[KTM]

2022 RED BULL ROMANIACS: 5 DAYS OF HARD!

3 weeks ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Red Bull

The FIM Hard Enduro World Championship readies itself for Round 5 and the iconic Red Bull Romaniacs in Romania from July 26-30. Long regarded as the world’s toughest Hard Enduro Rallye, Red Bull Romaniacs is a staple race for every Hard Enduro fan, and as it gears up for its 19th edition it comes at a pivotal moment in this year’s title chase.

Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt holds the points lead as we enter the second half of the season, but with the defending world champion undergoing surgery for an ongoing wrist injury, his absence from Round 5 means we’re virtually guaranteed to see a change at the top of the standings.

World famous for its reputation as the toughest Hard Enduro Rallye, Red Bull Romaniacs isn’t holding back for its 19th edition. With five days of racing on the cards, competitors from 51 nations will be put through their paces. From the return of the city prologue to four physically demanding days of racing across the Carpathian Mountains, reaching the finish line of this year’s race will be an honourable achievement. Whether it’s the Gold class or entry-level Atom category, there is something to fully test all ability levels.

ROMANIACS’ RACE SCHEDULE

A celebration of all things Hard Enduro, Monday July 25th will see competitors gather in the host city of Sibiu for a street parade. But Tuesday is the day we’ve been waiting over two years for as the legendary city prologue returns. A spectacle in its own right, the street course with its many man-made Hard Enduro elements is a real crowd pleaser.

Dawning bright and early, racing gets underway on Wednesday morning for the first of four Offroad Days. Heading deep into the wild and untapped Carpathian Mountains, there will be no easing into the race with signature sections being thrown at the Gold class competitors hard and fast.

This year will see an overnight stay away from Sibiu at the end of Offroad Day 2, at the Ranca ski resort. This has allowed organisers to access new terrain and of course new challenges. The Valcea region is promising some spectacular riding with elevations of over 2000 metres, which should make for an exciting Offroad Day 3.

Offroad Day 4 will be a welcome sight for the battle-hardened competitors, but as is often the case with Red Bull Romaniacs, it won’t be an easy run to the finish line in Gusterita. With the infamous final hillclimb to contest among other surprises, it is sure to be a fight all the way to the end.

WHO’LL EMERGE FROM RD 5 ATOP THE STANDINGS?

At the top of the world championship standings, we’re set to see a new points leader emerge from Round 5. Billy Bolt will watch Red Bull Romaniacs from the injury bench as he heals up from an ongoing wrist injury. Unable to defend his championship lead, it means the door is fully open for others to capitalise.

With three wins to his credit in 2022, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler is hotly tipped to lead. Despite missing Round 1 due to injury, the German has been on a roll winning Rounds 2, 3, and 4 in fine style and is now second overall in the standings behind Bolt. Lettenbichler has three consecutive Red Bull Romaniacs wins to his credit and if he can make it four next week it will push him to the top of the FIM HEWC standings.

Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman is two points behind Lettenbichler in this year’s championship chase. The Spaniard won Round 1 and has only missed the podium once this year. As someone who enjoys long-distance races like Red Bull Romaniacs, expect the on-form Sherco rider to go for gold.

AG Racing Team 89’s Alfredo Gomez holds fourth overall in the points. The Spaniard is looking strong on his new GASGAS and generally rides well in Romania. No doubt he’s also targeting a podium finish.

Jarvis Racing’s Graham Jarvis is fifth overall but knows next week is his best chance to build on that. With six wins to his credit, there’s no telling what the Hard Enduro legend can achieve in Romania. He’s riding at his best in 2022 and in a race like Red Bull Romaniacs where experience counts, he will be tough to beat.

Riding under the radar so far in 2022, Wade Young (Sherco) hopes to change that entering Romania. Winner of the race in 2018 and runner-up in 2021, keep an eye out for the South African.

Returning to HEWC action in Romania after breaking his wrist earlier in the year, Taddy Blazusiak will be back on his GASGAS at Round 5. The Polish star narrowly missed out on a podium result in 2019 where he finished fourth, so can 2022 be his year?

GASGAS’ Michael Walkner, Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM), David Cyprian (KTM) and Matthew Green (KTM) are four riders to watch for, all of whom have been enjoying great success so far in 2022. All four could have a breakout day and figure highly in the final results. Kabakchiev was third in similar conditions at Round 2 in Serbia and will be pushing hard to finish on the podium once again.

FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Trystan Hart is one more rider who could prove a danger man to the series regulars. The Canadian took a debut podium result at Round 3’s Red Bull Erzbergrodeo and in 2021 finished seventh in his first Red Bull Romaniacs attempt. Just recently crowned the North American Hard Enduro Champion, Hart will be pushing hard to continue making a name for himself on the world stage.

Across all five classes there will be plenty of action. Race winner in 2010, New Zealand’s Chris Birch (KTM) returns to take on the Silver Class. Dakar Rally winner Matthias Walkner makes his Red Bull Romaniacs debut as he attempts the Bronze class on his KTM 450 Rally Factory bike. He won’t be alone in the challenge, as Pol Tarres tries his hand in Bronze on his Yamaha Tenere 700.

Round five of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship takes places at Red Bull Romaniacs from July 26-30.

Stay tuned to Red Bull Motorsport and Red Bull Romaniacs for daily updates and coverage.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (AFTER RD 4 OF 8)

1. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 62pts; 2. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 60pts; 3. Mario Roman (Sherco) 58pts; 4. Alfredo Gomez (GASGAS) 47pts; 5. Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna) 40pts; 6. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 38pts; 7. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 35pts; 8. Wade Young (Sherco) 33pts; 9. David Cyprian (KTM) 31pts; 10. Matthew Green (KTM) 27pts…

JUNIOR STANDINGS (AFTER RD 3 OF 4)

1. Matthew Green (KTM) 60pts; 2. Mitchell Brightmore (Rieju) 49pts; 3. Suff Sella (KTM) 47pts; 4. Kasper Dudzic (GASGAS) 34pts; 5. Robert Crayston (KTM) 24pts…

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