Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler has got his 2024 FIM Hard Enduro Championship (HEWC) campaign off to a winning start, dominating proceedings at the Valleys Hard Enduro in the UK. Following on from his perfect 2023 season, Mani lead from start to finish during the three-lap event to claim a well-deserved victory at round one of the 2024 season in Wales.

Marking the first stop in the seven-round series, the Valleys Hard Enduro is a completely new event, held over three days of racing. Getting the action underway on Friday, a short SuperEnduro-style track in the Walters Arena gave riders their first taste of the Welsh terrain. Despite huge pressure from the chasing Jonny Walker and Alfredo Gomez, Mani held his nerve – taking the win and throwing down the gauntlet to his rivals.

For Saturday’s prologue race, riders faced a 10-kilometer course, the results of which would decide the start order for Sunday’s main event. Maintaining his form from Friday, Lettenbichler made the technically demanding course look easy. Setting the pace and delivering the fastest time on his first lap, Mani went one minute faster on lap two to secure pole position for Sunday.

With more dry and hot weather on day three in Wales, the Valleys Hard Enduro was set to be a tough one. Three laps of a 16-kilometer course faced competitors with a winner-takes-all format – first to cross the line would be crowned Valley Hard Enduro Champion and earn themselves maximum FIM Hard Enduro points.

It was Mani’s race. After making a strong start, the KTM 300 EXC rider pushed hard on lap one to build an advantage over the chasing pack. Maintaining that pace on lap two, the young German was able to control the race from the front, despite a challenge from Teodor Kabakchiev. Increasing his lead on the third and final lap, Mani delivered a champion’s ride to reach the checkered flag first in style. Finishing over three minutes ahead of second place saw him secure his first victory of the 2024 HEWC season.

Manuel Lettenbichler: “That was not an easy race! It was hard and hot out there today. For the first lap, I wished I had a fan for my face as I was sweating so much. The pace was really fast, especially on that first lap, but I knew I had to stay out front in order to control the race. I managed to build a bit of a gap and so from there I was able to just ease off a little and maintain a good, solid rhythm from the front. On the last lap, Teo (Kabakchiev) was pushing really hard and so I had to increase my pace a little – he did a really good job today. At the end I gave it everything just to make sure I had enough of an advantage and to keep things safe, but it all worked out and I was able to come away with the win. I’m super happy to get the season started off like this and can’t wait for Erzberg now.”

Provisional Results – 2024 Valleys Hard Enduro
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 2:06:57.11
2. Teodor Kabakchiev (BUL), Sherco, 2:09:58.79
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 2:11:15.38
4. Jonny Walker (GBR), Beta, 2:15:18.25
5. Will Hoare (GBR), RIEJU, 2:18:35.60

Provisional standings - FIM Hard Enduro World Championship (after 1 of 7 rounds)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 23 points
2. Teodor Kabakchiev (BUL), Sherco, 19 pts
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 15 pts
4. Will Hoare (GBR), RIEJU, 13 pts
5. Mitch Brightmore (GBR), Husqvarna, 11 pts