2023 EnduroCross: Redmond, Rnd 5 win for Haaker sends title fight to the wire
2023 EnduroCross Series is heading right to the wire after Colton Haaker fires back to his best with round five overall win in Redmond ahead of title rivals Trystan Hart and Jonny Walker.
Round five of the IRC Tire EnduroCross Series in Redmond, Oregon, produced the third different overall winner in five rounds, as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker went 1-3-1 for the overall win, setting up a showdown with FMF KTM’s Trystan Hart and Beta’s Jonny Walker heading into the final round in Reno, Nevada next weekend.
It was the Haaker of old who turned on the style at this fifth and penultimate round of the 2023 EX series. Another day and another track layout which looked sweet and offered another new challenge this season which has given riders fresh obstacles and layouts with each round.
In a nutshell, Colton Haaker took the lead early in all three motos and threatened to sweep the night, leading every racing lap except one, the final lap of moto two where he tangled with a lapper a few turns from the finish and relinquished the top spot to Hart.
Good to see blue smoke hanging in the air off the starts!
Hart held the night’s overall point lead over Haaker heading into the third and final moto with a second and a first in the first two motos; however, a holeshot by Haaker in the final moto of the evening sealed the deal for Haaker, as the Husqvarna rider rode an inspired race to take a flag-to-flag win ahead of Walker, with Hart in third.
“That should have been three moto wins, but in the second moto, I just had an error there where I followed a lapper when I shouldn’t have, but I still got the overall, and that’s the important thing—my first overall of the season,” said Haaker. “I think I led every lap except the last lap in the second moto, tonight.”
Haaker was on point with his starts, grabbing the holeshot in all three motos. “We’ve been riding all well, but it’s been a whole year since I have found the mental part of the equation again,” admitted Haaker. “All last year was a big backward year for me, but I feel like I’m in control of all aspects of my riding at this point, including the starts.”
Hart runs Colton close
Hart was disappointed with second overall for the night but happy to have drawn closer to Walker in the championship chase with his 2-1-3 finish, now sitting just seven points behind, setting up a down-to-the-wire final round in Reno to settle the championship.
“It’s coming down to the wire again like last year,” said Hart. “There are seven points between us, but I’m going to need Haaker’s help, and he’s riding well, so it’s doable. It was super-tight racing between me and Colton with a winner-take-all in the final race. I didn’t get the jump in moto three, and that was important on this track, as it was hard to pass. We made up a lot of points today in the championship – now we’ll look ahead to Reno!”
“Tense” Walker sees championship lead cut
Walker felt he never meshed with the track and was pleased he was able to escape the evening with a seven-point lead in the championship after finishing third with a 3-2-2 moto tally.
“I just felt tense in the first moto,” said Jonny, who set yet another fastest Hot Lap earlier in the evening. “I got into the race and just wasn’t getting the triple and just lost bits of time here and there. I felt I had the pace in the second moto and Colton went down on the last lap, so I got second behind Trystan. It was tight racing and I had a chance for the overall going into the last moto, but I ended up going down when Colton cross-jumped me, dropping me to second.”
FactoryONE Sherco’s Cody Webb had trouble with the faster, less technical track and came away with fourth for the night after posting 5-4-4 moto finishes.
“Not a good night,” said Webb. “To be fair, I think it just came down to a mental thing. I looked at the track yesterday and thought, ‘I really don’t like the track.’ And it showed. I just rode tight. I would try to charge, and then I’d get arm-pump. Just not a good night.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Ryder LeBlond went 4-5-6 for fifth overall. “I started off pretty slow,” said LeBlond. “I thought I put in good laps in practice, but then my times were like ninth or tenth, and I thought, ‘holy smoke, it might be a long night.’ When the motos came around I turned it around a little bit, especially with a fourth in the first moto, but I really wasn’t just clashing tonight.”
RPM Racing/KTM’s Will Riordan was sixth with a moto score of 7-6-5, edging out FactoryOne Sherco’s Cooper Abbott’s 6-8-8. Meanwhile, Arizona GasGas rider Max Gerston went 10-7-7 for eighth.
Factory Rieju rider Dominik Olszowsky, of Poland, has been hovering around ninth and tenth for the entire series. In Redmond, he went 8-10-9 for ninth. Idaho’s Anthony Johnson (KTM) wrapped up the top 10 with a 9-9-11 finish.
What happened to Taddy? Agravating an existing ankle injury in finishing 16th in moto one, Blazusiak called it a night there and then.
Redmond EnduroCross 2023 pro results:
Championship Standings (top 3) with one round remaining:
1. Jonny Walker, 124 points
2. Trystan Hart, 117
3. Colton Haaker, 112
Hallie Marks puts Shercon on top in Women’s Pro class
In the EX Women’s Pro division, Montana’s Hallie Marks (Shr) won the main event after battling with runner-up Kylee Sweeten (GG) of Oregon. Sweeten was able to wrestle the lead away from Marks for a short time, but Marks was able to retaliate and take the win.
“It feels amazing,” said Marks. “This is the first race that I’ve led almost the entire race. I almost had a heart attack when Kylee passed me but I was able to get back in the lead.” Mellisa Harten (Bet) was third.
Women’s EX Pro results:
The IRC Tire EnduroCross Series presented by Progressive series wraps up in Reno, Nevada, on November 18th with its sixth and final round in Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center.
More information: www.endurocross.com
Words Credit: Shan Moore
Photo Credit: Jack Jaxson + Shan Moore