Rain continues to make life difficult for riders and support crews alike at the International Six Days Enduro in Finland.
However, the Wellard New Zealand Yamaha team – Mokau’s Adrian Smith (Yamaha YZ250F) and Auckland cousins Karl and Chris Power (both on Yamaha YZ450F bikes) – has slipped back from just over six minutes behind the second-ranked team from Sweden (Team West) to now be roughly 9m adrift.
The Husaberg-Czech team continues to lead the Club Teams’ race, 12m 52s ahead of the Kiwis.
This big annual “Olympic Games of off-road racing” is proving to be another battle of attrition with riders dropping like flies, although the New Zealanders continue to plug away at the front end of their respective bike classes.
Torrential rain, with hail at times, has turned some sections of trail and special tests into bottomless bogs.
With the mud comes overheating bikes, worn out chains, sprockets, wheel bearings and riders. Managing all of these conditions, on top of racing for nearly eight hours a day, is no small task.
It takes an army of supporters who need to mobilise to many different places per day and, once they arrive, be ready for a myriad of bent and broken things on bikes as well as be nutritionists and psychologists to keep tired riders motivated and propel them to the next check point.
While supporters do their job, riders need to dig deep and find inner strength. Their bodies hurt from fatigue or injury and mental energy is always low. They very often need to cope with bikes that can be just as battle scared as them and the ever changing countryside is just another factor.
On day four of the event, the organising committee had cut sections out of the first special test due to impassable terrain; the Wellard Yamaha riders were still in for a tough time. All three are now suffering from the effects of the flu which came with them from New Zealand.
Smith is the latest victim and yesterday was extremely hard for him. This was evident at checkpoints where he just sat motionless for most of the time before remounting his Yamaha and disappearing into the trail. Tyre changing in the last work period was nearly impossible as his body was drained, but knowing it had to be done he pushed through it to complete the job.
Even though nowhere near full strength, Smith still manages to lead the C1 (250cc) class. His lead has however been shaved back to just 34 seconds from Italy’s Maurizio Gerini (Husqvarna).
Karl Power was able to win day four outright in the C2 division and, after another solid performance on day five yesterday, despite several crashes, he has consolidated his position at second outright in the C2 (450cc) class, closing up to now be just 1m 48 seconds behind the class leader, Sweden’s Olle Lothman (KTM).
Chris Power has pushed up one more spot to be 11th outright in the same C2 class, but he is 4m 54s behind the 10th-ranked rider, Michal Rudols (Yamaha), of the Czech Republic.
In the main contest for Senior World Trophy honours, Finland continues to lead from Spain and the United States, followed by Sweden and the Netherlands, with Eero Remes (Finland, KTM) still the top individual outright.
Remes still leads the E1 class, heading a Finnish 1-2-in the class, with Finnish former ISDE champion Juha Salminen (Husqvarna) (pictured above) just 1m 21s behind him and Spain’s Lorenzo Santolino (KTM) in third, another 8m 24s further back.
American Kurt Caselli (KTM) still leads the E2 class while Australian Matthew Phillips (Yamaha) maintains his grip on second spot in the class and Portugal’s Luis Correia (Yamaha) has moved up to third overall.
Finland’s Marko Tarkkala (Husaberg) continues to lead the E3 class, with Spain’s Ivan Cervantes (Gas Gas) just 3m 09s behind.
The battle for Junior World Trophy glory remains unchanged with Team France in front, followed by Team Sweden, Great Britain, the United States and Australia.
The final Motocross day tomorrow will wrap up the competition for 2011.
© Action photos by Artuu Kauranne
© Team NZ photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com