With the pair of French riders holding a firm grip on their championship lead heading into the sixth round of the series in Kastoria, Greece, the odds were stacked in their favour to be crowned champion.
Holding a 41-point lead over his closet rival in the Enduro 1 class Antoine Meo needed to beat runner-up Juha Salminen to capture his fourth consecutive world title. However, his weekend got off to the worst possible start as the KTM rider hit the dirt on the Friday SuperTest. Already 12 seconds behind, he faced a stiff challenge if he wanted to win day one.
Fast off the mark on Saturday morning, Meo instantly fought back and it didn’t take long for him to assert himself at the top of the E1 class. Confident in the hard-packed dusty terrain, Meo continued to lift his game and steadily increased his advantage to take the win ahead of Cristobal Guerrero and Jeremy Joly – who recorded his debut E1 podium.
Despite not needing to fight for the victory on day two Meo never backed off. Intent on clinching the title in style, he easily led his class while also fighting with Christophe Nambotin for the unofficial overall classification. Winning the day outright the KTM rider rode into the Parc Ferme as the newly crowned E1 world champion.
With a healthy 47-point lead in the Enduro 3 class Nambotin also didn’t need to win to secure the title. But like Meo, he too was intent on being crowned champion in the best possible way. Recording an almost start-to finish victory on day one ahead of Fabien Planet and Mathias Bellino, he moved one step closer to the championship.
Turning his attention towards Meo and the fight for the outright win, Nambotin quickly distanced himself from the rest of his class on day two. Etching out an unbeatable 70-second margin of victory over Bellino and Aigar Leok, the Frenchman successfully defended his title.
While Meo and Nambotin grabbed the limelight in Greece, the Enduro 2 class refused to be overshadowed. In what was some of the closet racing seen this year, the battle for the victory each day was intense. On day one Pela Renet finally ended his winless streak and took the win. Fighting all day with Alex Salvini for the victory, the Frenchman kept his cool and edged out the Italian by two seconds to claim the top step of the podium.
On day two the duo resumed their rivalry. Leading for the majority of the day, Renet appeared to be on course for a double win until Salvini attacked hard on the final lap. Picking up his pace, he drew level with Renet as they entered the final extreme test. Risking everything, Salvini set the fastest time to snatch the win away from Renet by just three tenths of the second. Understandably disappointed with the outcome of the result, Renet placed as runner-up to a delighted Salvini while Ivan Cervantes completed the top three.
In the Enduro Junior class Matt Phillips took the win on day one before Loic Larrieu claimed his debut EWC victory on day two.
The Enduro World Championship concludes with the seventh and final round of the series in France on September 7/8.