The first ever Phoenix EnduroCross saw Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker take a big win with KTM teammates Taylor Robert and Cody Webb rounding out the podium.
When the final race of the night lined up, Robert jumped out front first to take the holeshot and held the early lead. Haaker was close behind with Webb in third to set up an epic battle for the win. Robert and Haaker put on an amazing show as each of them made some spectacular leaps completely over the firewood pit and water hole, sometimes in unison and sometimes to regain a small advantage as the other missed the challenging leaps.
“I came in a little rusty due to an injury so I was glad we had a weekend off,” said Haaker of the solid evening. “I had an awesome battle with Taylor and we were jumping the water and some awesome stuff so that was a really fun race and I am happy to do what I need to do.”
On lap five Haaker finally found a way past Robert in the tricky double rock section. At that point, he slowly pulled away from Robert, who was competing in his first EnduroCross of the season. Webb rode a steady and fast pace to pass Robert on lap seven and held a fairly consistent gap of about eight seconds until lap fourteen. Haaker took the win, his third in four races so far this season.
On lap fifteen, Webb’s chain broke and although he managed to push his bike to the finish with some outside help from a few other riders, he missed some obstacles and was only credited with fourteen laps, which was still good enough for third. Robert passed Webb to take second.
“The track was awesome tonight, really fun and a great venue,” said Webb. “I made a huge mistake in the matrix on the first lap and but was able to work my way past Taylor. When my chain broke, I knew we had lapped a lot of riders but I still felt that I needed to push the bike to the finish.”
“This is the gnarliest two wheel sport we have and I only had three days of EnduroCross practice.” Robert said. “That is not how I wanted to get second but I am still happy to be up here on the podium with these guys and show that I can still mix it up with them.”
Husqvarna’s Mike Brown recovered from a bad start to finish fourth. Canada’s Trystan Hart had a breakthrough event to finish fifth. The nineteen year old Canadian has been progressing rapidly. SRT Racing’s Cory Grafunder finished sixth. Beta’s Kyle Redmond was seventh. Cooper Abbott had his best ever finish with an eighth. GasGas backed Geoff Aaron finished ninth and Wyatt Hart, Trystan’s older brother, finished tenth.
Noah Kepple, Max Gerston, Ty Tremaine and Taddy Blazusiak finished eleventh through fourteenth respectively. This was the third race in a row where Blazusiak struggled since injuring his thumb in round two.
Haaker opened up a seven point lead over Webb in the championship, with 101 and 94 respectively. Brown currently holds third with 77 points.
Canada’s Shelby Turner took her third win in four races in the Women’s main event riding a KTM. Morgan Tanke finished second on a Beta and those two are currently first and second in the points in that order. Melissa Harten, another Canadian finished third on a Beta.
EnduroCross events also include two support classes for Amateurs and Vet riders 35 and older. Spenser Wilton took the win in the amateur class with a last turn pass on Joseph Bridges. David Stirm rounded out the podium.
In the Vet class, Kurt Nicoll won the event on an Alta electric bike, the first ever win for an electric powered motorcycle. Ironically, Nicoll made up a lot of time on early race leader Stephen Foord when he stalled his bike and then passed him when he stalled it a second time in the final corner. Jason Gitchel and Wayne Dickert also passed Foord to take second and third.
The series will resume next weekend in Denver, Colorado on Saturday, October 1st.
2016 Phoenix AMA EnduroCross Results
1. Colton Haaker (Husqvarna)
2. Taylor Robert (KTM)
3. Cody Webb (KTM)
4. Mike Brown (Husqvarna)
5. Trystan Hart (Husqvarna)
6. Cory Graffunder (KTM)
7. Kyle Redmond (Beta)
8. Cooper Abbott (Husqvarna)
9. Geoff Aaron (Gas Gas)
10. Wyatt Hart (Husqvarna)
11. Noah Kepple (KTM)
12. Max Gerston (Beta)
13. Ty Tremaine (KTM)
14. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM)
Images: Ian Reid