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.
Fairmount City, PA (July 13-14, 2019)—Kailub Russell capitalized on speed and consistency to take the overall win at this weekend’s LL Raceway Full Gas Sprint Enduro, round six of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series in Fairmount, Pennsylvania.
Over the course of the two-day event, Russell won 6 of the 12 tests while finishing second in the remaining 6 tests, giving the FMF/KTM rider a 20-second margin of victory over Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Josh Strang.
The win was Russell’s fifth overall victory of the season and it extended his lead in the series standings to 64 points over Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Thad DuVall. DuVall rounded out the podium in Pennsylvania, finishing 34 seconds behind Strang, who sits 3rd in points, 12 behind DuVall.
“The tests were really fun and it was a good weekend for me,” said Russell. “I was able to stay pretty consistent both days and take home another win.”
Russell got off to a quick start on Saturday by winning the first two tests, however Strang got it in gear in test three, the Cross test, and edged Russell by almost four seconds. Russell won test four, but Strang closed out the day with wins in the final two tests.
At the end of the day, Russell won Saturday’s round by 5.3 seconds over Strang. Strang got off to a slow start to the weekend, finishing fourth in the opening test, before finding a good pace.
“The first test on Saturday, the Cross test, it was slicker than I thought, and I just didn’t ride very well,” said Strang. “In the woods test I felt good, I won the last test of the day and I felt like I had some pretty good lines.”
Strang praised the event, saying it was one of the best courses of the year.
“Actually, the conditions were perfect pretty much all weekend,” said Strang. “As far as the dirt goes, it couldn’t get much better. The grass track was a little tighter than the last two rounds. It just wasn’t as high speed. The Enduro test, I think it was the best one all year so far just because they opened it up a little more so there was opportunity for more lines. I just think you could flow a little better and I think it just made for better racing.”
Russell and Strang accounted for all six of the test wins on Saturday, with each rider taking three wins. In the end, Russell topped Strang by almost five seconds for Saturday’s win. Duvall finished outside the top three just once on Saturday and ended up third on the day, with Husqvarna-backed Layne Michael and Tely Energy Racing’s Grant Baylor finishing fourth and fifth.
The tests were a bit drier on Sunday and the Enduro test got a bit choppy, but that didn’t change the order, as Russell and Strang still dominated the day with the exception of the final test, which was won by Duvall.
As the Enduro test dried out the lines got faster, which played into Russell’s hand.
“The Enduro test kept getting faster, it just kept getting more traction and the main line got better to ride and easier to ride, so the times got faster,” said Russell. “I was really good in that test. That’s where I made up most of my time.”
Russell won three tests on Sunday, two Enduro wins and one Cross win, while Strang won the Cross test twice and was second for the day. Russell beat Strang by 14 seconds for Sunday’s win, which combined for a 20-second overall win.
Third overall went to Duvall, who finished off the weekend with a win in the final test (Enduro test).
Jordan Ashburn had a solid weekend and was third in the first three tests on Saturday. Having signed with the Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki team during the off-season, Ashburn is starting to look comfortable now on the new bike.
“I got off to a good start, but I seemed to struggle on the Enduro test,” said Ashburn. “The test got rougher on Sunday and I still struggled.”
Ashburn made up for his struggles in the Enduro test with some fast times in the Cross test and finished off the weekend in fourth overall.
Rounding out the top five was Layne Michael. The Husqvarna-back North Carolina rider was fifth for the day on Saturday but got stronger when the track dried a bit on Sunday and was fourth overall for the day.
Sixth overall was Tely Energy Racing KTM’s Grant Baylor. Like Michael, Baylor got stronger on Sunday, as well.
Seventh overall and first in the Pro2 division was Evan Smith. The Husqvarna/Max Motorsports/FXR rider dominated the Enduro test but took a back seat to Pro motocrosser Ben Nelko in the Cross test.
Despite riding with an injured hand, Smith beat Nelko by over a minute in the overall class standings, however Nelko topped the Cross test four of the six times, with Beta USA’s Mike Wikowski winning the remaining two times.
“I hurt my hand a few weeks ago at Snowshoe and it’s been pretty painful,” said Smith. “I can’t really pull my clutch in all that well and I haven’t really been practicing at all since then.”
Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Craig DeLong finished eighth overall, while Nelko brought his Yamaha in for ninth. Nelko is currently riding the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series and decided to ride the Sprint Enduro since the motocross series was off this weekend.
“I struggled a little bit on the enduro tests, but I won four out of the six Cross tests,” said Nelko. “I loved the race, it was a lot of fun. I liked it because it was so laid back and you just went out and rode. It was a good time. What I liked most about it compared to the outdoors stuff is how much everybody got along. Everybody was so cool. I like the way you jump back and forth from the grass track to the woods stuff. I thought it was pretty cool.”
Nelko finished second in the Pro2 class, while Witkowski was 10thoverall and third in the Pro2 division.
Maxxis/KTM’s Becca Sheets took the win in the Women’s Pro class, beating out GasGas USA’s Korie Steede by just over three minutes. Team Green Kawasaki’s Shelby Rolen was third.
Pennsylvania local racer Mason Atherton (14thoverall) topped Billy Schlag (15thoverall) for the win in the Pro-Am class, with RJ Cook in third (16thoverall).
The Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series returns to action on August 10-11 at Rockcrusher Farms in Hayesville, North Carolina for round seven of the series. For more info on the series go to www.sprintenduro.com.