Tuesday, July 14


Dani Gibert and BMW win La Gordexola Xtreme 2009.

On the 4 of July in the Biscay region of the Basque Country, BMW G 450 X rider Dani Gibert celebrated victory in the third edition of the Gordexola Xtreme enduro.

The event, known by many as a Spanish 'Erzberg', is the ultimate test of enduro riders and their machines, and Dani Gibert's achievement on the top step of the podium was the first national success for BMW Motorrad in a Spanish extreme enduro. Rounding off the podium was Gas Gas rider Melcior Faja, who was just 27 seconds adrift after the seven-hour gruelling race, and Xavi León, who put in a gutsy performance on another Gas Gas machine to finish just over two minutes later.

The weather forecasters had predicted a dry race but on the day it turned out to be grey and rainy, which made course conditions treacherous for the 93 competitors that started the event, which consisted of two laps of 65 kilometres each in the morning and another 60 km lap in the afternoon. As the weather conditions worsened, the competitors - who had come from all over Spain - were grateful for the assistance of the spectators, who were strung out along the length of the course and helped drag, lift and pull riders and their machines out of difficulty.

In the morning laps, it was 2008 runner-up Melcior Faja, who was immediately on the pace - so much so that only Husaberg rider Borja Nieto, BMW G 450 X rider Dani Gibert and Honda-mounted Jon Aguirrebeitia were able to follow, although at a safe distance. Another one of the favourites, Xavi León, was suffering from technical problems on his Gas Gas 300, as his chain kept jumping off the rear sprocket under hard acceleration. His brother, Sergi León, stayed to support him from the first lap right until the finish.

Of the two laps undertaken in the morning, competitors found the first one excessively difficult, as the rainwater and mud had rendered about three quarters of the course almost impassable. Up until the fourth checkpoint there were climbs that were fairly achievable, as they hadn't been so affected by the rainwater but from then on, right until the end at checkpoint 12, the extreme nature of the mountainous terrain and the effect of the weather made life difficult for most of the riders. As it turned out, only 47 riders of the 93 who started the event were able to finish a lap - and only nine of these actually completed the lap in less than three hours!

Already onto their second lap, the faster riders such as Faja had already passed the first checkpoint, with Jon Aguirrebeitia just three minutes behind him and Dani Gibert five minutes adrift on the BMW G 450 X. As the extreme physical nature of the course began to take its toll on the riders, the pace slowed accordingly, and when the three leading riders arrived at checkpoint nine, they were confronted with their biggest challenge yet - a steep slope cut through a mountainside with a surface that was as slippery as soap!

This was tougher than anything they had previously encountered during the day but they all got through, and after four hours and 38 minutes of extreme riding with no chance of a rest, it was Faja who arrived first at the finish, with Aguirrebeitia second and Gibert third on the BMW. A total of 37 riders completed the first lap but only 15 completed both laps, showing just how tough this course was.

Morning classification

1. Melcior Faja (Gas Gas) - 4:38:11
2. Jon Aguirrebeitia (Honda) - 4:45:20
3. Dani Gibert (BMW) - 4:48:13

4. Borja Nieto (Husaberg) - 5:02:44
5. Vicente Soldevilla (KTM) - 5:17:47
6. Carles Figuerola (KTM) - 5:34:58
7. Iñaki Iturbe (Suzuki) - 5:41:27
8. Alex Larrañaga (KTM) - 5:48:56

Súper final

At six o'clock in the evening - nearly four hours after the arrival of the first rider to complete the two morning laps - the Super final race started. Every 30 seconds, riders would leave the start line in the same order that they finished the morning stages, so it was Melcior Faja who was first to leave, followed by Jon Aguirrebeitia and Dani Gibert on the BMW G 450 X.

It was Jon Aguirrebeitia who took the early lead, although Faja would overtake him a little later on the descent to the river, as would Dani Gibert on the BMW. As the final neared its conclusion, it was Melcior Faja who was first to arrive at the penultimate stage before the finish. Having put in a superhuman effort up to this point, he found himself leading the race and surely destined to win this competition that had eluded him on previous occasions. But with just 50 metres to go, bad luck struck and his chain came off in exactly the same place that it had come off the previous year, losing him precious seconds.

Having put his chain back on and overcome the difficult terrain of the river area, he arrived right at the finish area, which was a near vertical seven-metre wall that had to be negotiated in order to win. Having prepared himself for this final obstacle, he started to accelerate, but the chain on his bike came off, rendering him unable to move. The watching crowds, caught up in the moment, helped to lift up his bike but just as he got to the summit, Dani Gibert appeared on the BMW G 450 X, jumped up to the final ramp to cross the finish line, winning the race by 27 seconds from Faja. Xavi León came a well-deserved third after an amazing effort, following his disappointing laps earlier in the day when he'd encountered machine problems.

Final classification:

1. Dani Gibert (BMW) - 1:52:37.25
2. Melcior Faja - 1:53:04.34
3. Xavi León - 1:54:47.75
4. Jon Aguirrebeitia - 1:59:40.58
5. Carles Figuerola - 2:26:52.43