Crossing over into the second half of the season, the Enduro World Championship GP of Portugal marks a pivotal point in this year’s championship.
With double wins from Antoine Meo, Alex Salvini and Christophe Nambotin at Torres Vedras, the trio of riders firmly established themselves as the main protagonists in their respective classes. With each rider extending their championship lead, they left many riders scratching their heads in frustration come the end of day two.
Slow to start, Meo soon found his groove midway through day one. Trailing Juha Salminen at the end of lap one, the Frenchman picked up his pace and reeled his rival in. Topping eight of the day’s thirteen special tests, Meo secured the Enduro 1 class win. Repeating his result on day two, Meo left Portugal with a healthy 34-point lead over Matti Seistola.
“This race was important for the championship,” said the Frenchman. “I needed to win both days and that’s exactly what I did.”
With Salminen ending day one as runner-up to Meo, Eero Remes collected third. On day two EWC rookie Anthony Boissiere secured the runner-up result by narrowly beating Seistola.
For Alex Salvini, the GP of Portugal was all about proving a point. Many doubted the Italian could repeat his double Enduro 2 class win from Argentina in Europe. In Torres Vedras he proved them wrong. Winning day one by seven seconds, the Italian stepped things up another level and recorded a 38-second margin of victory on day two.
“I came here to win,” remarked Salvini on Sunday evening. “I wanted to show that I could win in Europe and challenge for this E2 title.”
Chasing Salvini home both days was Ivan Cervantes, the double victor from Spain just one week earlier. Ending day one seven seconds behind Salvini, the Spaniard wasn’t able to match the pace set by his Honda rival on day two and was forced to settle for second position.
Like in Spain, Johnny Aubert and Pela Renet traded places in Portugal. On day one, Aubert placed third with Renet finishing fourth while on day two Renet claimed the upper hand over his French compatriot to take third.
Stamping his authority on the Enduro 3 class, Christophe Nambotin was the rider to beat in Portugal. Leading his class home to win day one, Nambotin turned up the heat on day two and won by almost one-minute while also unofficially topping the outright classification.
“I feel like everything’s finally coming together,” said Nambotin. “Day two was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the second half of the season.”
Behind Nambotin, Aigar Leok and Luis Correia joined him on the podium on day one in second and third respectively, while on day two Mathias Bellino – the 2012 Enduro Junior champion – was runner-up with Correia again third.
The Enduro World Championship now heads to Romania on June 15/16 for round five of the series.