Merriman, Salminen and Cervantes lead the way

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The much anticipated opening round of the 2004 Maxxis FIM World Enduro Championship, the AMV GP of Spain, proved to be a challenging event for riders in all classes as an unusual mix of dust and rain made conditions extremely challenging. And with the event comprising of four laps on day one and three laps on day two, along with three very different and very demanding special tests during each lap, the event will be one that the competitors certainly won’t forget in a hurry.

Enduro 1
UFO Corse Yamaha rider Stefan Merriman leads the way in the E1 class of the ’04 WEC series after finishing with a class win on day one and as runner-up on day two in Spain. Looking like he would finish with a maximum points haul at round one of the eight round series, Merriman made a costly mistake on the enduro test on day two, which allowed Italian rider Simone Albergoni to claim the win by less that one second.
Finishing with two podium places – second on day one and third on day two – Finn Petteri Silvan proved that he and his 125cc KTM certainly won’t be letting four-stroke machines have things all there own way during ’04 after posting two solid performances.
Making it two four-stroke Yamaha’s on the podium on day one, Polish rider Bartosz Oblucki claimed third on day one before dropping to fifth on day two after crashing twice.


Enduro 2
As many expected Finnish KTM rider Juha Salminen dominated the E2 class in Spain with two very impressive rides to lead the class from a mixture of two and four-stroke machinery. Despite riding with an injured thumb, Salminen proved that as expected he is going to be the rider to beat in E2 this season and also walked away from the event second in the Scratch overall classification.
Claiming a surprise second position on both days was home rider Arnau Vilanova aboard his 250cc Honda. Finishing some distance behind Salminen, but ahead of the class’s more established riders, Vilanova made his return to world championship competition a memorable one to claim second in the world championship standings.
Third on day one was the second 450cc four-stroke KTM, that of Italian Alessandro Botturri. Getting his world championship campaign off to a fine start, Botturri dropped to fifth on day one as Peteri Pohjamo claimed the third and final podium spot.


Enduro 3
Crowd favourite Ivan Cervantes aboard his Farioli prepared 525 KTM proved unstoppable in the Enduro 3 class in Puerto Lumbreras where he recorded two convincing E3 class wins. Finishing ahead of many of the sports most competitive riders, Cervantes also claimed a double Scratch win to making it a perfect start to his ’04 season.
With the top three riders in the E3 class being the same on both days in Spain, Finn Samuli Aro finished as the class runner-up with David Knight third. With the podium being dominated by KTM supported riders, Husaberg’s Marko Tarkkala came close to claiming the final podium finish on day two but missed out by just two seconds to place fourth.


Photo (C) Yamaha Racing – Info www.abc-wec.com

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