Now Reading
Holcombe third as Garcia takes EnduroGP Victory On Day One At ACERBIS GP Of Portugal

Holcombe third as Garcia takes EnduroGP Victory On Day One At ACERBIS GP Of Portugal

Day one at round one of the 2024 Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia claim victory in Fafe, Portugal. Putting in an impressive performance at the ACERBIS GP of Portugal, the Spaniard took the top step of the EnduroGP podium over GASGAS Factory Racing’s Andrea Verona, with Honda Racing RedMoto Enduro Team’s Steve Holcombe in third.

  • Josep Garcia wins EnduroGP on day one in Fafe
  • Axel Semb off to winning start in Enduro Junior
  • Historic victory for USA’s Rachel Gutish in Enduro Women

After an exciting Friday night AKRAPOVIC Super Test, won by Garcia, overnight rain filtered through to greet riders on Saturday morning at the ACERBIS GP of Portugal. The rain would eventually ease off, but overcast skies ensured damp conditions remained for the duration of the day. However, despite the drop in temperatures, the action on track was very much red hot as the world’s best enduro riders got down to their first full day of racing in the 2024 season.

Garcia puts on a masterclass in EnduroGP

Determined to strengthen his early lead, Garcia came out swinging in the opening ACERBIS Cross Test and topped the time sheets. However, his advantage was slim, with Verona just six tenths behind in second. After his spill in the AKRAPOVIC Super Test, Holcombe was on a mission and set the third fastest time with Fast Eddy Racing’s Jamie McCanney and Beta Factory Racing’s Brad Freeman going fourth and fifth quickest, respectively.

Winning the following MAXXIS Enduro Test by four seconds, Garcia extended his advantage to eight seconds, proving he meant business in Fafe. Freeman went on to top the POLISPORT Extreme Test by one second over Garcia, but as they closed out the opening lap of three, Garcia was already 11 seconds clear of his rivals.

On the second ACERBIS Cross Test, it was the turn of Verona to top the time sheets. With a mistake coming from Garcia, his advantage was now just six seconds and it looked like that battle for victory was back on. However, Garcia was quick to resume normal service and won the second MAXXIS Enduro Test to stretch his lead out to 11 seconds.

Entering the final lap, Garcia was just 12 seconds clear of Verona, while Holcombe in third had an 11-second advantage over Nathan Watson (Beta) in fifth. With Freeman sandwiched between Holcombe and Watson, a place on the podium was all to play for.

Fastest in the ACERBIS Cross Test and MAXXIS Enduro Test, Garcia built a lead that couldn’t be caught. And with a strong ride on the final POLISPORT Extreme Test, he was able to end his day with a 32-second margin of victory in EnduroGP. Behind him though, the final steps of the podium went right to the wire.

Mistakes from Verona allowed Holcombe to close right in. Sensing an opportunity to claim second, the Honda rider pushed hard to win the final POLISPORT Extreme Test, but it wasn’t enough. Hanging on, Verona claimed the runner-up result by just one second, with Holcombe third. A titanic battle from the Beta pairing of Freeman and Watson saw Watson overhaul his teammate on the final lap to snatch fourth and push Freeman back to fifth.

Historic victory for Gutish in Enduro Women

Settling straight into her FIM Women’s Enduro World Championship debut, Team KBS Sherco’s Rachel Gutish took the win on day one. The victory sees Gutish become the first woman from the USA to take a race win in the championship.

RIEJU Factory Racing’s Rosie Rowett placed 22 seconds behind to take the runner-up result. Mireia Badia capped off a great day for RIEJU to finish on the podium in third. A consistent and strong ride from Nieve Holmes saw her place fourth, while Marie Holt Vilde (KTM) won the opening ACERBIS Cross Test to end her day in fifth.

In the Enduro1 class, Garcia effortlessly secured victory. Holcombe’s debut ride in Enduro1 earned him second place, indicating more potential from the nine-time world champion. In the battle for the final step of the podium, CH Racing Sherco’s Zach Pichon edged out McCanney on the final two tests to seal the deal.

Verona was best of the Enduro2 category on day one but faced a late charge from Watson in the latter stages of the race. Watson will aim to carry that pace into day two and challenge Verona from the off. While both Verona and Watson broke away from their classmates, Samuele Bernardini (Honda) and Mikael Persson (Husqvarna) fought it out for third. Bernardini got the better of Persson by just half a second to finish on the Enduro2 podium.

Brad Freeman kicked off the defence of his Enduro3 crown with a 22-second win on day one in Portugal. Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) placed second in his debut Enduro3 ride. MacDonald took four test wins to Freeman’s five on day one and will look to apply the pressure some more tomorrow. TM Racing’s Matteo Cavallo completed the top three.

Semb dominates Enduro Junior on day one

The GALFER FIM Junior Enduro World Championship saw Fantic Racing Team’s Axel Semb dominate the opening day of racing in Fafe. The Swede was a level above his rivals in the challenging Portuguese terrain and claimed a commanding 62-second margin of victory.

Reigning Enduro Youth champion Kevin Cristion (Fantic) made good his debut in Enduro Junior to place as runner-up to teammate Semb. Manolo Morettini (Honda) fended off attacks from both Thibault Giraudon (Sherco) and Leo Joyon (Beta) to claim third.

The Enduro Youth class saw Romain Dagna (Sherco) come through to take the win on day one. Dagna headed an all-French podium in the category. It was a special day in the Clauzier family, with Beta-mounted twin brothers Maxime and Clement finishing second and third, respectively.

Josep Garcia (KTM) – 1st EnduroGP: “My goal was to start the season with a win and I managed to get that done today. It’s something I’ve been pushing to do for a while now because I wasn’t able to do it last year. The conditions were tough out there, but I enjoyed it a lot and could ride hard.”

Rachel Gutish (Sherco) – 1st Enduro Women: “The world championship is a lot different than the ISDE. It’s a tough, long day, but I enjoyed it a lot. I wasn’t expecting to win, so to take the top step of the podium is a proud moment for me for sure. I’m looking forward to tomorrow now and another good battle.”

Romain Dagna (Sherco) – 1st Enduro Youth: “I had a great day and good feeling with the bike. I really liked the extreme test and enjoyed the technical challenges. It’s only my third time in EnduroGP, so to take a win in Youth is amazing. I’m so happy!”

Results: Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship, Round 1 – Day 1

1. Josep Garcia (KTM) 56:17.60; 2. Andrea Verona (GASGAS) 56:49.70; 3. Steve Holcombe (Honda) 56:50.87; 4. Nathan Watson (Beta) 57:01.82; 5. Brad Freeman (Beta) 57:14.38; 6. Hamish MacDonald (Sherco) 57:36.98; 7. Samuele Bernardini (Honda) 57:51.72; 8. Mikael Persson (Husqvarna) 57:52.24; 9. Zach Pichon (Sherco) 58:07.57; 10. Jamie McCanney (Husqvarna) 58:10.81…