With EnduroGP 2024 round one ticked off, Enduro21 runs down five of the biggest talking points buzzing around the paddocks and tests as we head to round two this weekend in Valpacos, Portugal.

The very, very good news is that the 2024 EnduroGP World Championship looks like being an absolute barnstormer of a season. If the first GP of the year is anything to go by, we are in for a roaring treat of riding skills and raw speed featuring multiple winners and plenty of drama.

From flying 250Fs, the fresh air blowing through the Women’s class to the reality checks and paddock talk, these are the five biggest talking points we carried away from the first GP of the season.

Don’t be fooled by all those video and social clips of the riders falling off rocks, the bits you didn’t see were FAF and the reality is the fastest riders were flying in Fafe.

As Jordan Scott, racing the EnduroGP class as a privateer, put it after day one, “the speed those boys are carrying, in flat corners and over crests and hills, they’re not even slacking coming over hills whereas we would look and go, whoa a little, they’re not even closing the throttle...”

Jordan’s daily update from day one is worth two minutes of your time for the realities of racing at this level…


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250 four-strokes in charge

We can’t not mention the fact Steve Holcombe has jumped from a 390 four-stroke Beta to a Honda CRF250RX. The result is something like a rider let loose of his shackles on a bike which handles quite differently, revs more freely and dare we say it, looks much more of an even match for Garcia and his KTM factory special.

(The flipside of this coin is Watson on the Beta, we’ll come to that below).

On day one Garcia ruled the roost but after beginning faster out the blocks on, Sunday Holcombe, along with Nathan Watson and Andrea Verona, were leaving a wake of riders floundering to fight for the top 10 places and minutes behind on the timesheets.

Regardless of the results, Honda RedMoto sure know how to turn out a bike.


Can’t see for the fog

Plenty of us like to talk about the weather and it played a very real role in Fafe. Firstly, rain leading up to the event made some tests and the transfers a challenge.

Speed sapping boggy sections sucked bikes into deep holes and ruts – riders were losing heaps of time in the rock sections you’ll have seen all over social media but the mud was a very real problem elsewhere too.


The other factor was the fog or low cloud making the first tests on day one a genuine problem for riders with limited visibility.

Because they were so fast, the riders were having trouble seeing far enough ahead and on those early morning tests and those with the best memories from their days spent walking had the advantage. Either that or they are just good at reading each other’s wheel tracks, acceleration and braking markers in the dirt. Or they are just nuts…

What about Brad Freeman?

Brad Freeman can’t seem to buy luck sometimes and not for the first time was riding an EnduroGP with a recently broken hand and capped it off with a sudden illness overnight which meant he couldn’t race on Sunday.

Taking the cast off his hand just five days before the opening GP, after whacking a post in the first Italian Championship last month, Brad was riding with 100% commitment like normal, but wasn’t on the pace of the leading three or four and that was before being taken ill.

He’ll be back this weekend in Valpacos but it was no the way to start the season.


Given his famous quote that the first person you want to beat is your teammate, Brad has a problem because Nathan Watson looks confident on the Beta 4T. Fourth on day one behind Garcia, Verona and Holcombe, Nathan finished one place ahead of Brad in fifth.

It’s unlikely Brad would think Nathan would have arrived as a ‘soft’ or quiet new teammate at Beta – they train together and know each other well – but the reality is he once again has a rival in the same camp.

What’s going on with Zach Pichon at Sherco?

On the face of it, nothing. But between the lines things don’t look too rosy for the French rider tipped as a future title challenger.

Enduro21 understood the former Junior champion and Sherco’s hot hope for the future wasn’t part of the Sherco Racing team in EnduroGP this season. Indeed, when the team was announced, Pichon was notable by his absence.

Paddock gossip tells us that, halfway through his two-year contract, Sherco were ready to wish Zach well in his future. But the same paddock gossip also tells us the Pichons were having none of it and wanted to honour their contract or else.

It’s fair to say Zach’s dad has a history of causing a ruckus or two from his MXGP days. We understand the French former motocross world champion’s forceful presence is not currently allowed in the Sherco tent at GPs. Whether this is actually true or just rumour, we’re not sure, but we didn’t see him there and previously he was always around.


The long and the short of it is an extremely talented rider is caught in no man’s land and that is a massive shame. To get to the top you need the talent but you also need the support and it doesn’t look like Zach is currently getting enough.

It was noted that other Sherco riders were getting the trackside stick line pointing assistance but those sticks suddenly weren’t visible when the 101 rider came by.

It’s a shame also because Zach is a consummate professional whenever Enduro21 has had anything to do with him. He always gives us time and a fascinating, detailed account of his day. Even once happily explaining his day dressed only in his boxer shorts.


Meanwhile in a more positive place for Sherco, Hamish Macdonald was all smiles as he get to grips with the SE 300 two-stroke in E3 class. An injury in 2023 while he was in the form of his life curtailed what could have been a title challenging season.

Rehabed and back on the then new SEF 300 four-stroke, the New Zealander didn’t quite look himself as the season concluded and “needed new motivation” despite finishing the season in fifth overall.

That motivation arrived over winter when Hammy Mac jumped on the 300 two-stroke and has been smiling ever since. Smiling all the way to the top of the podium and the E3 class leaders red plate no less after round one.

With or without the aid of Brad Freeman DNFing day two, Macdonald is a serious E3 world championship contender. That’s a fact adding fuel to the fire of what looks like a pretty damn good year for E3 class, which in a recent years has been lacking numbers and depth of talent.

The only dampener here is, like many in the EGP class, Hamish will have to be looking at the gap to Holcombe, Garcia, Verona and Watson over the weekend. It was huge.

Find the results here: 

Day 1 2024 EnduroGP Results: Garcia blitzes opening day of the season in Portugal 

Day 2 2024 EnduroGP Results: Holcombe wins three-way fight on day 2 in Portugal

Chaos in the school playground

There’s not much to say about the Juniors class except to point out Axel Semb started exactly where his Fantic teammates left off last year, winning comfortably. With Jed Etchells and Albin Norrbin having timed out and moved up a rank, that has left a vacancy for the Junior world title.

Fantic’s recent legacy in the class is currently being soundly upheld by the Swedish rider Semb, and if he falters, the 2023 Youth champion Kevin Cristino looks like he’ll get to grips soon enough with the bigger bike as well.



The 125 Youth class this year? It looks like chaos – which is exactly how it should be! Conditions played a role and robbed big chunks of time out of some of the small capacity riders as they got stuck or made errors on the big rocks.

The French Clauzier brothers (adding to the Spanish Navarro identical twins confusing everyone in the GP paddock!), Romain Dagna, TM Racing’s Alberto Elgari and Manuel Verzeroli on the saucy 125 KTM all shone and currently are making this the brilliantly unpredictable class.

Women’s Enduro gets breath of fresh air

It’s a shame not to have the defending champion Jane Daniels in 2024 but good luck and genuine best wishes to her for the impending birth of her first child. Meanwhile, in her absence, the Women’s class looks better than ever with a healthy mix of podium contenders.

Too often, stretching back to the Laia Sanz days, the Women’s category has been a forgone conclusion. A dominant rider clearly better than her rivals winning nearly all the tests.

Not so this year with a set of riders clearly stepping up their game, training and speed over winter and with a hunger in their eyes, even if they all had their troubles with teh tricky conditions in Fafe.


Injecting a spark into the women’s class is a late and surprising entry from Rachel Gutish who it must be said has a very relaxed look in her eyes, until you see them through her goggles in the tests.

The American has an incredible pedigree – Endurocross and multiple ISDE titles, podiums and wins in US Hard Enduro, National Enduro, Sprint Enduro and GNCC. A bucket list ticked, she is racing EnduroGP in 2024 thanks to a good relationship with Nieve Holmes and an opportunity with her British-based KBS Sherco team.


And you know what? She only went and won on her GP debut. We think that only Taylor Robert can lay claim to being a winning rider from America in EnduroGP. Certainly she is the first female to do so and the only one to commit to a full season.

What of the other women? Francesca Nocera was unlucky on day one when she basically got stuck on the transfer and lost loads of time, gaining a time penalty for being late to a time check. On day two she was back on it and back challenging for the win.


Mireia Badia also had trouble on day one but definitely turned it around to not only challenge Gutish but take a half minute winning margin in the drier conditions. 

Her Rieju teammate and sometime training partner Rosie Rowett looks fast also claiming second place on day one. A big crash on day two looked like it hurt but she is in the mix here and this class is as intriguing as any in 2024.


The Paulo Duarte FIM EnduroGP World Championship travels to nearby Valpacos in Portugal for round two this weekdnd, April 12-14.


Photo Credit: Future7Media | Andrea Belluschi