The GP of Mexico – the ’09 World Enduro Championship’s only non-European event – proved to be a worthy addition to the WEC series as a challenging and enjoyable course, long demanding special tests, and first class organization resulted in all European riders heading home pleased they’d travelled to Valle de Bravo.
Spaniard Oriol Mena became the first rider to be crowned World Champion in ’09 as he wrapped up the Enduro Junior title for Husaberg. Johnny Aubert continued his dominance of the Enduro 2 class aboard his KTM while Antoine Meo guided his Husqvarna to his first ever WEC victory in the Enduro 1 class. In Enduro 3 top honours were shared by Husqvarna’s Seb Guillaume and KTM’s Ivan Cervantes.
Antoine Meo finally achieved in Mexico what he had threatened to do at the last two rounds of the World Enduro Championship series and claimed his first ever WEC victory. Going one better than just topping one of the two days the Husqvarna rider claimed a double E1 class winning result after battling hard against current championship leader Mika Ahola.
While day one went well for Meo, for Ahola things went far from planned. Receiving a 10-second penalty at the beginning of the day when his bike failed to start during the allotted time, he then got stuck on the opening extreme test and had rear brake problems on the motocross test. Despite his problems he finished just 12 seconds behind Meo.
“I had so many problems on day one I was actually really pleased to have finished so close to Antoine,” explained Ahola. “I couldn’t believe that on each lap something happened that meant I couldn’t ride like I wanted. After my problems in the morning I was sixth, so I was pleased to finish second.”
A new name joined Meo and Ahola on the E1-class podium on day one, that of Frenchman Julien Gauthier. Claiming his first ever WEC podium result, the grass covered motocross test clearly suited the Honda rider and he finished ahead of KTM’s Thomas Oldrati and Simone Albergoni.
Day two again saw Meo and Ahola battle one another at the front of the E1 class, with Meo again claiming the top spot on the podium and Ahola’s bike again failing to start in the morning.
“Day two was really hard because I was so tired,” admitted Meo after the race. “I was sick for three days before the event so I had nothing left. Mika pushed so hard during the last lap but I just managed to win. But I am so pleased to have finally claimed my first win, and to have given Husqvarna their first TE 250 WEC victory.” Meo’s winning margin was less than half a second.
Knowing that he had the speed to win, Ahola wasn’t too worried about the 10-second penalty he got when his bike didn’t start. But pushing too hard on the extreme test on lap two the Finn made a few costly mistakes that came the end of the day prevented him from winning.
Again riding well on day two, Gauthier was unable to match his day-one result of third and finished fourth. Simone Albergoni claimed the final podium position on his KTM despite being unable to match the pace of either Meo or Ahola.
For Enduro 2 championship leader Johnny Aubert the GP of Mexico was another one of those perfect weekends in which the KTM-mounted Frenchman could seemingly do no wrong. Despite finding the event physically tough, Johnny’s speed around the long motocross test was unmatchable, and resulted in him winning day one by just over 30 seconds.
Juha SalminenOn day two Aubert extended his winning margin, helped by a fall from his closest rival, Juha Salminen (pictured right). Making few mistakes the defending E2 world champion further extended his points lead and maintains his perfect, unbeaten season.
“It’s been a tough race, but again it’s been a good one for me,” explained Aubert. “Physically it was tough; maybe because of the altitude. The first day was good but after the second lap I was really tired. The second day was better for me. I felt good all day and didn’t make any big mistakes.”
Despite finishing second on both days as he did at his home round of the series BMW rider Juha Salminen was much more competitive in Mexico that he’d been at any of the previous WEC GPs. With improvements made to his bike, Salminen was visibly able to attack with more confidence than at earlier races. And were it not for his day-one crash, he would have pushed Aubert hard all the way to the end of the day.
On day two Salminen wasn’t able to stay as close to Aubert as he had on the first day, but he again finished comfortably ahead of the third placed riders. “Things have definitely improved and I’m able to push harder than before,” Salminen commented. “We still have work to do but things are moving in the right direction.”
TM rider Rodrig Thain joined Aubert and Salminen on the podium on day one having finished ahead of Bartosz Oblucki, who crashed heavily and injured his right thumb. On day two Spaniard Cristobal Guerrero claimed third on his Yamaha.
Ivan Cervantes WECE3
Failing to perform at his best in the slippery, muddy conditions at the GP of Slovakia, Husqvarna’s Seb Guillaume returned to form in Mexico, helped largely by the event’s long, French-like motocross test. Excelling on the 12-minute special stage, Guillaume finished 12 seconds ahead of Ivan Cervantes on lap one and maintained his place at the top of the class eventually winning by 11 seconds.
“I took things easy in the beginning,” Guillaume explained. “Then on the first motocross test I went for it. I won the test and after that I pushed hard but within my limits. After my crash in Finland it’s good to win again.”
Ivan Cervantes pushed Seb hard throughout the day while also fending off Gas Gas rider Christophe Nambotin, who claimed third ahead of Samuli Aro.
On day two it was Cervantes and Nambotin who battled for the E3 win with Nambotin setting the pace early in the day before Cervantes fought back to claim victory and extend his lead at the head of the E3 championship.
“I was 13 seconds behind Nambotin after the second lap on day two,” Cervantes commented. “I pushed hard, crashed in the enduro test, and gave everything on the final lap. I am really pleased to have won because for the championship, it was very important.”
With Nambotin placing as runner-up, Seb Guillaume finished third. And like several riders, reported feeling less than 100 percent on day two.
Oriol Mena (pictured right) did exactly what he needed to do in Mexico to win the ’09 Enduro Junior World Championship topping the class on both days. Close to one-minute ahead of French rider Jeremy Joly on day one Mena was made to work harder on day two but topped the podium for a second time and secured his first WEC title.
Oriol Mena“It’s great to have won the title,” explained Mena. “It’s been a great season and to win my first championship, and to give Husaberg another title, is amazing. The race in Mexico has been really good.”
Spain’s Victory Guerrero joined Mena and Joly on the podium in third on day one. On day two Joly crashed out of the event, whish allowed Guerrero to move into second while Husaberg rider Calle Sjoo claimed his first podium result.
A True World Championship Race…
Despite the not insignificant financial costs of getting riders, bikes and their teams to Valle de Bravo, the GP of Mexico was without question a worthy world championship race. With doubts having surrounded whether the event would run at all, due mainly to the Swine Flu outbreak, the fact that it did is something most riders were pleased about.
“It’s been a really good event,” commented KTM’s Samuli Aro. “Unlike at some races where the course is not so interesting, in Mexico it was interesting and not too hard. The tests were also really good, real world championship tests.”
While no one section of the course was particularly difficult, the event proved to be physically tiring, due in part to the long motocross test and thin air. Ranging from 3000 to close to 6500 feet above sea level, all riders felt the effects of the altitude.
“On day two I was so tired during the first lap,” admitted Enduro 3 class day one winner Seb Guillaume. “The first day was physically tough. It’s been a really great race, and I’m pleased the championship came to Mexico. I hope it returns again.”
In total, 28 European riders competed in Mexico where they were joined by riders from Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and New Zealand.
2009 World Enduro Championship
Grand Prix of Mexico – Day 1
1. Antoine Meo (Husqvarna) 1.17:22.14
2. Mika Ahola (Honda) 1.17:35.11
3. Julien Gauthier (Honda) 1.17:46.83
4. Thomas Oldrati (KTM) 1.18:19.50
5. Simone Albergoni (KTM) 1.18:31.89
6. Eero Remes (KTM) 1.20:40.73
7. Michael Goeters (KTM) 1.33:00.51
8. Jose Rubio (Yamaha) 1.42:21.46
9. Luis Wahn (Yamaha) 1.45:06.96
10. Jose Vivanco (KTM) 1.45:09.63
11. Daniel Vega (KTM) 1.51:30.30
1. Johnny Aubert (KTM) 1.17:25.96
2. Juha Salminen (BMW) 1.17:58.68
3. Rodrig Thain (TM) 1.18:29.14
4. Bartosz Oblucki (Husqvarna) 1.18:59.46
5. Alessandro Belometti (KTM) 1.19:42.20
6. Cristobal Guerrero (Yamaha) 1.20:12.93
7. Homero Diaz (KTM) 1.20:24.94
8. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 1.21:01.49
9. Valtteri Salonen (Husaberg) 1.21:34.29
10. Chris Birch (KTM) 1.22:08.77
11. Erwin Plekkenpol (Honda) 1.25:33.43
12. Anuar Ruiz (Kawasaki) 1.27:01.25
13. Patrick Garrahan (KTM) 1.27:11.60
14. Jaime Garcia (KTM) 1.28:30.58
15. Alejandro Sanchez (BMW) 1.29:05.49
16. Jose Vanzzini (KTM) 1.30:22.46
17. Javier Araya (BMW) 1.31:05.29
18. Klaus Caballeros (KTM) 1.31:32.70
19. Jeff O’Leary (KTM) 1.33:16.82
20. Patrick Reyes (KTM) 1.36:33.19
1. Seb Guillaume (Husqvarna) 1.16:21.57
2. Ivan Cervantes (KTM) 1.16:32.73
3. Christophe Nambotin (Gas Gas) 1.16:46.83
4. Samuli Aro (KTM) 1.17:26.24
5. Fabio Mossini (Honda) 1.18:18.01
6. Nathan Kanney (KTM) 1.20:15.21
7. Bjorne Carlsson (Husaberg) 1.20:29.71
8. Marcus Kehr (KTM) 1.20:41.44
9. Alberto Quijano (KTM) 1.26:26.43
10. Rayner Caballeros (KTM) 1.20:15.29
11. Jarkko Vainio (KTM) 1.35:54.50
12. Oscar Assmar (KTM) 1.41:02.59
1. Oriol Mena (Husaberg) 1.18:07.70
2. Jeremy Joly (Honda) 1.19:04.51
3. Victor Guerrero (Yamaha) 1.19:58.11
4. Mirko Gritti (Beta) 1.19:58.56
5. Calle Sjoo (Husaberg) 1.23:04.49
6. Alonso Arino (Suzuki) 1.24:15.48
7. Jose Garcis (KTM) 1.25:38.96
8. Arturo Arino (Suzuki) 1.26:04.96
9. David Kamo (KTM) 1.27:10.54
10. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 1.29:10.54
11. Lucus Moreno (KTM) 1.30:49.19
12. Lorenzo Santolino (KTM) 1.31:27.48
13. Claudio Gomez (Husqvarna) 1.34:20.49
14. Fabio Lopez (Husqvarna) 1.50:01.14
15. Arlex Acevedo (Husqvarna) 1.52:16.33
2009 World Enduro Championship
Grand Prix of Mexico – Day 2
1. Antoine Meo (Husqvarna) 1.21:05.12
2. Mika Ahola (Honda) 1.21:05.27
3. Simone Albergoni (KTM) 1.23:02.12
4. Julien Gauthier (Honda) 1.23:27.11
5. Thomas Oldrati (KTM) 1.23:33.00
6. Eero Remes (KTM) 1.23:44.69
7. Luis Wahn (Yamaha) 1.38:55.30
8. Jorge Aguilar (KTM) 1.39:23.52
9. Jose Robio (Yamaha) 1.39:25.73
10. Jose Vivanco (KTM) 1.45:41.94
1. Johnny Aubert (KTM) 1.21:29.11
2. Juha Salminen (BMW) 1.22:12.33
3. Cristobal Guerrero (Yamaha) 1.22:58.05
4. Rodrig Thain (TM) 1.23:16.51
5. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 1.23:28.48
6. Valtteri Salonen (Husaberg) 1.24:01.26
7. Alessandro Belometti (KTM) 1.24:03.83
8. Bartosz Oblucki (Husqvarna) 1.25:18.84
9. Homero Diaz (KTM) 1.25:37.59
10. Chris Birch (KTM) 1.28:40.71
11. Erwin Plekkenpol (Honda) 1.28:57.29
12. Mike Hartman (Husaberg) 1.29:33.87
13. Patrick Garrahan (KTM) 1.31:17.57
14. Jaime Garcia (KTM) 1.32:48.20
15. Juan Reyes (KTM) 1.33:34.41
16. Anuar Ruiz (Kawasaki) 1.34:22.58
17. Jose Vanzzini (KTM) 1.35:15.89
18. Javier Araya (BMW) 1.36:34.43
19. Cusi Sanchez (BMW) 1.36:58.61
20. Patrick Reyes (KTM) 1.38:23.88
1. Ivan Cervantes (KTM) 1.20:40.74
2. Christophe Nambotin (Gas Gas) 1.20:59.22
3. Seb Guillaume (Husqvarna) 1.21:34.08
4. Samuli Aro (KTM) 1.21:35.19
5. Fabio Mossini (Honda) 1.22:34.60
6. Nate Kanney (KTM) 1.28:30.11
7. Alberto Quijano (KTM) 1.32:18.12
8. Rayner Caballeros (KTM) 1.37:12.56
9. Jarkko Vainio (KTM) 1.37:37.18
10. Antonio Guillen (KTM) 1.47:48.43
1. Oriol Mena (Husaberg) 1.24:00.94
2. Victor Guerrero (Yamaha) 1.24:22.16
3. Calle Sjoo (Husaberg) 1.26:47.61
4. Jose Garcia (KTM) 1.29:35.48
5. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 1.31:51.19
6. Alonso Arino (Suzuki) 1.32:42.48
7. Arturo Arino (Suzuki) 1.32:49.87
8. Pablo Torre (Suzuki) 1.35:23.73
9. Lucas Moreno (KTM) 1.37:55.08
10. Wilfran de Paz (KTM) 1.46:47.37
11. Fabio Lopez (Husqvarna) 1.47:03.09
12. Gerado Nafarrete (Yamaha) 1.58:58.07