After an exciting day’s racing the opening round of the 2012 Maxxis FIM Enduro World Championship delivered day-long excitement and more than a few surprise results. Getting their seasons off to the perfect start, ANTOINE MEO (F – KTM) won Enduro 1 while JUHA SALMINEN (FI – Husqvarna) topped Enduro 2 with Frenchman CHRISTOPHE NAMBOTIN (KTM) claiming victory in Enduro 3. In Enduro Juniors Mathias BELLINO (F – Husaberg) won the day.
While MEO, SALMINEN, NAMBOTIN and BELLINO recorded the best start possible to their championship season, there were many other surprise results throughout the action packed Grand Prix Maxxis of Chile. TM’s Aigar LEOK (EST) and Husaberg’s Oriol MENA (E) recorded their first Enduro 3 podiums of the new season. Oscar BALLETTI (I – Beta) and Marc BOURGEOIS (F – Yamaha) also had much to smile about by finishing third in Enduro 2 and Enduro 1 classes respectively.
Getting his day off to a strong start MEO posted the third fastest time on the first Cross Test. After a small crash during the Extreme Test, the hard charging Frenchman quickly gained control of his class. Setting the fastest time on the technical Enduro Test, the two-time EWC champion then topped the remaining five special tests to claim an 81-second victory over HM Honda’s RODRIG THAIN (F). “Winning this race is a dream result for me,” confirmed MEO. “I was sick during the week and didn’t expect this. I’m delighted to get a win so soon in this championship.”
Fastest during the early morning tests THAIN struggled to maintain that pace for the remainder of the day and after a late battle with MARC BOURGEOIS (F – YAMAHA) he narrowly held on to the runner up position. Finishing less than one tenth of a second behind THAIN, BOURGEOIS was one of the surprise results from Day One at the GP of Chile. Behind the top three, Lorenzo SANTOLINO (E) made a successful debut on his Husqvarna to finish in fourth while Eero REMES (F – KTM) completed the top five with Matti SEISTOLA (F – Husqvarna) in sixth. Juha SALMINEN got his 2012 season of to a perfect start in Chile by winning the highly competitive Enduro 2 class. After finishing sixth in the Friday Super Test, the Finnish rider quickly began to set some impressive times during the special tests. Maintaining a consistently fast pace throughout the day, SALMINEN ended Day One at the GP of Chile 18 seconds clear of Ivan CERVANTES (E – Gas Gas), who placed second. “This is the best start to the season that I could have hoped for,” confirmed SALMINEN. “I just tried to ride smooth and consistent today without any major mistakes and thankfully I was able to win.”
With CERVANTES chasing SALMINEN home for second, Oscar BALLETTI (I – Beta) found the difficult conditions to his liking to finish in third. Sitting outside the top five after the first four tests, a fastest time during the tough Enduro Test helped to lift him onto the podium. Narrowly missing out on third place, Spain’s Cristobal Guerrero (KTM) claimed fourth. Hampered by numerous mistakes throughout the day KTM’s Johnny AUBERT (F) finished in fifth while Pierre-Alexandre RENET (F – Husaberg) was sixth.
In Enduro 3, NAMBOTIN made a dominant start to his championship campaign by securing the victory on Day One. Setting the fastest times in the Enduro 3 class during the day’s first five special tests, the Frenchman opened up a commanding lead to end the day almost 50 seconds in front. “I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” remarked NAMBOTIN. “My day started perfectly and I was able to open up a comfortable lead. Hopefully tomorrow will be just as good.”
Recording his first podium result in the EWC, Aigar LEOK (EST – TM) finished second. Switching to Enduro 3 for 2012, the former GP motocross rider is now a strong contender for top honours. Also delivering his first podium result in the Senior classes, Spain’s Oriol MENA finished third.
Finding it hard to get to grips with the dry and dusty terrain, Britain’s David KNIGHT (KTM) made the best of a bad day to finish in fourth finishing less than four seconds adrift of LEOK. Husaberg’s Joakim LJUNGGREN (S) was fifth with Benoit FORTUNATO (F – Gas Gas) having a strong ride to finish in sixth.
Mathias BELLINO proved to be the clear winner of the Enduro Junior class with a commanding 76-second victory. Leading the way from the opening special test of the morning, the Frenchman easily secured his first win of the season. Behind him Gas Gas rider Danny MCCANNEY (GB) finished an impressive second in the dusty conditions not normally known to suit British riders. Completing the top three was Alexandre QUEYREYRE (F – Yamaha). In the 125 Youth Cup, home rider Benjamin HERRERA (CHI – TM) was first. KTM’s Giacomo REDONI (I) finished second and Stefano CAIMI (ARG – YAMAHA) was third.