2020 Romaniacs: ‘Mani’ Goes Back-to-Back
Last week, we facetiously pointed out that, with a star-studded line-up of riders aboard the Austrian-made trio of brands (KTM, Husqvarna and GasGas) entered in the 17th running of the Red Bull Romaniacs hard/extreme enduro event, it was hard to see someone other than an Austrian-made machine taking the victory.
Of course, that didn’t stop the likes of Sherco’s Mario Roman and Wade Young from trying (and Young actually led for the event’s earlygoing). But the reigning Romaniacs and WESS champ, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler, was too strong for everyone in the end, winning by two minutes after an intense battle that went all the way to the wire with six-time Romaniacs winner, Graham Jarvis. Here’s an excerpt from the KTM Factory Racing team’s PR about Lettenbichler’s win…
Rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 17th edition of Red Bull Romaniacs included the added challenge of the changeable autumnal weather conditions in the Carpathian Mountains. With the traditional Prologue event on the streets of host city Sibiu cancelled, riders first faced a relatively short, time trial qualification stage to determine the opening day’s start order. Lettenbichler, making his international race debut for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, finished fifth fastest, granting him an advantageous start position for Offroad Day 1.
Dry conditions greeted riders early in the morning for the first full day of offroad racing, but it was obvious right from the off that the organisers had plenty in store for the Gold Class competitors. Named “Vertical Madness” for 2020, the race lived up to its name, delivering technically demanding, steep climbs and with a no-help rule for this year, riders had to fight their way to the top unaided.
Second on day one, Mani finished 41 seconds behind the leader but enjoyed an advantage of over three minutes over the third-placed rider. The top two, Lettenbichler and experienced extreme racer Graham Jarvis, would battle this way for the three remaining days. Victory on day two went to the Red Bull KTM rider, who gapped his main rival by close to three minutes, giving him a two-minute advantage going into the third stage.
With Manuel taking his KTM 300EXC TPI to second on Offroad Day 3, the top two went into the final day separated by just 25 seconds following over 16 hours of racing. With conditions worsening and the already slippery hills made more treacherous following light rain, riders found Offroad Day 4 to be one of the toughest.
Putting in a champion’s performance, Mani did exactly what he needed to do on the final day and kept Jarvis behind him. Successfully completing the last stage of the event as third fastest, Lettenbichler secured the win by close to two-and-a-half minutes. The result gives the 2019 WESS Champion back-to-back victories at Red Bull Romaniacs and confirms the 22-year-old as one of the top riders of the sport.
Manuel Lettenbichler: “I’m over the moon, it really is amazing. It’s been such a tough year for everyone and it’s cool to get another win here at Romaniacs. I started well but couldn’t believe how fast Graham was going – he was riding so good over the whole four days so congratulations to him. We were riding together a lot over the event and that really kept me motivated. I’m stoked to come away with another win. It was hard coming into the race to know how you would fair compared to the other guys as there has been so little racing this year and you don’t know how you are skill or fitness-wise. I’m super happy to take the win!”
RESULTS – 2020 RED BULL ROMANIACS
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 20:27:11
2. Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 20:29:37 +2:26
3. Alfredo Gomez (ESP), Husqvarna, 20:41:20 +14:09
4. Wade Young (RSA), Sherco, 20:41:33 +14:22
5. Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 20:58:29 +31:18
6. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 22:11:39 +1:44:28
7. Michael Walkner (AUT), Husqvarna, 23:15:01 +2:47:50
8. Teodor Kabakchiev (BGR), KTM, 24:57:25 +4:30:14
9. Michele Bosi (ITA), KTM, 29:22:42 +8:55:31
10. Sonny Goggia (ITA), Beta, 30:04:05 +9:36:54