Le Touquet Enduropale - Day 3 - The Start
File under Racing France
Author: Mike Werner
Location: Normandy, France
|Le Touquet Enduropale 2007 Photos|
Photos of the Le Touquet Enduropale motorcycle beach enduro are available ! There are some 950 photos available, and can be seen, downloaded and/or purchased.
Click here to access the photo site.
The enduro beach race was scheduled to start at 11:50, but was delayed 5 minutes due to TV scheduling issues. Jonas had moved to the east side of the beach, while I covered the first portion.
At 11:55 everyone was ready. The motorcycle gang had ridden from the Casino (parc fermee) to the beach under police honor escort (that must have been some sight to see 1,000 motorcycles going past on the town).
At 11:56 the start was given....
1,000 two and four stroke motorcycles, from almost any off road motorcycle manufacturer imaginable took off for the 8 kilometer long stretch of loose beach sand.
Despite being 1 kilometer away, the sound level reached enormous proportions, and the ground was vibrating.
Within seconds the motorcycle got closer and closer. If there is a truly impressive sight, this is it !
Already, a few riders started detaching themselves from the rest. This is where the professionals earned their money.
At the 1 kilometer stage, one man was already very much in the lead, Cyril Despres (#1) on his 950 Super Enduro KTM.
The remainder of the motorcycles followed by neck-breaking speeds. Often the sand was either very soft, or water logged, or even both. Notice the thin mist than followed the raging motorcycles.
Minutes and minutes, the steady stream of motorcycles kept going past. There seemed no end to this madness.
Already, after one kilometer, the first few motorcycles stopped. In this case the Belgium E. Braam (#734) on his Kawasaki.
The funny helmet squad was present too (#835 Frenchman T. Salmon on a Husqvarna).
Right in front of me one motorcycle just overheated. Lots of smoke. Frenchman N. Duhamel on his KTM later would continue, after the engine had cooled down.
Some of the contestant were running in groups.
Whilst others were trying hell-bent in reaching the main group.
Then some were riding the race at a real leisure pace, taking in the beach scene. This is Finnish rider S. Beaumont on his Honda 200.
At the other end of the 8 kilometer straight, the first person to arrive and do the "holeshot" was Cyril Despres. The person who accomplishes the "holeshot" gets a money prize. Like last year's holeshot, Despres donated the money to the Fabrizio Meoni foundation.
You can see in the photo how far the runner ups where. Cyril glances over his shoulder to see what his advance is.
Since he was riding a far too heavy motorcycle, he accomplished 2 rounds, waving to the public, and then retired.
A couple of seconds later the first riders appeared. The front runner was one of the favorites, Jean-Claude Mouse (#10) on his KTM. He was the winner of the 2004 event. He was closely followed by D. Hauquier (#4) on a Yamaha 450 and the big favorite, Arnaud Demeester (#6) on his Yamaha 450, winner of last year's event.
They were closely followed by the double digit gang (double digits are the super pro).
The first few riders ran into problems. Here P. Encinas (#36) snares his 950 KTM on one of the barriers.
Quickly they were followed by the rest. Not all could ride the pace set by the pros, resulting in several crashes and stumbles in the first corner.
Rush hour set in....
They kept on coming, thinking that the worst was over. Boy were they ever wrong. The next obstacle was an artificial dune....
Which provoked a massive traffic jam.
Rider after rider had to take the dune slowly through the thick sand.
Already few abandoned all hopes of making it to the finished. This is Frenchman J. Rambout (#296) on his defunct Honda 500.
Others went down fast and furious.
Pros know how to take these dunes properly. #11, Frenchman D. Gibot on his 450 Yamaha shows the way.
and more jumping...
or just riding over the dunes (#545 A. Delespierre on a Honda 250).
Other just stopped on top of the dune to take in the sights (#566 C. Hanot on KTM 400).
Others were not as fortunate. He did get up to continue his race.
Some had to walk the long way back home (#854 N. Daubies without his Yamaha 125).
Since the sand was soft and very deep, many contestants dug in their motorcycles to the axle.
There were two lots for motorcycles that had broken down. Both of them were full at the end of the race.
"Hey... here's my telephone number... call me for a date"
Serious determination to finish the race.
Meanwhile.... and the start of the circuit, people were waiting patiently who was going to come in the lead... it takes some 5 minutes to ride from one side to the other...
While waiting the sweepers and medical staff had their hands full.
The first rider to reach the start/finish line was Timotei Potisek on his Honda 450 (#2 - twice runner-up). He had passed all other riders in the first lap and was riding the race of his life. Zero mistakes...
He was followed several seconds later by Jean-Claude Mousse.
Mousse was followed by favorite Arnaud Demeester.
The race was now one. The riders were to follow the circuit now for three hours. The long beach stretch was no longer used.
The rest of the race will be in the next article.