Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler has completed round five of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship at Red Bull Romaniacs in sixth overall. Fighting back from an early two-hour penalty, the KTM 300 EXC rider went on to claim two day wins at the Romanian hard enduro rallye. FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Trystan Hart secured fourth place on his second appearance at the event, while former Dakar winner Matthias Walkner rode his KTM 450 RALLY to two day wins and third overall in the Bronze class.
Celebrating its 19th edition, Red Bull Romaniacs returned to its traditional format for 2022 with the spectacular city prologue opening proceedings on Tuesday, followed by four long, tough days of hard enduro rallying, ridden in the Carpathian Mountains, close to the host city of Sibiu.
Getting his Red Bull Romaniacs title defense off to a strong start, Manuel Lettenbichler placed third in the intense city prologue. However, the result meant the young German would be the first rider to start Wednesday’s Offroad Day 1 due to the order of the top three being reversed. Completing the first three sections inside the top two on corrected time, Lettenbichler looked on course for another strong result.
Unfortunately, a technical issue midway through the day resulted in Mani having to make repairs to his machine, for which he would ultimately incur a two-hour penalty at the close of the day’s racing. Despite the set-back, the three-time Romaniacs champion put his head down to top the three remaining time checks of the day.
On Offroad Day 2, Lettenbichler attacked hard throughout the six hours of racing to go fastest on all but one of the 10 checkpoints. Leading out the penultimate day, Mani finished in a solid second place, less than two minutes behind the winner, despite opening much of the route. Another incredible performance on the fourth and final day saw Mani secure his second day win, reaching the finish over two minutes ahead of the runner-up.
Completing the event in sixth, Lettenbichler now lies second overall in the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship standings. Despite missing round one of the series, he is only three points down on the leader with three rounds remaining.
Manuel Lettenbichler: “I’m stoked with how I rode here at Romaniacs, it’s such a cool event and so good to see riders from so many nationalities competing. Obviously, it was tough to have the issue on day one and get the penalty so early on, but if nothing else it just motivated me to push hard throughout the rest of the race. The final day was tough, we hit a massive uphill early on and after that there were a few really technical sections. Thankfully, it’s been dry and so there was plenty of grip out there, if it had been wet if could have been a lot different. I’m second in the championship and there are only a few points in it. We head to TKO next, which I really enjoyed last year, so I’ll give it my best there again and keep fighting to the end of the year.”
Completing his second appearance at Red Bull Romaniacs in an excellent fourth place, FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Trystan Hart built his pace as the event continued. Lying fifth at the close of day three, the young Canadian made the best use of his technical abilities over the rugged Romanian terrain and conserved his energy to move up one place overall on day four. In finishing the final day less than four minutes down on winner Lettenbichler, Hart was able to claim fourth overall at the checkered flag and secure his best result in the world’s toughest hard enduro rallye.
Trystan Hart: “It’s been a heck of a week, so to come away with fourth overall in my second attempt at Red Bull Romaniacs is incredible. A definite highlight for sure was finishing Offroad Day 1 in third, that was a real surprise. I had some ups and downs along the way. I feel like I’m still figuring out some stuff. I’m comfortable on the technical climbs, but need more work on the high speed stuff. It’s crazy how hard the top guys are pushing on that terrain. I’ve got two home rounds coming up now in the USA and Canada, so I’m definitely excited for those.”
Competing in his first ever hard enduro, former Dakar Rally winner Matthias Walkner came into the 2022 Red Bull Romaniacs looking to gain more riding time on his KTM 450 RALLY and simply enjoy the event. Despite the disadvantages of his wider and lower rally bike, Walkner was able to mix it with the best in the Bronze class, securing a win on Offroad Day 1. On Offroad Day 4, Matthias finished in style, firing his Dakar Rally machine up the infamous Gusterita hill climb to claim another day win and secure third overall in class, less than two minutes down on the eventual winner.
Matthias Walkner: “It’s been an amazing experience coming here and trying Red Bull Romaniacs. It’s up there as one of the toughest things I’ve done in my life for sure. My goal this week was just to enjoy more time on my rally bike and experience this adventure. Without question I’ve done that. I raced Bronze class and it was hard, but what the guys in Gold class are riding is on another level and I take my hat off to them. Results wise, honestly I wasn’t expecting to fight for the podium, so to finish third in Bronze is the icing on the cake. The class win on Offroad Day 1 was a pretty special moment too.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing return to FIM Hard Enduro World Championship action with round six of the series – Red Bull TKO – held in the USA from August 11-14.
Results – 2022 Red Bull Romaniacs
1. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 21:05:40
2. Teodor Kabakchiev (BUL), KTM, 21:14:12 +8:32
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 21:19:06 +13:26
4. Trystan Hart (CAN), KTM, 21:38:39 +32:59
5. Michael Walkner (AUT), GASGAS, 21:44:10 +38:30
6. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 22:58:06 +1:52:26
7. Matthew Green (ZAF), KTM, 24:09:18 +3:03:38
8. David Cyprian (CZE), KTM, 24:47:43 +3:42:03
9. Suff Sella (ISR), KTM, 25:59:49 +4:54:09
10. Rigor Rico (BRA), KTM, 28:03:02 +6:57:22
Provisional standings - FIM Hard Enduro World Championship (after 5 of 8 rounds)
1. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 73 points
2. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 70 pts
3. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 62 pts
4. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 60 pts
5. Teodor Kabakchiev (BUL), KTM, 52 pts