|It’s all systems go as the penultimate round of the World Enduro Super Series gets underway at Sweden’s Gotland Grand National. Marking the seventh round of the series, the small island of Gotland welcomed thousands of Enduro riders for the 35th edition of the event.
Race action officially began on Friday, October 26, with a series of morning races for Youth competitors followed by a three-hour afternoon race for Veteran, Hobby, Women and Military riders. In total up to 600 competitors took to the start line on Friday afternoon and battled their way around the 22-kilometre course.
With seven laps complete, Mikael Bjorklund (KTM – SWE) claimed the overall win. Bjorklund set a fast pace from the off, eventually pulling 10 minutes clear of Mats Algotsson (KTM – SWE). Stefan Karlsson (Husqvarna – SWE) completed the top three with six laps to his name.
The battle for the remainder of the top five was tight. Christian Kronna (KTM – SWE) beat Lars Blomberg (Husqvarna – SWE) by eight seconds to grab fourth, while Lars Hult (Beta) shadowed Blomberg across the line for sixth.
At the sharp end of the WESS championship standings, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt looks to maintain his series lead over closest rivals Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER) and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia (ESP).
Expect WESS regulars Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL), Nathan Watson (KTM – GB), Lars Enockl (Gas Gas – AUT), Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna – ESP), Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB), Paul Bolton (KTM – GB) and Rannar Uusna (KTM – EST) to all be in the mix.
Local favourites Kjetil Gundersen (KTM – NOR), Albin Elowson (Husqvarna – SWE), Joakim Ljunggren (KTM – SWE) and Mats Nilsson (Yamaha – SWE) among many others will be hoping to use track knowledge to their advantage to deliver a strong performance.
The Gotland Grand National concludes on Saturday October 27 with a morning race for Classes 4, 5 and 6 followed by a start time of 12.30pm for the three-hour Elite, Senior and Junior race.
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB): “I’m totally blown away by the amount of riders here, it’s unbelievable. Everywhere you look there are Enduro bikes. The track looks cool, nothing majorly technical, but when you put 3000 riders out on track then it gets difficult. We’re at a very crucial stage in the championship now and although I have the points lead I can’t take anything for granted. With so many riders you are really going to have to fight for position, it could be very easy to lose 20 or 30 places with one mistake or crash out there tomorrow.”
Albin Elowson (Husqvarna – SWE): “The Gotland Grand National is such an important race for Swedish Enduro. I’ve raced here many times and won the Junior category but never quite managed to win the big one. Hopefully tomorrow I can make that happen. It’s quite a unique race in terms of the terrain. It’s rocky and slippery, you really have to find your rhythm and ride to that.”
Joakim Ljunggren (KTM – SWE): “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. I’ve actually only ever done this race about four times and never won, so I’d love to finally tick it off my list. I think it’s going to be a fast pace tomorrow. Of course, with so many world class riders here, everyone will be pushing the limits but also the ground seems much drier than previous years. There is rain forecast but at this stage it’s difficult to tell how muddy it will get. Either way I’m excited for it and keen to show my speed in WESS.”
Results – Gotland Grand National – Friday
1. Mikael Bjorklund (KTM – SWE) 7 laps, 3:30:10; 2. Mats Algotsson (KTM – SWE) 3:40:20; 3. Stefan Karlsson (Husqvarna – SWE) 6 laps, 3:05:55; 4. Christain Kronnas (KTM – SWE) 3:07:12; 5. Lars Blomberg (Husqvarna – SWE) 3:07:20; 6. Lars Hult (BETA – SWE) 3:07:22; 7. Jocke Sodergren (Yamaha – SWE) 3:07:53; 8. Matti Petersson (KTM – SWE) 3:08:07; 9. Orjan Brink (KTM – SWE) 3:09:05; 10. Olof Adielsson (Yamaha – SWE) 3:11:10…
Gotland Grand National Event Information
Facebook: Gotland Grand National
Start List & Results: http://gotland-grand-national.r.mikatiming.de/2018/?pid=startlist