Wade Young (Brother Leader Tread KTM) put himself in a good position for a place on the podium on Off-Road Day Three of the Red Bull Romaniacs in Romania on Friday.
Paddock star and South African champion Young produced his best performance of the race thus far, finishing fourth.
“I am so happy about finishing fourth. I gave one hundred and ten percent and was going flat out but Gomez and Letti passed me and it was just madness! I tried to catch up with them; the pace is just through the roof this year! Still had a great day,” said Young.
Travis Teasdale and Scott Bouverie also had an excellent day, moving up to seventh and eighth respectively.
Oslo Beach rider Blake Gutzeit (Fox/CTI/Rock Oil) finished 11th, Brett Swanepoel 12th and Dwayne Kleynhans 19th (provisionally).
At the start of the day, it was obvious that the rallye had begun to take its toll on some of the riders, with quite a few not showing up to compete. Among them were Chris Birch (NZL, KTM) and Manuel Lettenbichler (D, KTM) who opted out of the race on Thursday.
In suiting with Thursday’s finish in the water, Off-Road Day Three started with a river crossing, sending the first Gold Class riders on tour at 06.30am sharp.
In the Gold Class, all eyes were on the leading top guns, Jonny Walker (UK, KTM) and Graham Jarvis (UK, Husqvarna) – without too many surprises expected, but things got seriously spiced up.
Walker who, so far has won the prologue and Off-Road Day Two, started the morning as first and as a clear favourite. Expected to be mainly challenged by Jarvis, he surprisingly ended up finishing only fifth. This will make the final day very interesting, considering that Walker is still leading the overall ranking.
“As opener, navigation is always a bit harder. I was riding well. The track after the service point was not so much in my favour. I knew that I had to stay ahead of Jarvis, but it looks like he ended up being a few seconds faster than me,” said Walker.
Jarvis, second in the overall ranking of the rallye after finishing third on Friday, will be hot on his heels on the final day on Saturday. The humble “King of the Carpathians” had been struggling after a crash in the morning and arrived quite exhausted in the finish, eager to find out about the results of the day. “I am happy with third place, it means anything can happen tomorrow,” he said.
With Thursday’s penalty for missing a Gold loop, Andreas Lettenbichler (D,KTM) set off in 12th place. He had no hopes for a podium in the overall ranking of the event. But instead of cruising or playing it safe, Letti went racing. The later start could have worked in his favour, having the leading pack to follow. The Bavarian just barely avoided a nasty crash shortly after the start in “The forgotten Trail”, but regrouped and managed to find his flow. He gained the critical five-minute advantage over the others in the alpine terrain before the Service Point and carried most of the lead through the rest of the day.
Letti dominated the day from start to finish and nailed the victory. He had already rocked the first Off-Road Day with world-class riding, finishing second before his teammate Walker.
“It was amazing to win today, the entire track was nice and not too difficult for me. This was a good third day! And I am not here for cruising – I always ride to win,” he said.
Alfredo Gomez (ESP, Husqvarna), who finished second, was “pleased with my day, despite a front flip in the morning, after which I finally found my rhythm.”
The final day of the 2015 Red Bull Romaniacs starts out with a 1500-metre altitude climb to the top of the high mountains – followed by some great up- and downhills before reaching the Service Point.
After that, the Silver and Gold classes are in for a good workout before joining the Iron and Bronze classes on the last part over the flatlands heading to the legendary hill climb at Gusterita just outside Sibiu.