Rain – Mika Aloha adores it! And it fell, as the first day of the MAXXIS FIM ENDURO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP grand final took place this Saturday. In the large sloping meadows of the AMV Grand Prix of France, Mika AHOLA’s (SF-HM) ride was a marvel of efficiency. The leader of the ENDURO 2 had his tenth success this season and at the same time became the world champion in teh 450 cc category for the fourth time. As with good wine, Ahola has improved with age. At 36 years, it is his fourth consecutive world title.
Mika Ahola : "It was a really difficult day for me. I made a big mistake in the Enduro Test where I stalled and lost a lot of time. Ivan Cervantes was near, and I thought for a moment that I would not end up on the podium. And then the specials became very slippery, I felt like I was riding on ice. This second part of the race turned to my advantage. Tonight I am world champion for the fourth time. It was my ambition to get this title today. I'm really overwhelmed. "
However, Mika Ahola’s main competition on the first day of racing was not necessarily who he’d expected. Ivan CERVANTES (ESP-KTM), his nearest rival in the championship often withdraws when conditions are slippery. His aggressive riding was not enough to get him a place on the E2 podium, and he finished fourth. It was the regional stage and Noirétable crowd favorite, Fabien PLANET (FRA-SHE) that surprised by dominating the race from the start. The Sherco rider had victory at his fingertips before having to abandon due to an electrical problem on the last lap. Pierre-Alexandre RENET (FRA-KTM) then climbed to second place and took two points back from Thomas OLDRATI (ITA-KTM) in the race for the final podium of the championship.
But on the eve of the final race of the season, nothing yet is decided ENDURO 1. Among the small bikes, the leader Antoine MEO (FRA-HVA) and todays third place gleaned two points of comfort from his heir Eero Remes (KTM EXC). Having scared him early in the day he stayed around fifth place. The final round of the championship will decide the fate of the two men. All day, the surprising Julien GAUTHIER (FRA-HM) led the battle, but as often on Planet E2, he was forced to abandon in the end due to mechanical problems.
So the win went to Johnny AUBERT (FRA-KTM), one of the undisputed masters of driving in wet conditions. The trend of the E1 French Enduro Championship podium continued as the freelancer Marc GERMAIN (FRA-YAM) took second place. A fall in the last stage stretched the margin of victory, as he finished 7.68 seconds behind Aubert.
It is the honorary title for vice-world champion that was at the centre of ENDURO 3. After a thankless struggle, Sebastien GUILLAUME (FRA-HVA) won and took a two point advantage on Simone ALBERGONI (ITA-KTM). The Frenchman had his Italian rival to bare in the last timed section. Only 8.96 seconds separate them. David KNIGHT (KTM UK) already titled following the last Grand Prix in Turkey decided to stop after a slight thigh injury. However, he may still start in the second round.
In the Juniors, the new World Champion Lorenzo SANTOLINO (ESP-KTM) parted company with the class to mingle with heavyweights of ENDURO 2, where he took 11th place. In his absence, Jeremy JOLY (FRA-HM) dominated the category of Enduro hopefuls, with a 1 minute 44 second lead.
However, the victories of French - Joly and Aubert - could not compete with the touching smile of the nice Ludivine PUY (FRA-GAS). Over taking his opponents, the Gas Gas pilot became the first world champion in the history of the MAXXIS FIM ENDURO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.
Ludivine Puy : "I really prepared for this event. I must confess that I am from Picardy, and driving in the mud has never been a problem for me. I've been riding for a long time and this is my first world title. It is a reward for my parents, my family and my partners. I am very proud and I hope to keep the number 1 plate for as long as possible. "
It all rests on the ENDURO 1 title. This Sunday Antoine MEO will defend his 13-point lead on Eero Remes on the second round of the Grand Prix AMV of France. All results can be found at www.enduro-abc.com