ISDE Day Three and Four: Strong Performances from Italy and the USA
DAY 3 RECAP
Competing on the event’s Valle di Staffora route for the third and final time, day three of the ninety-fifth International Six Days of Enduro (ISDE) saw Italy extend their lead in both the World Trophy and Junior World Trophy competitions, once again mastering the rough, dry, and dusty special tests. Just as on days one and two, the USA topped the Women’s World Trophy class while Josep Garcia (KTM) was again the day’s outright fastest rider.
Marking the mid-way point of the race, it was again Italy that led the way in the World Trophy competition, extending their overall advantage from one-minute twenty-two seconds to three minutes and twenty seconds. Edging ever further ahead of Spain, Italy’s riders Andrea Verona (GasGas), Davide Guarneri (Fantic), Thomas Oldrati (Honda), and Matteo Cavallo (TM), all delivered strong performances.
With gaps starting to increase between teams, despite dropping further behind Italy, Spain were able to edge further ahead of the USA, extending their advantage to one-minute and forty-eight seconds. Once again led by the day’s overall fastest rider Josep Garcia (KTM), Spain remains best placed to capitalise should any issues beset Italy during the last half of the event.
“I’ve really enjoyed battling with Andrea (Verona) today, when you have to fight for every second and keep pushing, pushing, pushing all the day, it’s the best way to race,” commented Garcia following a day-long battle with Italy’s fastest World Trophy rider. “I knew coming into today that it would be like that, and my goal was just to keep on pushing. It’s been a good day for the team as well. We can all look forward to a new course tomorrow.”
With France having held down the fourth-place spot through days one and two, at the end of day three it was Sweden, helped by strong performances by both Albin Elowson (Husqvarna) and Mikael Persson (KTM) who moved into fourth. After three days of competition the two nations are separated by less than ten seconds.
The end of day three saw no change in the overall top five in the Junior World Trophy category with Italy now more than three minutes ahead and finishing fastest on the day. Comfortably ahead of the USA, who in turn sit ahead of France, Italy’s juniors seem determined to match their senior teammates every step of the way at this year’s ISDE.
Just over a minute outside of the top three in fourth, Sweden enjoyed a strong day three, unquestionably helped by Max Ahlin (Husqvarna), who ended the day as the eighth fastest rider overall. “I’m really pleased with the way things have gone today, and a little surprised,” admitted Ahlin. “I tried to push a little more on the last test on day two and found some good speed. I guess I brought that speed into today and everything worked out great. I liked today’s test, but I’m looking forward to new tests tomorrow. Let’s see how the last few days go for our team.”
One notable change in the Junior World Trophy competition was Finland dropping from sixth at the end of day two to fourteenth and last at the close of day three. With team rider Peetu Juupaluoma (Husqvarna), are exiting the event, Finland became the first Junior World Trophy team to drop to two riders. Benefiting the most, Chile moved into sixth.
The top three nations in the Women’s World Trophy class are the same as they were at the end of day two with the USA ahead of Great Britain and Spain. Now close to nine minutes ahead of Great Britain, team USA once again saw Brandy Richards (KTM) lead the way as she set the pace as the fastest outright female competitor.
Just as the USA extended their advantage over Great Britain, so did Great Britain extend their lead over Spain. The two countries are now separated by close to one minute. More than one hour now separates the fastest Women’s World Trophy team, the USA, from Italy, who sit eighth in class.
After enjoying a sizeable margin of victory as the outright fastest rider on day two, on day three Josep Garcia (KTM) was just under three seconds faster than Andrea Verona (GasGas) with Mikael Persson (KTM) third.
Verona and Persson also sat at the top of the Enduro1 class results on day three with Italy’s Davide Guarneri (Fantic) enjoying his best day of the event so far in third.
In Enduro2 it was again all about Josep Garcia (KTM) with USA’s Taylor Robert second fastest despite a big crash in the opening special test. Producing his best result of the event so far, Sweden’s Albin Elowson (Husqvarna) placed third fastest E2 class rider.
“It’s been a strange day for me,” confirmed Taylor Robert. “I crashed hard on the first test, then felt great on the final test, but my times don’t seem to tell the same story. Other than that, I’m just pleased to get through today. The tests and some of the time controls are super beat up now, tomorrow’s new trails and tests can’t come soon enough.”
Italian riders Matteo Cavallo (TM) and Matteo Pavoni (TM) put in the two fastest Enduro3 class times on day three, closely followed by Spain’s Jaume Betriu (KTM) in third.
DAY 4 RECAP
The start of the second half of the ninety-fifth running of the FIM International Six Days of Enduro (ISDE) saw riders tackle a new and much-welcomed course, taking competitors south from the event’s base at the Rivanazzano Terme Airport and featuring one-hundred and ninety-eight kilometres of fresh trails as well as several new special tests.
In the World Trophy team competition there was no change at the top of the class results, with Italy continuing to lead on home soil. In the Women’s World Trophy, the USA once again dominated, while in the Junior World Trophy, the USA dropped from second to fourth following a costly crash from Austin Walton (Husqvarna). Andrea Verona (GasGas) ended the day as the fastest outright rider.
With team rider Andrea Verona (GasGas) arguably hitting his best form of the competition to date, and with three of their four riders placed inside the top five of the overall individual results, Italy was again the team to beat in the World Trophy competition. Placing one-minute and forty seconds ahead of Spain, with two days of competition remaining, Italy extended their overall lead to just over five minutes.
“It took me four days, but finally I managed to get an overall day win,” enthused Verona at the end of the day. “I really enjoyed the tests today, but the ground was very hard, which made them very, very slippery. It was easy to make mistakes with no ruts or berms, like we had on the previous days. It’s been a great day for the team also, taking a few more seconds from Spain. I’m here as part of the Italian team, so I’ll continue doing my best for them as well as pushing hard for the best individual result I can get.”
Although unable to stop Italy claiming yet another World Trophy day win, Spain again produced a spirited team performance, despite a heavy crash for their fastest rider Josep Garcia (KTM) early in the day. Collectively, Spain’s riders extended their advantage over third-placed USA by twelve seconds. Outside of the top three, but well-positioned to strike if any of the leading teams run into troubles, Sweden rode well, with another notably strong performance from Mikael Persson (KTM).
The day’s biggest result shake-up came in the World Junior Trophy category. Second behind Italy at the end of day three, following a big crash from Austin Walton (Husqvarna), which resulted in a sizeable loss of time, the USA dropped to fourth on day four.
Italy was the fastest team in the Junior World Trophy, completing the day more than one-minute ahead of France to now sit six minutes and twenty-six seconds ahead in the overall results. With the USA running into troubles, France was able to capitalise and inherited the runner-up position, but sit a long way behind Italy. Sweden is holding strong, and now hold third behind Italy and France.
Despite their troubles in the Junior World Trophy class, the USA powered ahead in the Women’s World Trophy competition on day four, much like on every other day of this year’s ISDE. With no change in the top three in the class, USA remain ahead of Great Britain and Spain. With one full day of competition and the final motocross races remaining, the USA sit a sizeable eleven minutes and thirty-four seconds ahead.
On day four alone the USA were close to three minutes faster than their closest challengers, with Brandy Richards (KTM) the only female competitor to end the day with combined special test times of less than sixty minutes.
Richards, who has consistently dominated all week, had another impressive day as she raced her KTM 350 XC-F to a one-minute and 53-second lead over Great Britain’s Jane Daniels in the day’s individual classification. American teammate Rachel Gutish (Husqvarna) had another great performance for herself and the team, finishing fourth outright in the Women’s division and contributing towards the team’s vast lead after four days.
“I started out super strong in the first two tests, and in the third enduro test I had a pretty good get-off but still managed a good time," Richards said. "After that, I was a little sore but I just kind of kept moving forward and stayed consistent. I had a great time in the last few tests, they were super fun!”
With Great Britain’s trio of Jane Daniels (Fantic), Nieve Holmes (GasGas), and Rosie Rowett (KTM), standing firm in second, Spain hold third, and like the USA and Great Britain ahead of them, Spain look all-but assured of a podium finish.
“We’re in third, Mireia (Badia – GasGas) is flying, so we have to stay focused on these final two days and keep pushing to the very end,” confirmed Sandra Gomez. “I started the event really well, which was a little unexpected. The special tests are really fast, and I’m a much better rider on technical special tests. I’ll keep pushing, I’m doing my very best, and I’m enjoying the race. I just want to do my best for the team and hope we finish on the podium.”
In Enduro1, the day’s overall fastest rider Andrea Verona (GasGas) topped the class comfortably. With Sweden’s Mikael Persson (KTM) continuing his impressive performances to claim the runner-up spot, just as he had on day three Davide Guarneri (Fantic) rounded out the day four as third fastest in E1.
“I arrived at the ISDE with a big ankle problem,” explained Guarneri. “I twisted it five days before the race. I wasn’t able to walk the tests so well, but thankfully things have got better. I made two big mistakes on the first day, and since then I’ve been getting my rhythm back, and improving, which is the most important thing. I’m feeling better and better, but now I have to think about our position as a team in the World Trophy competition.”
Enduro2 was topped for the fourth day running by Josep Garcia (KTM). Finishing ahead of Taylor Robert (KTM), and Michael Layne (Yamaha), Garcia was one of a number of riders to crash on day four.
Taylor Robert and the World Trophy Team continue to fight for a podium position in third, sitting just two minutes behind Team Spain for the second-place spot. Individually, Robert just missed a top-five finish for the day following an intense battle with Italy’s Davide Guarneri that came down to just a few seconds by the end of racing. Layne Michael (Yamaha) has remained consistent throughout the week, finishing inside the top-10 outright with ninth on the day, while former ISDE Overall winner Ryan Sipes (GasGas) re-entered the radar with an 11th place score on day four.
“Overall, I really enjoyed today," Robert said. "I felt good and had really consistent times all day. We had three new tests and a bunch of transfers way up in the mountains and it was just really cool riding. A lot smoother trail, so it wasn’t beating me to death all day. I had a really close battle with Guarneri for fifth but he ended up getting me in the last test, so I’ll try and get him back tomorrow. We’ve got one more full-on enduro day tomorrow and then the moto, so I’m just going to try to stay consistent and fast to the end of the week.”
“I started the day well but in the long enduro test I had a big crash and then exited the track twice,” explained Spain’s World Trophy team leader. “I found it difficult to concentrate and lost a lot of time after that. I kept pushing, took some time back, but with one of today’s special tests cancelled I ran out of time to close the gap. I was close to the overall win, but finally second behind Verona.”
Italian teammates Matteo Cavallo (TM), and Matteo Pavoni (TM), again finished as the top two in the Enduro3 class, with Spain’s Jaume Betriu (KTM) making it three E3 class riders inside the overall top three.
The FIM International Six Days of Enduro continues on day five with competitors taking on the one-hundred and ninety-eight-kilometre Valle di Curone lap for the second and final time.