Britain’s Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) has won the 2021 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship at the season-ending 24MX GetzenRodeo in Germany. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider cements his place in history as the sport’s first FIM Hard Enduro World Champion.
Despite giving his all and winning the eighth and final round of the championship, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler ended his season as vice-world champion, while Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young joined them on the championship podium for third overall.
After an incredible inaugural season of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship, it all came down to 24MX GetzenRodeo to decide the sport’s first world champion. The maths were simple. If Manuel Lettenbichler won his home race, Billy had to finish in second place to clinch the title on a tiebreaker.
The two-hour morning GetzenRace offered a taste of what was to come for the afternoon feature GetzenChamp battle. With 60 riders starting to the deafening sound of a cannon, the fight was on to earn one of the top-15 qualifying positions. Bolt and Lettenbichler meant business and after a race-long battle, Lettenbichler just beat Bolt across the line to win.
Heading into the GetzenChamp race, with the Red Bull TV cameras rolling, the history books were waiting to be written following the next 80 minutes and one lap of racing. Lettenbichler was the first rider flagged away, with Bolt hot on his heels, four seconds later. Next came Young, Mario Roman (Sherco), Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna), and Jonny Walker (Beta).
Midway through lap one, Bolt caught and passed Lettenbichler and built a gap of 10 seconds. But then things appeared to unravel for the Brit. A mistake on a technical climb sparked a catalogue of errors and as Bolt dropped down as far as sixth, Lettenbichler took the lead and suddenly looked champion elect. Bolt had to regroup.
Needing a moment to reset, Bolt then got to work and picked the riders off. Up to second by mid-distance, he was back in charge of the championship outcome. However, Roman was in close contention in third and not allowing for any more mistakes from Bolt.
Gradually as the race progressed, the top three broke away from the rest of the field. On the final lap, Bolt had the gap to Lettenbichler down to one minute and was now comfortably ahead of Roman in third. The championship was his to lose and Lettenbichler knew it too.
For Mani, it was a near flawless performance as he crossed the finish line to win the 24MX GetzenRodeo for the third time in succession. However, this time around it wasn’t enough to win the title. Dropping out of the final Red Bull X-Loop, Bolt reached the chequered flag in second and with it became Hard Enduro’s first FIM World Champion.
With the top two championship placings settled, Young held off a late charge from Vision Track Beta’s Jonny Walker to maintain fourth in the race and third overall in the championship. Roman, with a strong ride for third on the day, was unable to leapfrog his teammate in the standings and took fourth overall. Consistent as ever, Walker completed the championship top-five with fifth in Germany.
With the inaugural FIM Hard Enduro World Championship delivered, the wait is now on for the 2022 season, beginning with the Minus 400 in Israel on April 5-7.
Billy Bolt (Husqvarna): “Right now I’m struggling to process what’s just gone on. I’m a whirlwind of emotions. I can’t believe I’m the FIM Hard Enduro World Champion. It’s an incredible feeling. It all boiled down to those last 80 minutes. I struggled like mad at the beginning. I had hurt my finger in the morning race and needed to figure out how to adapt. I made a bunch of mistakes and that was like a tornado or errors. I think I dropped to sixth, but I regrouped and knew I could recover. I settled in and enjoyed the second half of the race, finding new lines and finding a flow. Once I got up to second, I knew the title was back on, so I held my ground and did it!”