Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (2023)

2023 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship
Round One – Xross Hard Enduro Rally

Images by Predrag Vuckovic / Red Bull Content Pool

The toughest Hard Enduro in the Balkans, and the only moto event in Serbia that’s part of a world championship, Xross Hard Enduro Rally 2023 saw riders cover 300km of gruelling terrain over three mountains: Zlatibor, Tara and Mokra Gora to signal the start of the 2023 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship.

Manuel Lettenbichler took the year’s opening victory and 20-championship points ahead of Mario Roman and Teodor Kabakchiev.

Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (1)

In the FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship supported by KLIM, South African Matthew Green secured victory over TTR Squadra Corse’s Mitch Brightmore in second, with Robert Crayston (Baydale D3 KTM) in third.

Here’s the run down, across the prologue and the following three days of full-fledged racing.


The eagerly awaited 2023 FIM Hard Enduro World Championship kicked off with the AKRAPOVIC EnduroCross Prologue in Zlatibor, Serbia.

Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (2)

The Prologue for the the Pro class was a six-minute plus one lap where Bolt grabbed the holeshot and never looked back. The newly crowned FIM SuperEnduro World Champion made light work of the course to race clear to a 38-second margin of victory.

Behind him the battle for the remainder of the podium raged on. Rieju’s Alfredo Gomez claimd second, with FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Trystan Hart eventually holding off defending FIM Hard Enduro World Champion Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) for third.

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Instead of only determining the starting order for the next day of racing, this year’s FIM Hard Enduro World Championship prologue races also award championship points to the top three finishers, handing Bolt the first three-points of the season.

Xross Hard Enduro Day One

Billy Bolt was fast from the off when racing kicked off for Day One, topping the first sector ahead of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler but Letty was in the lead by the second checkpoint and then increased that advantage by nearly two-minutes on the third timed sector before building a huge 13-minute buffer by the end of the day.


Lettenbichler crowned Hard Enduro World Champ in Spain

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Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (6)

Behind Lettenbichler, it was all change after the seventh timed sector. A navigation error by Bolt dropped him out of the running for second and opened the door for Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman to capitalise. Mistake-free for the remainder of the day, Roman was rewarded with a runner-up result for his efforts.

Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (7)

The battle for third was tight between ECONT Bulgaria’s Teodor Kabakchiev, GASGAS’ Michael Walkner, and Jarvis Magpul Racing’s Graham Jarvis. In the end, Kabakchiev edged out Walkner by just 30 seconds following over four hours of timed racing to take third. With Walkner having to settle for fourth on offroad day one, Jarvis completed the top five.

Xross Hard Enduro Day Two

Following a 43-minute penalty for a navigational error on Day One, Billy Bolt was on a mission to make amends on Day Two. Fastest in the first timed sector, Bolt made good time in traffic. Working his way up the leaderboard, he pushed hard after the midday service. Topping the final sector, he took the day win and with it jumped from ninth to third in the overall classification.

Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (8)

Leading the field of riders away this morning, Manuel Lettenbichler was also in a determined mood to try and make it two day wins in a row. The German bettered Bolt on the second timed sector before importantly setting the fastest time in the day’s longest sector as they arrived at service.

Although keeping a strong pace in the latter half of the day, he just missed out to Bolt by six seconds, finishing clear of closest rival Mario Roman (Sherco) by over eight-minutes, Lettenbichler extending his overall lead to 25 minutes with just one day to go.

Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (9)

For Sherco Factory Racing’s Mario Roman it was another consistently strong day at the office as he battled his way through the slippery riverbeds and mountain climbs. The Spaniard set the quickest time on the second timed sector but a mistake towards the end dropped him back from the leading duo, but he still had enough in hand to take third.

While the top three were clear out front, the battle from fourth to sixth was tight with just under three-minutes separating Trystan Hart in fourth, Teodor Kabakchiev in fifth, and Michael Walkner a minute behind in sixth.

Xross Hard Enduro Day Three (Final)

Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) marched clear to the overall victory. The German had racked up a 25-minute lead over Mario Roman (Sherco) in second and barring any mishaps had a comfortable cushion in hand as he looked to take the win.

Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (10)

Mani had no intentions of slowing up and pushed hard from the off to also win the final day of competition to underline his form and confirm him as the Xross Hard Enduro Rally winner for the second year running.

Manuel Lettenbichler – P1

“It’s been an amazing day for me today. I’m pretty stoked! I’m a little overwhelmed but it’s great to get my championship off to a strong start like this. I’m super happy with my riding all weekend – it’s been consistent, and I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Obviously, it’s the best start I could make to this year’s series, but it’s only the first race. We’ve still got a long season ahead, and I’ll just take it all race by race as anything can happen in Hard Enduro, as we often see.”

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For Sherco’s Mario Roman, his tactics for the day were clear. Knowing that catching Mani in the overall classification would be a tall ask, the Spaniard rode to defend his runner-up position. Bunched together with his rivals for the majority of the day, Mario rarely put a foot out of place. Ending his day third, he more importantly finished the race second overall to Lettenbichler.

Behind the top two, the outcome of the final step of the podium was far from decided. After Day Two’s winning ride, Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt had leap frogged from ninth to third and was eager for silverware. However, a string of problems early on ultimately ruined his chances of a top-three result and he dropped off the leaderboard.

Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM), GASGAS’ Michael Walkner and FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Trystan Hart were now all suddenly in the running for third.The Bulgarian Kabakchiev was on a mission. Putting in arguably his best performance of the week, he topped numerous timed sectors to claim second on Offroad Day 3. Beating Hart and Walkner by over five minutes lifted him to third overall.

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Another strong ride for fourth saw Hart take fourth overall, while Walkner, who ended the final day in fifth, completed the top five in the overall classification.

Trystan Hart – P4

“My last day here in Serbia has been a bit up and down – kind of like the whole race actually. I have to take a lot of positives away though, to be fighting for the podium after drowning my bike so early on the first day shows I have the pace to mix it with these guys. The race here has been amazing – the scenery is beautiful here in the mountains, the organizers have done an excellent job, and the course was really well marked. Honestly, it’s been a sick race. Next up is Erzberg and so my sights are set on one of the biggest events on our calendar. Let’s see what we can do.”

Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (13)

Graham Jarvis was sixth, Afredo Gomez seventh, David Cyprian eighth and William Hoare ninth.

Bolt lost a lot of time on the final day, regrouping to finish the day in 22nd and 10th overall in the final classification.

Billy Bolt – P10

“It’s been quite the up and down sort of week for me. Everything started off great by winning the prologue. On day one I was riding really good in the rain. In the afternoon I got my navigation mixed up and unfortunately that led to a 43-minute penalty, which dropped me to ninth. I bounced back to win the following day and got back in podium contention. Sitting third, I felt second was possible and if I could achieve that then I would still tie on points for the championship lead thanks to my prologue victory. However, I ran into some problems and despite the team’s best efforts at the service point I had to ride steady to the finish line. There are a lot of positives to take though. My riding is good, and the bike setup is very nice to ride. We’ve a long season ahead of us and although this week wasn’t meant to be, I know there are better races to come.”

Lettenbichler wins 2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally | MCNews (14)

In the FIM Hard Enduro Junior World Championship round one belonged to Rigo Racing’s Matthew Green. As the defending Junior World Champion, Green couldn’t have asked for a better start to his season. Winning the Juniors he also finished 11th outright.

After leading the Juniors on Offroad Day 1, TTR Squadra Corse’s Mitch Brightmore’s bid for glory came undone on Offroad Day 2. Regrouping, the young British rider bounced back with 13th outright, which was enough to secure him the runner-up result in Juniors ahead of Robert Crayston.

Red Bull Erzbergrodeo next!

The FIM Hard Enduro World Championship continues with round two at Red Bull Erzbergrodeo in Austria on June 8-11.

2023 Xross Hard Enduro Rally – Pro Results

PosRiderTotal TimeGap
1Lettenbichler, Manuel9:49:28,60
2Roman Serrano, Mario10:22:38,10+33:09,50
3Kabakchiev, Teodor10:29:04,12+39:35,52
4Hart, Trystan10:33:04,42+43:35,82
5Walkner, Michael10:36:49,98+47:21,38
6Jarvis, Graham11:10:00,80+1:20:32,20
7Gómez Cantero, Alfredo11:16:53,92+1:27:25,32
8Cyprián, David11:24:27,03+1:34:58,43
9Hoare, William11:29:22,13+1:39:53,53
10Bolt, Billy11:41:41,05+1:52:12,45
11Green, Matthew11:44:06,19+1:54:37,59
12Olszowy, Dominik12:22:29,57+2:33:00,97
13Price, Jack12:43:09,81+2:53:41,21
14Nedvěd, Václav12:57:27,59+3:07:58,99
15Peace, Dan12:58:53,55+3:09:24,95
16Font Torres, Marc13:04:08,19+3:14:39,59
17Brightmore, Mitch13:05:13,58+3:15:44,98
18Swanepoel, Brett13:20:35,77+3:31:07,17
19Crayston, Robert13:27:47,81+3:38:19,21
20Rudolf, Dieter13:57:07,57+4:07:38,97
21Fernández Serra, Marc13:59:03,22+4:09:34,62
22Moorhouse, Richard14:14:19,72+4:24:51,12
23Bähker, Felix14:38:01,92+4:48:33,32
24Hidalgo Garcia, Alexander14:44:05,26+4:54:36,66
25Špindler, Miha14:56:27,47+5:06:58,87
26Young, Wade15:07:10,61+5:17:42,01
27Dudzic, Kacper15:08:59,40+5:19:30,80
28Ivanov, Lubomir16:03:49,12+6:14:20,52
29Geretzky, Lenny16:36:41,72+6:47:13,12
30Novaković, Miloš16:37:30,44+6:48:01,84

2023 FIM Hard Enduro Championship Standings

1Manuel LettenbichlerKTM20
2Mario RomanSherco17
3Teodor KabakchievKTM15
4Trystan HartKTM14
5Alfredo GomezRieju11
5Michael WalknerGASGAS11
7Graham JarvisHusqvarna10
8Billy BoltHusqvarna9
9David CyprianKTM8
10Will HoareGASGAS7

Tags: FIM Hard Enduro World ChampionshipXross Hard Enduro Rally

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