Shrewsbury, England – 23 September 2018 — Spain’s Josep Garcia (KTM) has put in a dominant display of riding at the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country to claim a start-to-finish victory at round six of the World Enduro Super Series. Firmly stamping his authority on the proceedings, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider continued on his winning performance from Saturday’s qualifying Sprint Enduro to charge to the top step of the podium in Sunday’s Original Fast Eddy Cross-Country, securing his first win of the 2018 WESS series.
It was a memorable race for British riders as fan favourites Nathan Watson (KTM) and Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) secured podium results at their home race with second and third respectively. In finishing third on the day Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Bolt becomes the new championship leader with two rounds remaining.
Round six of the World Enduro Super Series saw riders head to the iconic Hawkstone Park circuit in Shropshire, Great Britain. The weekend comprised of a Sprint Enduro on Saturday to determine start positions for Sunday’s main event – a two-and-a-half-hour Cross-Country race. With the stereotypical British weather bringing a mixture of rain and sunshine to the area, the soft, loamy sand of the famous Hawkstone motocross track became extremely muddy in places while conditions remained drier in the sheltered woodlands.
Saturday’s Sprint Enduro was comprised of one enduro test and one motocross test, both ridden three times. Josep Garcia, back onboard the KTM 250 EXC-F that carried him to the 2017 Enduro 2 World Championship, was unstoppable on the demanding British terrain. Topping the time sheets on both tests, Garcia claimed pole position for Sunday’s main event. Second fastest was Nathan Watson with Taddy Blazusiak finishing fifth, just behind KTM-mounted Jaume Betriu in fourth.
Sunday dawned wet, but soon cleared to leave a dry and bright day. However, the overnight rain left a notably challenging course. The tougher conditions, added to the high number of competitors, ensured the afternoon’s event was a serious test of endurance.
Garcia, setting off from pole position, never looked back. The young Spaniard stretched out a comfortable advantage over the second-placed rider and was able to then manage his advantage to the finish line. Showing his world championship winning pace, Josep took the chequered flag at the end of the gruelling race with a one-minute-30-second advantage over teammate Watson. The win at Hawkstone Park elevates Garcia to third overall in the provisional WESS standings
Josep Garcia (KTM – ESP): “I am really happy to win my first race in WESS. I felt really good in the race – I set off first and stayed in front the whole time. My team were great, they let me know how much of an advantage I had and so I was able to gauge the gap back to Nathan. I did have a couple of crashes but thankfully it was nothing too serious and I didn’t lose too much time. I’ve really enjoyed myself here at Hawkstone Park. It’s been an awesome weekend and to win both days is perfect. It’s given me added motivation for hopefully another good result at the next round.”
Nathan Watson (KTM – GB): “That was a great race. I got a good start and moved into second but then on the first lap a stone flew up and damaged my goggles, so I had to make an early pit stop. Billy caught me and was really fast through the stones – he was riding straight through the middle, but I was riding around them. I was gaining time back on the faster stuff and eventually got into a good rhythm and was able to move back into second. I didn’t have enough left to go after Josep, he was riding well today but overall I am happy with my result and it’s great to get my first WESS podium.”
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB): “I knew my pace was good today but my plan was to just ride my own race and see where I finished. I knew Josep and Nathan would be fast so my goal was to stick to a steady rhythm and hopefully not be too far behind them. I caught up to Nathan at one point and was a little stronger in some of the sections. I started to crash a little bit though so just eased off a little and focused on claiming a safe third for the championship. The track was great, there was one rock-step that I was hitting quite hard and jumping – the crowd really loved it! The support from the fans was incredible – all the way around the track they were cheering and spurring me on. It’s fantastic to get my second podium in as many races and also take the lead in the championship. Of course there’s still a lot of racing left to go but this is motivation to keep working hard.”
The World Enduro Super Series continues with round seven, the Gotland Grand National, Sweden on October 26/27.
Results – Hawkstone Park Cross-Country, WESS Round 6
1. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 2:30:03.444
2. Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 2:31:34.016 +1:30.572
3. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 2:32:52.010 +2:48.566
4. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 2:34:39.777 +4:36.333
5. Jaume Betriu (ESP), KTM, 2:35:58.297 +5:54.853
7. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 2:40:29.096 +10:25.652
8. Paul Bolton (GBR), KTM, 2:31:09.353 +1 lap
World Enduro Super Series Standings (After round 6 of 8)
1. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 4060 points
2. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 3935 pts
3. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 3320 pts
4. Wade Young (RSA), Sherco, 3220 pts
5. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 2985 pts
6. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 2900 pts
7. Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 2778 pts
9. Paul Bolton (GBR), KTM, 2752 pts