Comeback king Lettenbichler rides through the field at Red Bull Romaniacs
Graham Jarvis wins Red Bull Romaniacs for a record seventh time, while Mani Lettenbichler stages a brilliant comeback to turn up the heat in the championship chase.
Mani Lettenbichler came into the four-day race through the mountains of Transylvania in Romania, on the back of three consecutive wins in the Xross in Serbia, the Red Bull Erzerbergrodeo in Austria and the Red Bull Abestone in Italy. With his training partner and defending Hard Enduro World Champion Billy Bolt sidelined following an operation to his wrist, the affable German had high hopes of adding a fourth victory in the toughest hard enduro competition in the world to his titles from 2021, 2020 and 2019.
He made the perfect start by winning the Prologue – a taxing obstacle course laid out in Sibiu – but ran into trouble on the opening day, struggling with a broken clutch. Mani needed outside assistance to fix the part, which incurred a two-hour penalty. That meant the German had to battle every step of the way to claw back as much time and move back up the leaderboard.
He produced a champion’s performance winning both Day Two and Four in his chase for championship points to take sixth place at the finish.
Red Bull Romaniacs redemption for Graham Jarvis
Red Bull Romaniacs 2022 represented redemption for Graham Jarvis (GBR). Already the most successful rider at the event, last year the Hard Enduro legend tore his ACL in a heavy fall at the event. This year, he returned to seal a spectacular victory that defies his 47 years. Finishing third on the final day, he did enough to secure an astonishing seventh win in Romania, this time as a privateer. “It’s such an incredible feeling to win Red Bull Romaniacs again. I’ve done it seven times now, I don’t know what to say!” said an elated Jarvis, thanking his crew at Team Jarvis Racing.
It’s such an incredible feeling to win Red Bull Romaniacs again. I’ve done it seven times now, I don’t know what to say!
“In a race like this, it takes a lot of effort all week to be there every day and I managed that. After last year’s knee injury, I wasn’t sure how well I’d come back and if I’d be competitive again. It’s been a full year’s work, but I’ve done it. Not just getting back on the podium, but the top step, too.”
Rising star Teodor Kabakchiev finished second with one of the best performances of his young career so far, just edging out Mario Roman (ESP) who completes the final podium. After victory in the championship-opening Minus 400 and podiums in the Red Bull Erzerbergrodeo and the Red Bull Abestone, the Sherco rider now leads the world championship by three points from Mani.
“Today was probably the hardest day of the week, the uphill sections just kept coming one after the other,” Roman said. “All week my pace was pretty solid, but hats off to Teodor he was riding well. And Graham, well he’s just as amazing as ever. Overall it’s been a good result for the championship too. I’m now leading. Let’s hope I can build on that.”
Another rising star, GasGas rider Michael Walkner (AUT), continues to impress, but a suspected broken foot allowed a hard charging Trystan Hart (CAN) to edge past on the last day to take fourth, leaving Walkner fifth overall.
“It’s been a big week at Red Bull Romaniacs, but one of my best yet,” said Walkner. “I felt good all week and I feel like I’ve been able to step things up again in my riding. I was fighting hard all the way, never too far from the podium.”
Chris Birch and Matthias Walkner turn on the Class
There was a familiar face on the top step of the podium in the Silver Class, with Chris Birch defying the years to triumph ahead of frequent riding partner Fabien Poirot (FRA). The New Zealander was the outright winner of the 2010 edition ahead of Jarvis and Mani’s father Andreas Lettenbichler.
There was another star turn in the Bronze class where another Walkner – Dakar Rally winner Matthias Walkner was competing on his massive KTM rally bike. The Austrian edged out Frenchman Alexis Berepion on the final day to join winner Edgar Silins (LVA) and local rider Marius Popovici (ROU) on the podium.
Red Bull Romaniacs 2022 results
- Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 21h 5m 40s
- Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 21h 14m 12s
- Mario Roman (Sherco) 21h 19m 6s
- Trystan Hart (KTM) 21h 38m 39s
- Michael Walkner (Gas Gas) 21h 44m 10s
2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship Standings
- Mario Roman (Sherco) 73pts
- Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 70
- Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 62
- Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 60
- Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 52
Action in the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship resumes at round six, Red Bull TKO in the United States on August 13.
Part of this story