Finland On Top at ISDE

| September 13, 2004

At the end of the first days competition at the 79th International Six days Enduro in Kielce, Poland, UFO Corse Yamaha riders Bartosz Oblucki and Stefan Merriman were joined by Finnish KTM rider Samuli Aro as the day’s big winners as the three WEC regulars topped the Enduro 1, Enduro 2 and Enduro 3 classes respectively.

In the Trophy team competition Aro’s class topping performance helped Finland claim an early, and expected, lead in the Trophy team class as they finished the day ahead of Italy with France claiming third. In the Junior Trophy team competition Italy claimed an early lead ahead of Spain and Italy with last years winners France placing seventh.

As feared the weeks of dry weather prior to the start of the event resulted in all competing riders spending much of the day riding through choking dust with the dry terrain ensuring that regular filter changes were the norm’ at all but a few of the days service points. As well as the dust blocking air filters and choking engines on the controls it also caused problems for many riders on the special tests. With little wind to clear the dust, many riders suffered as they caught and were slowed by the dust of the riders ahead of them.

Apart from the dust there were few surprises at the end of day one as the two laps and six special test presented few other challenges.

At the top of the Enduro 1 class Bartosz Oblucki claimed a narrow win of just two and a half seconds ahead of Italian Honda rider Simone Albergoni with British rider Paul Edmondson claiming third. Competing in his ‘home’ event, Bartosz made the most of his team-mate Stefan Merriman’s decision to move ‘up a class’ to the Enduro 2 category helping Poland to place third in the Junior Trophy competition. With Oblucki, Albergoni and Edmondson claiming the top three positions, Yamaha riders Marc Germain (France) and Mario Rinaldi (Italy) claimed fourth and fifth with former Motocross World Champion Pedro Tragter claiming seventh in his first ever ISDE.

At the top of the Enduro 2 class Australian Stefan Merriman placed 40 seconds clear of Finn Juha Salminen after winning all but one of the day’s special tests. With many considering the conditions to be more Australian than European, the size of Merriman’s winning result came as a surprise to many having campaigned a 250cc four-stroke during this year’s WEC events. For E2 class runner-up Juha Salminen day one of the ISDE didn’t start quite as well as the five-time world champion had hoped as he fell early in the day and later suffered with rear brake problems. Placing in a surprise third place was young Finnish rider Valtteri Salonen. Holding second for much of the day the Honda Italy rider placed in a strong third, comfortably ahead of fourth place rider Arnau Vilanova. Finishing as the only non-European rider within the top 10 of the E2 class, U.S. rider Kurt Caselli placed an impressive fifth after finishing last year’s ISDE in Brazil as the States number one rider. At the head of the Enduro 3 class WEC regulars Samuli Aro, Mika Ahola and David Knight claimed the first three positions with Aro placing 14 seconds clear as winner. With Ahola splitting Aro and fellow KTM rider David Knight, Spaniard Ivan Cervantes placed fourth with Bjorne Carlsson fifth. David Knight ran into problems on the second test of the day as his ’05 KTM started to run poorly, a problem that was later traced to a faulty CDI unit. Going on to win the final two special tests of the day Knight sits just 16 seconds behind class leader Aro.

By Freelance