Ryan Sipes Wins The Opening Round Of The 2018 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series
Ryan Sipes wasn’t sure where he would fit into the pecking order heading into the opening round of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series this past weekend. While most of his competition was in Florida preparing for the upcoming season, the Rockstar/Leatt/Maxxis Husqvarna rider was at home with his wife Holly, who was expecting the couple’s third child. When Holly gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday, however, Ryan got the green light to go to Moccasin Creek Off Road Park in Georgia and compete. The competition may now be wishing Holly held off a few more days.
After two days of racing and 12 rough, sandy special tests, Sipes came out on top of a battle with defending series champ Steward Baylor by 23 seconds to claim the overall win and the initial lead in the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series championship standings.
“I had no idea what to expect coming in here,” Sipes admitted. “Since my wife was expecting, I didn’t get to ride the last few weeks so I didn’t know if I would come in here and get smoked or win the thing.”
Sipes got the ball rolling by winning the first test of the day—a Cross test—and then backed it up with a second win in the second test, an Enduro. The Kentuckian then proceeded to win all five of the remaining Cross tests. Sipes sealed the deal, however, in the final Enduro test.
“At the end of day 1, Stew was gaining on me, and he was obviously doing it in the Enduro test,” Sipes said. “So I walked that test a total of four times trying to figure out where he was gaining time on me, and I think that made the difference. Stew’s lines are really good and I could see, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s braking early and turning here,’ whereas I was taking the main line a little too much.”
Sipes was able to pull off the win each day in addition to claiming the overall victory, which puts him in good position heading into the rest of the season. But Baylor gave Sipes a run for his money, winning a total of four tests, all of which were Enduros. The Tely Racing KTM-backed South Carolina rider kept Sipes honest in the Cross tests en route to the runner-up slot.
“This weekend was encouraging for me,” Baylor said. “I’m usually down a lot further from Ryan in the Cross tests. I’m normally finishing fourth or fifth in those and then having to make up the difference in the Enduro tests. But this weekend I felt I was a lot closer to Ryan in the Cross tests, which is a result of all the moto time I put in during the off-season.”
Baylor came into the weekend carrying a lot of momentum after winning a national enduro the previous weekend and shouldn’t be counted out of the championship.
With a win in the fourth test on Saturday, Josh Strang put pressure Sipes and Baylor, but the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider struggled to find a comfortable setup and finished the weekend third overall, 23 seconds off Baylor’s pace. Strang spent the rest of the weekend fending off a challenge from Beta USA’s Jordan Ashburn but wound up topping the Tennessean rider by 16 seconds at the finish.
“I think my speed was good, but I wasn’t comfortable,” Strang said. “The track got a lot rougher than I expected, and from start to finish we were making changes to the bike, just trying to find the setup. I think the last four tests on Sunday really showed that we found it, and I was a lot more comfortable in those tests.”
- Ryan Sipes (Husqvarna)
- Steward Baylor (KTM)
- Josh Strang (Husqvarna)
- Jordan Ashburn (Beta)
- Evan Smith (Husqvarna)
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Layne Michael (Husqvarna)
- Liam Draper (Husqvarna)
- Mike Witkowski (Beta)
- Cole Mattison (Yamaha)