and after Stage 1 was out of the way the riding conditions were pretty much perfect.
Stage 3 Rock-oh is known as the toughest trail in the entire region with treacherous rock channels and gruelling sprint sections. Martin rode an amazing race to come in 4th with Dan just behind in 5th place.
With two to go it was looking like Dan and Martin would be fighting for the final spot on the podium in a three way battle with Australian Jared Graves, up front and comfortably in the lead was Fabien Barel with Jerome Clementz a good few seconds back in 2nd.
Known as “The Guardian” stage 4 proved to be no such thing for Martin who crashed heavily but still managed to hang on to 12th, Dan rode all three parts of this stage strongly claiming another fifth place.
Cala Violina the fifth and final stage is the most technical trail of all and both GT Factory Racing riders rode it with assurance – Dan claimed 3rd on the stage confirming his 5th overall while Martin tired slightly with a 12th place delighting everybody with a 4th Overall.
Dan said “I’m stoked. Martin rode like a veteran. I was so impressed, we’d practised together and he was taking on board advice and following my lines because I’d had more chance to practise here then on the day he was quite calm and managed to hold it together over the entire course which is an undertaking for anybody – never mind a 16 year old.”
Martin commented “ It’s a huge surprise for me taking a top 5 but I am very happy, riding with Dan was great fun and we can both work hard now ahead of Round 2”
Round 2 will take place at Val d Alos, France at the end of June so you can guarantee there will be some serious training done by all before then.
1. Fabien Barel
2. Jerome Clementz
3. Jared Graves
4. Martin Maes
5. Dan Atherton