Kenda Full Gas Three Day Enduro Race Report
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thad DuVall took home top honors at this weekend’s KENDA Full Gas Three Day Enduro presented by Moose Racing, in Greeneville, Tennessee - the final round of the 2017 AMA ISDE Qualifier Series, and the last chance for riders to qualify for club teams competing in this year’s ISDE in France.
The event was designed by organizer Jason Hooper to replicate an International Six Days Enduro as closely as possible, from the 10-minute work period at the end of each day before impounding the bikes overnight, to the final-day motocross test. In addition to World, Junior and Women’s Trophy team hopefuls, a number of riders hoping to qualify for the final few clubs team slots were present to test their skills.
The format featured two tests – a Cross test and an Enduro test, plus approximately six miles of transfer trail. After riding the transfer trail, the competitors rode the Enduro test, followed by the Enduro test, which and these three elements mademade up one lap. Friday’s event consisted of four laps, while the conditions forced Saturday’s event to be shortened to three laps. The third day, Sunday, was reserved for the traditional motocross test.
Adding to the “Six Days” flavor, World, Junior and Women’s Trophy Team hopefuls changed tires at the end of the day in their respective pits, while Letter of Intent (LOI) riders were able to “flip” tires under the Kenda tent to get a taste of changing tires under the pressure of competition. Special thanks go to Kenda Tires, SRT Racing, Beta and Rabaconda for suppling the tires, wheels, mousses and tire changers, respectively, used by the LOI riders.
Most of last year’s ISDE-winning World Trophy Team competed in the Tennessee event, with the exception of Kailub Russell. Despite Russell’s absence, 2016 ISDE overall individual winner Taylor Robert was present, along with last year’s teammates Thad DuVall, and Layne Michael. Ryan Sipes, who won the 2015 overall individual ISDE award, and who last year was forced to miss Six Days due to a last minute injury, was also on hand in Tennessee.
Heavy rains fell off and on during Friday’s event, making for some pretty rugged conditions, however, DuVall and Costal Racing Husqvarna’s Ryan Sipes faired the best in the slippery terrain and accounted for most of the test wins, with Sipes winning all four Cross tests and DuVall winning three of the four Enduro tests. Am Pro Yamaha’s Josh Toth claimed the remaining Enduro test win. DuVall was the most consistent of the three riders, and finished the day sitting atop the leaderboard ahead of his teammate Josh Strang, SRT Racing’s Cory Buttrick, FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Russell Bobbitt and Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Layne Michael.
More rain overnight meant more slippery conditions on Day Two, but DuVall still controlled the event, winning three of the six tests, while KR4 Husqvarna’s Grant Baylor won two tests, and Sipes won one. Though he didn’t get an outright test win, Buttrick stayed consistent all day and was sitting in second overall behind DuVall after two days of racing.
A crash on Friday caused Josh Toth to lose more than a minute, however, the Am Pro Yamaha rider more than made up for it with a spectacular ride on Satuday made up for a crash on Friday that cost him nearly a minute with some impressive, moving the Connecticut rider into third overall after two days, with Bobbitt, Baylor and Strang rounding out the top six after two days.
The final-day motocross test typically doesn’t change the standings very much unless someone falls and the results remained pretty much intact after 10 laps of racing.
Sipes won the moto 12.3 seconds ahead of DuVall, with Layne Michael finishing third ahead of Taylor Robert and Strang.
After the three days of competition were tallied, DuVall took the overall win ahead of Buttrick, with Toth rounding out the podium.
“It was a good event for me,” said DuVall. “It was some of the slickest terrain I’ve ever ridden, but I was able to ride that fine line between being on the edge and going fast and that allowed me to build up a big lead beginning with Friday. It was a really good three days for me, and I think I only hit the ground one time all weekend.”
Consistency paid off for Buttrick with a solid second place finish.
“It was pretty gnarly out there but I just kept plugging along,” said Buttrick. “I didn’t really have any nasty falls or give up any big amount of time in any section, so that paid off for sure. There were a lot of times out there that you didn’t feel like you were going very fast, but you just had to keep your feet on the pegs and keep moving forward.”
Toth finished ahead of a lot of impressive names with his third place finish.
“I was having a good day on Friday but then I had a pretty nasty crash and I lost about a minute trying to get going again, but I was able to turn in a good ride on Saturday and make most of that ground up. I rode on a Club team last year and I felt like this event was a good way for our guys to get the practice we need to do well in France this year.”
Bobbitt used the experience that carried him to five National Enduro titles to good use to finish fourth overall, while Strang dropped from second on Friday to fifth on Saturday after he got stuck in a deep rut during Saturday’s Cross test. Strang was also fifth in the Motocross test.
KR4 Husqvarna’s Grant Baylor won two tests and finished the weekend in sixth, while Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Layne Michael had a good day on Friday but struggled on Saturday and finished the weekend in seven, despite finishing third in the motocross.
Beta USA’s Jordan Ashburn used his extreme racing expertise to finish eight. Meanwhile, Taylor Robert finished ninth despite this being just his third race back from a nasty injury from his crash at the King of Motos. This was also the first time he has raced a 500 in a long time.
KTM privateer Evan Smith rounded out the top 10, with Sipes coming in at 11th. Sipes exceled in the Cross tests, but a few crashes in the Enduro tests, plus a problem with a shift lever on Saturday morning caused the Kentucky rider struggle in a few of the tests.
In the Women’s division, KR4 Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones took the win ahead of FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kacy Martinez and KTM-supported Becca Sheets. Jones is no stranger to ISDE competition, and has led Team Australia to four-straight ISDE Women’s Trophy Team victories in addition to winning the Women’s overall individual award twice.
“It was a tough event and I’m happy to get the win,” said Jones. “These aren’t my favorite conditions to ride in but I just put my head down and kept pushing.”
Jacob Rowland lead all LOI riders over the weekend, with Anson Maloney in second, Dillon Shephard in third, Trent Whisenant in fourth, Van McCarren in fifth and John Maier in sixth. These riders qualified for club teams that will compete in France.
US ISDE team manager Antti Kallonen felt the Full Gas Three Day Enduro was a great way to prepare for this year’s ISDE, not only for the World team riders, but also for aspiring club riders.
“Overall, I thought this was a good test for our riders,” said Kallonen. “It gave them a chance to practice the things that are required at Six Days that we don’t have in our series here in the States, like changing tires at the end of the day. Plus, the weather was extreme with all the rain, and chances are no one is going to go out and practice under these conditions, so our guys are a little more prepared now because of it.”
The Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series will resume action on June 17-18 at Crow Canyon in Uhrichsville, Ohio. For more information on the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series presented by PRI Powersports Insurance go to www.sprintenduro.com.
Thad DuVall (Hsq)
Cory Buttrick (KTM)
Josh Toth (Yam)
Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
Josh Strang (Hsq)
Grant Baylor (Hsq)
Layne Michael (Hsq)
Jordan Ashburn (Bet)
Taylor Robert (KTM)
Evan Smith (KTM)