Saturday, February 24, 2024

Round 2 Race Report: Kailub Russell Strikes at Moccasin Creek

Round 2 Race Report: Kailub Russell Strikes at Moccasin Creek

Kailub Russell sends it off a sand mound during the cross test. // Photo: Darrin Chapman

Blackshear, GA(March 2-3, 2019) Flooding from heavy rains that didn’t let up until an hour before the start of the Moccasin Creek Full Gas Sprint Enduro in Blackshear, Georgia, forced sections of the course to be modified and shortened, however, round two of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series went off without a hitch as Kailub Russell claimed his second win in as many races. 

The FMF KTM rider turned in an error-free two-day performance that saw him win seven of the 12 tests and finish 19 seconds ahead of second place finisher Josh Strang to claim the overall victory. 

Shorter tests meant shorter test times, which led to extremely competitive races, as the top handful of riders in the pro class (and in all of the classes, for that matter) turned times that were closer than usual. 

Despite the close racing, Russell extended his lead in the championship standings with his win, and now sits seven points ahead of Strang (55 to 48), with Toth in third with 41 points.

“It was pretty close racing, but overall it was a pretty uneventful weekend for me,” said Russell. “I didn’t have any mistakes to speak of and I felt pretty good both days.”

Josh Strang powers through a sand turn on his way to second place overall. // Photo: Darrin Chapman

Strang looked strong in his second race aboard the Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki, the Aussie off-roader managing a test win on each day.

“The times were pretty close between the top five or six guys, so there was little room for mistakes,” said Strang. “Unfortunately, I had a couple of silly ones on Saturday and that was frustrating, but overall the weekend was good.”

DuVall fully committed to riding the entire 2019 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro schedule coming into the Georgia race and demonstrated his intentions of being “all in” by taking a test win on Sunday en route to third overall. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider finished just 13 seconds out of second and stayed close to Russell and Strang all weekend. Thad mentioned on his social feed that he had been riding the “struggle bus” on Saturday, but that he got things under control on Sunday to edge out Strang for second on the day. 

Thad DuVall rallied on day two to land on the podium for the second-straight race. // Photo: Darrin Chapman

FMF KTM’s Josh Toth won the final test of the weekend on his way to fourth overall. The Connecticut rider was just nine seconds out of third on Sunday and like DuVall, was able to pick up the pace on the final day of racing. Toth is still adapting to the sprint format but is showing progress with each round. 

Jordan Ashburn made it two Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s in the top five. The Tennessee native obviously is warming up to the new bike after struggling in his debut with the team at round one, which was his first race on a Japanese bike in a while.

Evan Smith had a tough day one but was able to get back to the top spot on Sunday. // Photo: Darrin Chapman

Evan Smith put his Husqvarna/Max Motorsports/FXR FC 250 into sixth place, which was also good enough for first in the Pro2 class. This is Smith’s second-straight win in the division, although it didn’t come without a struggle. The Georgia rider crashed hard in Saturday’s final test and he and his bike came to rest in a deep mud hole, and he lost valuable time getting back in the race. As a result, Smith finished second on Saturday in the Pro2 class behind Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski, but roared back to take Sunday’s win and first overall for the class.

Trail Jesters Racing KTM’s Ben Kelley finished 13 seconds behind Smith to claim seventh overall, while Andrew DeLong put his Phoenix Racing Honda into eighth.

Cody Barnes landed his first Pro2 podium with 2nd-place. // Photo: Darrin Chapman

Beta USA teammates Cody Barnes and Mike Witkowski were ninth and 10threspectively. Witkowski lost the momentum he gained from winning Saturday’s Pro2 class when he dislocated his shoulder on Sunday. He reportedly popped the shoulder back in place and was able to finish. Barnes and Witkowski were also second and third overall in the Pro2 class. 

Mike Witkowski took the day one win in Pro2 but struggled with a shoulder problem on day two. // Photo: Darrin Chapman

Craig DeLong turned some heads with a stellar performance in the mud on Saturday. The Coastal Racing Husqvarna-backed Pennsylvanian raced a 250 at the first round of the series, but showed up in Georgia on a 350 and came away with a test win on Saturday and finished third for the day. 

“I’m not sure what got into me, but I was riding good,” said DeLong. “Switching to a 350 made a big difference, and I just tried to not over-shoot any turns and be as smooth as I could.”

Unfortunately, Craig suffered a shoulder injury and was forced to drop out of Sunday’s round. 

Tayla Jones felt the heat from fellow Aussie Mackenzie Tricker throughout the weekend but was able to sweep all 12 tests. // Photo: Darrin Chapman

In the Women’s Pro division, Husqvarna-backed Tayla Jones took the overall win by 48 seconds over MEP MX KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker. Ohio’s Becca Sheets on a Maxxis-sponsored KTM was third, with Shelby Rolen in fourth on a Kawasaki. 

Amazingly, Jones made a clean sweep of the event, winning all 12 tests during the two days of competition. She also holds a 10-point lead over Tricker in the class standings after two rounds. 

RJ Cook took his first-ever ProAm win and now sits 2nd in the championship points. // Photo: Darrin Chapman

The new Pro-Am class was won by RJ Cook on a KTM, with Brewer Cawley (Yam) and Conner Smith (Hsq) in second and third. This class serves as a stepping-stone for amateur riders to move into the pro classes. 

The Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series returns to action on April 6-7 in Greeneville, Tennessee for round three of the series.


Overall Results

1557kailub russellPro (1)boonville, NC1200:52:34.780
21Joshua StrangPro (2)Denver, NC1200:52:53.880
3989Thad DuvallPro (3)willamstown, WV1200:53:06.283
4206josh tothPro (4)winsted, CT1200:53:23.069
56Jordan AshburnPro (5)Livingston, TN1200:53:52.070
67Evan SmithPro 2 (1)jefferson, GA1200:54:23.504
7530Ben KelleyPro (6)Harwinton, CT1200:54:36.711
88Andrew DeLongPro (7)Birdsboro, PA1200:54:39.933
999Cody BarnesPro 2 (2)Sterling, IL1200:54:50.542
10282mike witkowskiPro 2 (3)north liberty, IN1200:54:50.963
11300Ben ParsonsPro 2 (4)Orlando, FL1200:55:05.504
125Cory ButtrickPro (8)Logan, OH1200:55:10.240
13109Thorn DevlinPro 2 (5)Tamaqua, PA1200:55:17.013
1444Jojo BowdenPro 2 (6)East Amherst, NY1200:55:46.500
1552Andrew MatusekOpen A (1)Franklin, GA1200:57:00.340
1660Nick O’BryantOpen A (2)Chillicothe, OH1200:57:18.103
1756Cope BeckertOpen A (3)ZANESVILLE, OH1200:58:08.757
1830tegan templePro 2 (7)west chester, PA1200:58:19.392
1958Sam ForresterOpen A (4)Elkton, MD1200:58:22.170
201Tayla JonesWomen’s Pro (1)Belton, SC1200:58:49.747

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