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Walker third in WESS world championship

Briton Jonny Walker took third in the 2019 WESS Enduro World Champion while fellow KTM racer Manuel Lettenbichler was crowned champ at the eighth and final round of the series held at the GetzenRodeo in Germany on 2 November.

New world champ Manuel Lettenbichler

In what turned out to be a thrilling closure to the WESS Enduro World Championship season, the GetzenRodeo tested all riders with one of the toughest courses seen in this year’s series. Beginning with a two-hour qualifier, which decided the 20 riders who would go through to the afternoon’s final, it ended with a brutal 80 minutes plus one lap extreme main race. Lettenbichler’s qualifying win cemented his name in the history books as he secured the WESS title.

For the main race Lettenbichler delivered a winning performance stamping his authority as the newly crowned WESS Enduro World Champion. The German racer was only once challenged for the lead by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing star Taddy Blazusiak, who stormed through the field to finish with a podium third at the event and fourth in the standings. Lettenbichler reached the finish line after completing the gruelling final Red Bull X-Loop visibly exhausted and emotional as celebrations began for his incredible championship winning season.

Walker took third in the series

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jonny Walker finished the event in sixth position aboard his KTM 300 EXC TPI to confirm third place in the overall championship standings following a 2019 series that tested the riders’ abilities across a number of different enduro disciplines. In the quest to highlight the most complete enduro rider, the 2019 WESS Enduro World Championship included famous races such as Trèfle Lozérien, ErzbergRodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble, Red Bull Romaniacs, as well as Hawkstone Park Cross-Country race. In addition to the GetzenRodeo, Lettenbichler won Red Bull Romaniacs whilst taking a number of podium finishes during the season. A pivotal moment for the 21-year-old was perhaps his second-place result at Hawkstone Park aboard his KTM 350 EXC-F, despite his expertise and preference being in the hard enduro discipline.

Manuel Lettenbichler:“I’m over the moon, I can’t describe it. To be honest I nearly cried on the podium. It was such a long, tough race today and it’s been such a long season. To finish the year with a first place in front of my home fans would have been amazing, but to win the championship as well is unbelievable. I’m on top of the world right now. My plan for today in both races was to get away well and try to control the race from the front. I was a little nervous in this morning’s race but thankfully it all went to plan. I was honestly exhausted in this afternoon’s race – I couldn’t have given any more. When Taddy passed me, I knew I had to dig deep and carry on and thankfully I managed to get past him again and make it to the finish. The fans have been amazing too– I hope they enjoyed the race as much as I did.”

Jonny Walker:“It was a really tough race today, I enjoyed it, but I’m a little disappointed not to get second in the championship. I had a good ride this morning, I just stayed consistent and tried to conserve some energy. This afternoon I really tried my best and it wasn’t quite good enough. Nevertheless, if you’d offered me third overall at the start of the year I would have taken it. I have struggled all year in the extreme stuff but I know what I need to work on, and with a good winter to get back to 100 percent the plan is to come back next year and attack right from the start of the season.”

GetzenRodeo presented a huge challenge to all riders, and despite the event being outside of his comfort zone Nathan Watson gave his all. Securing 21st place in the morning’s race was not quite enough for the motocross-turned-enduro rider to qualify for the main event, but the British rider still impressed with his performance on the demanding three-kilometre loop. In what has been an extremely successful WESS season, including a race win and a podium finish, Watson wrapped up his championship in seventh place overall.

Nathan Watson in the tough conditions

Nathan Watson:“It’s been a tough weekend for me, it’s definitely been one of the toughest extreme races on the calendar, so I’m happy to get through it in one piece. With the beach race season already underway I didn’t want to take any big risks and so my plan was to just try to get around safely. Overall, I am happy to finish the WESS season in seventh, it’s not quite the result I got last year, but despite that I’m happy with how I have ridden and I’ve definitely improved in a few areas. The fans here in Germany have been amazing, so thanks to them for their support. It almost feels like you are in the middle of nowhere here, and yet thousands of fans come to watch the event and cheer on every single rider. It’s really made for a great end to the WESS season.”

It was a return to action for last year’s world champ Billy Bolt who missed the majority of the season though injury. He took fourth place.

Billy Bolt at work

Billy Bolt:“I am happy with fourth, but not so happy with my riding to be honest. I made too many little mistakes on the first lap and we’ve got a few little niggles that we have had all season. With such little time on the bike, it’s been tricky to work through some of them. I managed to clear my head though and put in a good second half of the race. I rode steady and concentrated on not hurting myself or my bike and it worked well, so I’m happy. Fourth is good, but it would have been nice to finish off the year on the podium. The plan now is to have a good winter and come back next season at 100 per cent.”

Extreme legend Graham Jarvis, who finished fifth in the championship, said:“It wasn’t a bad day today, I was riding well, but just got a little too tired and wasn’t able to push as hard as I’d have liked. It’s always a really tough, technical race no matter what. The overnight rain might have made things a little harder, but I just wasn’t able to take it to the other guys today. Overall, it’s been a good year for me, especially with a win at Erzbergrodeo. I’ll regroup now over the winter and hopefully come back for more next year.”

WESS Championship Standings (After Round 8 of 8)

1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 6110pts
2. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), Husqvarna, 4884pts
3. Jonny Walker (GBR), KTM, 4810pts
4. Taddy Blazusiak (POL), KTM, 4620pt
5. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna 4450pts
6. Josep Garcia (ESP), KTM, 4165pts
7. Nathan Watson (GBR), KTM, 4136pts
8. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 3560pts
9. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 3415pts
10. Pol Tarres (ESP), Husqvarna, 3130pts