Coming into the season finale in the Bizkaia Arena, Bilbao, there were three riders all mathematically capable of becoming Maxxis FIM World SuperEnduro Champion. The show lived up to all expectations, and rewarded fans with thrilling drama from start to finish.
And whilst the Prestige category offered us a superb grand finale, the European Cup and the Junior class also provided plenty of action to really top off this Euskadi GP.
California’s Colton HAAKER (USA-Husqvarna) took the 3rd World Champion title of his career, although the factory Husqvarna rider had to wait for the last race until he could grab the title which he felt belonged to him.
The road to the crown was full of pitfalls. From the first race, the American found himself in difficulty, hitting one of the first obstacles on the Basque track. Making mistake after mistake, HAAKER appeared to have crumbled under the pressure. However, he was handed a life line when this first race was red-flagged due to track conditions. Whilst the organisers tried to repair the damage caused by the passage of so many bikes, Colton had time to try and gather his thoughts and calm down. However, in the race one restart he failed to keep up with his compatriot, Cody WEBB (USA-KTM) who seemed unbeatable out of the gate – the factory KTM rider winning ahead of Taddy BLAZUSIAK (POL-KTM) and HAAKER. After this dramatic opening race just 6 points separated HAAKER from WEBB.
The second race was to play a significant role in the outcome of the evening, especially with its traditional ‘reverse grid’ start. Colton HAAKER wasn’t hanging around and he took the lead after 3 laps, he then managed to control the chasing pack for the entire race. Meanwhile, Cody WEBB made a small mistake which saw him lose contact with the Husqvarna rider. With this latest victory HAAKERtook a tiny three point advantage over his biggest rival, WEBB. 3rd in the second race of the night was SuperEnduro showman, Taddy BLAZUSIAK, who was forced to accept that a 7th World SuperEnduro title had now slipped from his grasp. It was going to be between HAAKER and WEBB to fight it out for the 2019 crown.
The final race: Cody Webb gives all, Haaker saved by Gómez
Once again the Maxxis FIM SuperEnduro World Champion was to be decided in the final seconds of the final race, making for a super exciting end to the 2019 season. Cody WEBB was fastest out of the gate, snatching the holeshot from BLAZUSIAK and leading the first laps of the race. HAAKER momentarily lost his concentration and made a small mistake in the rock garden. The Husqvarna rider nevertheless managed to maintain good pace and he focused on the title again. In second position Taddy BLAZUSIAK had a strong race but the Pole couldn’t quite keep up with his KTM teammate, WEBB.
A few corners from the end of the race, with WEBB on course to win his second race of the night, HAAKER made another mistake and lost some positions. WEBB would therefore have enough points to win the 2019 title. But it turned out that Alfredo GOMEZ (ESP-Husqvarna), the teammate of HAAKER, was going to play a considerable role in the outcome of this season. The Spanish rider, playing to team orders allowed Colton HAAKER to finish third in the final and helped him to snatch the Maxxis FIM SuperEnduro World Championship title he had worked hard for all year. GOMEZ was later disqualified for this action, although it was not explicitly against the rules. In a final shocking twist, HAAKER suffered a huge crash over the finish line and lost consciousness, waking up to find his team around him, congratulating him. This somewhat controversial end to the evening does not bring into question the impressive season put together by HAAKER, who has been performing well and riding consistently since the start of the season. Colton HAAKER was therefore crowned 2019 Champion by a small but crucial gap of 4 points in front of WEBB and BLAZUSIAK.
Junior: APOLLE Makes it Count in the Absence of HOARE
Will HOARE (GB-KTM), already crowned in Junior decided to test his pace in the Prestige class for the season finale, learning the trade a little before riding in the top class next year. The British rider therefore left the field open for his opponents to fight for the honorary title of runner-up. In this exciting little duel it was Germany’s Tim APOLLE (GER-KTM) who won the evening and takes 2nd overall behind a flawless HOARE for this 2019 season. David CYPRIAN (CZE-KTM) finished 3rd in the Junior category, which had 3 different winners for the final night of the season: APOLLE, Andris GRINFELD (LVA-KTM) and Enrico RINALDI (ITA-Husqvarna).
European Cup: And the Winner is … Robert SCHARL
The German rider Robert SCHARL (GER-Husqvarna) was the big winner of the European Cup, which was thrilling all season long. It was a tough job but he won the crown ahead of Paul BURY (FRA-Beta) and Tom KNIGHT (GBR-Gas Gas).
What They Said:
Colton HAAKER: “In the last race I gave my all and I had some help from my team-mate too. I started to fall apart a bit with arm pump, but I knew I had to win that second race, or at least finish ahead of Cody. I got a bit too comfortable and made too many mistakes, but I’m here now as the Champion and it feels good.”
Cody WEBB: “I didn’t feel that I had the title until the last lap. Then I started to celebrate it, I thought I had won. But I suddenly saw Alfredo Gomez and I realised what had happened. Colton and I always seem to end up having wild battles until the end of the season and this year has been another good fight. I’ve recently had arm surgery and tonight has been really difficult.”
Taddy BLAZUSIAK: “I’m not the champion but I’m still smiling. This season has been a weird one, probably the strangest I’ve experienced in my life. I’m going to be back next year but I really feel like I have another title in me. I wouldn’t stay that I’ll hope for less bad luck next year… but some more good luck would be nice!”