We are go! The FIM Maxxis SuperEnduro World Championship has returned, and in incredible style, at Krakow’s Tauron Arena. Packed with fans and with an electric atmosphere… let’s take a look back at a superb Polish GP.
The Tauron Arena and the Polish organizers "Sportainment" have just entered the SuperEnduro history books by breaking the record for “Most Spectators” with their hugely popular event. A title previously held by Mineirinho (Brazil) and Palau Sant Jordi (Spain) in 2014 where 12,000 spectators were recorded. Indeed, the magnificent arena which holds 13 000 spectators, was sold-out long before Saturday night’s opening round. And when Przemek SZYMANSKI was asked if Taddy BLAZUSIAK (PL - KTM) retirement announcement had played a role, the director of Sportainment refuted: "No! Before he announced his retirement, we had already sold more than 10,000 seats … it had little effect on our sales and the public’s enthusiasm for the event. "
It’s the latest social media trend, straight outta the USA: the Mannequin Challenge! This challenge consists in being filmed whilst carrying out an activity in a group, but keeping perfectly still whilst the camera pans around. And on Saturday night, the SuperEnduro circus succumbed to “peer pressure” and followed suit! For nearly three minutes, 13,000 people “froze”. Some riders like Colton HAAKER (USA - Husqvarna) and Mike HARTMANN (D - Husqvarna) joined in, as well as the Maxxis Hostess and the Cheerleaders... The video will be released soon on our social networks.
Every so often, a new youngster arrives in Juniors and takes everyone by surprise! These include Pawel SZYMKOWSKI (PL - KTM) in 2013, Andreas LINUSSON (S - KTM) in 2014, Manuel LETTENBICHLER (D - KTM) in 2015 and Luis OLIVEIRA (P - Yamaha) last season. Kyle FLANAGAN (Sherco), who made a strong impression in the first round by snatching victory from under Benjamin HERRERA (CL -TM)’S nose in the first race, could be the next “young upstart”. Despite a less successful second race (9th place), he still managed to take 3rd place overall in Poland. Currently third in the Junior championship, he is already a serious contender for the title.
SONIK, The Guest of Honour
At the Krakow Grand Prix, in order to increase the Polish interest in SuperEnduro, the organizers had found a top sponsor and ‘Guest of Honour’ in the form of recent winner of the Dakar Quad class, Rafal SONIK! Very well known in his home country, and throughout the world, the rider from the “World’s Biggest Rally Race" opened the evening with a speech, which was greatly enjoyed by the assembled crowd. He also handed the winner's trophy to Taddy BLAZUSIAK at the end of the night, along with a bottle filled with sand from the Dakar!
Newbies Holding Their Own
There were many new faces on Saturday night for the opening round of the season, both in Prestige and Junior. In Prestige, we take our hats off to Pascal RAUCHENECKER (AUT - Husqvarna) who put up a great fight in his SuperEnduro debut with a qualification for the Super Pole powered by Akrapovic and a encouraging 8th place overall (9/7/13). Estonian Rannar UUSNA (KTM), who was in the Top 10, and Diogo VIEIRA (P - Beta), 11th. In the Juniors, the Frenchman Max VIAL (Husqvarna), who grabbed a good 3rd position in the second race, and finished 7th overall. And Czech David CYPRIAN (KTM - 8th) as well as Bulgarian Teodor KABAKCHIEV (KTM - 9th).
It’s a daunting task to break into SuperEnduro but these riders have succeeded in consistently putting the fight to some of the world’s best and this should boost their confidence for the next round in Germany in early January.
Interestingly there were no Europeans on the Junior podium in Poland! With Benjamin HERRERA (CL - TM), Blake GUTZEIT and Kyle FLANGAN (South Africa) savoring the champagne. The South Africans really impressed, waiting for the return of their convalescing compatriot Wade YOUNG (Sherco). SuperEnduro is now a series with a great mix of “United Nations”... Russia (LEONOV), Latvia (OVCINNIKOVS), Estonia (UUSNA, VALDSTEIN), Hungary (ZSIGOVITS), Chile (the HERRERA brothers), Bulgaria with the promising KABAKCHIEV, and Norway with the youngster MARTINSEN.
Add to that the many Brits, Germans, Poles and Spaniards, plus some Portuguese, French, Italians, Americans, Swedes, Czechs, Slovaks and Austrians and you have a superb span of 21 nations over 65 riders ... very nice diversity!
A Fitting Tribute
What better way to retire from the SuperEnduro scene than at home after a brilliant victory? This was achieved by six-time World Champion Taddy BLAZUSIAK. In order to add even more magic to the evening, a joyous and emotional tribute was paid to him after the final races. First of all by the spectators who cheered him on throughout the evening and who chanted his name during the podium. Then, by many friends and personalities like the president of the PZM (Polish Federation) Andrzej WITKOWSKI, who presented Taddy with jersey emblazoned with number one, as well as Rafal SONIK and his bottle filled with Dakar sand. BLAZUSIAK also received a beautiful golden helmet from Red Bull... little details that made this GP of Poland an unforgettable experience that will remain forever engraved in the history books of the discipline!