Swedish stage launches 2008 WEC this weekend With just days to go before the 2008 FIM World Enduro Championship begins with the Grand Prix of Sweden, the UFO Corse Yamaha team are busy putting the final touches to what they are confident will be...
Swedish stage launches 2008 WEC this weekend
With just days to go before the 2008 FIM World Enduro Championship begins with the Grand Prix of Sweden, the UFO Corse Yamaha team are busy putting the final touches to what they are confident will be a successful season with their WR450F and WR250F machinery. The series opener is being staged for the third successive season in Ostersund, deep within the heart of Scandinavia's frozen north, the 16-day championship only weeks later will head to warmer climes in Portugal and Spain before continuing to travel through southern Europe eventually ending in France in mid-October.
The only event of the year in which competitors are required to use spiked tyres to wade through the snow and ice, the Grand Prix of Sweden will once again present many unique challenges to the world's best riders as they battle against the winter conditions. The expected sub-zero temperatures and heavily rutted snow-covered special tests require a dedicated approach and mindset. With the demands of the course and climate taken into consideration the first round of the '08 WEC campaign will undoubtedly be a memorable one.
For the UFO Corse Yamaha team's number one Enduro 2 class rider, Johnny Aubert, 2008 is set to be a hugely important - and extremely challenging - season as he bids to claim his first enduro world championship. A proven WEC race-winner, the Frenchman will face the world's most successful enduro rider -- seven-time world champion Juha Salminen - in what is expected to be the closest fought tussle in any of the WEC classes this year. Having showed that he has the speed at the highest level following several dominant wins during the '07 series, Aubert, who enters his third full term of international enduro competition, knows that winning the chilly season-opener will be a tall order but is confident that he has what it takes to win the coveted E2 crown.
"My goal is nothing less than to win the Enduro 2 world championship this season," comments Aubert. "Last year I proved that I could win races and although I wasn't able to take the E2 title I ended the season well by topping the last round of the series and by winning the International Six Days Enduro in Chile. It certainly won't be easy to beat Salminen but I am ready to fight."
In the Enduro 1 class the UFO Corse Yamaha team are also looking for success with Italian Simone Albergoni leading a three-rider assault on the category. Runner-up in 2007 Albergoni, now fully fit following a back injury that forced him to miss the ISDE late last season, has been training hard all winter in readiness for the start of the eight-round championship. Just like Aubert, Albergoni will face stiff competition in the division, not only from three-time world champion Ivan Cervantes but also reigning E2 number one Mika Ahola.
"I've spent one full season racing for Yamaha and I'm ready for the start of the world championship," offers Albergoni. "The first race in Sweden isn't one that I have enjoyed the last two years but I'm looking forward to the championship returning to southern Europe. There are some really fast riders in the E1 class this season, but I'm looking forward to challenging for the title."
In addition to Albergoni's plight the UFO Corse Yamaha team are also expecting Spaniard Cristobal Guerrero to regularly challenge for podium positions having sampled the view from the top step during 2007. Despite sustaining a shoulder injury at the final round of this winter's Indoor Enduro World Cup, Guerrero, along with the UFO Corse Yamaha team's third rider Maurizio Micheluz, is looking to ensure Yamaha is the dominant player in the Enduro 1 class this season, just as they were in 2007.