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GP AMV of France – Albi March, 18th
HAAKER aiming for SuperEnduro championship glory in France
Defending World Champion Colton HAAKER (USA - Husqvarna) enters the final round of the Maxxis FIM SuperEnduro World Champion with a virtual grasp on 2017 title. But with close rivals Alfredo GOMEZ (E - KTM) and Jonny WALKER (GB - KTM) close behind, everything is still to play for in Albi, France on Saturday March 18.
After three rounds in Krakow (Poland), Riesa (Germany) and especially Bilbao (Spanish Basque Country), the 2017 SuperEnduro World Championship will see its outcome this Saturday inside the Parc des Expositions in Albi for the grand finale.
For the very first time since they took over the reins of the SuperEnduro promotion at the end of 2012, the ABC Communication team decided, in partnership with the Moto Club of the Circuit of Albi, to embark on a complete organisation of a Grand Prix in order to allow this championship to evolve on French soil.
As early as December 2015, Alain and Bastien BLANCHARD (ABC Communication) have decided to try the adventure and had quickly made contact with the President of the Moto Club of the Circuit of Albi, Nicole FUENTES. Things quickly became enthusiastic for the two entities who, helped by a local team composed by Jean-Louis MALRIC, Evrard GUTKIN and Jean-Bernard BARDY with the expertise of Sébastien FORTANIER, quickly set up an attractive and spectacular track for spectators and riders. Above pic: La Dépêche
To ensure the show, ABC Com and the Moto Club have chosen as the framework for this grand finale 2017 the Parc des Expositions of Albi, which can welcome up to 4,000 people on Saturday evening. Close to the road racing circuit of Albi, this hall has for many years been hosting many festive and commercial events.
HAAKER, GOMEZ, WALKER in title decider
The 4,000-seater Parc des Expositions in Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, located less than 80 kilometres from Toulouse, should undoubtedly be occupied in an atmosphere of competitive race action, highlighted by HAAKER, GOMEZ and WALKER battling for the world title.
The Grand Prix AMV Seguros of Euskadi saw the gap between the first three tighten considerably. Colton HAAKER (USA - Husqvarna) is still the point's leader, but he had a lot of difficulties in Bilbao. A catalogue of mistakes saw him drop to third overall on the night. With 11 points in hand over GOMEZ, expect HAAKER to come out swinging to make amend and take victory off his game.
Spain's Alfredo GOMEZ (E - KTM), who was the true hero of Bilbao, is now fired up and ready for battle following his debut overall podium in the sport. Clearly in the form of his life, GOMEZ is determined to go one step better and win his first world title.
WALKER, who has been in the spotlight since the start of the season, raised the bar at the Bizkaia Arena in Bilbao after preparing for two months with the six-time world champion Taddy BLAZUSIAK (PL - KTM). The KTM rider is now only 19 points behind and with 63 up for grabs; he's not to be counted out just yet.
This GP AMV of France promises us three finales of epic proportions in the French city. Can HAAKER reestablish his dominance and lead his rivals home for a second world crown? Will GOMEZ succeed in tearing up the form book and claim an underdog title? Or will WALKER take revenge and the title over his two rivals?
ROMAN, RAUCHENECKER, BROWN and LETTENBICHLER ready to shake things up
The suspense will be at its peak, especially with plenty of riders capable of shaking things up. Spain's Mario ROMAN (Sherco) has been continually knocking on the door of a podium result and sees France as his final chance to do it. SuperEnduro rookie Pascal RAUCHENECKER (AUT - Husqvarna) had a tough run in Bilbao and seeks to make amends.
You will also have to count on the 2016 Junior World Champion Manuel LETTENBICHLER (D - KTM), who is eyeing a place in the final top five, or on US legend Mike BROWN (Husqvarna), back to business after missing the third round in Bilbao and intends to improve on his eight overall.
Eloi SALSENCH (E - Beta), Rannar UUSNA (EST - KTM), David LEONOV (R - Husqvarna), Diogo VIEIRA (P - Beta), Xavi LEON (E - Husqvarna), Jose Maria JUAN BERNABEU (E - Beta), John NYSTRÖM (S - KTM) will all play a factor in the French finale. In addition, the Frenchman Aurélien ADDESSO (Beta) will hope to shine during his Grand Prix so he could crack the top 10 championship.
GUTZEIT eyes up debut world title
In Juniors Blake GUTZEIT (RSA - Yamaha) has a 7 points lead over his closet rival in the provisional classification (FIM doesn't count the four worst results of each riders). As the overall winner in Germany and Spain, GUTZEIT has established himself as the rider to beat in 2017. With one round left to go, he has a virtual grasp on the #1 plate. However Chile's Benjamin HERRERA (TM) showed during round three that nothing is certain and he hasn't given up hope of becoming champion.
While GUTZEIT and HERRERA are certain to settle the title between them, there is a strong contingent of riders able to cause an upset between these two protagonists, starting with David CYPRIAN (CZ - KTM), Gethin HUMPHREYS (GB - Husqvarna), Travis TEASDALE (RSA - KTM), Ignacio FERNANDEZ (E - Husqvarna) and Frenchman Max VIAL (Husqvarna) — who is looking for his first podium in SuperEnduro. Paul BURY (F - Sherco) will push hard for his home fans. With a dozen riders capable of blurring the plans of the favourites, the racing will be fierce.
France come out in force for the European Cup
After the opening round in Poland, the outcome of the European SuperEnduro Cup is also going to be decided this Saturday. Mike HARTMANN (D - Husqvarna) starts as the favourite and is helped in part by the absence of his great rival Tomas HOSTINSKY (SK - Husqvarna). However, Germans Marcel TEUCHER (KTM) and Felix BRAEUR (KTM), who are not far from HARTMANN in the general standings, can snatch victory away from him.
With no less than 10 French riders entered in Europe, the home crowd have a lot to cheer for. Determined to impress on the world stage, Joffrey MARIN (Kawasaki), Loïc PEZZUTTI (Beta), Sébastien BOURNEIX (Kawasaki), Romain CORDIER (Beta), Anthony MARTINEZ (KTM), Julien BESOMBES (KTM), Gabin COLRAT (KTM), Florent ROUZIES (Husqvarna), Thibault MARTEAU (Husqvarna) and Adrien JACON (KTM) will battle for top honours.
With the outcome of the 2017 Maxxis FIM SuperEnduro World Championship still yet to be decided, the 4,000 strong French fans will be in for a real treat. Can HAAKER land his second consecutive world title or will KTM's armada of GOMEZ and WALKER cause an upset to the defending champion? With racing kicking off in Albi on Saturday evening from 20.00, we don't have long to wait.
- Albi (Department of Tarn);