Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler has made it three wins in a row in the 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship with victory at round four’s Red Bull Abestone. Carrying his winning form from rounds two and three, Lettenbichler once again proved to be the rider to beat in hard enduro, racing to a clear eight-minute margin of victory in Italy. Despite missing the opening round due to injury, the German is now just two points shy of the overall championship lead.
Currently riding a wave of momentum, Manuel Lettenbichler headed to the fourth stop of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship chasing his third consecutive victory. With a winning ride at Serbia’s Xross Hard Enduro Rally in May, Lettenbichler then backed that up with a debut Red Bull Erzbergrodeo victory in June on his KTM 300 EXC. Feeling strong and comfortable in his riding, his goal was to add to that win tally in Italy.
Saturday’s racing saw action begin with a morning special test style qualifier, followed by an evening’s straight rhythm shootout. Enjoying both of the fast-paced enduro tests, Lettenbichler clocked some competitive times to finish his morning’s work in a solid second place. Riding smart and avoiding taking any chances, he took the straight rhythm battles one heat race at a time to finish third, setting him up with a strong starting position for Sunday’s main event.
Riders faced a seriously tough 31-kilometre loop that would be ridden two times. With the course filled with numerous signature sections, Mani knew the added heat would play a factor in the closing stages, too. With riders flagged away in 30-second intervals, Mani started one minute behind pole-sitter Billy Bolt, with Alfredo Gomez sandwiched between the duo.
With Gomez locked in his sights, Mani was on an early charge to dispose of the Spaniard and move into second. Getting into a good flow with the course, he chipped away at Bolt’s lead and after 45 minutes was on his rear wheel. Setting up a pass, the KTM rider moved into the lead as he reached the halfway point on lap one.
Continuing to build his lead, Lettenbichler looked comfortable out front and was able to control the pace to his advantage. Still strong on the final lap, he pushed on to claim a well-earned eight-minute margin of victory. The win - his third in succession - now moves him to within two points of the championship leader.
The FIM Hard Enduro World Championship moves on to round five at Red Bull Romaniacs on July 26-31, where Lettenbichler will aim make it a fourth consecutive win in the Romanian hard enduro rallye.
Manuel Lettenbichler: “I’m so stoked with how things turned out today. I felt good all day and was enjoying my time out there. The track was super tough and really physical. It was much harder than last year too. Starting third I knew what to do. I worked to catch Alfredo and then set about reaching Billy. Once in front I just focused on doing my own thing and it worked out. To get three wins in a row has come as a big surprise and it wasn’t something that I expected to happen at the beginning of the year. We’ve got Red Bull Romaniacs next, it’s one of my favorites so I’m excited for that.”
Results - FIM Hard Enduro World Championship Round 4, Red Bull Abestone
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 4:13.29.553
2. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 4:22:19.280 +8:49.727
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 4:41:00.340 +27:30.787
4. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), GASGAS, 4:51:33.621 +38:04.068
5. Matthew Green (RSA), KTM, +1 lap
FIM Hard Enduro World Championship Standings (After round 4)
1. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 62pts
2. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 60pts
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 58pts
4. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), GASGAS, 47pts
5. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 40pts