Merriman Extends Enduro 1 Lead
By Mark FAttore, MA
Australian Stefan Merriman (Yamaha WR250F) returned to his sublime, front-running best in round three of the Maxxis Enduro World Championship at Matelica in Italy on April 24-25.

The nation’s finest enduro exponent was in a league of his own on the opening day’s Enduro 1 (125cc two-stroke versus 250cc four-stroke) competition, defeating Husqvarna’s Roberto Bazurri by a massive 77 seconds, which was also more than enough to claim the scratch (outright) honours – that battle by a lazy 30 seconds over long-time rival Samuli Aro (KTM).

The victory on Saturday was Merriman’s fourth in Enduro 1 this year, and his first in the scratch class since the final round of last year’s title in Sweden.

“Everything has been really good this weekend. It was a little difficult being the first rider on the course, and on the special tests too, as they favoured the riders at the back of the class as they had clear lines to follow,” said Merriman, who won the 2003 250cc two-stroke title, as well as finishing a close second to Juha Salminen in the scratch title. “Day two was very difficult because the tests were sometimes incredibly slippery and at other times they were really grippy – it was hard to predict how much grip there would be. I had a few crashes, I just pushed a little bit too much, but my biggest mistake was getting stuck on one of the long up hills on the cross-country test.”

With a few errors sneaking into his normally bullet-proof repertoire, Merriman was unable to repeat his opening Enduro 1 ambush on day two, finishing fourth behind four-time world champion Petteri Silvan (KTM), Italian Simone Albergoni (Honda) and the heralded Peter Bergvall (Husqvarna) – the latter returning to something like his best after a listless start to 2004.

Despite the lean day two, Merriman still increased his lead in the Enduro 1 class from 12 to 18pts (138 to 120) after round three, but this time over a new pursuer – Silvan displacing Albergoni (113) out of second. Merriman’s teammate Bartosz Oblucki (107pts) is fourth.

In Enduro 2 (250cc two-stroke versus 450cc four-stroke), Paul Edmondson (Honda), who won the last of his three world titles in 1996, claimed maximum points on both days, and jumped from fourth to first (124pts) in one hit. Edmondson’s bolt up the championship table was helped by the retirement of Salminen (KTM) on day one with electrical gremlins – his first ‘defeat’ of the year. Salminen sits on 122pts, two behind Edmondson (124), while KTM’s Allessandro Botturi (116) maintained his hold on third. Meanwhile, New Zealander Paul Whibley (Honda) climbed from 10th to sixth after his best results of the year – fourth and seventh. Whibely previously won the 500cc and over four-stroke class at the 2002 Australian four-day Enduro.

Enduro 3 (500cc two-stroke versus 650cc four-stroke) is also a tight-knit affair, with just 11pts separating the top three – Aro (135), Spaniard Ivan Cervantes (KTM, 132) and David Knight (KTM, 124). The same troika also holds the top three placings in the scratch title, followed by Salminen and Merriman

Round four of the championship will be held at Thiers, France, on May 8-9.

CURRENT STANDINGS (AFTER ROUND THREE OF EIGHT)
Enduro 1
1 Stefan Merriman Yamaha 138
2 Petteri Silvan KTM 120
3 Simone Albergoni Honda 113
4 Bartosz Oblucki Yamaha 107
5= Roberto Bazurri Husqvarna 82
Richard Larsson TM 82
7 Peter Bergvall Husqvarna 78
8 Helder Rodrigues KTM 76
9 Alessandro Belometti KTM 70
10 Fabien Planet KTM 61
21 Jake Stapleton TM 7

Enduro 2
1 Paul Edmondson Honda 124
2 Juha Salminen KTM 122
3 Allessandro Botturi KTM 116
4 Arnau Vilanova Honda 106
5 Mika Saarenkoski Husqvarna 83
6 Paul Whibley Honda 71
7 Giovanni Sala KTM 69
8 Valtteri Salonen Honda 67
9 Miki Arpa Husqvarna 66
10= Andreas Toresson Husaberg 62
Petri Pohjamo Gas Gas 62

Enduro 3
1 Samuli Aro KTM 135
2 Ivan Cervantes KTM 132
3 David Knight KTM 124
4 Mike Ahola Husaberg 101
5 Anders Eriksson Husqvarna 97
6= Marko Tarkkala Husaberg 83
Bjorne Carlsson Husaberg 83
8 Niklas Gustafsson KTM 71
9 Jani Laaksonen Gas Gas 67
10 Werner Muller KTM 56

Scratch
1 Aro 122
2 Cervantes 116
3 Knight 109
4 Salminen 104
5 Merriman 90
6 Ahola 81
7 Eriksson 80
8 Tarkkala 72
9 Edmondson 63
10 Botturi 56


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Merriman Extends Enduro 1 Lead () 04/26 10:03 PM

The views and opinions expressed in these pages are strictly those of the authors and cannot be taken to represent the views and opinions of Formula Xtreme Promotions Pty Ltd or the Australasian Superbike Company Pty Ltd (Ausco).
26/04/04

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