Ljunngren Wins World Indoor Enduro Opener in Italy
Joakim Ljunggren wins Indoor Enduro
Showing once again that he is one of the world’s very best indoor enduro racers Husaberg’s Joakim Ljunggren finished with a 1/3/4/ score card at the opening round of the ’11 IEWC series staged in Genoa, Italy
(also look for American rider Cody Webb in the results)
Despite the fact that he’s spent little more than 20 hours riding and racing on a two-stroke after nine years mounted on four-stroke machinery Joakim Ljunggren has made a hugely encouraging start to the 2011 Indoor Enduro World Championship held in Genoa, Italy. Showing that he and his 300cc Husaberg are going to be a tough act to beat, Joakim ended the night as overall runner-up behind Finland’s Enduro 2 World Champion Mika Ahola and ahead of defending IEWC champion Taddy Blazusiak.
Not 100 per cent sure what to expect from his two-stroke mounted indoor enduro debut, Joakim quickly found the kind of form that saw him perform so well during last year’s IEWC series and topped his qualifying heat comfortably. Then going on to win the opening final of the series the former Enduro Junior World Champion remained both fast and consistent throughout the night to finish third and fourth in the second and third finals to claim a well-deserved overall runner-up results.
“I’m really, really happy,” explained Joakim after the podium celebrations. “The whole night went almost perfectly, from winning my heat race to battling at the front of pretty much all the finals, it’s been great. I didn’t know exactly how well things would go because it was my first indoor race on a two-stroke and all I’ve done is test and train in the forests in Sweden for the last few weeks. But it couldn’t have gone better really.
“I had great times in both of my practice sessions so I was pretty confident that the night would go well. But you never know with indoor racing. In my qualifying heat I was battling with Mika Ahola and managed to pass him to take the win. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the first final and with a good pick of the start I was able to get out of the gate well and quickly past Mika to take the lead. I had a really good run then. It’s so much easier when you have a clear track ahead of you, all you have to think about is your lines, nothing else. I didn’t make any mistakes and took the win, which I was incredibly happy about.”
With fierce competition and numerous riders all looking to claim at least one final win Joakim backed his opening victory up with a fine third place result in the second final before just missing out on another top three result in the night’s final race. “The second and third finals were good but not great,” explained Joakim. “My starts weren’t as good as in the first race, but I felt like I was riding well. In among other riders it was hard to pass, especially as the track was quite fast and flowing. I caught a few riders in both of the last two finals and slowed to their speed. Then I’d get past by another rider and have to fight hard to take my position back. It was really good fun though.
“I’ve not been riding the two-stroke that long. After nine years on four strokes I think I’ve spent about 20 hours on the 300 and I love it. This is a perfect start to the championship and I’m really motivated to stay at the top of the series.”
At the end of the night no fewer than four Husaberg riders scored IEWC points with Britain’s Graham Jarvis fifth behind Ahola, Ljunggren, Blazusiak and Thomas Oldrati. Making his indoor enduro debut for Husaberg Graham put in a solid night of racing to make a great start to the championship. Pleased with his riding, although a little disappointed not to have made better starts, Graham posted a 5/6/5 result.
“I’m pretty happy with the way I rode, although I’d like to have been top three at the end of the night. I didn’t have any major problems, my starts were good, and I felt good throughout the three finals. I just had one fall in the sand, which cost me a few places. Other than that it was a good night, a good start to the championship.
“My two practice sessions were steady. I wasn’t that pleased with my times but it was really close between lots of riders. I didn’t want to push too hard during my qualifying race because it was quite slippery in places and I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I played it safe and finished third to make sure I got into the finals. I got out of the gate well in all of the finals but got boxed out in the first corner each time. I was never too far from the top three but getting mid-pack starts made it tough getting to the front. It wasn’t an ideal track for me because it wasn’t overly technical and was quite quick. There’s room for improvement but generally I’m really pleased with everything.”
Little known Alfredo Gomez, the young Spaniard who finished second in the Trials Junior World Championship this year, showed that he’s not only a fast learner but also a seriously skilled indoor racer as he ended the night sixth overall. Sixth in both the first and third final Gomez’ performances rank as some of the best ever shown by an indoor enduro rookie.
The fourth Husaberg rider to score world championship points in Genova was Xavi Galindo. After a long lay off with injury the experienced Spaniard knew that he would struggle to perform at his best but managed to qualify for the finals and showed that with improved fitness he will soon be back battling for podium results.
“It was a very difficult race for me,” admitted Xavi. “I really enjoyed it but having spent six months recovering from my shoulder injury I just didn’t have the fitness to go the distance. My technique was good, my bike was perfect, I just didn’t have the fitness I needed, which is what I was expecting. My main goal was to qualify for the finals, which I did, and after that just try and get to the end of each race as best as possible. For the first few laps in each race I was ok, but after that I had to slow my speed because I just couldn’t push. It was frustrating but more or less what I was expecting. They changed the start order for the second final, which allowed me to get a great start. I lead the race for two laps and felt good, but then I ran out of power. I have two months before the race in Barcelona, so I’m hoping that I will be able to push hard for better results there.”
Results – 2011 FIM Indoor Enduro Championship, Rnd 1