An expert's guide to the riders competing in the World Enduro Super Series
Enduro stalwart Paul Bolton runs the rule over Nathan Watson, Cody Webb and the other riders taking part in the inaugural season of the World Enduro Super Series – get the lowdown on the action here.
The World Enduro Super Series (WESS) is turning motorsport on its head. Brand new for 2018, it's an eight-round multi-discipline series that throws together hard enduro, classic enduro, cross-country and beach racing into one brutally demanding championship. Enduro athletes will have to work harder than ever to prove that they're deserving of the series title, while mastering every type of off-road terrain along the way. Never before have their strengths and weaknesses come under such scrutiny.
Reigning Hard Enduro World Series champion Graham Jarvis will face serious competition from the usual suspects, including Jonny Walker, Billy Bolt, Red Bull Hare Scramble winner Alfredo Gómez, Cody Webb, Enduro2 World Champion Josep Garcia and Nathan Watson. Taddy Blazusiak is also coming out of retirement to take on what he calls “the complete series”.
What's so different about the World Enduro Super Series?
WESS’s global enduro championship combines many of the world’s most established and popular enduro events. The series begins in Portugal on May 11 with the Extreme XL Lagares and will include hard and classic enduro, cross country and beach racing, with athletes free to compete on their preferred make and size of motorcycle.
Says Bolton: "In the past, it has been about one race, about the rankings and prestige in the individual races, but this is about the series as a whole. When riders are making decisions this time, they need to think about the long game. Bikes are going to be different from one race to the next to deal with the terrain. It’s about the team behind you and being tactical."
Who is going to win?
If we were judging individual races, then this would be easy to answer. But bringing together so many different enduro disciplines makes it very difficult to say which athlete will come out on top.
“Overall it’s between anyone in the top 11 riders,” according to privateer rider and enduro veteran Paul Bolton. “Some have got good experience in the bigger, hard enduros. They all have their strengths and weaknesses in the different races. I would say it’s too close to call this series and no one wants to guess who’s going to win.”
Which riders should we keep an eye on?
Nathan Watson. He began racing with Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing in MX1 with his first race win at the British Championship in Norfolk. Two years ago, he switched disciplines to race for KTM in the Enduro World Championship.
Back then he told Red Bull, “I think enduro is going to suit me the most and I hope I can successfully continue my career in the EWC.” He finished second in his first season.
Spain's Josep Garcia transferred to the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team last year and has been on good form, too.
Bolton said: “Trèfle Lozérien is where they should be right up on the podium. For the likes of me and Graham Jarvis, that would be our weakest race. It’s going to be about the most rounded rider in the world. They have to have everything.”
“Nathan Watson and Joseph Garcia will race between themselves but If I was going to call it I would say Nathan Watson.”
Cody Webb of the USA and Wade Young of South Africa are both in with a good chance, according to Bolton. Webb has taken hard enduro by storm, giving the European riders a run for their money and establishing himself as a podium threat.
Young is the youngest racer in history to win the Roof Of Africa Enduro in Lesotho, and last year he won Portugal’s Extreme XL Lagares.
"Wade is very fast and has got the technical ability," says Bolton. "But nobody is going to guess who’s going to win. There’s so much competition between 11 people and that creates a big fan base."
Other contenders for the title are Billy Bolt, Jonny Walker, Taddy Blazusiak, Mario Roman, Manuel Lettenbichler and Colton Haaker.
Find out more about the sport by watching this Red Bull TV show.