Manuel Lettenbichler wins Red Bull Romaniacs 2020

Most of the international races have been canceled in 2020, the entire WESS series was canceled except one event. The vast majority had no hope in international races, regulations and restrictions made it difficult to hold them, in fact seeming “impossible”. And then there was the “crazy” Martin Freinademetz and his team, who don’t know the word “impossible” at all. Even though the original date of the event in July had to be moved to October, they made it happen and wrote the story.

For the participants, the challenges began with the race and its constant changes in regulations, flight availability and international travel. Many quit, stayed home, and waited for better times. But like the organizers, some of these drivers are difficult to keep “indoors.” They did the impossible and made their way from all over the world to Romania. In return, they were treated to an extraordinary event.

It all started with the intervention protocol, health check a week in advance, individual enrollment (by appointment, social distancing), online information sessions for runners, and lots of “social distancing.” Then, instead of the usual prologue, the group of drivers unleashed a time trial that defined the starting order for the first day of Offroad and “made it easy” for the participants in the race mode. The first day Offroad drove the race towards the valley of Olt, with the spectacular conditions of “Golden fall”, 100% grip and magical colors. The day was won by Graham Jarvis (GBR / Husqvarna) and Manuel Lettenbichler (DEU / KTM) hot on his heels; a duel that would continue throughout the event, at MotoCross speed until the last minute.

The second day of Offroad was another example of perfect driving conditions and pleasant weather, but the track already claimed some casualties, especially in the Gold class, where Taddy Balzusiak (POL / GasGas) had to throw in the towel and Billy Bolt (GBR / Husqvarna) lost precious time in an accident.

The great assault on driver motivation, the test to separate the boys from the men, started on the third day of Offroad, when a cold rain greeted the drivers in the morning and the higher altitudes were even covered in snow. Although the morning was a moment of “shock & awe”, both for the riders and the organizers, the latter were forced to change the route to save the largest number of participants from exhaustion. The clouds parted briefly after the start and race day continued without major incident.

The grand final took place in Sibiu on Saturday, after the race took place over 100 km around Sibu and finished on top of a building under construction in the city center.

Graham Jarvis had started the final day 27 seconds ahead of Manuel Lettenbichler, and conditions were exactly to his liking, wet, slippery and deceptive. Unfortunately, he had a rather serious accident in the Cisnadioara area, where he lost precious time and, worse still, the electric start of his motorcycle. That allowed Letti to catch up with him and never leave his side. Effortless driving style and avoiding serious mistakes ensured Letti’s overall victory.

The two’s duel for the top podium position was followed by an equally fierce fight for stage victory on day four. Billy Bolt (GBR / Husqvarna), Alfredo Gómez (ESP / Husqvarna) and Wade Young (ZAF / Sherco) spent most of the day together, convinced they were too far away to claim the title but fighting for third place on the podium. Bolt pushed himself to his best and achieved some of the fastest times at most checkpoints, managing to win the fourth day 45 seconds ahead of Alfredo Gomez and 59 seconds ahead of Wade Young.

As Billy Bolt won the day, the fast pace secured Alfredo Gómez the bottom step of the Gold-class overall podium. And that was not the only joy of the Spanish pilot. Alfredo’s sister, Sandra Gómez (ESP / Husqvarna), struggled during the four days and heavy rains of the fourth day of Offroad, through the unthinkable difficulties of the Gold track – and made it to the finish! That makes her the first woman in Red Bull Romaniacs history to finish the Gold class: Maximum Respect!

Photo Credit: Mihai Stetcu