KTM LOOKS BACK ON 2011 ENDURO SEASON
The KTM Enduro Factory Team may not have had the year it was expecting in the 2011 World Championship season but the team still managed to claim Vice World Championship titles in E1, E2 and EJ classes after younger riders stepped up to the task when key riders went out injured.
First, E3 rider David Knight was eliminated after the fourth round because he needed double hip surgery. Then Johnny Aubert, KTM’s lead rider in E2 crashed badly at the Greek GP at Kalampaka Meteora. Aubert’s injuries to neck and thigh were serious enough to shut him out for the second half of the season. But as KTM Head of Motorsports Pit Beirer is quick to point out, the character of a good factory team can be measured as much for its ability to come back from adversity as for being constantly in the forefront of the competition.
Beirer: “It’s true that we had a lot of bad luck this season but we are pleased to say that both Johnny (Aubert) and David (Knight) are well on the road to recovery, because KTM places great importance on the health and safety of its factory riders. We must also praise our younger riders who rose to the occasion. Through them we were able to take the Vice World Championship title in E1 with Eero Remes, in E2 with Cristobal Guerrero and in EJ with KTM-supported rider Mario Roman. KTM also came away with two Vice World Championship titles in the E1 and E2 Manufacturer’s awards. “
Team boss Fabio Farioli also praised the efforts of Remes, who finished second to his veteran and much decorated Finnish countryman Juha Salminen in E1 and Guerrero of Spain, who fought the good fight on the track with title holder Antoine Meo and other strong riders in the E2 category.
Farioli: “We did have a lot of injury problems but Remes and Guerrero were always up with the best in their class. They both did a very good job and Guerrero has definitely taken a big step forward in his riding skills. He’s developed into one of the fastest five riders in the World Enduro Championship. He was consistently in the top group of riders and had the top overall speed.“
Remes was very consistent throughout 2011 and was only off the podium four times in the 16 round competition. This was even more important when E1 teammate Thomas Oldrati became ill and left the competition after six rounds. The young Finn was also the best overall rider in the ISDE in Finland and helped his team win the coveted title. Guerrero of Spain was always in the forefront of E2. He was only off the podium four times in 2011 and was a very competitive challenger for the eventual title winner Antoine Meo.
Junior KTM-supported riders were also very strong. Mario Roman of Spain finished second in EJ and young Italian Jonathan Manzi won the Youth Cup. Finland’s Antti Hellsten also who won five of the first seven EJ rounds and was second and third in the other two before he was injured.
Fairoli: “Of course we were disappointed that we didn’t deliver our usual string of titles in 2011 but that’s racing and it’s important for the team to stick together, work hard and focus on the future. We should look back on 2011 as a season where our younger riders supported us with some great results and consistency and that is positive for the future of the factory team. Now we can concentrate on 2012.”
KTM Motorsports and the KTM Enduro Factory Team also underlined their support for the World Enduro Championship 2012 calendar of 16 rounds, which opens with two stops in South America. Pit Beirer said he very much welcomed the FIM initiative of holding the first four rounds in Chile and Argentina in the second half of March.
Beirer: “There is a huge surge of interest in offroad sports in these countries, especially since the Dakar Rally has become an important fixture in January. Having the World Enduro Championships starting on the South American continent underlines the ‘world’ in the championship and offers the chance for riding talent from those countries to compete at international level. This can only be a good thing for the future of global competition.”
After the first four rounds, the 2012 World Championships returns to the European countries where Enduro sport traditionally has a strong following and includes Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Finland and France with one more venue, slated for the Rounds 7 & 8 (after Portugal) still to be named. It is anticipated that these rounds will be in Spain.