Brits blitz the World SuperEnduro podium at France Opener – Race Report & Highlights
France played host to a SuperEnduro GP for the first time since 2017, and the crowds present in Liévin were treated an interesting and enthralling evening of action. Billy BOLT (GBR-Husqvarna) didn’t take long to get into the swing of things, taking the fastest time in the Akrapovic SuperPole by more than eight tenths of a second over his nearest rival and setting himself up nicely for the first race of the night.
Report and Images by SuperEnduro
The Husqvarna rider stamped his authority from the start by taking the first Airoh Holeshot of the evening and taking command of the race. Eddie KARLSSON (SWE-Husqvarna) enjoyed a great getaway, slotting into second place in front of Jonny WALKER (GBR-Beta) before the Brit pushed him back one place, determined not to be left behind by BOLT. Fighting it out for the Top 5 were Dominik OLSZOWY (POL-Rieju),Alfredo GOMEZ (ESP-Rieju) and the returning Manuel LETTENBICHLER (GER-KTM). At the front there was no change until the finish line with BOLT taking first blood, with WALKER more than 20 seconds behind at the chequered flag. The top three in the first race was completed by an impressive OLSZOWY when he held off LETTENBICHLERwho made a superb comeback after falling several times.
Fights Throughout the Field
Despite the level of BOLT, the French GP saw plenty of great battles throughout the field with talented riders fighting valiantly for every point. In the second race, which has a reverse grid start, Diogo VIEIRA (POR-GASGAS) snatched the Airoh Holeshot, and the Portuguese rider rode well until he was eventually overtaken by the big names in the championship. By the end of the second lap BOLT had taken control of the second race. The Brit was chased by WALKER and GOMEZ as battles continued down the field. It’s worth noting the performance of Mitch BRIGHTMORE (GBR-GASGAS), the 2022 Junior World Champion, who fought it out with the much more experienced LETTENBICHLER in Race 2. Not necessarily at ease on the fast track, the young Englishman placed seventh overall at the end of his first GP in the Prestige class. The end of the second race of the night saw a fierce fight between GOMEZ, Norbert ZSIGOVITS (HUN-GASGAS), HOARE and LETTENBICHLER. It was the ever-improving Will HOARE who crossed the finish line in third place behind BOLT and WALKER as he found his feet on the Liévin layout.
The last race of the night was practically a formality for Billy BOLT who once again displayed his physical and technical superiority. The Englishman delivered a hattrick to kick off his Motoz FIM SuperEnduro World Championship season in France and naturally took the overall victory, but he remains modest and focused, stating that he needs to make improvements to be even more formidable in his hunt for trophies. But he is undoubtedly the man to beat again this year. Jonny WALKER took the second step on the podium and was largely satisfied with his results, knowing what he needs to improve on to try and match Billy. A special mention to Will HOARE, as the 25-year-old took his first world podium with third overall. A great result for a rider who is not on the ‘grading list’ (the selection of riders who automatically qualify to race).
Junior: Suff SELLA Makes Perfect Comeback
The Israeli rider made an impressive start to his title campaign in the Junior (under 23) class. Suff SELLA (ISR-KTM)won all three races with relative ease and secured the leader plate. Although he did not manage to get the best starts, he built his victories with skill and patience. SELLA had been one of the favourites last year, but a severe leg injury ruled him out of running just before the season started. This evening SELLA shone and proved he is a favourite for 2024. In the first race, he won ahead of the younger BRIGHTMORE brother, Ashton. The result of this first race was therefore: SELLA, BRIGHTMORE and Roland LISZKA (HUN-GASGAS). In the second race, SELLA won again ahead of BRIGHTMORE and his pacy team-mate Marc FERNANDEZ SERRA (ESP-KTM). The young Israeli confirmed his good start to the season by winning the last race, this followed by a strong LISZKA and a smooth BRIGHTMORE. It is no surprise, therefore, that the overall classification of the Junior category is as follows: SELLA, BRIGHTMORE and LISZKA.
Open: PEACE Shows Rivals the Way
No doubt disappointed not to have qualified for the Prestige category, Dan PEACE (GBR-Sherco), winner of the European Cup last year, won the Open class in style in France. The Brit was one step ahead Jordan SCOTT (GBR-TM)and Gerard SALA GRACIA (SPA-KTM).
The next round of the Motoz FIM SuperEnduro World Championship will take place in Poland at the Tauron Arena in Krakow on December 9.
What They Said:
Billy BOLT (GBR-Husqvarna): “I’m really happy with my night, but especially with the last race where I picked some good lines and avoided any mistakes. I felt like I got better as the night went on, which might be due to the fact we’ve started the SuperEnduro season right after finishing the Hard Enduro season. It’s a different level of intensity here in the stadiums, so I felt a bit rusty at the start but got into it. The French fans were awesome tonight and I hope we can come back next year!”
Jonny WALKER (GBR- Beta): “I’m honestly really happy because I had a good gap on third place each time tonight. I felt like I had good pace and got close to Billy out front a few times, but I always ended up making a few small mistakes. I didn’t feel that ready coming into the weekend, but as soon as I got on track that changed and I settled into it. Billy’s riding as well as ever and he’s solid, but I’m going to try everything to be closer to him and I think the layout and surface might suit me better next time out in Poland.”
Suff SELLA (ISR- KTM): “I’m so pleased with how this first round has gone. I managed to win all three races tonight, and that’s a great way to start the season. Ashton (Brightmore) and Roland (Liszka) were really strong, but I managed to keep my focus and I’m leaving France with the red plate, which is an amazing feeling and something I’ve never achieved before. I’m really looking forward to the next round. As everybody knows, it’s a very hard time in Israel right now, and I want to say that my thoughts are with the people there – and as an Israeli athlete I’m proud to get this win tonight.”