ERZBERG ON A DESERTX? ANTOINE MEO DID!
Taking on the Red Bull ErzbergRodeo and finishing is one thing. Doing it aboard Ducati’s 110hp, 937cc DesertX (and taking a win) is another thing altogether!
Ducati’s DesertX has achieved a historic win in the twin-cylinder category at one of the toughest enduro events in the world, the ErzbergRodeo. So, while the Desmosedici GP and Pecco Bagnaia were dominating MotoGP’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, another Ducati was making short work of the ball-busting course at the infamous Austrian iron ore quarry. The DesertX ridden by Antoine Meo (five-time Enduro World Champion and former European Supercross Champion) took the win in the Erzberg Iron Road Prolog against the likes of Pol Tarres and Matthias Walkner.
The ‘Iron Road Prolog’ is the qualifier for the 1200 or so riders entered in the “Rodeo”, all in the name of whittling the field down for the final event. Divided into two sessions, it is held on an ultra-fast climb (more than 600m of vertical over a 13.5km distance) for single- and twin-cylinder bikes and, thanks to its spectacular nature, it has become one of the most hard-fought and eagerly awaited races of the entire event.
With his double victory in the category reserved for twin-cylinder bikes, Meo’s dominance was undeniable. In Friday’s race, the advantage over his closest rival was no less than 12 seconds, while in the second race, on Saturday, with a track made even more difficult by the passage of so many bikes, the margin rose to 20 seconds; further confirming the potential of the Borgo Panigale twin.
The ‘Mitas Rocket Ride’, a race open to single- and twin-cylinder bikes, saw 277 riders take on the steep and brutal uphill course. The format of the race included two timed practice sessions from which the 48 fastest riders, then went on to challenge each other in heats of six (starting from an MX-style gate), knocking out the last three riders across the line. Antoine Meo rode like he was possessed right from qualifying to make the final 16 out of the 277 entrants. He then managed second in the last-16 round, third in the quarterfinals, and second in the semis. This moved him through to the Superfinal, making him the only rider to do it on a twin-cylinder. And there, the French legend took an epic fourth place overall.
To take on the Iron Giant, both Meo and fellow Ducati rider, Patrick Neisser, made sure the DesertX was modified to enhance its off-road chops. The KYB fork and shock were revised to offer more travel, and as for the tyres, the choice fell upon the Metzeler Six Days Extreme. An added chunk of useable power was added via the Termignoni racing exhaust, and a beefier skidplate was swapped in for more protection – both straight from the Ducati Performance catalogue. And in true Italian style, the Centro Stile design hub of Ducati created a special livery for the DesertX that combined the white, the black and the three reds found on Ducati’s MotoGP and WSBK bikes.
This year’s result at Erzberg sure bodes well for the future of adventure and off-road Ducati models!