KING OF THE HILL
Motogp O WSB O BSB O Roads O Off-road Experienced Brit wins toughest ever Red Bull Romaniacs Enduro
‘On the last day I just did my best to stay focused’ GRAHAM JARIVS
Graham Jarvis cemented his position as the world’s best extreme enduro rider with an emphatic victory in the fiveday Red Bull Romaniacs event.
Run in the mountains of Romania near Sibu, the event starts with an insane prologue which sees riders go head to head over an array of ever more extreme man-made obstacles set up in the town centre, while thousands of spectators look on.
The prologue dictates the starting order for the opening day of off-road riding which sees competitors tackle terrain that would be difficult to climb, never mind ride a bike up.
Jarvis, a former world championship trials rider, has become the don of extreme enduro due to his incredible ability to excel in the toughest terrain.
Winning his sixth Red Bull Romaniacs, factory Husqvarna rider Jarvis, now aged 42, is seen as the old man of the sport which is filled with ever younger riders eager for his crown.
After his emphatic victory, he said: “It’s an incredible feeling to win Romaniacs for the sixth time. When I started racing the event almost 10 years ago I couldn’t even dream of this. This time it’s been a battle for survival and I was really happy to get to the finish. Day one was pretty tough and it seemed to go on forever. It was difficult to navigate as well. Day two was a bit of an easier one and not so technical. Jonny Walker caught me but after the service point I managed to pull a gap. Overall, it was a good day for me. We
knew day three was going to be tough. There was a lot of pushing before the service point and that was the hardest bit. It was a very long day and the tiredness kept building. On the last day I did my best to stay focused on the track. I was tired – it’s been a huge team effort to get this win.”
Factory Sherco rider Mario Roman from Spain secured a brilliant second in front of Brit Paul Bolton who put in a trademark gutsy ride to round off the podium onboard his Eurotek KTM. Bolton is a privateer competing against an ever increasing number of full factory riders, and his podium came after 10 years racing in the event.
When the going’s too tough
While the 2017 event will go down in history as another Jarvis masterclass, it will also be remembered for the number of top men forced to retire, and injuries that plagued the five-day event.
The highest profile victims of the event were top Brits Jonny Walker and David Knight. Walker, a former Romaniacs winner, was touted as one of the few men capable of taking the fight to Jarvis. The 26-year-old factory KTM rider finished third on the opening off-road day, but injured his hand after crashing on an insane descent on day two and was forced to withdraw.
“I set off and there was a steep climb through the woods but I just couldn’t pull the clutch in because of my injured hand,” he said.
Knight, who has been absent from the big international extreme enduro events due to injury in recent years, made an impressive comeback to finish the first off-road day in sixth. But he was forced out on day two after getting caught up with another rider and damaging his neck and shoulder when he fell down a waterfall. He re-entered the event on day four and secured third on the final day.
“I was riding well on day one and day four and the terrain really suited me,” he said. “But I think the organisers outdid themselves on day two and three by making it too extreme. It was my first Romaniacs and I’ve got a lot to learn. I’d like to go back, but I’d need a lot more time on the bike beforehand because if I do, I want to do it properly.”