The KTM Enduro Factory Team started the eight-round 2006 World Enduro Championship in fine style with team riders David Knight and Samuli Aro claiming top honours in the Enduro 3 and Enduro 2 classes respectively on day one of the season opener. In the Enduro 1 class reigning world champion Ivan Cervantes ended day one in the runner-up spot after two falls on the enduro test dropped him behind Finn Petri Pohjamo.
With conditions in Ostersund, Sweden much warmer than expected the WEC’s first ever winter enduro turned out to be a lot less difficult than the majority of the teams and riders were expecting. With rain falling as the first riders left the start, clear skies and plus five degree temperatures during the day resulted in much of the snow on the enduro and motocross tests melting, leaving unseasonally wet conditions in many places.
In the Enduro 1 class Ivan Cervantes saw his hopes of starting the new season with a win ended when he crashed twice on the enduro test. Very much on the pace before his two spills, the Spaniard nevertheless still posted four class winning special test performances to claim a well deserved runner-up spot. Ivan’s Italian team-mate Alessandro Belometti was also performing well but also suffered bad luck on the enduro test when his chain came off, losing the former motocross rider a considerable amount of time and dropping him down the results. At the end of the day Belometti placed in seventh position.
Samuli Aro was another KTM factory rider who found himself parting company with KTM motorcycle during the day when the ’05 E2 world champion made a mistake on the extreme test. Battling with countryman Mika Ahola Samuli stepped off line on one of several man-made bridges on the extreme test, hit neutral, and slid back to the base of the climb before attacking the slope for a second time – thankfully making it over without another mistake. With the exception of his extreme test slip Samuli posted a solid performance and claimed a well deserved win. Newcomer to the KTM factory team, Frenchman Fabien Planet, rode consistently and finished in sixth position.
Claiming victory in the Enduro 3 class, as well as just managing to squeeze ahead of Samuli Aro in the overall results, Manxman David Knight pulled off what for many was a surprise result in his first ever winter enduro. Having never used spiked tyres in competition before Knighter showed just how quickly he is able to adjust to foreign conditions and placed 22 seconds ahead of KTM Enduro Factory Team team-mate Marko Tarkkala.
David Knight: “I’m well happy with the way things went today – I never thought it would go as well as it did. I started off pretty steadily because I wanted to get used to the conditions before really pushing hard but I felt good right from the start of the day. I put in good times on all three tests during the day but I really enjoyed the enduro test. I made a few mistakes not knowing how hard to push on the ice sections of the tests. I’m over the moon to have beaten the riders from Scandinavia. I did a lot of training during the week before the race but I still didn’t think that I’d be able to win. I’m going to see what the weather is like for tomorrow and not push any harder than I feel comfortable with.