US cross-country racing legend Russell secured the outright Iron Road Prologue win; Germany’s Lettenbichler claimed an emphatic Red Bull Erzbergrodeo victory overall and Hart became the first ever Canadian to podium at the Iron Giant
In an extended weekend packed with action at the infamous Iron Giant Mountain at Eisenerz, in Austria, KTM enjoyed a vast amount of success at the 2022 edition of the iconic Red Bull Erzbergrodeo.
It was a truly memorable return for riders for the 26th edition of the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, after the pandemic saw the 2020 and 2021 races cancelled.
After hitting the front of the race soon after the start, Lettenbichler maintained his lead right through to the chequered flag, securing his first ever win at the iconic Austrian event.
In addition, his victory marked his second consecutive FIM Hard Enduro World Championship race win of 2022 following victory in Serbia last month, his first international outing of the year after a lengthy lay-off following knee surgery.
First competing at the Erzbergrodeo back in 2014 when he became the event’s youngest finisher, in 2022 Mani Lettenbichler not only topped the podium, but thanks to his father’s victory back in 2015, he also became the first and only rider to have shared race-winning success with his father.
With Lettenbichler junior winning on the all-conquering KTM 300 EXC this year, it marked KTM’s 19th Red Bull Erzbergrodeo victory, the first coming thanks to the efforts of KTM-mounted South African Alfie Cox in 1995.
The iconic Iron Giant also served as the backdrop for the international launch of the new KTM 300 EXC Erzbergrodeo special edition bike, which, in the highly capable hands of eight-time AMA GNCC Champion Russell, topped the time sheets of the qualifying Iron Road Prologue.
Visiting the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo for the first time ever, Kailub gave the new bike an unforgettable debut outing, ahead of Lettenbichler’s history-making main event win.
After a solid qualifying performance that saw him post the fifth fastest time on the Iron Road Prologue, Manuel Lettenbichler safely earned his front-row start for Sunday’s main race. A strong start off the line put Mani second into the first corner and after quickly making his way to the front, the KTM 300 EXC rider began to stretch a lead over the chasing pack.
As the first rider to face each and every section, Lettenbichler had to pick his own way through, creating his own lines through the ultra-technical terrain. Despite the disadvantage, Mani was able to maintain his lead and stay ahead of competition.
Exhausted, Lettenbichler successfully reached the famous finish line in just under three hours, having raced through some of the most gruelling sections seen on the FIM Hard Enduro calendar.
Missing the first round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship due to recovering from surgery to his knee, Mani now has two wins from two starts in this year’s series and now lies third overall, trailing the championship leader by just five points.
“I think this year’s race will definitely go down as one of the hardest editions in history, especially the sections that they changed overnight – none of us really knew what to expect and the organizers certainly delivered,” said Manuel Lettenbichler.
“To take the win means so much to me. After my dad did it in 2015, I always said I wanted to bring another winner’s trophy back to the house and now I have done it! Another one ticked off the bucket list, that’s for sure.”
In only his second Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, FMF KTM Factory Racing team rider Hart unquestionably made his mark on the world of hard enduro with his third-place finish – the first ever Canadian to podium at the Iron Giant and placing as one of only eight finishers in this year’s event.
A tough start saw Hart battle past a number of riders to make his way to third place, but once there he was able to stick to a strong pace through the many tough sections on his way to the finish.
Although Hart isn’t racing the full FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, he will line up for Red Bull Romaniacs, Red Bull TKO, and Red Bull Outliers later this season. The 25-year-old will undoubtedly be looking to mix it with the championship regulars once again.
Trystan Hart (pictured in action, above) said: “I set out to put Canada on the map and I think I managed to do that in style.
“They definitely stepped things up this year, we had walked a lot of the new sections, but as always, they changed them for the race, and some were near impossible.
“We all had a challenge today and I think if things had fallen a little differently, I could have been in contention for the win, but I’m so happy with third place and already looking forward to racing some more rounds of the Hard Enduro series.”
Photo courtesy KTM
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Leading 2022 Red Bull Erzbergrodeo finishers:
1.Manuel Lettenbichler (GER, KTM) – 2:58:51
2.Mario Roman (ESP, Sherco) – 3:02:17
3.Trystan Hart (CAN, KTM) – 3:11:53
4.Billy Bolt (GBR, Husqvarna) – 3:18:25
5.Alfredo Gomez (ESP, Gas Gas) – 3:20:30
6.Michael Walkner (AUT, Gas Gas) – 3:40:32
7.Wade Young (ZAF, Sherco) – 3:55:13
8.Matthew Green (ZAF, KTM) – 3:55:54
Leading Championship Standings (after round three):
1. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 45pts; 2. Mario Roman (Sherco) 43pts; 3. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 40pts; 4. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 37pts; 5. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 35pts; 6. Alfredo Gomez (GASGAS) 33pts; 7. Wade Young (Sherco) 32pts; 8. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 29pts; 9. David Cyprian (KTM) 16pts; 10. Matthew Green (KTM) 16pts.
2022 FIM Hard Enduro World Championships:
Round 1: Minus 400 – Israel, April 5/6/7
Round 2: Xross Hard Enduro Rally – Serbia, May 18/19/20/21
Round 3: Red Bull Erzbergrodeo – Austria, June 16/17/18/19
Round 4: Red Bull Abestone – Italy, July 9/10
Round 5: Red Bull Romaniacs – Romania, July 26/27/28/29/30
Round 6: Red Bull TKO – USA, August 13/14
Round 7: Red Bull Outliers – Canada, August 27/28
Round 8: Hixpania Hard Enduro – Spain, October 7/8/9