It’s amazing enough for the organizers of the Red Bull Romaniacs hard enduro race to pull off such an enormous event despite the ongoing global pandemic. Another feat to celebrate is that of Manuel “Mani” Lettenbichler who took his 2nd and back-to-back championship of one of the toughest enduro races on the planet.
In an event that saw the top two contenders bring the battle for victory right down to the wire, Lettenbichler put in a superb performance on the demanding fourth and final day to secure the overall win by only two minutes ahead of the legendary, Graham Jarvis.
“I’m over the moon, it really is amazing. It’s been such a tough year for everyone and it’s cool to get another win here at Romaniacs,” said Lettenbichler.
Rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 17th edition of Red Bull Romaniacs included the added challenge of the changeable autumnal weather conditions in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. With the traditional Prologue event on the streets of host city Sibiu cancelled, riders first faced a relatively short, time trial qualification stage to determine the opening day’s starting order.
Lettenbichler, making his international race debut for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, finished fifth-fastest, granting him an advantageous start position for Off-Road Day 1.
Battling with Jarvis
Dry conditions greeted riders early in the morning for the first full day of off-road racing, but it was obvious right from the off that the organizers had plenty in store for the Gold Class competitors. Named ‘Vertical Madness’ for 2020, the race lived up to its name, delivering technically demanding, steep climbs. With a no-help rule for this year, riders had to fight their way to the top unaided.
Second on day one, Mani finished 41 seconds behind the leader but enjoyed an advantage of over three minutes over the third-placed rider. The top two, Lettenbichler and experienced extreme racer Graham Jarvis, would battle this way for the three remaining days.
Victory on day two went to the Red Bull KTM rider who gapped his main rival by close to three minutes, giving him a two-minute advantage going into the third stage.
With Manuel taking his KTM 300 EXC TPI to second on Off-Road Day 3, the top two went into the final day separated by just 25 seconds following over 16 hours of racing. With conditions worsening and the already slippery hills made more treacherous following light rain, riders found Off-Road Day 4 to be one of the toughest.
Putting in a champion’s performance, Mani did exactly what he needed to do on the final day and kept Jarvis behind him. Successfully completing the last stage of the event as third-fastest, Lettenbichler secured the win by close to two-and-a-half minutes. The result gives the 2019 WESS Champion back-to-back victories at Red Bull Romaniacs and confirms the 22-year-old as one of the current top riders of the sport.
Results – 2020 Red Bull Romaniacs
- Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 20:27:11
- Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, +2:26
- Alfredo Gomez (ESP), Husqvarna, +14:09
- Wade Young (RSA), Sherco, +14:22
- Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, +31:18
- Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, +1:44:28
- Michael Walkner (AUT), Husqvarna, +2:47:50
- Teodor Kabakchiev (BGR), KTM, +4:30:14
- Michele Bosi (ITA), KTM, +8:55:31
- Sonny Goggia (ITA), Beta, +9:36:54