Enduro European Championship:
home-advantage used in Finland
On the first day of the Borilli Enduro European Championship 2022 in Sipoo, Finland, local hero Eero Remes won on his Husqvarna: the Finn has already collected three World Championship titles in his active career and, although he actually wanted to hang up his helmet, he couldn’t resist the temptation: “I only live 20 minutes from here and I know the terrain and the conditions well. It would be a shame not to have taken the chance to race” he said after the competition. At first it didn’t look like Hein had the advantage, because in the demanding extreme test the small rider got stuck in the long stone field and lost more than 40 seconds, which dropped him to sixth place overall. But Remes continued to fight his way to the front and was actually able to snatch victory from his compatriot Eemil Pohjola, who had been in the lead until then, by less than a second in the very last special test. “I got stuck on the logs again in the last special stage, but I was still faster than Eemil” he commented on his success. Pohjola is no stranger to this, having already been European champion in 2019.
At least there was no Finnish guest entrant in third place in the overall standings, but the current leader in the European Championship, Belgian Erik Willems, who finished less than three seconds behind Remes: “I rode pretty much at the limit and therefore crashed a few times too much. No serious crashes, more slips, but even with that you lose time. Besides, I’m pretty tired, I was still sick in June and I still have a bit of a training backlog to make up for”.
However, he remains in front in the championship, especially since his fiercest rival, the Briton Dan Mundell, dropped out with a technical problem in the very first special stage: when landing after a long jump, his front wheel had lost half of its spokes. The Beta rider did not crash, but could not continue.
While the hosts took the first places in the overall classification and almost all classes, Frenchman Clement Clauzier was able to prevail over his Italian rival Manuel Verzeroli in the youth class of the youngest riders. However, GasGas rider Verzeroli remains in the lead of the championship.
There was no Finnish victory in the women’s race either: the leader in the European Championship, Nieve Holmes from Great Britain, won ahead of Marie Holt Vilde from Norway and extended her lead.
Even after guest starter Eeero Remes as a local hero won the second day, Belgian Erik Willems retains the overall lead. The Husqvarna rider was even snatched second place on the day in the very last special test: Briton Daniel Mundell pushed him into third place in the overall standings of day two.
It took Mundell a little while to get going on Sunday: “After I had dropped out on the first day, I obviously couldn’t get to know the special stages as well as the other riders, who had completed three rounds each. For me, especially the first lap was difficult because the tracks had changed in the loose ground, which I couldn’t consider before. But every lap went a bit better”, the Beta rider was happy about the double success afterwards, because besides the second place in the overall standings, he also won the E3 class that day. Due to his retirement on the first day, however, he is missing important points in the championship, so that in addition to the overall championship-ranking, he has now also slipped to second place in the E3 class behind Dietger Damiaens.
But with his furious attack in the last special stage, he had also relegated the Belgian to second place in the day’s standings. Nevertheless, Damiaens is almost satisfied, because he was clearly better on the road than the day before: “Of course we made some changes to the settings after yesterday, but I still can’t say what the reason is that I’m so far ahead in the overall standings again now.”
Of course, the Finns used their home advantage again on the second day of riding. But this time they were not as dominant as before because the international riders were able to adapt quickly to the special conditions: besides overall winner Eero Remes (who of course also won E2 class) Peetu Juupaluoma could still win in the Junior 2 class as well as the former European Champion Emil Pohjola in the E1 class. Also in the seniors almost the same picture as the day before, where Marko Tarkkala won ahead of the Italian Alessandro Rizza and the Slovak Martin Gottvald. After yesterday’s technical retirement of former European Champion Arne Domeyer, his compatriot and team mate Christoph Lessing pushed him from third place in the championship.
In the women’s race, Norway’s Vilde Marie Holt stood at the top of the podium for the first time: With a day’s win and second place on the previous day, she took her first overall victory of the weekend! She also benefited from the technical problems of the leader in the championship, Briting Nieve Holmes: her chain jumped off three times, which she had to repair during the stage. Because the women had already reached the end of their strength on
the strenuous course and the demanding extreme test on the first day, the distance for the women was shortened by one lap. The men had also skipped the last special stage and were thus able to finish the competition before the onset of rain, which would have made the surface particularly slippery.
The battle for the Championship is not over: the final will be on 29 and 30 October in Rüdersdorf, Germany.