The Paddock prodigy started the day in second and that’s exactly where he finished after the first full day of racing in the forest.
Fellow South African Gold Class competitors Travis Teasdale (Beta Factory Racing) and Oslo Beach star Blake Gutzeit (Hill Climb Grenzgaenger Neubert Racing) also had a great day, finishing ninth and 12th respectively.
Young said, “Talk about a long day on the bike. Conditions were terrible throughout the race with the rain on and off the whole day. It made things very slippery but after over seven hours out there I’m happy to finish in second.”
The main challenge was going to be the muddy and slippery track conditions following a night of heavy rainfall.
This is not a first for the Red Bull Romaniacs, vivid memories of 2010 were brought back when the Off-Road Day One conditions were similar.
The starting order was defined by the prologue yesterday: Taddy Blazusiak would go first, followed by Wade Young, Billy Bolt, Manuel Lettenbichler (Mini Letti) and Jonny Walker.
The classes took off in the following order at 6:30am in the morning: Gold class together with the Bronze class, Silver 30 mins later and Iron at 8:45am.
The race-track included some of the feared Red Bull Romaniacs signature sections such as “Better stay dry”, “Switchback heaven” and “Switchback hell” as well as two liaisons (33 km before the Service Point and 10 km after).
Competitors, all too aware that weather is a key factor in enduro, set out into the wilderness in wet and foggy conditions, heading into an old, dark forest right after the start. Motivation was high and the best times after the start (reported from “The frog valley”) came in from Young, Walker and Travis Teasdale.
Later in the morning, Walker started pulling some of the best times, followed by Teasdale, Mario Roman and David Cyprian. After the Service Point and all the way to the finish, the “Young Guns” Mini Letti and Young dominated the day and battled it out like Jarvis and Walker the years before.
Both (Mini and Young) are known for loving the fast sections and for “pinning it”. They were rewarded with a first place (Mini) and a second (Young).
Walker was hot on their heels throughout the day, not letting them out of his reach. Even though Walker considered himself having made too many mistakes during the day, he finished as a strong third and appears to be quite charged for the next three days of the usual Red Bull Romaniacs “Enduro mayhem”.
The “King” Jarvis, started from seventh position and was seen slightly caught aback by the cold weather during the first liaison, just before the 600cc section.
Once he had ploughed through 600cc, feeling cold was not a problem anymore… He started increasing the rhythm in the second half of the day, building the foundation for his strategy to win the race. Jarvis finished fourth but reported some fatigue issues.
The top riders didn’t seem to be fazed by the slippery ups and downs, they rode the sections such as “600cc”, “Better stay dry” and “Forgotten trail” without any problems.
The same could not be said for the Silver Class who were finding it difficult to negotiate their bikes in a straight line without them sliding out sideways down the steep hills.
The Bronze class riders were in for a bit of a “massacre” due to the weather conditions and had their proper Red Bull Romaniacs treatment all day long. They still managed to bravely make it through the day despite being caked in mud from head to toe.
The numerous fans on site were offering much appreciated helping hands. Surprisingly many spectators ended up being “out there…” despite the weather – showing true Hard Enduro spirit!
The organizers themselves are also faced with some real challenges – having to relocate to the overnight bivouac location late after yesterday’s prologue. The whole headquarters and support team moved ahead of the race circus to the scenic ski resort of “Straja” in the Valcan mountains. Most of the team only arrived around 3am in the morning, expecting to get an average of only 2 hours sleep.
Martin Freinademetz: “We had been REALLY scared of this first (long) day and the weather conditions in general – but all kidding aside: this is the real adventure. When you watch people arriving in the finish – completely stoked – you know it was worth the effort, on both sides!”
Riders head out for Off-Road Day Two on Thursday.
Photo: Wade Young. (Mihai Stetcu Red Bull Content Pool)