Factory Sherco rider Wade Young won the Forest Race of Red Bull Sea to Sky in Turkey on Friday.
Manuel Lettenbichler (DEU, KTM) came in second having opened the day’s race due to his win in the Beach Race on Thursday. Lars Enöckl (AUT, KTM) finished in third place.
Paddock star Young finished third in Thursday’s Beach Race and took the win on Friday to put himself in a great position heading into the Mountain Race, the main event on Saturday.
“It’s been a good Forest Race for me. I was first rider home and first in the overall standings. I wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked but I’m happy enough with it,” said Young.
“I managed to pass both Mani and Andreas so my speed was good on the forest trails and that’s definitely going to help in tomorrow’s Mountain Race. There’s no real strategy for the main race. Get a good start, avoid the carnage during the early stages and just keep climbing up that mountain.”
Oslo Beach ace Blake Gutzeit (Yamaha) finished fourth in the Beach Race but wasn’t in the top 10 on Friday. He will nevertheless start on the front row in the main race.
Paddock rider Kyle Flanagan (Sherco) finished ninth on Friday to go with his 12th place on Race Day One, while Harding’s Scott Bouverie (KTM), coming off an eighth place on Race Day One, finished sixth on Friday.
Race Day Two took the riders on a time trial in the woods around Kemer. Superb views from various points that were easily accessible attracted a lot of spectators. After the start at the Ayisigi Beach in Kemer the track got more demanding reaching higher altitudes.
There were a few sections in the woods that gave the riders and the spectators a flavour of what’s to be expected for the Mountain Race. The track had all the elements you would expect, riverbeds, single trails, rock sections and gravel roads in all variations.
Before the riders got to the finish they had to face some manmade obstacles prepared by Andy Fazekas who is the designer of the Beach Race track: Not overly difficult but you had to pay some attention to not make stupid mistakes.
Since the starting order was determined by the results of Thursday’s Beach Race, Lettenbichler was the first rider to hit the track. This is a fairly new experience for Lettenbichler to open the track – it requires more attention to spot where the track actually is leading.
Lettenbichler was still ahead of the pack when he got to the fifth of seven checkpoints, but Young had other plans. Starting third, he had a two-minute gap to close on Lettenbichler and pushed as hard as he could.
The youngest winner of the Roof of Africa really wanted the top of the podium, he went all in and it paid off eventually. Young was the first to arrive at the finish but that didn’t mean he won the race. Due to the race mode of the Forest Race, other riders potentially could have scored a faster time.
It was Billy Bolt (UK, KTM) who brought a lot of emotions from the Beach Race. The chain of his bike snapped while he had a massive lead at the beach and he had to start from position 36. With a way to go and a lot of riders to pass, Bolt was on fire.
He arrived at the finish and took the gap jump at an insane speed – which made him land in the turn after the jump. What a big crash – but when he got up trying to get to the finish he realised that his rear tire was destroyed and pushed the bike to the finish.
Unfortunately for him, he did not follow the marked track and made a shortcut. Therefore, he was given a penalty of five minutes – which put him from first to fifth in the end. A tough lesson to learn for the super talent from the UK after the bad luck in the Beach Race the day before.
Lettenbichler rode an ambitious but also a controlled race and brought his KTM to the finish line concentrating on avoiding mistakes and securing a top ten position. Starting from the first starting row in the Beach Race on Saturday is vital since it will be 10 riders per row and the second row will start two minutes after the first one has left.
Third overall was Austria’s Enöckl (KTM) – which didn’t come as a real surprise for the insiders. He is a seasoned rider with loads of experience and a job in the KTM development department test riding new models. His experience made him ride fast and secure and the third place in the Forest Race is well deserved.
After a midday break, the fastest 150 riders were split up into three groups of 50 riders each for the three finals – primarily to avoid major traffic jams at the manmade obstacles: Final C with the slowest 50 riders ranked 101-150, final B with the medium paced 50 riders ranked 51-100 and final A with the fastest 50 riders ranked 1-50.
The mode for the three finals in the afternoon is 15 minutes plus one lap – which doesn’t sound that long but going flat out on a motocross track stuffed with SuperEnduro elements – such as rock sections, tree trunks and water – all over puts the riders’ endurance to the test.
When the finals started, the beach was packed with a huge crowd cheering the riders especially through the tough sections. And most certainly all eyes were on the last final with the top riders.
It was again Andreas “Letti” Lettenbichler who took the holeshot – just like he did last year. But Bolt was truly on fire and caught Letti just at the end of the first lap. From then on Bolt pushed massively and had a solid lead when his chain broke – that was it for the 19-year-old super talent who – as almost all other top riders has a strong trials background.
Letti took advantage of that and lead the race ahead of an ambitious Young, who managed to pass Letti and the battle between the two was on.
But it was Manuel Lettenbichler (DEU, KTM), the 18-year-old son of Andreas, who took a better line in the boulder section to pass Young and his father. Letti, who arrived at that section behind Young, showed his never give up mentality and passed the South African.
The 2016 Red Bull Sea to Sky Beach Race result is a truly remarkable one as it is the first time ever that father and son both finish on the podium of an international Extreme Enduro race.
Manuel Lettenbichler said: “That was my first time leading a race out and it was a cool experience. I thought Wade would have caught me earlier but I led until Checkpoint 5 so I’m happy about that. I tried my best to stay in touch with him but he was flying today and riding really well.
“However, I’m second overall and on the front row for the Mountain Race so that’s great. For tomorrow the plan is just try my best. The most important thing is make it to the finish line but I do feel like I can challenge for the podium. That’s the ultimate goal. A podium would honestly be like a win.”
Enöckl remarked: “It’s been a great day. I found a strong pace early on and was able to push hard the whole way around the course. I managed to catch the guys in front of me and once I got around them I was out of their dust and just riding by myself.
“The course was so nice to ride, perfect really. There’s a lot of guys who believe they can win or podium in the Mountain Race. I don’t think anyone is going to pace themselves. It’s going to be an all-put sprint up the mountain!”
Bolt commented: “It wasn’t ideal setting off in 36th place but I just tried to stay calm and not pass people in crazy places, not make mistakes and try to stay smooth. It was all smooth until that last jump, there was a bit of miscommunication, I interpreted some of the team signaling to wind it on a bit so I did and I went about three times the distance!
“I landed a bit heavy, my back moose was a bit soft, I could already feel it sliding and I’m guessing the impact on that last jump didn’t do it the world of good and it came right off. I’m a bit sore and stiff from that crash but a bit of ice should be alright. Hopefully I’ll be on the front row for tomorrow which is the most important part of the race so I’ll get rested up and hopefully have a good day.”
The main event of Red Bull Sea to Sky 2016 will kick off on Saturday at 09:00AM (EEST) at the Beach in Camjuva – the next town south of Kemer. The 2016 Mountain Race track is about 60km long and has a total of three tank points along the way to the finish at the peak of the Tahtali Mountain at an altitude of 2,365m! It will start at the beach again and follow the river bed all the way. As in the past editions there are Bronze, Silver and Gold medals – so there will be nice souvenir for most of the riders to take back home.
This year the top riders are expected to reach the finish of the Mountain Race in 3:30 hours. Within the seven-hour limit still a good amount of participants shall earn the Gold Medal making it all the way up to the Red Bull finish arch.
There will be a live time tracking provided on the Red Bull Sea to Sky website which will be activated shortly before the start.
Top 10 Results – Forest Race – Red Bull Sea to Sky 2016
October 7, 2016 – Kemer (Turkey)
1. Wade Young (ZAF, Sherco), 1 hours 30 minutes 05 seconds
2. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER, KTM), 1:32:14
3. Lars Enöckl, (AUT, KTM), 1:32:56
4. Andreas Lettenbichler (GER, KTM), 1:33:00
5. Billy Bolt (UK, KTM), 1:34:58 (+ 5 minutes penalty)
6. Scott Bouverie (ZAF, KTM), 1:35:32
7. Dwayne Kleynhans (ZAF, KTM), 1:36:37
8. David,Cyprian (CZE, KTM), 1:38:44
9. Kyle Flanagan (ZAF, Sherco), 1:39:00
10. Andy Noakley (UK, KTM), 1:40:09
Photo by Lukasz Nazdracze/Red Bull Content Pool