Austrian Lars Enöckl claimed a thrilling victory at Red Bull Sea to Sky 2016. The KTM rider was first to scale the Turkish Olympos Mountain with Andreas Lettenbichler and Scott Bouverie joining him on the podium in second and third respectively.
“It feels amazing to get my first Hard Enduro win,” said a delighted Enöckl. “It was such a good day and such a cool race. I’ve felt fast at most of the races this year but until now it just didn’t come together. But today was the day. Today was my day.”
With tension mounting before the start of the winner-takes-all Mountain Race, it was Andreas Lettenbichler who blasted off the line first when the starter’s flag waved at 9am sharp on the Kemer shoreline.
Race favourite Wade Young was quickly on his tail as Enöckl tried to regroup from a slow getaway. But then disaster struck Young when he crashed heavily within two kilometres of the start and was ruled out of contention. Billy Bolt was another to fall by the wayside when a broken chain ground him to a halt in the notorious river canyon section.
With the race getting a major shakeup, Enöckl, Lettenbichler, Bouverie and Manuel Lettenbichler all grouped together as they vied for the race lead. With no one able to clearly break away, the lead changed hands continuously untilEnöckl made his final attack. Pulling away, he got clear of his rivals before the final mountain mile and crossed the finish line almost three minutes ahead to secure his debut Red Bull Hard Enduro win.
“Near the end there was a really gnarly uphill. It was a real killer,” continued Enöckl. “It felt never ending. There was no grip and so many loose rocks. Luckily I knew I had a few minutes in hand on Lettenbichler to make it over the final mountain mile first.
Making a last-minute decision to come out of retirement and race the Sea to Sky, Andreas Lettenbichler proved he’s still as competitive as ever, narrowly beating Bouverie by 14 seconds for the runner-up spot.
“It was an amazing race,” said Lettenbichler. “During the middle of it I got so tired, my body was aching and I had to slow down and settle myself.
“After a while I saw the guys behind catching me, so I had to put every ounce of energy into holding my position of second behind Lars. For me this was a one-off holiday race. I hadn’t raced all year and came out of retirement for it simply because I love racing here. So to be on the podium is fantastic.”
Claiming his debut Hard Enduro podium, South African Bouverie was the surprise package of the Mountain Race. Challenging for top honours throughout, Bouverie rode his way into the top three with third.
“It was anyone’s race to win,” commented Bouverie. “Towards the end Lars broke away and I had a very tough battle with Andreas.
Hampered by stomach cramps Beach Race winner Manuel Lettenbichler was unsure if he’d be able to start the Mountain Race. But gritting his teeth in true Hard Enduro fashion, he battled early on for the race lead before eventually crossing the mountain in fourth. Dwayne Kleyhans completed the top five. The 2016 Red Bull Hard Enduro season concludes with the Roof of Africa in December.