The curtain has just fallen on an intense 2018 season, where the suspense and drama were as high as ever. This final round took place at the Sparbanken Arena in Lidköping, Sweden. Let’s take a look back at the madness that was the 5th and final Grand Prix...
« Rookie of the Year »
This season, the honorary "Rookie of the Year” trophy was disputed between Billy BOLT (GB - Husqvarna) and Cristobal GUERRERO (E - Yamaha)... And in the end it was without doubt that it was attributed to the young Brit. BOLT impressed all SuperEnduro fans and onlookers from the very first Grand Prix, and finished the season by taking his first overall victory, allowing him to snatch the Vice World Champion position by one point ahead of an unfortunate Taddy BLAZUSIAK (PL - KTM)! This augurs well for the rest of BOLT’s career in the discipline, and already makes him a favourite for the title in 2019!
While we may have hoped to see Joakim LJUNGGREN (S) on the track and fighting with the riders in the Prestige category, the Swede caught us all by surprise in the Sparbanken Arena. Indeed, the 2006 & 2007 Junior World Enduro Champion took the role of an expert commentator for the fans present at this final round. "Jocke" was able to share his knowledge and experience with the spectators and provide valuable insight.
On the occasion of this Grand Prix of Sweden, the organiser "Bergman Trading AB" wanted to create an autograph session like no other. So all the riders in the Prestige, Junior, and European categories were lined up along the track with their bikes at the end of the qualifying sessions. This allowed every fan to enjoy meeting the rider of their choice, ask questions, take a look at the motorcycles close up, and have special access to the track. This "Pit Party" lasted about an hour and was very popular with the Swedish fans.
Tough Break for Taddy
This season was not easy for Taddy BLAZUSIAK. After winning his home Grand Prix in Krakow, the "Polish Nightmare" watched Cody WEBB (USA - KTM) take control of the Prestige category in the second GP of the season in Riesa (Germany). Then, the SuperEnduro legend lost a lot of points in Malaga after a big crash in the second race. But in Bilbao he took advantage of WEBB’s woes to bring the gap back to 17 points. Starting the final round with his usual grit and determination BLAZUSIAK had already taken 9 points out of the American at the end of the first race, and we wondered how a shaken WEBB could contain the tenacity of the Pole in the following two races! But in the second race, a mechanical issue (broken rear shock) ended the hopes of the six-time World Champion. Disillusioned and disappointed, Taddy announced that he would aim to take revenge in 2019…
In the Juniors, behind the dominance of title winner Kevin GALLAS (D - Husqvarna), two other young riders proved themselves to be promising contenders...
While we were aware from the start of the season of the skills of Emil JUSZCZAK (PL - KTM), Diego HERRERA (CL - TM) and Ignacio FERNANDEZ (E - KTM). In the end it was Norbert Levente JOSZA (ROU - KTM) and Paul BURY (F - Beta) who took us by surprise and got on the podium at the last GP of the season! Consistent throughout the evening, these two riders have confirmed their place among the 10 best youngsters in the discipline, and JOSZA has brought Romania their first World Enduro podium.
We all expected Eddie KARLSSON (S - Sherco) to be the top local rider, but in the end it was Magnus THOR (Beta) who put in the best performance on the night. The ex-Junior Championship rider (he left the series in 2014) had a solid night, finishing 11th, just one point behind the Top 10. He was even looking for 8th place in the second race … will this make him want to return for the full season in 2019?
APOLLE, European Champion
Alongside the Junior and Prestige season finale, Sweden also saw the final races for the European Cup. And at the end of the two races, the German Tim APOLLE (KTM) succeeded one of his compatriots, Mike HARTMANN (Husqvarna)! APOLLE left no chance for his main title rival, Andris GRINFELDS (LET - KTM). Absent due to injury, the Frenchman Adrien JACON (KTM) still finished third in the category, just ahead of the Poland’s Mariusz STEFANIAK (KTM). A special mention also goes to the young Frenchman Isaac DEVOULX (Husqvarna) who took his first podium in the discipline and snuck into the Top 5 of the Championship!