Incredibly difficult conditions saw only nine riders make it to the finish of this year’s mighty Iron Mountain, the Erzberg extreme enduro in the heart of the Austrian province of Styria.
And one of those nine riders was expatriate Kiwi Chris Birch, the KTM rider who now calls South Africa his home, coming home in eighth place overall.
Bazusiak (KTM 250 EXC) had to fight hard but overcame the odds and outlasted his competitors and survived the gruelling terrain.
“I’m certainly very happy that I could win again today,” Blazusiak said. “First because it seems like the course is more difficult every year and second because we also had to fight with the weather. I made a few mistakes at Carl’s Diner where I lost a lot of time and gave up the lead to Jarvis when I took a bad line.
“When I finally got out of there I just thought “push, push, push.” Then at the next checkpoint I wondered why I was the first one there,” said Blazusiak.
“From that point on, I just tried to get through without making any mistakes. I really want to thank all of the team for doing such a great job. Naturally I’m here on the bike every year but without my fantastic KTM team, this series of wins just wouldn’t be possible – many thanks! ”
Delivering one of the most impressive performances at this year’s event Husaberg’s Graham Jarvis came agonisingly close to winning. Reaching the finish ahead of all other riders Jarvis found himself out of the results having missed, by a matter of metres, the 16th route check-point.
British Gas Gas rider Dougie Lampkin finished second despite suffering from a serious ankle injury picked up back in May.
With his damaged ankle heavily strapped, Lampkin got a good start off the line and was quick to move into third position behind countryman Jarvis and race leader Blazusiak. Passing through the ‘help zones’ without any real problems the Brit soon found himself at the part of the course where outside assistance was forbidden. Applying his extensive trials skills he navigated the mass of near vertical boulder-fields on board his factory Gas Gas EC 300, continuously pushing for second position.
Despite his best efforts, Lampkin was unable to close the gap on the two front runners, with the Gas Gas runner crossing the line in a provisional third place. An exhausted and slightly disappointed Lampkin was then informed that Jarvis had been disqualified for missing a check point for the second year running, therefore promoting Lampkin into second position.
Lampkin explained. “When I came across the line I was sure that I had finished in third and if I’m honest I was a little disappointed as that was my position last year. When I was told I had actually finished second I couldn’t believe it – Erzberg is both mentally and physically draining, so the second step on the podium feels like a just reward.”
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the event, right from the very start it looked great and to come away with second is a brilliant result, but this was by far the hardest edition of the event that I’ve ridden. My ankle has given me no end of problems recently and I had serious reservations how it would fair in this type of extreme, punishing environment, however I’m pleased it held out.” added the former world trials champion.
“Alpinestars provided me with some specially modified boots, which have helped a lot and to be fair my foot wasn’t really an issue during the race – it’s only now I’ve finished that it has started to really hurt.”
“My bike has been absolutely brilliant all weekend and did all I asked of it. Erzberg is a special event and taking second is a dream come true in my current condition.” Lampkin concluded.
Behind the second-placed Lampkin it was 20-year-old Briton Jonny Walker, a sensational result from a man making his first ever appearance in Erzberg.
Brothers Ben and Dan Hemingway at fourth and sixth meant they also joined the elite group of extreme Endurists.
The world elite extract from the start list of 1500 riders in 2011 was made up of seven nations from three continents and once again showed what an international format this event in Austria now has.
Results – XVII Erzberg Rodeo Hare Scramble
1. Tadeusz Blazusiak (POL/KTM);
2. Dougie Lampkin (GBR/Gas Gas);
3. Jonny Walker (GBR/KTM);
4. Ben Hemingway (GBR/KTM);
5. Xavi Galindo (ESP/Husaberg);
6. Dan Hemingway (GBR/KTM);
7. Taichi Tanaka (JPN/KTM);
8. Chris Birch (NZL/KTM);
9. Lars Enöckl (AUT/KTM)
And here’s some video coverage of the dreaded Erzberg enduro …