One hundred and nineteen riders from all over the world came to the small and beautiful Tuscany village of Castelvecchio Pascoli, to compete in the sixth edition of the Hell’s Gate. Husqvarna Monster Energy speedbrain’s Extreme Enduro specialist Andreas “Letti” Lettenbichler secured a solid result in the finals by making three laps. Only British rider Graham Jarvis (Husaberg) ahead of fellow countryman Dougie Lampkin (Gas Gas) made it to the ‘Hell’s Peak’ — the finish line of this grueling Extreme Enduro race.
It was Letti’s first race after having signed with Husqvarna and racing for the new team Husqvarna Monster Energy speedbrain. At the legendary Roof of Africa last November, he had clinched a remarkable third place on the Husqvarna WR300 with very little training on his new ‘weapon of choice’. After three years campaigning the four-stroke BMW G450X, Letti is now continuously making progress in adjusting himself to his new two-stroke machine.
The five qualifying laps started at 7am and were demanding enough to take most of the riders to their physical limits. Letti finished the morning laps in a good sixth place among a strong field of top international riders and in doing so, qualified for the finals, which would consist of another five grueling laps in the Tuscany hills.
Supported by an enthusiastic and primarily Italian crowd, 2009 Red Bull Romaniacs winner Lettenbichler showed a strong performance, even if he crashed hard in the first lap while racing in the top three. He was then able to make three of the five laps in the afternoon finals but, according to the Hell’s Gate rules, was pulled out of the race at the ‘Cascata’ checkpoint, having fallen more than the permitted 30 minutes behind the leading rider.
“The morning session went well and I am really getting used to the bike,” said Letti. “After a long period on the four-stroke I certainly need to adjust my riding to a two-stroke machine. It went well in the special test and the technically demanding sections, but I think that four laps would have been enough — even some top riders looked pretty tired after the qualifying.
“The afternoon was a true challenge for all of us. Graham’s performance was outstanding and even Dougie was 25 minutes behind at the finish. Overall though, I was happy making it into the final five of this race; however, this is the second time in a row that only two riders finished, and the remainder are not even mentioned in the results — regardless of the strong individual performances. I do believe that this race needs a change of regulations to further attract international riders and international spectators in the future. Now we are getting prepared for the ‘Tough One’ in the UK in March and we are using the technical findings we have made in this race to further improve the set-up of the Husqvarna.”
Results: Hell’s Gate 2011 Qualifying
1. Graham Jarvis (Husaberg) 41’31’’15
2. Dougie Lampkin (Gas Gas) 42’27’’89
3. Xavier Galindo Arbones (Husaberg) 43’02’’18
4. Alessandro Botturi (Gas Gas) 43’12’’20
5. Maurizio Guerini (Husqvarna) 43’41’’73
6. Andreas Lettenbichler (Husqvarna) 44’13’’84
1. Graham Jarvis (Husaberg) 5 laps
2. Dougie Lampkin (Gas Gas) 5 laps (+25 Minutes)