High hopes for KTM Enduro Factory Team in Portugal2007-05-05 08:38
Flushed from early season successes, the six-man KTM Enduro Factory Team goes to northern Portugal this weekend confident and ready to race in true KTM style. As far as team boss Fabio Farioli is concerned, the only way to go is up. "I would like to see all of the guys on the podium for this round," the Italian said before the event.
So far, going into the third round, the figures speak for themselves. Juha Salminen has a 100% success rate in the two rounds already held - in Östersund, Sweden and last weekend in Puerto Lumbreras, Spain. This just leaves the 30-year-old Finn with the pressure of keeping up with his perfect score as he goes for his stated season's goal of world champion in the E1 class. Salminen has enjoyed a spectacular return to European racing after two seasons in the USA with the GNCC Series. Behind Salminen in the season's standings is his teammate Alessandro Belometti with 72 points. After two fifth places in the winter races in Sweden, the Italian registered his true intentions last weekend in Spain with a 2-4 result for the two races.
In the E2 class Samuli Aro started with flair in Sweden with a 1-2 but last weekend lost time in a mud hole in race one for an eventual 5-2 result for the weekend. The rocky conditions of Marco de Canaveses should suit Samuli's well-honed Enduro skills but very wet weather has left the circuit heavy with mud. Although the forecast is for better weather, the damage may have already been done and in all probability riders will have to again deal with heavy conditions in parts of the track. Farioli, speaking from Portugal also said that the actual Enduro test is shorter than would best suit Aro, who is presently second in the standings. E2 teammate Fabian Planet, behind Aro at fifth place, will also be looking to further improve on his 4-5 result from Spain.
The E3 big bike class is, after four races, closely contested by the KTM factory duo Marko Tarkkala and Ivan Cervantes, separated by only four points in the standings. While the Finn was triumphant on the snow and ice in Sweden, Cervantes came into his own with a double victory before an adoring crowd of followers at home in Spain last weekend. Presently their closes rival is Bjorne Carlsson of Sweden.
Meanwhile the KTM riders arrived early enough in Portugal to walk the 55 km circuit for a very close inspection. This is a strenuous run-up to the races: a grueling four laps each day where the riders are onboard and fully concentrated for up to seven hours at a time.
The GP of Portugal comes to Marco de Canaveses for the first time, a venue near Porto that is at the heart of the country's motor racing tradition and which has already staged national Enduro championships and rallies. The location is a geographic transition between the Atlantic Ocean and the Sierra do Marao Mountains and the organizers are promising difficult and technically challenging Enduro racing in what will surely be a spectacular weekend of motor sports.
Source: KTM Sportmotorcycles AG
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