After two weeks of uncertainty due to severe problems with the shoulder Letti decided only two days ahead of the equally legendary and grueling race in the mountains of the Tuscany to race the first Extreme Enduro event of the 2014 season.
The qualifying laps in the morning went surprisingly well, Letti made few mistakes, came in 5th and preserved some energy for the tough part – the main race starting at 15:30 in the afternoon
The organizer had decided to add another lap to the 4 laps originally planned, so the riders had to do 5 laps in conditions that had been very difficult since it had been raining for about 4 weeks ahead of the race. Deep water made the riverbeds even more difficult and the vast majority of the riders had serious problems keeping up the speed of the leader Graham Jarvis. The most important rule of Hell’s Gate is: Any rider who is more than 30 minutes behind the leader at a given checkpoint will immediately be taken out. So after two of five laps there were only 4 riders left, Jarvis, Walker, Webb and Letti. Letti managed to finish 4 laps being fueled by his original “nerved-give-up” mentality – a great result considering the problem with the shoulder that prevented him from training for two weeks.
“While my plan most definitely was to climb Hell’s Peak and make it to the finish I’m happy with the result. I wasn’t able to move my arm until Thursday, two days ahead of the race. Special physiotherapy did a great job so I felt pretty good on Friday and did a good qualification on Saturday morning winning my class and 5th overall. The bike helped a lot, my 250 EXC was faultless and smooth all the way.
I caught a good start on relatively dry tarmac so I managed to be second after my team mate Jonny (Walker) after the first turn. I’ve had a little crash in the first lap, Jarvis and Webb took advantage of this and passed me. It was a bit difficult finding my rhythm after that. In the third lap I made up about 10 minutes on Cody Webb so things went better. Graham however set a stunning pace, so I came in about 3 minutes late and was taken out after the fourth lap.
The track was very similar compared with the track of the last years, but with the heavy rain in the past weeks the riverbeds were really deep and 1 additional lap in the finals it was – in my opinion – the toughest Hell’s Gate ever. Now I will make best use of the two months until Tough One in the UK to fix my shoulder and get back in shape again.
Photos kindly provided by Jonty Edmunds / KTM images (see Fotos).
Results – 11th Hell’s Gate
Castelvecchio Pascoli (Tuscany, Italy) Feb. 15, 2014:
1. Graham Jarvis
2. Jonny Walker (KTM), +21 Minutes
3. Cody Webb, 4 laps
4. Andreas Lettenbichler (GER, KTM)