[KTM]

Lettenbichler Smokes 2024 HEWC Opener

3 weeks ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: KTM

Anyone who thought they’d found something in the off-season that would trouble KTM’s Manuel Lettenbichler at the opening round of this year’s FIM Hard Enduro World Championship (HEWC) soon found out they’d better think again by the time the opening round of the 2024 HEWC rolled around.

At the first stop of this year’s seven-round series (a new UK-based event called the Valleys Hard Enduro), the reigning HEWC champ simply picked up where he left off in 2023, when he posted a historic perfect season. Teamed up again with his beloved KTM 300EXC two-stroke, “Mani” Lettenbichler didn’t just win the 2024 season opener in the UK; he dominated it – leading for all three 16km laps of the course and taking the chequers more than three minutes clear of his nearest rival!

Manuel Lettenbichler: “That was not an easy race! It was hard and hot out there today. For the first lap, I wished I had a fan for my face as I was sweating so much. The pace was really fast, especially on that first lap, but I knew I had to stay out front in order to control the race. I managed to build a bit of a gap and so from there I was able to just ease off a little and maintain a good, solid rhythm from the front. On the last lap, Teo (Kabakchiev) was pushing really hard and so I had to increase my pace a little – he did a really good job today. At the end I gave it everything just to make sure I had enough of an advantage and to keep things safe, but it all worked out and I was able to come away with the win. I’m super happy to get the season started off like this and can’t wait for Erzberg now.”

Anyone out there willing to offer decent odds against the 26-year-old German winning another HEWC title this year? If so, let us know. Happy to take your money.

PS: The HEWC’s next round is Austria’s infamous Erzbergrodeo, where Mani will be looking to take his third consecutive victory.

Provisional Results – 2024 Valleys Hard Enduro

1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 2:06:57.11
2. Teodor Kabakchiev (BUL), Sherco, 2:09:58.79
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 2:11:15.38
4. Jonny Walker (GBR), Beta, 2:15:18.25
5. Will Hoare (GBR), RIEJU, 2:18:35.60

Provisional standings – FIM Hard Enduro World Championship (after 1 of 7 rounds)

1. Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 23 points
2. Teodor Kabakchiev (BUL), Sherco, 19 pts
3. Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 15 pts
4. Will Hoare (GBR), RIEJU, 13 pts
5. Mitch Brightmore (GBR), Husqvarna, 11 pts

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