For a lot of motorcycle riders who frequent the twisties of Marilaque, it is very easy to see that most of these guys are fans of MotoGP. For example, a lot of them are wearing Valentino Rossi-inspired helmets, and jackets and even their scooters’ decals are inspired by Rossi’s racing colors.
If there’s MotoGP for tarmac riders, then there’s the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship for those who frequent the less-traveled mountain trails. And for 2022, German rider, Manuel “Mani” Lettenbichler is the king of hard enduro.
Claiming a dominant victory at the eighth and final round of the series – Hixpania Hard Enduro – the 24-year-old German secured the title onboard his KTM 300 EXC.
“I can’t believe it – this feels so good! The pressure was definitely on this morning, I was so nervous before the start,” said Lettenbichler.
In what turned out to be a thrilling climax to the FIM Hard Enduro season, Hixpania Hard Enduro delivered three days of action-packed racing in Spain. The opening prologue held in the heart of Aguilar de Campoo’s medieval town square saw Mani get his title attack off to a strong start by completing the endurocross-style race as runner-up.
Saturday’s Campoo Xtreme challenged riders with a tough extreme cross-country style race held around the town’s reservoir. Taking an early lead, Mani was unstoppable over the difficult terrain and had opened up a 10-minute advantage by the checkered flag. However, with Mani and several of the top-10 finishers receiving speed penalties, the final results saw the win go to FMF KTM’s Trystan Hart with Mani dropping down to second place. Despite the minor setback, Mani had done enough to secure himself pole position for Sunday’s ‘Lost Roads’ finale.
With the final race starting in the infamous cave section, it was Mani who emerged first and set off for the course. Riding at a fast but calculated pace, the young German rider opened up a comfortable gap at the head of the field.
Despite increasing pressure from behind, Mani was able to manage his speed over the rocky terrain and maintain his lead to the finish. Upon reaching the checkered flag, Mani secured his fifth overall victory of the season and with it, the FIM Hard Enduro crown.
The result caps an incredible year for Mani who missed the first round of the championship completely due to an injury. But he took the win in round two – Xross Hard Enduro – before claiming victory at Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, Red Bull Abestone, and Red Bull Outliers in Canada. The title complements Mani’s win in the 2019 WESS Championship but marks his first FIM World Championship title. An impressive achievement for the Red Bull KTM star.
Final Championship Standings (After round 8)
- Manuel Lettenbichler (GER), KTM, 127pts
- Mario Roman (ESP), Sherco, 120pts
- Graham Jarvis (GBR), Husqvarna, 93pts
- Teodor Kabakchiev (BUL), KTM, 72pts
- Alfredo Gomez (ESP), GASGAS, 72pts
- Michael Walkner (AUT), GASGAS, 66pts
- Trystan Hart (CAN), KTM, 63pts
- Billy Bolt (GBR), Husqvarna, 62pts
- David Cyprian (CZE), KTM, 61pts
- Wade Young (RSA), Sherco, 56pts