Steward Baylor Jr. Wins Lead Belt National Enduro
Steward Baylor Jr. grabbed his second win of the season with an impressive performance at this weekend’s Lead Belt National Enduro in Park Hills, Missouri – round seven of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series Powered by FMF. The SRT Racing-backed Baylor won four of the six tests, claiming the win by 43-seconds over his brother, Grant, while series point leader Thad DuVall finished third, another 15 seconds back.
With the win, Steward carved nine points out of DuVall’s lead in the series standings. With just two rounds remaining the South Carolina rider now sits second, just seven points out of first.
“We started off the first test with a win and that got me off on the right foot,” said Baylor. “After two tests, I think me, Grant and Thad were within three seconds of each other, so I knew it was going to be a fight today. After test three I had to make up some time on Grant, but I got the test win in the last three tests and that gave me just the edge I needed.”
Grant Baylor held the lead after three tests, having won tests two and three, but the KR4 Arrive-n-Ride rider struggled in the fourth test which led to a meltdown in test five.
“It was really right racing early in the day and I felt like I was flowing really well with the bike and I ended up winning tests two and three, but after that I kind of went downhill,” said Grant. “In test four I caught up to Russell Bobbitt but I struggled with the dust and couldn’t get close enough to pass him. Then in the fifth test I just kind of fell apart, even though I managed to get second. To top it off, I threw away any chance I had at the win in the last test when I went down. I came around this corner and a vine wrapped around my front wheel and I had to get off the bike to get it loose. If not for a few mistakes I might have been on the top step.”
Points leader DuVall turned in an amazing performance, finishing third less than two weeks after tearing a ligament in his left wrist, which forced him to drop out of this year’s International Six Days Enduro in France.
“I flew home early from France and I got about five different opinions on what was wrong with my wrist,” said DuVall. “It was severe, but maybe not as severe as we thought. At first they thought I needed surgery, but it turned out I didn’t need it, which was good. So I rode this weekend with a brace and salvaged what I could.”
DuVall was second-fastest in tests two, four and six, and came away with third for the day, earning the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing off-roader 21 valuable championship points.
“It was tough,” added DuVall. “I noticed in the last test I had to use four fingers to pull in the clutch. Since I probably wasn’t even supposed to be riding today, I guess third place is something to be happy about.”
Grabbing his best finish of the year with a fourth was Integrity Acquisitions-backed KTM rider Evan Smith, who finished fifth at the last round and has been steadily improving as the year progresses.
“Today went well; I felt like I rode pretty well and I think I put in some consistent times,” said Smith. “I had a few falls and tweaked a few things on the bike but for the most part I kept it moving forward and I’m happy with my ride. It was pretty sketchy out there and it was tough just keeping it on two wheels.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Josh Strang was fifth, edging SRT Racing KTM’s Cory Buttrick by six seconds.
Seventh went to Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Ben Kelley, who was making a rare national enduro appearance. Kelley got off to a slow start, finishing 13th in test one, but got stronger as the day wore on.
Eighth went to Solid Performance KTM’s Jesse Groemm, who topped AirGroup Racing/Enduro Engineering Husqvarna’s Thorn Devlin by just two seconds for the position. In addition to ninth, Devlin also won the Rekluse Expert/AA division, wrapping up the series title in the process.
Rounding out the top 10 was FMF KTM Factory Racing Team’s Russell Bobbitt.
Finishing second in the Rekluse Expert/AA division behind Devlin was KTM-mounted Logan Lowrey, who was also 13th overall. Meanwhile, AirGroup Racing/Enduro Engineering Husqvarna’s Tyler Vore was third in the Expert AA class and 15th overall.
“It feels good to wrap up the title,” said Devlin. “It was so dry out there and I knew if I went in tight I would be sliding all over the place so I tried to ride loose and it paid off.”
Devlin is undefeated for the year in the Expert AA class, with seven straight wins.
Also wrapping up a title was Tayla Jones, who clinched the Women’s Elite championship on her KR4 Arrive-n-Ride Husqvarna with a dominating win in Missouri. Jones was also undefeated on the year with six wins. Second place went to Taylor Bonecutter on her Bonecutter Beta, while Yamaha-mounted Jennifer Sheppard was third.
“I’m pretty stoked to wrap up the title,” said Jones. “Last week I wrapped up the GNCC title, so it was great to add this one. It was a bit dry out there so I just tried to stay upright and not make too many mistakes, but I ended up having a good day.”
The Open A class was won by Sam Mattingly, while the 250 A class was won by fellow Yamaha rider James King.
The 2017 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series resumes action on October 15th for the Zink Ranch National Enduro, round eight of the series in Sand Springs, Oklahona. For more information on the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series check out www.nationalenduro.com.
Steward Baylor (KTM)
Grant Baylor (Hsq)
Thad DuVall (Hsq)
Evan Smith (KTM)
Josh Strang (Hsq)
Cory Buttrick (KTM)
Ben Kelley (KTM)
Jesse Groemm (KTM)
Thorn Devlin (Hsq)
Russell Bobbitt (KTM)