The opening day of the FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) held in Kotka, Finland, delivered plenty of surprises with heavy overnight rain making for a much tougher than expected day for the three hundred and sixty-one starting riders. For host nation Finland it was a day of highs and lows as their six rider World Trophy team claimed a commanding class lead, while their Junior Trophy team suffered two retirements, which dropped them to the very bottom of the class results.
From the start it was clear that the weather would play a key roll in the outcome of the day. With dark clouds rolling over the paddock as the first riders headed out into the Finnish forests it was not long before the three hundred kilometre track started to become extremely rough and rutted – something that made for an especially challenging day for the Women's Cup and Club team riders.
At the head of the World Trophy team results Finland delivered exactly the performance most were expecting as they opened up a sizeable lead. Placing over five minutes ahead of their nearest challengers Spain, the Finnish team saw four of their riders finish inside the top five in the overall classifications. Lead by Enduro 1 class winner Eero Remes (KTM), Finland claimed the top three places in E1 with Remes followed home by Juha Salminen (Husqvarna) and Matti Seistola (Husqvarna). So fast was the pace of the three leading Finns that the fourth placed E1 class rider Mario Roman (KTM) placed close to one-minute behind Seistola. Marko Tarkkala (Husaberg) topped the Enduro 3 class for Finland.
"It's been a great day for me and the Finnish Trophy team, but not good for the Junior Trophy team," commented E1 class winner Eero Remes. "Riding at the front of the entry was great on the first lap because the tests were all flat, I couldn't believe how rough and cut up the tests were on the second lap. They were much worse than I expected. You had to concentrate so hard all the way around each test because there were rocks, deep ruts and tree roots everywhere. Also, the time schedule was tight so if you had to do some work on your bike you had no time to eat anything. I rode relaxed, everything went well."
With Finnish riders Remes and Tarkkala claiming the top spots in the Enduro 1 and Enduro 3 classes respectively, US World Trophy team rider Kurt Caselli came home as the winner in Enduro 2. Placing third overall, a little over one-minute behind Remes, Caselli put in an impressive performance to finish ahead of little known Australian Matthew Phillips and Italy's Alex Salvini.
Sweden's Junior Trophy team riders battled their way through the opening day to take a one-and-a-half minute lead over France, with Great Britain third. Showing just how hard the day was no fewer than six nations had one or more Junior Trophy team riders fail to reach the finish. Germany, Holland, Italy, Switzerland and Norway all had one rider DNF while Finland, much to the surprise of many, had two riders fail to go the distance following crashes.
France stands at the top of the Women's Cup, some 30 minutes ahead of Finland with Australia third.
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