Storms his way to 3rd place in General Classification at an amazing climax to the season in Finale Ligure.
GT Factory Racing’s 16 year old Belgian prodigy has absolutely smashed his way to a resounding Junior victory in the inaugural Enduro World Series with 4100 accumulated points to the 1780 of Aurelien Demailly, his closest rival.
If this isn’t enough to convince you of just how good Martin is it’s worth looking at his season’s results in a bit more detail. In this first year of the series reporting of Martin’s place in the GC (General Classification) wasn’t always consistent but you’ll notice below that out of 7 World Series races he’s have placed top 5 overall in 3 of them, top 10 overall in 5 out of the 7!
Team Director Dan Brown said “Martin has had an absolutely awesome first season. Bear in mind that he isn’t even officially old enough to race as a Junior yet – he’s got another 2 full seasons left to race in that category. The team are all over the moon for him.”
Team-mate Dan Atherton said “I’m stoked for Martin – his riding style and skills on the bike are astounding and he is getting fitter and stronger every week. I can’t wait to get back out there and ride with him next season.”
Enduro World Series Overall Junior Winner
Finale Ligure has very positive associations for the GT Factory Racing team. The 2012 Superenduro here was the first time that Matteo worked with Dan when he smashed 5 out of 5 stages to take his first international Enduro win by a massive 45 seconds. Martin hadn’t raced here before but he and Matteo get on really well, he was able to tap into all of Matteo’s local knowledge and so he went into the weekend really confident and excited.
Practice weather was great, and Saturday racing. The team chose Continental Mountain Kings to cope with the dusty conditions and Martin blazed out of the start gates to grab an overall first on the Dolmen trail. Matteo described the Dolmen trail as 1.8 km of beautiful flow chopped into by technically challenging riding over big rocky outcrops.” Steve Jones from Dirt added “ Requires a lot of Commitment”. Martin’s loose style and confidence on the bike stood him in great stead as he put 2 seconds into the entire field!
There was a 10 km transfer up to Caprazoppa stage 2 which boasts a hard climb up top followed by a “super rocky and steep section”. Nico Lau blasted his way down this intense descent to take the stage win but he was late at the time check, earning a one minute penalty and ruining his chances for podium this weekend. Martin finished this stage 3rd in the field, despite a big impact to his rear tyre which caused a flat.
Tyre change sorted and Martin got to stage 3 Le Manie in plenty of time. This trail starts fast but soon degenerates into a series of tough switchbacks overlooking the sea. Martin crashed out on some loose dirt losing about 20 seconds – he still managed 21st overall on the stage – which (with Stage 4 pulled due to accident) left him at 4th overall at the close of day 1.
Day 2 started with a 14km road transfer to the new Cacciatore vs Guardia – the longest in the race at 4.1km. At the start of the season Martin sometimes seemed to tire on these longer stages but his increased strength was in evidence this weekend as he claimed 4th overall for this stage, then 4th overall for the final stage – a repeat of Caprazoppa – enough for an incredible 3rd overall.
Matteo said “Martin was so composed throughout the entire weekend’s racing – through crashes, tyre change, a massive storm – the kid stays cool. He is one incredible rider – I am so proud of him up on that podium I can hardly speak.
Martin said “I like this place very much! Thanks to Matteo and Dan and all the team for all the advice and support which made a massive difference to me – and to all the sponsors who have looked after me like it’s hard to believe. This has been such an amazing year – I can’t wait to start training and planning for 2014 – but first a rest!
Finale Ligure, 3rd Overall
1 CLEMENTZ Jerome 25’40.5
2 GRAVES Jared 25’43.2
3 MAES Martin 26’05.6
4 BAREL Fabien 26’11.3
5 ABSALON Remy 26’13.0
All Photos Sven Martin