Husqvarna Enduro Team by CH Racing team riders Juha Salminen and Matti Seistola enjoyed a successful weekend at the fifth round of the Enduro World Championship, the GP of Italy, held in Castiglion Fiorentino, Tuscany.
With expectations high coming into the team’s home GP, Salminen narrowly missed out on a double Enduro 2 class victory but managed to secure a deserved victory on day one before placing second on day two, following a costly mistake on the event’s enduro test. Seistola topped the Enduro 1 standings for much of the opening day’s competition before placing a close second, going on to secure a second runner-up result on day two.
With extremely hot temperatures and dry and dusty terrain the GP of Italy proved to be a highly demanding race. Faced with four laps each day all riders were pushed to their limits, with all special tests becoming extremely rough. Retirements were also high as the heat took its toll on both riders and their machines, but both Salminen and Seistola enjoyed two trouble-free days.
For Salminen the opening day went exactly to plan. Starting with a solid performance on the Friday night super test, Juha quickly got himself and his TE310R up to speed at the start of day one. Taking the lead of the ultra-competitive E2 class the Finn determinedly battled his way through the day, remaining at the head of the class throughout. Enjoying the dry and dusty special tests he ended the day 17 seconds ahead of Spain’s Cristobal Guerrero. In total Juha topped six of the day’s special tests in the E2 class.
Day two saw more impressive riding from Juha. Fifth on the opening motocross tests, wins on the enduro and extreme tests on lap one saw him take the class lead. Remaining out in front while also battling again with Guerrero throughout the second lap, at the end of the third lap a mistake on the enduro test saw Juha lose over half a minute. Dropping to the runner-up position Salminen fought back to win the three remaining special tests but placed second.
“Day one was really good. I was leading most of the day, and feeling really good, but on the last two special tests Antoine Meo managed to get ahead of me,” said Juha Salminen. “I was still pleased with the result because I pushed as hard as I could, and I really gave my all, but he was just a little faster. I had a good first lap on day two but I started to ride a little too aggressively on the enduro and extreme tests. I just wanted to win so badly, but I crashed twice on the extreme test and lost too much time. The last lap was good again, but I’m a little disappointed because I know I was fast enough to win. Anyway, it’s been a great weekend and very positive.”
Once again showing himself and his TE250R to be capable of topping the Enduro 1 class results Matti Seistola came agonizingly close to winning the E1 class at the GP of Italy. Taking the lead following two strong opening laps, Matti started the fourth and final lap as class leader but wasn’t quite able to secure victory. Placing fourth and third on the final two special tests of the day he finished up second in class.
Day two again saw Matti place as runner-up, despite winning three of the day’s special tests and riding extremely well. Trying a little too hard to secure his first win of the season Matti fell on two occasions, preventing him from challenging for victory. Nevertheless Matti’s two runner-up finishes added to Juha’s first and second place results ensured a memorable and successful weekend for the Husqvarna Enduro Team by CH Racing at the EWC GP of Italy.
“The first day went really well – I was fast and competitive from the first special test until the last. I didn’t make any mistakes, and although it was very hot I felt ok all day,” said Matti Seistola. “The time controls started to feel longer and longer as the day went on, but I enjoyed it. The special tests were really good, and I enjoyed them a lot. My bike was great as well. The track got really rough and I was able to keep on pushing all the way to the end, which was great. Day two was as good as day one apart from one mistake that cost me 30 seconds. I was stuck in a bush, facing the wrong direction, but it could have been a lot worse. All in all it was a really good race. There are three races to go so there’s a lot of points still available – we have a lot to fight for.”