ENDURO21.COM RIDER OF THE YEAR 2016

Thad DuVall takes the win and championship honours at final round of the Full Gas Sprint Enduro Season.

Thad DuVall headed into the final round of the 2016 KENDA Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series presented by Moose Racing in Union, SC with a commanding points lead and could’ve easily put it on cruise control and clinch the championship but that just isn’t Thad’s style. DuVall had won two individual days of racing in this year’s series but hadn’t been able to put together an overall win and he was determined to put an exclamation point on his season with a win that clinched the title.

The Union, SC area hadn’t seen a drop of rain in over six weeks leading up to the event so riders would deal with very dry and dusty conditions on day one. As the series points leader, DuVall was the first to hit the track and used the clear vision to his advantage and grabbed the first test win of the day, the enduro test, by less than a second ahead of his ISDE Trophy winning teammate, Layne Michael. RPM/KTM’s Evan Smith was 3rd in the test in his return to the series after injuring his shoulder at the 3rd round.

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DuVall’s lead would be short-lived as Layne Michael would take the 2nd test win by over 3-seconds. AmPro Yamaha’s Grant Baylor was .2 seconds behind DuVall with SRT Off-Road’s Cory Buttrick in 4th and Jordan Ashburn in 5th aboard his new Beta USA 390RR. 

The third and fourth tests of the day saw new test winners as well with Evan Smith taking the 2nd Enduro Test win, his first-ever FGSE test win and then ISDE Junior Team member, Grant Baylor, took the win by just a second ahead of DuVall in the 2nd cross test.

The points leader would rebound with a commanding win in the 3rd enduro test and back that up with the final cross test win of day one to move himself to the top of the leaderboard with a 14-second lead ahead of Grant Baylor. Layne Michael sat just another second back in 3rd ahead of Evan Smith, Cory Buttrick, and Josh Toth all of whom were separated by just five seconds heading into the 2nd day of racing.

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Racing conditions did a complete 180 on Sunday with rain beginning to fall early in the morning turning what was one of the dustiest races of the year into a much more slippery affair for the first tests of the day. 

Jordan Ashburn, a rider who is notorious for his mud-riding ability, took the first enduro test win of the day ahead of Josh Toth and Layne Michael. DuVall, who used the first place starting position to his advantage on day one struggled as the first rider on the test in the mud and finished in 4th, 7-seconds behind Ashburn. 

Cory Buttrick struggled on day one but started to find his rhythm on day two with a test win in the first cross test of the day besting Layne Michael by 2-seconds with Thad DuVall another four seconds back. 

DuVall would build his lead to a comfortable margin with commanding performances in the enduro test taking the final two wins on that test for the weekend. 

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“It feels good to get the win and the championship. This was my first win of the season, but I’ve been consistent all year, with a lot of seconds and thirds, and that’s the name of the game,” said DuVall. “I’ve been close before but this is the first one I was able to put together two strong days,” he added.

With Layne Michael putting in consistent top-5 scores throughout the day and taking the final cross test win to put himself in a solid 2nd-place position, the real battle began for the final podium position between AmPro Yamaha Teammates Grant Baylor and Josh Toth. 

Toth finished day one in 6th-place overall, over 20-seconds behind his teammate but the New Englander felt right at home in the slick conditions and was able to beat Baylor in every test on Sunday, including taking the win in the 2nd cross test which was good enough to clinch 3rd-place overall for the weekend, his first-ever Full Gas Sprint Enduro podium. 

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“Today and yesterday were totally opposite as far as conditions, but it was a good course on both days. It was dusty yesterday and then today it rained, but the dirt turned out to be pretty good. I made a few mistakes today but I was able to keep it going well enough to get second. This is my favorite series, for sure, and I think it’s been the key to us winning the ISDE this year, because of the format, and I plan on riding these again next year,” said 2nd-place overall, and ISDE Trophy Team member, Layne Michael.

“This is my first podium at one of the Full Gas rounds so I’m pretty excited,” said 3rd-place finisher, Josh Toth. “I was sixth on Saturday, but then it rained overnight and the track was a lot better for me on Sunday. It was slick and then it got rough, and I’m from Connecticut so that’s kind of what I’m used to.”

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Grant Baylor would finish the weekend in 4th ahead of Cory Buttrick, Jordan Ashburn, Evan Smith, and Andrew DeLong. Billy Schlag would take the Open A class win and championship with another impressive top-10 overall finish in 9th ahead of Cody Gragg. 

Australian Mackenzie Tricker would take her 3rd Women’s Pro class win of the season ahead of Kendall LaFollette with Brooke Cosner finishing in 3rd after a flat tire in the last test dropped her back. Cosner would however clinch the Women’s Pro Class championship with that finish. 

The KENDA Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series will return in 2017 with another 8-round championship season. Stay tuned to sprintenduro.com for a complete season schedule to be announced soon.

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Photos: Shan Moore