Italy Back On Top

Kit Palmer | November 6, 2000

Team Italy took over the lead from Finland on day three and from there on out never looked back to take the win at the 75th International Six Days Enduro in Granada, Spain, October 31-November 5. It’s the first win for the Italians since 1998.

Finland was going for its third win in a row when, on day three, their Trophy Team lost its second rider of the event because of mechanical problems, effectively putting the squad out of the running. Sweden eventually moved up to second but couldn’t catch the strong Italian team, led by ISDE veteran Giovanni Sala (KTM). Sweden went on to take second overall, finishing some five minutes behind the Italians. Third went to host country Spain, followed by Australia and France.

Team USA was running as high as eighth before dropping back to finish 10th. All of the team’s Trophy riders (Russ Pearson, Destry Abbott, Fred Hoess, Randy Hawkins and Patrick and Brian Garrahan) finished out the event on gold, and all did so without dropping a single route point. The U.S. team was out-ridden in the many special tests, finishing more than 24 minutes behind the winning Italian team.

In the Junior World division, Spain scored the win, followed by Italy and Sweden. After losing two of its riders early on, Team USA finished out the Six Days a distant 15th.

The top individual rider at this year’s Six Days was Australian Stefan Merriman who edged out Finland’s Mika Ahola for top honors. Merriman competed in the 400cc Four-Stroke class on a Husqvarna. The “Top American” was Russ Pearson who finished 44th overall. The Yamaha rider narrowly beat out Destry Abbott for that honor – Abbott finished 45th overall.

The top-finishing U.S. Club team was the Gerrit Hamilton Memorial Team, made up of Jason Dahners, Brian Bennett and Brian Sperle.

Of the 39 American riders that started the event, 10 of them earned gold medals, 14 silvers and seven bronzes.

Of special note, long-time ISDE rider Jeff Fredette finished out the Spanish Six Days with a silver medal, making it 20 ISDE finishes out of 20 starts for “Mr. Six Days.”

Class winners included Finland’s Juha Salminen (125cc) and Mika Ahola (250cc Two-Stroke), and Australia’s Stefan Merriman (400cc Four-Stroke) and Sweden’s Anders Ericksson (500cc Four-Stroke).

Sunday’s final motocross special tests were officially cancelled due to dusty conditions. A few motos were held, but did not count towards the riders’ who rode final score.

Photo shows Italian Giovanni Sala in a transfer section.

Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.