Thad DuVall Wrangles Rattlesnake Enduro
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thad DuVall took control of the overall point standings in the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series after claiming a dramatic come-from-behind victory at this weekend’s Rattlesnake Enduro – round five of the series in Cross Fork, Pennsylvania.
After getting off to a bad start in test one, N-Fab/Am Pro Yamaha’s Josh Toth led much of the day’s race thanks to wins in tests three and four, however DuVall and teammate Josh Strang came on strong in the final two tests, dropping Toth to third in the final results and giving Husqvarna a 1-2 sweep of the podium. Strang won the fifth test and actually led DuVall heading into the sixth and final test of the day, but DuVall turned in a brilliant performance to finish off the final eight-mile test about 17 seconds faster than Strang for the win. In the end, DuVall won the event by seven seconds over Strang.
The Rattlesnake Enduro is considered one of the most technical on the schedule with it’s rocky terrain, and hard rain on Saturday made for an even tougher event on Sunday, which turned out to be an advantage for DuVall.
“I started out good, but I struggled halfway into the event and Toth was putting it on us,” said DuVall. “I just wasn’t riding like I know I can. I think I was thinking too much about winning the race, so before test five I just told myself to relax and ride and that made all the difference.”
DuVall only won one test all day (the final test), however consistent times throughout the day (plus the win in the final test) gave him the victory and boosted him to the top of the series point standings. The win was DuVall’s third in a row.
For Strang, the runner-up finish marked the Aussie off-road star’s first podium of the season.
“For sure, this was a better day for me,” said Strang. “I think the biggest thing was my foot is finally healed up and in these rocky conditions you need to use your feet a lot to get through a lot of the sections. I’ve also been practicing enduro a lot at home, and I think the combination of the two made the difference in today’s results.”
Toth looked unbeatable at the halfway mark, but the Connecticut rider wasn’t able match the speed of DuVall and Strang in the final two tests.
“I had a tip-over in the first test and I knocked my front brake lever down and I struggled in that one, but we came back and won some tests and that moved me to the front,” said Toth. “I was in contention for the win and I was leading heading into the final two tests, but I had a couple of tip-overs, but I still felt I rode well. I’m not sure where I lost my time to Thad and Josh but I was pretty bummed to drop back to third.”
Fourth was SRT Racing KTM’s Steward Baylor Jr., who came into the event holding the series point lead. Baylor struggled all day with an infection in his knee and eventually finished 27 seconds behind Toth.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” said Baylor. “With Strang and Toth finishing between me and Thad, that gave Thad the points lead and I’m pretty bummed about that. I’m still dealing with the effects of the Epstein Barr virus and that makes me susceptible to infections and I injured my knee recently and now it’s infected and it just bothered me all day.”
Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Ben Kelley used his rock-riding skills to round out the top five. The Connecticut rider was second fastest in the third and sixth tests and finished just seven seconds off of Baylor.
Solid Performance KTM’s Jesse Groemm kicked off the second half of the top 10 with a sixth place finish. The New Jersey rider edged SRT Racing KTM’s Cory Buttrick by a tenth of a second for the position.
Eighth went to KR4 Husqvarna’s Grant Baylor, while KTM riders Russell Bobbitt and Ryder Lafferty rounded out the top 10.
With four rounds remaining, DuVall now leads Baylor by four points (127 to 123), with Grant Baylor in third with 88 points.
On a side note, eight-time national enduro champion Mike Lafferty came out of professional retirement to race the Rattlesnake Enduro on KTM’s 1090R Adventure bike. It was pretty cool seeing the eight-time national champion wrestling the 500-something lb. bike through the slimy rocks and through the deep ruts to a 19th place finish in the Pro division.
“It took a section to kind of settle in, but once I got going I started feeling comfortable on it,” said Lafferty. “Later in the race I would find myself really getting on it, but then I would hit a hole and I would have to remind myself that I was riding a 500-lb. motorcycle and I better back it down a little.”
In the Rekluse Expert-AA class, Thorn Devlin remains perfect after claiming his fifth win of the season. The AirGroup Enduro Engineering Husqvarna rider won four of the six tests and beat fellow New Englander and Yamaha rider Hunter Bush by two minutes and 25 seconds.
“It was a hectic day,” said Devlin. “I don’t feel like I rode my best today but it was still good enough for the win and I have to be happy with that.”
Kyle Tino finished third on a KTM another 14 seconds behind Bush.
Like Devlin, Tyla Jones also remained perfect, claiming a fifth-straight win in the Women’s Elite division after beating KTM rider Kiersten McDonal by a little over 25 minutes despite hitting the ground a couple of times. Jones rode from row 79 and had to deal with a deeply rutted course.
“The ruts gave me trouble and I slipped on the roots a couple of times because by the time I got to them they were dug up and sticking quite a ways out of the ground,” said Jones.
Over 500 riders competed in the Rattlesnake Enduro, which is organized by the Brandywine Enduro Riders. BER did an amazing job with this year’s event and it has become a mainstay of the national enduro circuit.
The Kenda AMA National Enduro Series resumes action on August 20th for the Muddobbers National Enduro in Matthews, Indiana, which is round six of the series. For more information go to www.nationalenduro.com.
Thad DuVall (Hsq)
Josh Strang (Hsq)
Josh Toth (Yam)
Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)
Ben Kelley (KTM)
Jesse Groemm (KTM)
Cory Buttrick (KTM)
Grant Baylor (Hsq)
Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
Ryder Lafferty (KTM)