Pascal Rauchenecker has delivered the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team’s best result at the opening round of the FIM EnduroGP World Championship, with the Enduro 2 class rider securing a hard-fought third place result on day one of the GP of Finland. Until recently focused on his participation in the SuperEnduro World Championship, Pascal rode a near faultless opening day to stand alongside Finns Eero Remes and Henric Stigell on the podium.
Delivering one of the best performances from a non-Scandinavian rider in the specialist, winter conditions Pascal remained both fast and consistent throughout the opening day. Posting the third fastest class time on no fewer than seven special tests, the FE 250 mounted rider made a hugely positive start to his second season of enduro competition. On day two Pascal again recorded third place test finishes, wrapping-up the GP of Finland with an eighth-place Enduro 2 class result.
“I’m feeling great on my bike at the moment,” said Rauchenecker. “I finished day one with a very positive third place, which I’m very happy with. Despite a steady start to the day I managed to find a good pace after a few tests and kept pushing until the last test. To start the season with such a good result is very positive. On day two I made a few costly mistakes, which stopped me doing as well as on day one. With a few small crashes during the day I had to settle for eighth in my class. With so many tests on each day and so many hours on the bike this GP was something completely different to what we’re all used to. I’m happy we showed my speed is there to battle for the podium but I’m also looking forward to returning to conditions I’m a little more familiar with.”
Competing as the lone official Husqvarna representative in the EnduroGP class due to team-mate Mathias Bellino’s withdrawal from the event, Christophe Charlier’s first ever EnduroGP saw the former MXGP racer well and truly in at the deep end. Faced with not only getting to grips with a new style of racing, like others he also had to adapt to the winter conditions.
Making a strong start to the opening day Christophe placed third in class on the day’s fifth test before rounding out his first ever EnduroGP competition with ninth in class. Battling his way through a second tough day the Frenchman again placed ninth in class.
“It was a tough weekend for all but overall I’m happy with how everything worked out,” Charlier said. “To be honest, I was really looking forward to my first EnduroGP, but with conditions being so difficult I did the best I could for two solid finishes. We knew conditions would be difficult so we were very well prepared with the team. I started day one very strong, putting in times inside the top five in the EnduroGP class. At the end of the day, I got ninth and then ninth again on day two. The level of competition in the world championship is really high with all riders pushing hard until the end. We’ve made some good progress during the weekend and I feel that I learned a lot. We take one step at a time and now focus on the following GP in Spain.”
Like many, Danny McCanney opted for a cautious start to the opening day, not wanting to get caught out by the unfamiliar, frozen conditions. Knowing that the two-day event would be both long and hugely demanding he placed inside the top 10 of the Enduro 2 class during the majority of the day’s special tests. Finally feeling comfortable racing on spiked tyres Danny upped his pace to post the fastest Enduro 2 class time in the three closing special tests. Frustratingly, Danny’s participation in the second day was cut short when a simple technical issue put him out of the event.
“Obviously, things didn’t quite go as I hoped they would this GP,” McCanney admitted. “Knowing it was going to be a long race I decided to start day one a bit cautiously. After a steady start, I kept improving my pace and ended up winning the last few tests. It was a good confidence booster. I started day two really strong and was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, I had a small technical issue during the third test. That was the end of my day. We take the positives out of this GP and keep working hard. I’ve got a great feeling on my bike at the moment and I want to keep my speed going into the following round of the series in Spain.”
Injuring himself prior to the GP of Finland, Matthias Bellino was unable to compete in the opening round of the EnduroGP World Championship. Damaging his shoulder during a pre-event training session, Mathias will receive further medical assessment once back home in France.
Demonstrating his speed in the frozen conditions, Husqvarna FE 350 mounted Finn Antti Hellsten came out on top winning the premier EnduroGP class on both days of competition.
Round two of the 2017 EnduroGP series takes place in Puerto Lumbreras, Spain on April 21-23.