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LAURENS,SC (SEPT. 1-2, 2019) The best of the east met up with the best of the west at the final round of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series, in Laurens, South Carolina, with ex-moto star and all-around off-road ace Ryan Sipes coming out on top of a close battle with newly crowned Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series champion Kailub Russell to take the win at the Chestnut Corner Full Gas Sprint Enduro. Former Supercross star Josh Hill also made an appearance on Sunday, bolstering an already loaded Pro class.
The final round of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series was designated an ISDE camp by US team manager Antti Kallonen, so the entire US ISDE Trophy team (World, Junior and Women’s) showed up to do battle, pitting the best from each of the major series in the United States against each other: Full Gas Sprint Enduro, AMA National Enduro, Grand National Cross Country and WORCS.
After two days of racing and 12 timed tests, Sipes edged fellow factory KTM rider Russell by just 22 seconds for the overall win.
Sipes admitted he was a bit surprised by the win and since the event also served as a warmup and training weekend for the upcoming International Six Days Enduro in Portugal, he thinks the US squad is ready to win back the title it claimed in 2016.
“I had no clue where I’d be against these guys since I haven’t raced one of these all year; I didn’t know where my speed would be, so I’m really happy,” said Sipes. “I knew I would do okay in the Cross test, I just wasn’t sure about the Enduro test. I got a little lucky with this woods test. It was technical, but not very tight, so that played to my strengths.”
Russell stayed within a second or two of Sipes for most of the weekend and held the lead on two occasions, but threw it away with a crash in the final test.
“I made a lot of mistakes,” said Russell. “It was tough – super dry and slick and I just couldn’t keep it off the ground. I’ve only fallen like two or three times all year at these races and I probably had four falls this weekend. It’s hard to compete for the win when you’re on the ground. Ryan was in a league of his own on the Cross test, but I had some fast times in the Enduro test. I got in the lead on Monday after the Enduro test, but then I fell in the Cross test and threw it away. Then I was close going into the final test so I went for it and fell again.”
FMF/KTM’s Taylor Robert, the 2016 ISDE Individual champion, kept the two front-runners honest with a solid third place finish, even though the event marked his first taste of woods racing in over a year. Robert got off to a slow start but was able to work his way into a podium position.
“I started off pretty slow but I picked it up in the afternoon – I went from 10thplace to third by the end of the day,” said Robert. “Even though this woods section wasn’t very tight, it’s still tighter than anything I ride, and it’s mainly the tree roots I don’t get to ride, but it’s good prep for Six Days and it’s always good to practice something different.”
Since he will be the designated E3 rider on the US Trophy Team, Tely Energy Racing’s Steward Baylor (who normally rides a 450) will be riding a KTM 500 in Portugal, and he spent the first day in South Carolina getting used to one at the Chestnut Corner event. After a slow start, Steward put the big KTM into fourth overall.
“The 500 is a big change, and I’ve been trying to adapt to it,” said Steward. “It didn’t help that I stuck my bad knee into the ground on the first day. I always start slow anyway, so I picked up the pace on the second day and was riding pretty good.”
Fifth place went to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Thad Duvall, who was part of the winning World Trophy Team in 2016, but who has elected to sit out this year’s ISDE.
Grant Baylor, also riding a 500 like his brother (on the Junior Trophy Team), was sixth overall, just two seconds ahead of Husqvarna/Max Motorsports/FXR’s Evan Smith.
Smith took the Pro2 win for the weekend and also clinched the Pro2 championship in the process.
“This was kind of a sketchy track, so it was important to be consistent and not make any mistakes, and aside from a couple of crashes on the first day I was able to do that,” said Smith.
Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn, Trail Jesters Racing KTM’s Ben Kelley, and GasGas North America’s Thorn Devlin, rounded out the top 10. Devlin also finished second in the Pro2 division, with Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski taking third in the Pro2 class with a 12thoverall finish.
Josh Hill finished 13thin the first Cross test and 12thin the Enduro test, and then elected to sit out the rest of the event as he was suffering the effects of an eye infection.
Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Josh Strang, the defending series champ, started out with a third in the first test of the weekend but crashed in the second test and injured his shoulder and was forced to retire from the event. Despite not finishing the event Strang was able to secure a 3rd-place finish in the series points behind Kailub Russell and Thad DuVall.
In the Women’s Pro class, MEP MX/KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker rode a 350 KTM instead of her usual 250 and grabbed her first win of the season ahead of KTM’s Brandi Richards and Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones.
“I started off the first day with a couple of test wins, but I crashed a couple of times and Tayla won the day,” said Tricker. “I was able to get it together on the second day and come away with the overall, so I’m pretty happy since it’s my first overall win in this series in over a year.”
Jones wrapped up the Women’s Pro title at the previous round.
Brody Johnson won the Pro-Am class in 18thoverall, ahead of Zach Nash (20thoverall) and Brewer Cawley (23rdoverall). Bill Schlag did not have his best result of the season with a 7th-place overall finish in the dry and dusty conditions, but it was enough for the TrailPros backed racer to secure the championship by 13 points ahead of RJ Cook.
|1||264||Ryan Sipes||Pro (1)||Ekron, KY||12||01:11:37.500|
|2||557||kailub russell||Pro (2)||boonville, NC||12||01:11:59.899|
|3||33||Taylor Robert||Pro (3)||Scottsdale, AZ||12||01:12:19.515|
|4||989||Thad Duvall||Pro (4)||willamstown, WV||12||01:12:23.528|
|5||514||Steward Baylor||Pro (5)||Belton, SC||12||01:12:45.577|
|6||314||Grant Baylor||Pro (6)||Belton, SC||12||01:12:54.331|
|7||7||Evan Smith||Pro 2 (1)||jefferson, GA||12||01:13:08.466|
|8||6||Jordan Ashburn||Pro (7)||Livingston, TN||12||01:13:18.284|
|9||530||Ben Kelley||Pro (8)||Harwinton, CT||12||01:13:29.838|
|10||109||Thorn Devlin||Pro 2 (2)||Tamaqua, PA||12||01:13:52.412|
Young Harris, GA(August 10-11, 2019) With his overall victory this weekend at the Rockcrusher Full Gas Sprint Enduro in Young Harris, Georgia, Kailub Russell became the first two-time champion of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series, having also won the title in 2015.
With overall wins at six of the seven rounds held so far this year, Russell’s performance at Rock Crusher Farm this weekend was enough to clinch the 2019 title with one round remaining on the schedule.
On Saturday, Russell won four of the six tests, sweeping all three of the Enduro tests and winning one of the Cross tests. On Sunday, the FMF/KTM rider won two Enduro tests and one Cross test, giving him a 30-second-plus cushion over runner-up Thad Duvall at the end of two days of racing.
“It’s always nice to wrap up a championship a race early, which kind of takes the pressure off,” said Russell. “I really liked the Enduro test this weekend. It was really technical, and I had a good flow. When you’ve got a good flow and you’re enjoying it, it translates into going fast.”
Duvall won the final two tests on Sunday, and was consistent enough to claim second overall for the weekend. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider had brake problems in one of the Cross tests on Sunday, but still managed to edge out Josh Strang for the runner-up slot by 33 seconds.
“It was a close battle between me and Strang, but I just kept chugging along,” said Duvall. “I really want to win one of these things. It’s been a while. I felt like it was a good weekend, but I just couldn’t limit the mistakes, and when I did I was able to get a couple of wins. I just need to be better on Saturdays and stay within striking distance for Sundays.”
Strang is notoriously strong in the Cross tests, and the Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki rider came away with three Cross test wins.
“My times in the Cross test were good and competitive; I think I won three out of six, which is good,” said Strang. “In the Enduro test, I was just a little off. I felt like I was riding well. On five out of the six I felt comfortable and fairly good, just not as fast as Kailub and Thad. Then the second enduro test on Saturday I wrapped the brake pedal around my foot peg, so I kind of ruined Saturday. That kind of messed me up a little bit for the overall.”
Husqvarna-backed Layne Michael turned in a solid performance for fourth overall, missing the podium by just 21 seconds. Michael suffered through two surgeries after breaking his collar bone at the start of the season and is just now finding his form.
“I’ve been back for about a month now and I’m feeling good,” said Michael. “I’m making huge leaps forward every time. I’ve just got to keep building and get back to where I should have been the past couple years. Right now, I just appreciate being back at the races battling and making that progress. I’m seeing it. I’ve just got to keep working.”
Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn rounded out the top five. The Tennessee rider made good time in the Enduro test, but spent most of the day looking for faster times in the Cross test.
“This series really went to another level this year,” said Ashburn. “Everybody is really pushing each other hard and we’re just a little bit off. We’re searching for time on every test. Sometimes we’re a second off and sometimes we’re three or four seconds off. It just adds up over the weekend. It’s been a tough weekend for sure. I’m just trying to find time in stuff.”
Sixth overall and first in the Pro2 division went to Husqvarna/Max Motorsports/FXR’s Evan Smith. Smith got off to a slow start, but did what he needed to do to get the “W.”
“I had a slow start,” said Smith. “I didn’t feel very good at the beginning yesterday, but about halfway through the day I started to figure it out. Today went pretty well. Didn’t go as fast as I’d want to go, but still won.”
Trail Jesters Racing KTM’s Jesse Ansley rode a KTM 125 SX to seventh overall and second in the Pro2 class, which included two test wins in the division.
Mike Witkowski was another of the Pro2 riders that broke the top-10, putting his factory Beta into eighth overall and third in the Pro2 class.
Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Craig DeLong turned in some solid rides to finish ninth overall, while Ben Parsons rounded out the top 10 on a Husqvarna for a fourth-place finish in Pro2.
Tayla Jones missed the previous round due to a nasty hand injury and a surgery but still managed to wrap up the Women’s Pro title one round early with an overall victory at the Rockcrusher.
“I was kind of nervous coming in. I hadn’t been riding too much because of my fingers, but overall I had a good weekend,” said Jones. “I had a few crashes, but nothing major. My hand held up pretty good. While I’m riding, my fingers don’t hurt, but as soon as I finish is when all the pain hits. So, every time I stopped, it hurt a lot more.”
Second overall in the Women’s Pro class went to MEP MX/KTM’s MacKenzie Tricker, a minute-and-a-half behind Jones, while Maxxis/KTM’s Becca Sheets rounded out the podium in third.
Beta USA’s Korie Steede, was fourth overall, ahead of Team Green Kawasaki’s Shelby Rolen. Meanwhile, former Women’s Pro Motocross champion Jessica Patterson showed up to finish sixth.
RJ Cook (KTM) was on his game and claimed a solid win over Billy Schlag (KTM) in the Pro-Am division.
“I got off to a slow start in the Cross test but I had a really good first woods test,” said Cook. “That gap kind of just kept growing as the weekend went on and I ended up grabbing a win. I definitely felt more comfortable on the Enduro test. The Cross test, for my style on a two-stroke, it was a little choppy, a little rocky, a little rooty out there. It was hard to keep the bike planted, but it worked out for me.”
Brewer Cawley (KTM) rounded out the podium in third.
Zach Nash (KTM) won the Open A division over Sam Forrester (KTM) and Andrew Matusak (Hsq). Meanwhile, Henry Symanski won the Lites A class over fellow Yamaha rider Dalton Seals. Dylan Zimpel was third on a Husqvarna.
The Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series returns to action on September 1-2 at Chestnut Corner in Laurens, South Carolina for the eighth and final round of the series. For more info on the series go to www.sprintenduro.com.
|1||557||kailub russell||Pro (1)||boonville, NC||12||01:24:15.863|
|2||989||Thad Duvall||Pro (2)||willamstown, WV||12||01:24:46.938|
|3||1||Joshua Strang||Pro (3)||Denver, NC||12||01:25:19.850|
|4||523||Layne Michael||Pro (4)||Boonville, NC||12||01:25:40.486|
|5||6||Jordan Ashburn||Pro (5)||Livingston, TN||12||01:25:52.206|
|6||7||Evan Smith||Pro 2 (1)||jefferson, GA||12||01:26:51.947|
|7||328||Jesse Ansley||Pro 2 (2)||Myakka City, FL||12||01:27:36.526|
|8||282||mike witkowski||Pro 2 (3)||north liberty, IN||12||01:27:39.606|
|9||10||Craig Delong||Pro (6)||Morgantown, PA||12||01:27:52.421|
|10||300||Ben Parsons||Pro 2 (4)||Orlando, FL||12||01:31:49.542|
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