Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler has won the 2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship. Claiming a dominant victory at the eighth and final round of the series - Hixpania Hard Enduro - the young German secured the title in style on his KTM 300 EXC. FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Trystan Hart narrowly missed the podium in fourth.
In what turned out to be a thrilling climax to the FIM Hard Enduro season, Hixpania Hard Enduro delivered three days of action-packed racing in Spain. The opening prologue held in the heart of Aguilar de Campoo’s medieval town square saw Manuel Lettenbichler get his title attack off to a strong start by completing the endurocross-style race as runner-up.
Saturday’s Campoo Xtreme challenged riders with a tough extreme cross-country style race held around the town’s reservoir. Taking an early lead, Manuel Lettenbichler was unstoppable over the difficult terrain and had opened up a 10-minute advantage by the checkered flag. However, with Mani and several of the top-10 finishers receiving speed penalties, the final results saw the win go to FMF KTM’s Trystan Hart with Mani dropping down to second. Despite the minor setback, Lettenbichler had done enough to secure himself pole position for Sunday’s ‘Lost Roads’ finale.
With the final race starting in the infamous cave section, it was Mani who emerged first and set off into the course. Riding at a fast but calculated pace, the 24-year-old opened up a comfortable gap at the head of the field. Despite increasing pressure from behind, Lettenbichler was able to manage his speed over the rocky terrain and maintain his lead to the finish. On reaching the checkered flag, Lettenbichler secured his fifth overall victory of the season and with it, the FIM Hard Enduro crown.
The result caps an incredible year for Mani who missed the first round of the championship completely due to recovering from injury. But taking the win at round two – Xross Hard Enduro – he then went on to claim victory at Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, Red Bull Abestone, and Red Bull Outliers in Canada. The title complements Lettenbichler’s win in the 2019 WESS Championship, but marks his first FIM World Championship title. An impressive achievement for the Red Bull KTM star.
Manuel Lettenbichler: “I can’t believe it – this feels so good! The pressure was definitely on this morning, I was so nervous before the start. When they changed the track a little bit, I think that occupied my mind a little and I was able to focus. I got a great start and was leading and managed to make a bit of a gap, but then after about an hour I was already starting to get tired and there was still a long way to go. Everyone was riding so well, but I knew it was Mario behind me and he kept the pressure on right to the finish. I’m so happy to get the job done, and it’s even better to do it with a win here in Spain, especially in front of this sick crowd. They’ve given so much support to everyone the whole weekend, it’s been amazing.”
Coming into the final round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Trystan Hart was aiming for a similar performance to the one that secured him a runner-up result at Red Bull Outliers at home in Canada. Starting off the weekend well with a fifth-place finish in the opening prologue, Hart went on to win the Campoo Xtreme on Saturday, and in doing so, qualified second for Sunday’s main race.
A strong start saw the young Canadian slot in behind teammate Lettenbichler on lap one, but with fatigue playing a big part in his performance, Hart began to lose time on the leader. Struggling to find a good rhythm over the intense terrain, Trystan maintained a safe but solid pace to the finish, where he ultimately claimed fourth. A strong result, but not quite what the up-and-coming hard enduro star was hoping for.
Trystan Hart: “That was one frustrating race. In America I can ride at my best but when I come to Europe I’m just not on the same level. I really need to figure that out as I was making mistakes today that I just shouldn’t be making. Riding like that made me use up a lot of energy and then it becomes way harder. It’s something I really need to work on for the future but overall, it’s been a good season and a huge learning experience for me.”
Fabio Farioli – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Enduro Team Manager: “This title is down to the all the hard work Mani has put in this year. After missing the first round due to injury, he came back and still won five of the seven rounds he contested. They included his incredible debut win at Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, as well as coming out on top in Canada, where he was pushed all the way by Trystan (Hart). It wasn’t an easy year at all, the results were great, but Mani had to deal with several issues that weren’t resolved until just before the races here in Spain. But despite the pressure he was under, Mani came through to win this final race and claim the title. It’s been a fantastic year for Mani and the whole team are really proud of him and what he’s achieved.”
Results: Round 8 - 2022 Hixpania Hard Enduro
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 2:39:59.459
2. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 2:44:40.404
3. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), GASGAS, 2:52:01.206
4. Trystan Hart (CAN), KTM, 2:56:15.121
5. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 2:56:21.395
9. Matthew Green (RSA), KTM, 2:33:40.557 +2 laps
Final Championship Standings (After round 8)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 127pts
2. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 120pts
3. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 93pts
4. Teodor Kabakchiev (BUL), KTM, 72pts
5. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), GASGAS, 72pts
6. Michael Walkner (AUT), GASGAS, 66pts
7. Trystan Hart (CAN), KTM, 63pts
8. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 62pts
9. David Cyprian (CZE), KTM, 61pts
10. Wade Young (RSA), Sherco, 56pts