To no one's surprise, KTM's hard-enduro ace Taddy Blazusiak topped the 2010 Erzberg Rodeo yet again, marking an incredible fourth victory in a row for the Polish rider. Blazusiak tackled the "Iron Giant" in the Austrian Alps, leading BMW's Andreas Lettenbichler and Beta-mounted Dougie Lampkin to the Red Bull Hare Scrambles podium on June 6.
In the heat one of the qualifying Prologue, however, it was a surprise - when Austrian Ossi Reisinger took his Suzuki to a 12-second margin of victory in what was his first time at this event. The 28-year old motocross champion hammered his 450cc four-stroke to top 1795 competitors from 35 nations and five continents, despite mega-sized waterholes from the heavy downpours that preceded the event.
Blazusiak had a rough start in the Prologue, and had to park his KTM due to a flooded carburetor a mere 500 meters after the start of that heat. Despite not having pole position, he still managed to grab the lead at the start of the hare scrambles, only to make a small but costly mistake while weaving his way through one of the technical wooded sections of the course. He dropped off the racing line and was forced to return to the start of the trail before working his way toward the next checkpoint. Taddy slipped back to sixth place in the process and then wasted no time in working his way back into the lead.
"I felt pretty good early on, but then I made a small mistake, which cost me quite a lot of time," Blazusiak recounted. "I hit a tree stump and ended up quite a long way down a hill I'd already ridden up. I arrived at the checkpoint from the wrong side, but they didn't allow me to continue, so I had to go back and come at it the correct way. I dropped from first to about sixth because of that. I chased the riders ahead of me like a maniac from that point. I was riding like I was in an enduro special test - I really gave it everything. I actually worked my way back into the lead quite quickly, and once I was there, I just maintained my lead."
Once back out front, Blazusiak pushed no harder than he needed to and arrived at the finish in a time of 1.45:43 - more than 10 minutes ahead of Lettenbichler. Though it was his fourth win, Blazusiak called it a meaningful one, since he wasn't even sure he was going to make it to Erzberg after incurring a shoulder injury earlier this year.
Lampkin's efforts this time around were far more fortunate than last year's at this event, where the British trials legend was airlifted to a hospital with broken fingers, heat stroke and a concussion. Lampkin piloted his Beta 400 RR to a third-place finish, ahead of fellow Brits Paul Bolton and Ben Hemingway.
Zip-Ty Husqvarna's Cory Graffunder returned for another bid at the Iron Giant, this time finishing sixth. The Canadian EnduroCross rider finished just ahead of Erzberg regular Jade Gutzeit from South Africa, in seventh, and this year's top American, Kurt Caselli, who placed eighth, aboard a factory KTM 300 EXC (XC-W, by American spec) in his first bid at the event.
BMW's Gerhard Forester and South African KTM rider Darryl Curtis rounded out the top 10, and only 15 riders out of more than 500 finish line under the four-hour cut-off time.
Fellow American riders Kyle Redmond - former top American and three-time finisher of the Erzberg Hare Scrambles - and National Trials champion Geoff Aaron both fell just short of finishing the event this year. Hard luck also befell Sherco-mounted Graham Jarvis and KTM's Chris Birch, both of whom finished in the top five last year but did not finish this time around.
2010 Red Bull Hare Scramble Results (top-15 finishers)
1. Taddy Blazusiak Poland (KTM)
2. Andreas Lettenbichler Germany, (BMW)
3. Dougie Lampkin, Britain (Beta)
4. Paul Bolton, Britain (KTM)
5. Ben Hemingway, Britain (KTM)
6. Cory Graffunder, Canada (Husqvarna)
7. Jade Gutzeir, South Africa (Yamaha)
8. Kurt Caselli, USA (KTM)
9. Gerhard Forster, Germany (BMW)
10. Darryl Curtis, South Africa (KTM)
11. Andrew Cripps, Britain (Kawasaki)
12. Lee Simpson, Britain (Gas Gas)
13. Taichi Tanaka, Japan (KTM)
14. Piero Sembenini, Italy (Gas Gas)
15. Andrew Reeves, Ireland (KTM)