The 2017 AMA National Enduro Championship kicked off in Sumter last weekend. With the series opener always a major talking point regarding new riders, new teams and who’s going to do what, our man on the ground Shan Moore recaps the points of note…
Nick Fahringer, one of the most popular riders on the circuit, showed up in Sumter as part of the newly formed Sherco Off-road effort and came away with 23rd overall. Nick has the potential to be a consistent top-five guy and a little more time on the bike may bring that kind of result.
Russell Bobbitt finished second in the third and sixth tests of the day, leaving the FMF/KTM Factory Off-road racer in fourth overall for the day. Bobbitt said he was not pleased at missing the podium but he was happy with the way he felt he “clicked” with the bike and was looking forward to round two in Florida.
Andrew DeLong finished a strong fifth in his first ride for Airgroup Racing/Enduro Engineering Husqvarna Racing. DeLong has spent the past two years dealing with a wrist injury but finally seems to be in good health.
Drew Higgins signed with Beta USA during the off-season and kicked off the year with a 14th in Sumter.
The 2015 Kenda AMA National Enduro Champ Kailub Russell made his return to the national enduro series after a year absence to concentrate on GNCC. The FMF/KTM Factory Racer lost the Sumter race by a single second to Steward Baylor and looked amazingly fast for his first effort in over a year.
The 2011 season was Thad DuVall’s last full-on effort in the national enduro series, but this year sees the West Virginia rider a full-time enduro participant as a member of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing effort.
Steward Baylor has a history of great finishes at the Sumter National Enduro, and this year’s effort was one of his best. “Stu” looked to have things well in hand heading into the final test but a crash midway into the test left the SRT KTM rider scrambling to save every second he could. When the final results were posted, Steward had just one second to spare in a close win over Kailub Russell.
U.S. ISDE standout Josh Toth signed with Randy Hawkins’ Am Pro Yamaha team and turned in an encouraging 10th place finish.
Australia’s Tyla Jones - ISDE champion - is giving the US series a go in 2017 and came away with an easy win in the Women’s division at Sumter.
Ryan Sipes made a rare national enduro appearance and came away with 28th overall. Sipes was the top individual performer at the 2015 ISDE in Slovakia, but is still recovering from the arm injury that kept him out of this year’s Six Days in Spain.
With round one now in the books, the series marches on to round two at the Alligator National Enduro in Ormond Florida on March 19.
Shan MooreUSA Contributor