Big Alps, tight racing yet again…
Words: Mark Shilton
So for a second race in succession, the race times in the Enduro World Series are up over an hour and less than 5 seconds separates the top 3 men. It’s incredible how tightly matched these riders are over such long distances. Whilst it was Damien Oton who lost out by a handful of seconds in Valloire, he was on the right side of the maths last weekend, taking the win from Francois Bailly-Maitre by a mere 3.1 seconds. Joe Barnes was back in 3rd, losing out on second place to Bailly-Maitre on the final stage by a solitary second.
Translating that into distances and average speeds shows quite how close it was. After 35km of racing, if they were racing head to head, Oton would have pipped Bailly-Maitre by a mere 25.7 metres with Joe Barnes only 8 metres further back, their average speeds within 0.028kph of each other. That’s a gap of only 0.1% of the race length!
|Time||Ave speed (kph / mph)||Time gap||Distance gap||% gap|
|Damien Oton||01:11:38.880||29.343 / 18.233|
|Francois Bailly-Maitre||01:11:42.030||29.322 / 18.219||3.150s||25.7m||0.07%|
|Joe Barnes||01:11:43.040||29.315 / 18.215||4.160s||33.9m||0.10%|
Where it was won (and lost)
Where did Damien Oton find the crucial handful of seconds that put him on top of the podium? Taking a look at the overall placing history we see that Oton grabben the lead from Stage 1 and only briefly surrendered it to Rene Wildhaber on Stage 3. Wildhaber faded on day two to finish in 4th whilst Joe Barnes and Francois Bailly-Maitre jumped above into 2nd and 3rd. Nico Lau also dropped out of contention on day two with punctures and you can see his drop from 4th at the end of the first day to 9th at the finish.
The biggest recoveries came from Martin Maes and Florian Nicolai. They were in 18th and 15th overall after Stage 1 but both worked their way up into the top 10 at 8th and 6th by the finish.
Taking a look at the overall time gaps over the six stages, it’s easy to see that Francois Bailly-Maitre lost a chunk of time on Stage 2 but was closing all the time on Damien Oton but the finish line came just too early for him to reel Oton in. Whilst we can see Wildhaber losing time to Oton on all three stage on day two, Joe Barnes’ Stage 4 win by 10 seconds over Bailly-Maitre and nearly 15 seconds over Oton pulled him up the leaderboard.
The other big gainer on time in the last couple of stages was Jared Graves. From 37 seconds back in 7th place after Stage 4, he clawed back ten seconds in the final two stages to grab the last spot on the podium and retain his lead at the top of the overall standings.
Looking at the individual stage placings, Joe Barnes was the most consistent, with two 6ths, two 4ths, one 5th and a stage win. Both Oton and Bailly-Maitre had one slightly off stage. Bailly-Maitre placing 15th on stage 2 and Oton able to drop to 9th in Stage 5 and still take the win. Martin Maes clearly had a slow start with lots of light colour in the first few stages but the most puzzling row has to be Alexandre Cure. two 12th places, 20th and 35th on Stage 3 & 4 but then 3rd on Stage 2 and 6th on Stage 5 giving him 17th overall. An inconsistent weekend for the young Frenchman!
Still all to play for…
So, four down, three to go and Jared Graves leads Damien Oton by a mere 30 points in the Enduro World Series overall with 1690 to Oton’s 1660. Given how tight the racing has been so far, who’s to say the overall won’t come down to a single slip up or inspired stage and a handful of seconds as the racing moves to North America?