Merriman, Silvan and Aro the winners in Sweden
The Swedish round of the ’04 Maxxis World Enduro Championship proved to be a difficult one for the concentrated entry of 70 riders as the mix of dry, dusty and extremely bumpy Swedish terrain resulted in the most physically demanding race of the championship so far.
With three special test deciding the weekend’s winners – one extremely long cross-country test and two motocross tests – the Swedish event also featured tight control times, which meant that all but the very fittest riders were glad to see the end of day two. With the event’s course being very similar to the WEC event held in Sweden last year, the rough forest tracks offered no rest for the riders.
In the Enduro 1 class UFO Corse Yamaha rider Stefan Merriman claimed a double class win to further extend his lead at the top of the class. Unable to match the blistering pace of Salminen in the overall Scratch classification, Merriman finished comfortably ahead of team-mate Bartosz Oblucki on day one and ahead of Honda rider Simone Albergoni on day two. Placing third on both days was Finn Petteri Silvan on his KTM. The best placed home rider in the E1 class was TM’s Rickard Larsson who placed fifth on day one and eighth on day two. One of the biggest surprise results was that of Italian Mario Rinaldi who, despite his advancing years, placed fourth and fifth.
In the Enduro 2 class there was no rider able to compete with Juha Salminen as the dominant Finn easily topped both day’s competition. Finishing over one minute ahead of second placed rider Valtteri Salonen on day one, Juha upped his pace on day two to place over one and a half minutes ahead of his fellow countryman once again. For Salonen the Swedish race resulted in a great result as he placed second on both days – by far his best result of the series so far. Placing third on day one, and claiming the best ‘home’ result was Husaberg’s Andreas Toresson. On day two the final podium spot went to Honda rider Paul Edmondson. Having had an ‘off day’ on day one, Edmondson squeezed ahead of Italian Alessandro Botturi, who placed fourth.
Helping to make it a great weekend for the KTM Racing team, Finn Samuli Aro backed up Salminen’s winning E2 ride and topped the competitive Enduro 3 class on both days to move closer to claiming his second world title. Finishing 24 seconds clear on day one, and 25 seconds ahead on day two, Aro was chased home by fellow KTM rider David Knight on both days. With Knight unable to challenge Aro, the Manx rider placed ahead of Husaberg’s Marko Tarkkala on day one and Spaniard Ivan Cervantes on day two, making it yet another all KTM podium. Tarkkala failed to finish day two due to mechanical problems.
Photo (C) D. Agrati – Info www.abc-wec.com