A little more than a month after the season opener in the cold and snow of the legendary "Lake Päijänne", the EnduroGP paddock moves on for the first half of the traditional ‘Iberian tour’ - Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, north-west Spain!
For the very first time in the history of the FIM Maxxis Enduro World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix will be organised by the Moto Club Movete Na Moto of Lalin with support from the national federation, the RFME.
A Well-Honed Moto Club…
To mark this momentous occasion, José Angel ARCA CANDA and all the volunteers of the Moto Club MNM have created an excellent 70 km long lap all around the "holy" city of Santiago de Compostela, which the stars of EnduroGP will take on three times each day. The paddock and the race offices will be located at Santiago's "San Lorenzo" Stadium, as will the Friday night Akrapovic Super Test and the Technomousse Xtreme Test. During the two days of racing, the riders will leave the Stadium "San Lorenzo" and head to the X-Rocks Enduro Test located near the industrial area of "A Sionlla”, this test will be between 8 to 10 minutes long with altitude and a few difficult parts in the undergrowth. They will then go to the Maxxis Cross Test, which will also be located in "A Sionlla" and will be about 10 minutes long. Finally, the protagonists will complete the lap with the Xtreme Test. Also note some spectacular passages on the liaison which will be highlighted by the organisers on site.
Santiago de Compostela is located in Galicia and more specifically in the province of A Coruña. A city of about 96,000 inhabitants, it is world famous as a place of pilgrimage, on a par with Rome or Jerusalem. It also shelters the tomb of Saint Jacques. Today, Santiago de Compostela is a city with many monasteries and churches as well as famous monuments such as the Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos and the Pazo de Raxoi, which you can also stay in!
REMES vs The Rest of the World!
At the end of a very unusual Finnish Grand Prix, which was won by local man Aleksi JUKOLA (SF - KTM), Eero REMES (SF - TM) stood out as the big winner among all the EnduroGP favourites.
The Factory TM rider leads the standings in Enduro 2, and holds second place in the EnduroGP (scratch) category. But REMES is only 6 points ahead of Alex SALVINI (I - Husqvarna) in E2 as the Italian proved to be on top form in Finland (after losing almost 8 kilos during the off-season!), and he could be very strong in Spain, just like Matthew PHILLIPS (AUS - Sherco)! Although the Australian has never been really comfortable in the snow, he will be back on the terrain he loves and the 14 point deficit on his Finnish rival could quickly disappear.
REMES will also have to keep an eye on the Vice-Champion of the 2017 EnduroGP class, Loïc LARRIEU (F - Yamaha), who will be back with a vengeance after a difficult GP of Finland. Deny PHILIPPAERTS (I - Beta) and Josh GOTTS (GB - TM), who showed good speed in the snow, will want to keep up their momentum too.
For their part, Thomas OLDRATI (I - Honda) and Christophe CHARLIER (F - Beta) will have to make serious gains in Spain in order to catch the gap and increase their chances of a title at the end of the season.
Finally, we will also see the Suzuki debut of Oscar BALLETTI (I) in Galicia.
In Enduro 1, while Jamie MCCANNEY (GB - Yamaha) is the leader of the category thanks to his incredible victory on Saturday at the Päijänne Enduro, he does find himself tied on points with his compatriot, Brad FREEMAN (GB - Beta)! So we should witness a great fight for the red 24MX Leader Plate between the two Brits.
But this battle could also benefit Eemil POHJOLA (SF - Gas Gas), who, despite his Saturday DNF in Finland, showed great talent and could be another favourite in this small capacity class... not to mention his compatriots Jiri LEINO (KTM) and Niko AITTA (Honda) who will make the trip to Spain.
Davide GUARNERI (I - Honda) will also hope to get in the mix back on familiar terrain, the Italian seems to be ever more confident and quick since his switch from MXGP and he should be a serious contender for the final victory. As will Antoine BASSET (F - Gas Gas), who is back from his knee ligament injury, and remains a very strong rider and a good bet for top positions.
Absent in Finland, Manuel MONNI (I - Suzuki) and Victor GUERRERO (E - Yamaha) should add even more competitiveness to this exciting class. We will also see the return of the Belgian Cédric CREMER (Yamaha).
In the big capacity E3 class, Steve HOLCOMBE (GB - Beta) was able to enjoy a better winter preparation to score big points in Finland.
Currently third behind JUKOLA and Toni ERIKSSON (SF - KTM), the 2017 EGP World Champion is only 8 points ahead of Britain's Danny MCCANNEY (GB - Gas Gas) and 10 ahead of Christophe NAMBOTIN (F - Gas Gas). These two Gas Gas riders seem restored by their new team and a return to the brand they love, and it looks like they will be ready to fight against “The Exmoor Beast” at every race.
Behind these three, the Frenchmen Anthony GESLIN (Beta) and Romain DUMONTIER (Yamaha) will aim to trouble the Top 5...
Who will take over from Freeman?
New for this season, the Junior category will be divided into two World Cups: Junior 1 for motorcycles equal to or less than 250cc (two & four stroke), and Junior 2, for motorcycles with more than 251cc (two & four stroke). But from these two categories there will only be one Junior World Champion (a scratch winner)!
In Junior 1, the competition will be tough. Indeed, a very strong contingent of young and talented riders are capable of claiming the category victory and the World Champion’s title…
From Mikael PERSSON (S - KTM) to Andrea VERONA (I - TM), Kirian MIRABET (E - Honda), Leo LE QUERE (F - TM) and without forgetting the 2017 No.3 Albin ELOWSON (S - Yamaha). Add to that outsiders such as Jean - Baptiste NICOLOT (F - Yamaha), Lari JUKOLA (SF - Husqvarna), Theo ESPINASSE (F - Sherco), Antoine MAGAIN (B - KTM), Antti HANNIEN (SF - Husqvarna), Thibaut PASSET (F - Yamaha) and Emmanuele FACCHETTI (I - Honda) and we find ourselves with THE most competitive category for young riders...
We’ll also keep an eye on the performance of Alonso TRIGO (E - Sherco) and Brazilian Bruno Crevilin (KTM) who arrives in Europe for this Iberian tour.
On the other side in Junior 2, the competition will be also be fierce with Matteo CAVALLO (I - Beta Boano), fourth Junior in 2017, Jack EDMONDSON (UK - Sherco), Enric FRANCISCO (E - KTM) and Tosha SCHAREINA (E - Husqvarna) who continue to progress each year and will be chaperoned by Ivan CERVANTES on behalf of the RFME.
But the favourite could be the 2017 Vice-Champion Davide SORECA (I) who will compete on a TM 300EN 2T after two seasons spent on a 4-stroke at Honda RedMoto.
We should not forget the Italian Mirko SPANDRE (Sherco) who is coming out of a good first season in Junior and will try to confirm his form, as well as Englishman Joe WOOTTON (Husqvarna).
Also note the participation of the Estonian Priit BIENE (Husqvarna) who will be able to welcome the paddock to his home race in early June in Tallinn!
Youngsters Out in Force!
Finally, in Youth 125cc, with the departure of Andrea VERONA and Léo LE QUERE, Ruy BARBOSA (CL - Husqvarna), third in 2017, clearly serves as favourite for the title.
But watch out for riders like Dan MUNDELL (GB - Sherco), Hugo SVARD (SF - Husqvarna), Matthew VANOEVELEN (B - Sherco), Roni KYTONEN (SF - Husqvarna), Joakim GRELSSON (S - KTM) and Marcus ADIELSSON (S - Yamaha)...
We will also check on the progress of the young French hopefuls Charly MESNARD (TM), Robin FILHOL (Sherco), Killian LUNIER (Sherco) and Melvin MONZO (Sherco).
We will also welcome, for the very first time, a young New Zealander; Hamish MAC DONALD (Sherco)!
This Spanish Grand Prix is highly anticipated after an intensely tricky GP of Finland. And there is no doubt that thousands of Spanish fans will gather on the various tests to encourage the World Enduro elite for this long-awaited season. We also wager that the Moto Club Movete Na Moto will have gathered all the elements to make this second stage of the season one big party in the north-west of Spain ...
- Santiago de Compostela (Province of A Coruña);
- 75 kilometers from A Coruña 120 kilometers from the Portuguese border;
- Friday, April 27: Akrapovic Super Test from 18:00;
- Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th April: Start 09:00 - Finish around 16:00;
- Organisation: Moto Club Movete Na Moto;
- Website: www.endurogp.org;
- Route: 70kms - 3 laps;
- Free admission;
- Airport: Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña (75 kms)