Germany’s Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) has claimed honours at day one of the Red Bull Romaniacs.

After Tuesday’s action-packed Prologue opened round four of the World Enduro Super Series, the 15th edition of the race took riders out into the surrounding Carpathian Mountains of Sibiu, Romania for the first of four demanding days of Enduro riding. After almost 160 kilometres of racing, Lettenbichler took the win over Sherco Factory Racing’s Wade Young (RSA) with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jonny Walker in third.

In the Silver category Austria’s Dieter Rudolf remained the rider to beat taking the win, while Brazil’s Gianino Coscarelli continued his winning form in the Bronze class. The Iron Class saw Spain’s Dani Coufal top the standings on Off Road Day 1.

An early start greeted the competitors from the 53 nations in this year’s Red Bull Romaniacs as riders left the start line before dawn, at 6.30am. With a point-to-point course laid out, the route took them across the mountains to the finish line at the Straja ski resort. Periods of rain throughout the day ensured the already wet and muddy trails offered an early wake up call for competitors across all classes.

Taddy Blazusiak (KTM – POL) had the honour of leading the field out, followed closely by Young and then Prologue winner Billy Bolt (Husqvarna – GB). An early crash from Blazusiak allowed Young to hit the front of the field – a position he would hold throughout the day, eventually crossing the finish line first on the road after almost nine hours of racing.

As the fourth Gold class rider to start, Lettenbichler pushed hard and quickly worked his way past Bolt and Blazusiak, riding on to the wheel tracks of Young. Shadowing him for a large portion of the day, he dropped back nearing the finish line, but still had enough in hand to take the win on corrected time and provisionally move to the top of the classification.

For Walker, a day of costly little mistakes prevented him from challenging Lettenbichler and Young. Riding well, despite the slippery mud, he ended his day third. For Graham Jarvis (Husqvarna – GB) the opening day in the mountains did not go quite to plan. Admitting to running out of energy the 2017 winner salvaged fourth overall.

Off Road Day 2 will see competitors remain in the region of Straja with another 160-kilometre mountain loop starting and finishing at the ski resort.

Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM – GER): “That was a pretty good day. At the beginning I managed to pass Taddy and Jonny and then around checkpoint eight I caught up with Wade. I tried to stick with him but at the end he was just too fast, so I rode my own pace and got to the finish in one piece. I think my time was good for the overall, which is awesome. It’s really, really wet out there and the last part of the day was so muddy. The clay was so slippery — it was hard to get any grip at all. Now I need to focus on tomorrow and hopefully ride another good day.”

Wade Young (Sherco – RSA): “Manni was chasing me down all day but he never got past me. If I made a mistake I could always hear him behind me – he kept me honest all day and kept me pushing. We knew this morning after all the rain it was going to be difficult. It means you end up using so much more energy trying to keep things under control and in a straight line. Going into the first hill was probably the toughest part of the day for me, I hadn’t quite got used to the forest and it was so slippery – I pretty much had to push the whole way up.”

Jonny Walker (KTM – GB): “That wasn’t my best day — the afternoon didn’t go too well. I made a few mistakes and lost some time. However, it’s only day one and I feel good. I did have a few problems as it was really tricky riding in the low cloud and fog. But aside from those issues I’m happy with how things have gone and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I know there’s room to improve.”

Results: World Enduro Super Series, Round 4