Wade Young (Brother Leader Tread KTM) on Wednesday signalled his intentions with a strong performance on Off-Road Day One at the Red Bull Romaniacs in Sibiu, Romania.
When the riders arrived at the start, 50km south of Sibiu, with the morning still fresh and foggy, nobody expected how dry the ground would be, especially after the rain. The day turned out to be sunny and full of fascinating views for the riders.
Having placed 10th in the prologue, Paddock star and South African champion Young upped his game and finished sixth after just under six hours in the saddle.
Blake Gutzeit (Fox/CTI/Rock Oil), coming off his eighth-place finish in the prologue, lost some ground but the Oslo Beach rider’s still very much in the conversion after finishing the day 11th.
Brett Swanepoel, Travis Teasdale and Scott Bouverie looked good in 12th, 14th and 15th place, while the fifth South African Gold Class rider, Dwayne Kleynhans, finished 23rd.
After playing it safe in the prologue, Graham Jarvis (UK, Husqvarna) kicked off the first Off-Road Day with a solid performance, flying through sections like “10A” and “Please no Rain”. Jarvis started first and also nailed the victory of the day.
Without too much trouble, and riding mostly alone, he showed up relatively un-exhausted at the finish. The “King of the Carpathians” smiled, his only mention was some deep grass that annoyed him in the morning and then he casually disappeared off towards the hotel.
His dominance especially showed in one of the toughest sections of the day, “Heavy Start”, in which only he and Andreas Lettenbichler (D, KTM) were able go up without help.
“Letti”, who started off fourth in the morning, rode even faster times than Jarvis through the first half of the day and looked like a potential winner up until the service point. Even though he had to give in to Jarvis, who ended up ca. four minutes faster than him, “Letti” showed one of the best performances of the day.
Riding side by side with Jonny Walker (UK, KTM) they both approached the “Heavy Start” uphill, “Letti” picked a better line and gained several minutes while Walker had to go down and restart. “Letti” was on a roll, ploughing through everything thrown at him and only slowing down when he encountered another rider stuck on an uphill.
While things looked promising for Walker in the morning, when the riding was fast and efficient together with Alfredo Gomez (ESP, Husqvarna) and “Letti”, his day took a turn for the worse after the service point – especially in “Heavy Start”, which took a few attempts to climb.
A few navigational mistakes and wipeouts later, Walker had to accept that he would only finish in third. Despite a place on the podium of Off-Road Day One, Walker appeared to be quite disappointed with his result and wrote it off as a “bad day”.
Gomez, who started after Jarvis in the morning, finished fifth and was also not too happy with his own performance, after crashing a few times and having problems with his GPS device. He might still be able to enjoy the fact that his sister Sandra finished her first Red Bull Romaniacs Off-Road Day in eighth position in the Bronze Class.
The general feedback of the Bronze Class riders was relaxed and most of them arrived at the finish in good spirits. Some of them even “declared” the 2015 edition of the Red Bull Romaniacs relatively “easy”, oblivious of what will be waiting for them.
While some of the Silver Class riders also proclaimed an “easy” first day this year (Dougy Herbert, 3rd), most of their fellow competitors were taken a little aback by the required performance level of this class. The first awakening was briefly after the start, where an uphill riverbed led to some serious carnage. Later, after the service point, an unnamed uphill drove riders into desperation and the hands of volunteering local helpers. A few steep downhills managed to further deplete the batteries of the riders and get some adrenalin pumping.
At the time of the estimated arrival in the finish, only 20% of the field had managed to complete the track, 40% had not even managed to get to the service point. Still, Emanuel Gyenes, who had some problems with his suspension, enjoyed the track without feeling too much pressure and finishing in the top 20. Kevin Archer (NZL), nailed the first Silver Class win and surprisingly there are another five New Zealanders among the top eight in the Silver Class.
Thursday`s race track will take the riders just outside Sibiu, into most of the local enduro-playgrounds. The start is located in Tocile and after passing through the Sadu-valley, the riders will meet their service crews in the Arena Platos-Paltinis ski resort. Awaiting them at the finish will be a fun wallride in close proximity to the Cibin River, in Sibiu.