KTM Enduro Factory Team pumped with confidence
‘We have excellent riders and they can do the job,’ Farioli said before leaving for Borno in Italy’s Lombardy. ‘This is like a home race for us.’ The team, although made up of riders from Finland, Spain, Italy and France, has its headquarters in Italy and enjoys competing before the enthusiastic Italian fans. Since the last round in Portugal the KTM riders, according to Farioli have been ‘training, training, training’ ? all in their various home countries.
So far this season the KTM factory riders have created the impression that they mean business on their machines. At the top of the list is the seemingly invincible Juha Salminen of Finland in the E1 class. He has not put a foot wrong in the three rounds (six races) held so far and boasts a perfect score of 150 points , a clear 42-point lead from his nearest rival Spain’s Cristobal Guerrero. Salminen, who returned from competition in the USA to rejoin the championship circuit this season, now has the pressure of proving just how long he can continue to dominate the class. KTM teammate Alessandro Belometti is currently fourth but rode well in this event last year and will enjoy the support of his home Italian crowd. This weekend could well see him closing the gap on Guerrero and Poland’s Bartosz Oblucki, currently third.
KTM’s E2 defending title holder Samuli Aro will also be out to gain more points to challenge fellow Finn Mika Ahola and Frenchman Jonny Aubert who are in first and second place in the standings. The gap between the first three is just 10 points and Aro particularly enjoys the landscape of the Italian event. He will be looking to make up ground sacrificed in Spain and Portugal and is definitely a podium contender for this weekend’s races. KTM’s young French rider Fabian Planet is not far behind at fifth place but needs two good results this weekend to stay with the leaders.
The competition in the big bikes E3 class is no less exciting. KTM riders Ivan Cervantes of Spain and Marko Tarkkala are neck and neck for the top two places. Cervantes has the edge with a four point margin and will be looking to extend that in Italy. Similarly, his Finnish teammate has his heart set on catching Cervantes and taking the lead ? indicating a very tough battle in the class this weekend.
Organizers have carved out a 48 km track over the rocky terrain of the mountainous area around the small town of Borno, which the riders will circumnavigate three times. They promise a spectacular Cross Test traced out of a large field, a very technical Enduro Test that starts with a stony section, continues into the forest and has a fast final part over gently rolling track. Riders will be tested in the Extreme Test with obstacles like stones and felled trees.
The irrepressible and ever optimistic Farioli, himself an Enduro legend, has predicted that it will be a ‘very tough’ weekend of racing for the riders. ‘But I want all of them to be on the podium,’ he said of his KTM team. ‘Six podiums would be nice, but I would still be happy with five,’ he added with a chuckle.
KTM leads the manufacturers’ points in E1 and E3 and is currently lying third in E2.