Eight British riders descended on the small town of Gois in central Portugal for the opening rounds of the European Enduro Championship, in the heart of Portuguese Enduro country.
The venue hosted the 1999 ISDE and an excellent 30-mile lap featuring 3 tests per lap was laid out. With the 100 strong entry looking forward to warm dry conditions they couldn’t believe Friday’s constant downpours let alone the hail, thunder and heavy rain of Saturday, turning the course from typical hard packed Iberian Peninsula to rutted Welsh forest!
This year, armed with a 300 two stroke Sherco Jed Etchells proved the top Brit with seventh and fifth in the overall standings and third in Junior E2/3 class on Day One, just over a second off runner- up spot and followed with runner- up on day two behind event winner Czech, Krystof Kouble.
Starting at the back of the entry the Women’s class found the course difficult from the start and none could maintain the times on the route. Nieve Holmes aboard her Sherco, showed great determination that had brought her third place in last year’s championship with a gritty fifth place on Saturday, followed by runner- up berth on Sunday, putting her on the third step of the overall podium. Meanwhile, reigning British Champ Rosie Rowett chose one of the hardest European rounds to make her international debut, with the mud and hills sapping the power of her 125 Husky, she was still putting in top three times on the tests to finish with a brace of seventh places.
Also making his European Enduro debut, indeed his very first two-day Enduro, GasGas mounted Luke Parker finished day one in second place, just 35 seconds behind the experienced Czech Jiri Hadek and followed with fourth on Day Two.
In the highly competitive 125cc class Max Ditchfield posted an impressive 6th
place on day one out of the 25 starters in the class, followed by 8th
on day two while big brother Jack placed 7th
in the 250 Four stroke class.
In the Junior E1 class, Alfie Coles finished 7th
on day one before pulling out on the second day after a heavy crash.
Senior James Jackman put in his usual workman like performance with 4th
places aboard his Yamaha.
All in all, a strong start for the Brits in the series. Roll on round 2 in May, in Slovakia! Malcolm Bates, ACU Delegate