Wade Young. (Mihai Stetcu/Red Bull Content Pool)
Wade Young (Brother Leader Tread KTM) and Blake Gutzeit (Fox/CTI/Rock Oil) continued to impress on Off-Road Day Two of the Red Bull Romaniacs in Sibiu, Romania on Thursday.
The South Coast duo finished the day in fifth and sixth respectively, while Brett Swanepoel also moved into the top 10; he’ll start Off-Road Day Three in ninth position.
Scott Bouverie and Travis Teasdale finished 13th and 14th, with Dwayne Kleynhans moving up to 20th place.
In perfect sync with the sunrise this morning, the first riders took off to tackle the Red Bull Romaniacs race track for Off-Road Day Two.
The mechanics and coaches of the professional riders warned their athletes to go easy for the first several metres, the grass still wet from the morning dew. After that, their instructions were to go “wide open” on the well-marked and used tracks, which are the classic playground of the Sibiu local Enduro community.
Unfortunately, Chris Birch (NZL, KTM) took that advice too literally and while cruising in fourth gear had a nasty high speed crash. With a damaged bike and feeling a bit dizzy, he decided to play it safe and quit while he was ahead. As he left the track towards the Service Point, he was spotted helping Silver class riders up a difficult section. Aside from a few bad bruises, he is okay.
Setting off overly eager onto the track caused another problem for some of the riders this morning, among them Wednesday`s rock star Andreas Lettenbichler (D, KTM) and Graham Jarvis (UK, Husqvarna).
They took a wrong turn at an intersection splitting the Gold and Silver Class from Bronze and Iron. Navigating only by the track markings and not watching their GPS, they missed a Gold-loop. Jarvis somehow realized the mistake and turned back, while Letti continued and missed the checkpoint, along with a few other riders. All of whom received penalty times.
When Letti arrived at the finish, he commented: “After I realized, that I missed a checkpoint, I just continued the race on my own rhythm. We will have to see how much of a penalty I receive tonight and decide what that means for the rest of the race.”
A bad day for the Bavarian and a pity, since he appears to be in top shape. As if the day hadn’t gone bad enough already, Letti also front-flipped down a hill later during the race. His son Manuel (D, KTM) also got to taste some Red Bull Romaniacs pain and arrived quite tired and sore at the finish. But he was in good spirits and happy about his result for the day (11th, arriving a good hour past the leading Walker).
Jonny Walker (UK, KTM) seems to have been right about writing off Wednesday as a “bad day” and moving forward. He was on fire and dominated the race from start to finish. After his third place on Wednesday, Walker started the morning chasing after Jarvis, who started six minutes ahead of him.
In the faster morning sections, he managed to gain significant time on Jarvis and eventually catch up with him. They then started riding in direct competition throughout most of the day and through the hardest parts. Both cleared the most extreme sections in almost identical times and notably faster than anyone else. Walker later started making an effort to pull away from Jarvis, only succeeding in the final fast stretch.
Another rider to endure a tough Red Bull Romaniacs day was Alfredo Gomez (ESP, Husqvarna), who is still struggling to find his groove. After some wipeouts he ended up losing his GPS while pushing his bike through a difficult section. With the GPS well hidden in some mud, Gomez lost serious time searching for it. Later, his Camelbak malfunctioned and he again lost time trying to fix it. His sister Sandra continued to perform solidly and finished with an impressive 7th place in the Bronze class.
The Red Bull Romaniacs Silver class were in for a bit of a relief after Wednesday “in your face” kick-off and made it to the finish in reasonable times and good moods. The Bronze class kept cruising along, still not knowing why they are spared the major pain, while the Iron class got their first taste of “tough” on Thursday.
In general, the mood of the majority of the riders can only be described as “ecstatic” upon arrival in the spectacular finish area. There, in front of a cheering crowd, they had to master their last challenge of the day: Crossing the wallride over the Cibin river in Sibiu and arriving back on land.
The wallride appeared to have been quite intimidating to the riders but most welcomed by the crowd. Many riders entered the onramp carefully and with worried faces – only to realize that it was not nearly as bad as it looked.
Therefore emotions erupted after crossing the finish line and many jumped into the river for a welcome refreshment, some involuntarily. At the end, the ruts exiting the water grew deep enough to almost completely swallow the enduro-bikes.