Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler has made a triumphant return to racing following injury to secure a memorable win at round two of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship in Serbia. Putting in an incredibly solid ride during the four-day race, Lettenbichler claimed a well-deserved victory.
Despite it being a long road to recovery following knee surgery for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler, the German proved to all in Serbia that he’s already back to his best and racing to win. Eager to get some serious race miles under his belt following his extended layoff, Lettenbichler made a last-minute decision to race the Xross Hard Enduro Rally and it certainly paid off.
Kicking things off in Zlatibor, Serbia on Wednesday with a Straight Rhythm prologue, Mani eased his way into racing with a steady top five result. But with three 100-kilometre-long days of tough hard enduro racing in the Serbian mountains ahead of him, Mani knew the real race had yet to begin.
A strong start on Thursday saw Mani quickly settle into a fast rhythm on his KTM 300 EXC. Picking off riders, he made his way to the front. But navigation issues in the closing stages halted his progress and he ended Day One fourth overall on corrected time.
As a two-time Red Bull Romaniacs winner, on Friday’s Day Two Mani knew how to work a starting position of fourth to his advantage. Getting down to business he set a blisteringly fast time on the opening two-hour and 30-minute special stage, a pace that nobody could match. Going on to win the day by almost eight minutes, Mani held a six-minute and 13-second lead entering the third and final day in Serbia.
From there on, the final day on Saturday proved to be plain sailing for the KTM rider. Fastest in the longest and crucial opening special stage, Mani then controlled his pace in two shorter remaining special stages to secure the overall victory at Xross Hard Enduro Rally.
The FIM Hard Enduro World Championship continues with round three at Red Bull Erzbergrodeo on June 16-19 in Austria.
Manuel Lettenbichler: “I came here with no expectations, so to win is pretty special. I’ve been a long time off the bike and it was such hard work to recover, but it’s all been worth it. It now feels pretty damn good. I took things steady at the start of the event, but I felt good and I think that really helped me. There was some really tough sections on each day, and together with the GPS navigation it wasn’t always easy. But the first two offroad days went really well. I knew I had a good lead today, but you just never know what’s around the corner, so I just tried to keep focused until the finish line. I’m stoked to win. We’ve Erzbergrodeo next, and like everyone else I’m excited for that!”
Results - FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, Round 2
Xross Hard Enduro Rally (Provisional)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER) KTM 11:10:04
2. Teodor Kabakchiev (BG), KTM 11:20:07
3. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna 11:28:35
4. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna 11:37:27
5. Wade Young (SA), Sherco 11:40:12
Championship Standings (Provisional) After Round 2
1. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna 30pts
2. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna 30pts
3. Teodor Kabakchiev (BG), KTM 27pts
4. Wade Young (SA), Sherco 27pts
5. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), GASGAS 21pts
6. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM 20pts