Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Merriman almost makes the podium on the RXV
The engagement with the podium has been pushed back again as Stefan Merriman and his Aprilia RXV 5.5 missed it by just 2.13 seconds in the second day of the race at the Portuguese Enduro Grand Prix. The Australian battled at long for the victory and his final 4th place didn't sit too well with him since first place wasn't out of reach for the official Aprilia rider, in fact just 14.63 seconds. If you then consider that Stefan won four of the ten special tests (unbeaten in the Extreme Test), it demonstrates that the RXV project has become a splendid enduro reality, even at the international level. Much of that is thanks to a team who knows how to thoroughly respond to the needs of an undoubtedly valuable champion and put him in a position to reach for the top.
He was seventh at the end of the first day of racing, affected by an erroneous choice of tyres. Merriman demonstrated great character and grit and rode his Aprilia RXV 5.5 impeccably on Sunday, nearly onto the podium.
The overall performance of the other two Aprilia captains was positive. Nicolas Paganon (Aprilia RXV 4.5) earned points on both days, finishing 13th and 16th in the E2. After withdrawing due to friction problems (caused by the bike's cross settings) as he battled in the top ten, Antoine Letelier (Aprilia RXV 5.5) clocked in the 9th best place in the E3 on Sunday. Now the World Enduro Championship will take a two-month break: the next round is set for June 14-15 at the Polish Grand Prix.
WORLD CLASSIFICATION AFTER 3 RACES
E2: 1. Aubert (Yamaha) 139; 2. Salminen 114 (Ktm); 3. Ljunggren (Husaberg) 99; 13. Nicolas Paganon (Aprilia RXV 4.5) 44.
E3: 1. Aro (Ktm) 147 punti; 2. Tarkkala (Ktm) 120; 3. Nambotin (Gas Gas) 117; 7. Stefan Merriman (Aprilia RXV 5.5) 79; 15. Antoine Letelier (Aprilia RXV 5.5) 33.