Young runner-up in SuperEnduro World Champs finale, injury curtails Gutzeit’s overall podium hopes

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South African enduro champion Wade Young made a statement in the 2016 Maxxis FIM SuperEnduro World Championship finale in Madrid, Spain at the weekend.

Making a rare appearance in SuperEnduro, the 19-year-old Paddock rider gave Manuel Lettenbichler (D-KTM) a run for his money in the junior class, placing as runner-up with three second-place results.

The rider to beat all season, Lettenbichler barely put a foot wrong in Madrid, winning all three races to end his season as the Junior world champion.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be world champion,” said Lettenbichler. “I can’t believe it. This season has been amazing.

“I knew I had a good lead in the series coming into Madrid but the nerves were still there. Winning the first race to win the title was fantastic. I couldn’t do this without the support from KTM and of course my father.”

Ben Herrera (CHI) completed the top three.

In the final championship standings, Yamaha mounted Luis Oliviera (P) finished as runner-up to Lettenbichler with Tim Apolle (D-Husqvarna) completing the top three. Oslo Beach star Blake Gutzeit just missed out on the overall podium in fourth position after sustaining an injury.

Colton Haaker (USA-Husqvarna) was crowned the world champion in what was a dramatic showdown. Capping off what has certainly been the most exciting and dramatic SuperEnduro series to date, Husqvarna’s Haaker delivered the goods to be crowned the champion.

With it all to play for between Haaker and closest rival Cody Webb (USA-KTM), it was a last lap, final corner pass by Haaker that secured him the title. “Incredible, absolutely incredible to be the new world champion,” told Haaker. “It was all or nothing on that final lap and I’m just lost for words right now.”

With Haaker, Webb and championship leader Jonny Walker (GB-KTM) separated by just seven points entering the sixth and final round of the season, the stage was set for a dramatic ending. Up for the challenge, Webb set the fastest time in the Akrapovic SuperPole.

But for race one it was outgoing champion Taddy Blazusiak (PL-KTM) who recorded a near perfect victory with home favourite Alfredo Gomez (S-KTM) in second. Behind the duo, Haaker was the first of the championship contenders across the finish line in third with Webb fourth, as Walker – who was riding injured from the previous round in Czech Republic – limped to seventh.

In the second race, Webb was back on the attack and after getting into the lead in the early stages, controlled the pace from the front, fending off a late charge by Haaker, who was second. Another seventh place result from Walker saw his title hopes slip further away.

With just two points separating Haaker and Webb – in Haaker’s favour – entering race three, it would be a winner-takes-all bid for championship glory. Initially, Webb looked the champion elect as he led out front, while Haaker faced a recovery bid from ninth on lap one.

On a mission, Haaker drew level with Webb and with one lap remaining, the duo gave it everything they had. With four overtakes, it was Haaker’s final corner pass that saw him win the race and with it become the new SuperEnduro world champion.

“I just went into overdrive in that final race, I had nothing left to give,” told Haaker. “I can’t believe it. It’s been an amazing season of racing, both Jonny and Cody raced so hard all year, respect to those guys. Thanks to the team and Husqvarna for their faith in me.”

With Webb forced to settle for second overall in the final championship standings, Walker completed the top three.

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