2019 South Carolina Sprint Enduro Race Report
Having last raced the Sprint Enduro series in 2015, when he won the title, Kailub Russell returned to action by claiming the overall victory at the opening round of the 2019 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series in Gaston, South Carolina.
The FMF KTM Factory Racing rider won eight of the 12 tests held over the course of the two-day event and claimed the outright win during Saturday’s round. Meanwhile, defending series champ Josh Strang, who was making his debut ride with the new Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/Kawasaki team, took Sunday’s win.
Strang won three tests, but it was not enough to beat out Russell for the overall, and Russell took the overall win by 35 seconds ahead of Strang.
The South Carolina venue enjoyed a record turnout with more than 400 riders gracing the entry lists for the race. An impressive number of top pro riders and teams showed as well, with factory participation from KTM, Beta, GasGas, Husqvarna, and Kawasaki.
By winning five of six of Saturday’s tests, Russell built up a healthy cushion from day one. However, he suffered two tip-overs in Sunday’s third test and spent the remainder of the day playing catch-up to Strang.
Thad Duvall rounded out the overall podium in third. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider was making his first ride since early November due to an injury and reported after the race that he was riding well, but needed to work on his sprint speed. He also said that one test each day cost him a lot of time. On Saturday, Duvall lost his brakes in the Enduro test and on Sunday he crashed.
Josh Toth, who underwent arm-pump surgery on each arm just 15 days before the South Carolina race, put himself in a good spot for a podium finish by finishing second behind Russell on Saturday. However, a nasty crash on Sunday in the second test of the day left the FMF KTM Factory Racing rider a little tentative, and he ultimately finished fifth for the day and fourth overall.
Evan Smith rode a 250F to fifth overall, which was impressive considering the sandy conditions. The Max Motorsports/FXR Racing/Husqvarna-backed rider, who was particularly fast in the Enduro test, easily won the Pro2 class with the finish.