In what was the hardest day of racing so far in the 2012 Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship, day two of the GP of Argentina brings the EWC’s South American tour to a close.
Battling searing heat and an unrelenting course, Antoine MEO, Juha SALMINEN and Christophe NAMBOTIN were victorious in the three Senior classes on day two. Jonathan MANZI claimed his second win in the Enduro Junior class while Giacomo REDONDI topped the Enduro Youth Cup standings.
With exceptional hot weather and against a stunning Argentina backdrop, the EWC continued to deliver close racing in all classes as riders fought for final honours before returning back to Europe. In total approximately 15,000 spectators watched the world’s best enduro riders in action.
With competitors pushed to their maximum in the dusty terrain day two took its toll on machinery. KTM’s Johnny AUBERT (F) was first to retire when a technical issue ruled him out. Enduro 1 rider Nicolas DEPARROIS (Kawasaki) also failed to finish.
After his disappointment on day one, Finland’s Juha SALMINEN (Husqvarna) bounced back in style to claim the Enduro 2 win on day two. Fighting a tough battle with Spain’s Cristobal GUERRERO (KTM) and Ivan CERVANTES (E- Gas Gas), SALMINEN once again return to the top of the podium in South America.
“This is a perfect way to end this GP,” confirmed SALMINEN. “Of course it was disappointing not to finish yesterday but sometimes these problems happen in racing and it can’t be helped. It’s great to win today after a tough fight with Ivan.”
Finishing second to SALMINEN, GUERRERO won the final special test of the weekend overhaul his fellow countryman and beat CERVANTES by three tenths of a second. With his third place result on day two, CERVANTES now returns to Europe as the early points leader in Enduro 2.
Pierre-Alexandre RENET (F - Husaberg) matched his previous day’s result to finish in fourth place. Italy’s Alex SALVINI (Husqvarna) improved on his eight place of day one to finish fifth while KTM’s Fabio MOSSINI (I) finished in a very strong sixth place.
In Enduro 1, Frenchman Antoine MEO (KTM) continued to lead the way. Recording his second victory of the weekend, and his fourth in South America, MEO comfortably placed 58 seconds clear of Italy’s Simone ALBERGONI (HM Honda).
“Returning to Europe with four wins is the best start to the championship that I could have hoped for,” remarked MEO. “This was a very tough enduro so to come away with the win is another incredible result for me.”
With MEO out front, ALBERGONI, Finland’s Eero REMES (KTM) and Spain’s Lorenzo SANTOLINO (Husqvarna) battled intensely for a podium result. REMES held the advantage fin second during the morning but ALBERGONI determinedly closed the gap on the Finnish rider. Pushing through the scorching heat he beat REMES to end the day as runner up. Behind the Italian, REMES managed to fend off the challenge from SANTOLINO to finish in third place.
SANTOLINO put in his best performance of the year so far to finish fourth - six seconds behind the Finn. France’s Rodrig THAIN (HM Honda), unable to join the battle in front of him, ended day two in fifth beating sixth placed rider Italy’s Thomas OLDRATI (KTM).
France’s Christophe NAMBOTIN (KTM) completed a perfect scorecard for his South American trip by remaining unbeaten in Enduro 3. Third at the end of the first lap, NAMBOTIN quickly found his way to the front of his class after the second Cross Test. Maintaining the lead for the rest of the day, the Frenchman recorded his fourth victory of 2012.
“I made a couple of mistakes this morning and had to push hard to recover from them,” recalled NAMBOTIN. “Riding in the heat made it very physical and tiring but I’m very pleased to leave South America as the points leader in Enduro 3.”
Britain’s David KNIGHT (KTM) once again finished second behind his KTM teammate as he narrowly beat Sweden’s Joakim LJUNGGREN (Husaberg). With the two riders locked in a daylong battle for the runner-up spot, KNIGHT just pipped LJUNGGREN by five tenths of a second at the end of the 12th and final special test.
Unable to maintain the pace set by the top three, Estonia’s Aigar LEOK (TM Racing) finished a distant fourth. Finland’s Marko TARKKALA (Beta) jumped two places from day one to end his day in fifth while Spain’s Oriol MENA (Husaberg) completed the top six.
Leading the way in Enduro Junior, Jonathan MANZI (I - KTM) claimed his second victory of 2012 by winning day two in Argentina. Mathias BELLINO (F - Husaberg), powerless to match the pace of the hard charging Italian, finished in second place. Argentina’s Kevin BENAVIDES (KTM) rewarded the support of his home crowd by finishing third.
Giacomo REDONDI (KTM) enjoyed a perfect weekend in Argentina to claim his second victory in Enduro Youth Cup. Benjamin HERRERA (TM) finished in second place with Stefano CAIMI (KTM) in third.
The Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship continues on May 5/6 with the GP of Euskadi in Muntibar, Spain.