Jordan Ashburn topped both days of competition to claim the overall win at this weekend’s Hill Billy Sprint Enduro, round five of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series presented by PRI Powersports Insurance in Rural Retreat, Virginia. Colorado’s Ian Blythe was second on a KTM, while Integrity Acquisitions-backed KTM rider Evan Smith was third.
The win marked the second victory in a row for the Beta USA rider in the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series, and he did it with speed and consistency, taking two test wins on Saturday and two test wins on Sunday.
“For me, it’s just been about getting used to the sprint series format,” said Ashburn, who is in his first full season with the series in 2017. “It was another good weekend and I just tried to be consistent and hit my lines and it paid off.”
Ashburn got off to a good start on Saturday, winning the first test of the day by about eight seconds ahead of Blythe and Smith.
Series point leader and SRT Racing-backed South Carolina native Steward Baylor won test two (an Enduro test), beating Smith and Ashburn.
Blythe took test three (a Cross test) ahead of SRT Racing’s Cory Buttrick and Ashburn, while Baylor dropped to fifth.
Ashburn held a 10-second advantage over Baylor heading into the fourth test; however, Baylor won the test, making up all but two seconds of that advantage, while Ashburn turned in the fourth-fastest time for the test.
“I just missed my mark in a couple of places and you can’t do that at this level,” admitted Ashburn.
Blythe came back strong to win test five, with Baylor finishing second, almost a second ahead of Ashburn.
Heading into the sixth and final test of the day, Ashburn held a two-second advantage over Baylor. Ashburn ended up winning the test – his second test win of the day, while Baylor crashed within a 100 yards of the end gates, dropping the KTM rider to fifth for the test.
With all six tests in the books, Ashburn was top finisher for the day, finishing just over 10 seconds ahead of Buttrick, who edged out Baylor for the runner-up slot, despite not winning a test all day.
“I went down just before the finish in the very first test, so things didn’t start off very well, but we slowly started getting things sorted out and started posting some good times,” said Buttrick.
Third went to Baylor, who was just three-tenths of a second behind his teammate Buttrick.
“I’d have a good test and then I’d follow it up with a bad one,” Baylor said. “After the first two tests we changed forks and tires and we started making up a lot of time, but that crash in the last test cost me.”
Fourth overall went to Smith, who was strongest all day in the Enduro test, though he did finish second in the first Cross test. Meanwhile, Blythe rounded out the top five with two test wins on the day, both coming on the Cross test.
Blythe got off to a quick start on Sunday, winning the first test of the day – a Cross test, which cut into Ashburn’s overall lead by about three seconds. Ashburn was second with Buttrick in third.
Ashburn got his three seconds back when he topped Blythe in the Enduro test; however it was Smith who picked up the test win. For the rest of the day, Ashburn and Blythe battle back and forth, with Blythe picking up time in the Cross test only to lose it back to Ashburn in the Enduro test.
Buttrick was not far behind Ashburn and Blythe and was actually in podium position until the third test when his rear brake pedal seized and he lost about 20 minutes getting it repaired, which eliminated him from podium contention.
Heading into the final test of the day – an Enduro test – Blythe held a three-second lead over Ashburn in Sunday’s standings. However, Ashburn turned in perhaps his best ride of the weekend and came across the finish six seconds faster than Blythe, giving Ashburn Sunday’s win by three seconds and also the overall win by nearly 17 seconds.
“We ran the Cross test backwards today and I was struggling a little bit finding a flow at first, but my times were good enough in the Enduro test to make up for it,” said Ashburn. “I knew I had to have a good ride in that final test to catch Ian and luckily I was able to turn in a fast one.”
Blythe ended the day and the weekend in second overall, while Smith was third overall.
“I knew I was struggling in the Enduro test so my goal was to focus on the Cross test and just try to maintain in the Enduro test and I wound up winning all three of the Cross tests, but Jordan was just too fast in the Enduro tests,” said Blythe.
Smith’s third place finish marked his first podium for the series.
“I usually fall off the pace a little bit on the second day but this weekend I think I found another gear on Sunday,” said Smith. “It was great to get on the podium and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.”
Kentucky KTM rider Vance Francis turned in some solid rides to claim fourth in the Pro division, beating out Yamaha rider Brandon Nero by nearly three minutes for the spot. Meanwhile, Buttrick was able to salvage sixth, while Baylor, who only rode on Saturday, was seventh.
Cody Pingley topped Billy Schlag in a squeaker for the Open A division win. The West Virginia KTM rider also claimed top Amateur honors by just .4 seconds over Schlag and was fifth overall for the weekend. Schlag was sixth overall and second in the Open A class.
Devan Byer (Hsq) won the Lites A class and finished eighth overall.
In the Women’s Pro division, KR4 Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones topped Bonanza Plumbing’s Mackenzie Tricker for Saturday’s win, but neither rider participated on Sunday.
In the overall results, The Motorcycle Shop Yamaha’s Brooke Cosner claimed the overall win in the Women’s Pro division, with Kendall LaFollette in second and Sarah Baldwin in third. Cosner claimed $500 of the $2000 Women’s Pro purse for the victory.
“I had a blast,” said Cosner, who is the defending Women’s champion. “Both tests were fun, but I really enjoyed the Cross test.”
The 2017 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series resumes on August 5-6 for the LL Raceway Sprint Enduro, round six of the series in Fairmount City, Pennsylvania.
For more information on the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series check out www.sprintenduro.com.
RESULTS - OVERALL:
1. Jordan Ashburn (Bet) 1:13:01.473
2. Ian Blythe (KTM) 1:13:18.593
3. Evan Smith (KTM) 1:13:31.227
4. Vance Francis (KTM) 1:15:42.563
5. Brandon Nero (Yam) 1:18:38.309
6. Cory Buttrick (KTM) 1:31:47.540
7. Steward Baylor (KTM) 00:36:35.941
Shan MooreUS Contributorshan@tandenews.com