KTM’s Johnny Walker and Chris Birch finish 2-3 in Red Bull Sea to Sky Hard Enduro
The first ever Red Bull Sea to Sky, held in Turkey, wrapped up on Sunday with two KTM riders on the overall podium with bright new KTM star 20 year-old Johnny Walker (UK) in second and KTM’s evergreen Chris Birch (NZ), three time winner of the Roof of Africa, in third. Veteran Graham Jarvis took the eventual overall honors on a Husaberg.
Second overall for the young British talent Walker was all the more remarkable as he completed the challenging day’s ride with a fracture in his shoulder.
The Red Bull Sea to Sky offered riders three distinct challenges starting with the beach race on Saturday morning in Kremer on the Turkish coast. Birch and Johnny Walker, who did so well at the 2011 Red Bull Hare Scramble at the Erzberg Rodeo fought it out in the deep sand but it was Johnny who finished in front of Chris to grab a good starting position for the forest ride in the afternoon. Xavi Galindo and Graham Jarvis finished 3-4. The beach race was designed in MX style with spectacular jumps with high-speed sections over a race distance of 15 minutes plus two laps.
Johnny was first off in the forest race, which immediately followed the beach race on Saturday. Following riders started at 30-second intervals. “I enjoyed being out there in front and loved to focus on my own flow and the track. But Chris showed up and put on the pressure,” he said. Chris commented: “Johnny did a great job setting the pace and leading – and we had fun pushing each other over quite some time. We both enjoyed this unique track profile and the perfect marking of the race!”
The Forest Race offered more demanding terrain over 35 km and 13 check points. Riders started at the beach, went through the city of Kemer then into the forest to attack challenging single trails and riverbeds and a fairly steep downhill over larger rocks. At the end of the day only 40 percent of the starters completed the course. Others could still start in the main event on Sunday, the Olympus Mountain Race, but with a 30-minute penalty. At the end of the forest race Chris had taken the lead in front of Johnny but Jarvis was right behind and looking menacing. This was a real hard Enduro event, and Jarvis proved invincible.
The ride up the mountain saw only a handful of riders succeed and pushed those who did to the limit. Walker took the lead from the start and put up a huge fight, particularly given the fact that he rode with an injured shoulder. But it was Jarvis that took over the lead in the second half of the race, even if the young Brit firmly established himself amongst the Extreme Enduro elite riders.
Chris Birch finished third but had to fend off fierce battles with Galindo, who ultimately finished fourth after Birch passed him just 200 m from the finish. Johnny Walker said he was ‘stoked’ to be on the podium. “I love this race and can’t wait to be back. Even though there was a tree that did not want to move when I was charging for it and I hurt my shoulder,” he said.
Chris Birch: “I am very happy about third place and I really had to wrangle it from Xavi. I was certainly aiming for number one, but am happy for Graham – he really earned it!”
The mountain race took riders to 2,365 m, starting with 8 km of wide, dry riverbed. Riders then entered 40 km of forest trails to above the tree line at about 1700 m. From then on it was only rock surfaces. A cable car later transported both competitors and spectators back down the mountain.
Race One (Beach Race)
1, Johnny Walker, U.K. KTM
2, Chris Birch, N.Z., KTM
3, Xavi Galindo, Spain, Husaberg
4, Graham Jarvis, U.K. Husaberg
5, Andreas Lettenbichler, Germany, Husqvarna
After Race Two (Forest Race)
1, Chris Birch, N.Z., KTM
2, Johnny Walker, KTM
3, Graham Jarvis, U.K., Husaberg
4, Andreas Lettenbichler, Germany, Husqvarna
5, Melcior Faja, Germany, KTM
Overall - After Race Three (Mountain Race)
1, Graham Jarvis, Husaberg
2, Johnny Walker, U.K. KTM
3, Chris Birch, N.Z. KTM
4, Xavi Galindo, Spain, Husaberg
5, Melcior Faja, Germany, KTM
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