John Zink National Enduro Race Report
Steward Baylor claimed a dramatic come-from-behind victory at this weekend’s John Zink National Enduro in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, marking his second win in a row in the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series powered by Motion Pro. With the win, the SRT Racing KTM rider moved to the top of the series standings with one round remaining on the schedule, guaranteeing a winner take all finish at the series finale in Alabama.
Two crashes in the opening test – a grass track – left Baylor sitting 12th heading into test two. However, as he has done so many times before, the South Carolina rider clawed his way back into contention and then sealed the deal with a hammer-down performance in the final two tests to steal the win from Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Thad DuVall.
“Giving the field a 15-second head start after the first test is starting to be my M.O.,” said Baylor. “It seems I have a habit of starting off my weekends with a bad test. But I slowly worked my way back towards the front and then in the sixth test I was able to get the win and gap those guys a little. It was anybody’s race going into the final test and I’ve always ridden my best in the last test and I just nailed all my lines and came away with the win.”
Baylor now leads DuVall by two points heading into the final round in Stanton, Alabama, on November 5.
For the second race in a row, Grant Baylor accompanied his brother, Steward, on the podium; putting his KR4 Arrive-n-Ride Husqvarna into second place, some 14 seconds behind his big brother. Like Steward, Grant also got off to a poor start, but turned the fastest time in the third test and then edged DuVall for second place with a quick time in the sixth test.
“I know I’m not my best in slippery conditions and after last night’s rain that grass track was pretty slick so I just took it easy and got through it the best I could,” said Grant. “I was a little bit down the standings after that first test, but I was pretty much top-three the rest of the day. Thad had six seconds on me going into the last test and I just hung it out for the last eight miles and I was able to edge him out for second by about three seconds.”
DuVall came into the event holding the series point lead and he led the race after four tests, having won the second and fourth tests. However, the West Virginia rider admittedly struggled in the final two tests, dropping him out of first place and into third.
“I felt like I gave 100% all day and it was some unreal close racing, but it was a little tighter and rockier than I was expecting,” said DuVall. “I was way off in the sixth test, and then in the seventh I stalled the engine and had trouble getting it started.
“I’m super happy with how I rode and I felt like I laid it on the line all day. Even if I had of won, it would still come down to the final round in Alabama, so I’m not disappointed at all.”
Fourth overall went to Evan Smith. The Integrity Acquisitions-backed KTM rider crashed in test two and went over the bars, leaving him trapped for about a minute. However, the Georgia rider was able to work his way back just short of the top three by the end of the day, edging SRT Racing’s Cory Buttrick for fourth with a strong ride in the final test.
Sixth was FMF KTM Factory Racing Team’s Russell Bobbitt. Other than a small tip-over in the first test, Bobbitt stayed clean for the rest of the day and rode a consistent race to beat out Solid Performance Racing’s Jesse Groemm.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Josh Strang finished the day in eighth, while AirGroup/Enduro Engineering Husqvarna teammates Thorn Devlin and Andrew DeLong rounded out the top 10.
In addition to a ninth overall finish, Thorn Devlin also topped the Rekluse/Expert AA class, beating teammate Tyler Vore by two-minutes-twenty-five seconds. Husqvarna-mounted Bryan Forrester was third.
The win was Devlin’s eighth straight win in the Expert-AA class.
Ashlee Applewhite beat fellow KTM rider Kerrie Swartz for the win in the Women’s Elite class.
Yamaha-mounted Sam Mattingly took the win in the Open A class over Ryan Overton (KTM) and Trent Whisenant (Yam). Former World Superbike contender Ben Spies was fourth.
The Kenda AMA National Enduro Series resumes action in Stanton, Alabama for the Gobbler Getter Enduro, the ninth and final round of the series on November 5th. For more information on the series go to www.nationalenduro.com.
Steward Baylor (KTM)
Grant Baylor (Hsq)
Thad DuVall (Hsq)
Evan Smith (KTM)
Cory Buttrick (KTM)
Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
Jesse Groemm (KTM)
Josh Strang (Hsq)
Thorn Devlin (Hsq)
Andrew DeLong (Hsq)