South African superstar Wade Young’s historic reign as Red Bull Romaniacs champion came to a disappointing end when the Sherco Factory rider was forced to withdraw from the race during Off-Road Day Two in Sibiu on Thursday.
Despite a fractured bone in his foot, an injury he sustained early during Wednesday’s 102km first leg, Young bravely lined up for the second full day of racing.
A suspected gear selector shaft problem right after the start caused him to return to the start to have it fixed which cost him a good 30 minutes reaching Check Point 1.
He lost another 33 minutes between CP 5 and 6 before he finally reached the Service Point where he was forced out due to the cruel combination of injury and mechanical problems.
The Paddock prodigy confirmed the news on social media:
Matthew Green (Kargo Liqui Moly Racing) was the pick of the South African Gold Class riders, a strong outing seeing him finish 18th. Dwayne Kleynhans (Brother Leader Tread KTM) finished 23rd and William Oosthuizen (Pepson Plastics Husqvarna Racing) right behind him in 24th.
In Young’s absence, Alfredo Gomez (ESP, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) took no prisoners and won the day after scoring seven out of 10 fastest times at the check points.
He finished with a total riding time of 5 hours and 41 minutes putting a gap of 5 minutes and 58 seconds on Graham Jarvis (UK, Husqvarna) who finished second with a total riding time of 5h 48m 2s.
Manuel Lettenbichler (GER, KTM) lost 24 seconds on Jarvis and came in third. With the win, Gomez now also leads the overall race progress ahead of Jarvis in second and Lettenbichler in third.
It was the “Silent Assassin” Jarvis who opened the Gold Class track named “Decebal”. Decebal was the last King of Dacia – a historic region in Romania – and he is famous for fighting the Romans, also in the region where the riders were supposed to fight against the track.
At the end of the day, most of the international top riders however provided excellent feedback saying that the mix of fast and technical sections was perfect. With 151km this was the longest day to ride in terms of kilometers.
There was no denying that Gomez was on a mission. Starting 7 minutes behind Jarvis, the pace Gomez set from the very start was not of this world for the other riders. Right after the start the Gold Class riders were exposed to the first rather serious uphill called “Espresso” – a nice wake-up call in the early morning to make sure that it was not only the engines that were awake.
The struggle went on while Lettenbichler and Jarvis were trying to keep up with Gomez’s overall speed considering the actual riding time at most of the checkpoints – but they failed. The Spaniard was denying the access, he kept an average of 5-6 minutes on his hunters despite having a little crash close to the finish.
A heavy thunderstorm made the lives of those riders difficult who hadn’t made it to the finish by about 15:00 (Eastern European Time). The winners of the four classes weren’t really affected but a lot of other riders had to battle against the water and the extreme weather conditions to make it to the finish line.
Gomez said, “Yes, this was a really good day. I was on the hunt the whole day chasing the boys and I had a good pace. The rhythm was pretty much perfect throughout the race. Only right before the finish I’ve had a stupid crash and broke the hand guards but the rest was very good! For the remaining two days my strategy is clear: I will be pushing like I did it today and I hope I’ll have the same pace as today. If I manage that tomorrow and Saturday I should have a good chance to win the race. That’s what I’m going for!”
Lettenbichler commented, “That was actually a tough day today. The rain made it pretty slippery here and there, especially in some uphill sections. I tried to keep up with Alfredo’s pace – he was riding really, really good today. I was tired in the “Brother of K2″ section, struggled a bit but not too much. Towards the end I made some mistakes which cost me a lot of time. But I’m happy with the day, it was a fast day but it also had some difficult stuff in it – typical and perfect Romaniacs style I’d say. I really liked it. Now I will get some rest to attack again tomorrow on the third day.”
Jarvis stated, “The rain made a big difference on a couple of hillclimbs today, those were definitely more difficult. I guess I put the line in for everybody else. The “Brother of K2” was really tough. We needed some help up there but I guess it was a good show for the crowd. It was a really good mix today of fast and difficult bits, a long day, lots of kilometres. I’m tired now and will get some rest for tomorrow.”
Roman remarked, “It was a fun day, not so long. Some places were dry, some wet – I really enjoyed myself out here today and am looking forward to getting on the track of Off-road Day 3 tomorrow. I didn’t struggle, it was a good track today. A few slippery places but it was fine.”
Off-Road Day Three will take riders through Walachia, a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Lower Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians.
Mastermind Martin Freinademetz, Track Director Teo Isaac and Track Manager Mike Skinner found some really tasty tracks in that region: 140km for the Gold Class riders being exposed to some alpine style, stony terrain with very long climbs and downhills of around 1,000 altitude metres.
This will be a fun and great riding day with a couple of older Red Bull Romaniacs classic tracks and a new section called Man Ridge where most of the Pro riders will spend some time pushing their bikes. However, following that section they will be able to rest a little on a longer liaison finishing back in Sibiu.
The results of the Off-road Day Three determine the starting order of the Off-Road Day Four.
Top 10 Results – Gold Class
1 Alfredo Gomez Cantero (ESP, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing): 5 hours 41 minutes 0 seconds
2 Graham Jarvis (GBR Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing): 5h 48m 2s (+5m 58s)
3 Manuel Lettenbichler (DEU, Flatschingfast Factory Team): 5h 47m 22s (+6m 22s)
4 Mario Roman (ESP, Sherco Factory Racing Team): 5h 49 54s (+8m 54s)
5 Jonny Walker (GBR, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing): 5h 55m 56s (+14m 56s)
6 Taddy Blazusiak (POL, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing): 5h 59m 37s (+18m 37s)
7 Billy Bolt (UK, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing): 6h 9m 8s (+28m 8s)
8 David Cyprian (CZ, JD Gunnex KTM): 6h 19m 32s (+38m 32s)
9 Josep Garcia Montana #13 (ESP, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing): 6h 54m 7s (+1h 13m 7s)
10 Pol Tarrés (ESP, TTR Officine Rigamonti Husqvarna): 6h 57m 28s (+1h 16m 28s)