KTM rider Manuel Lettenbichler wins the 2019 Tennessee Knockout ahead of Sherco’s Mario Roman and Wade Young.
Manuel Lettenbichler dominated the Kenda Tennessee Knockout to add another top result to his amazing 2019 season. Sherco rider Mario Roman put up a good fight but had to settle with second to clinch his third straight TKO podium. Teammate Wade Young rounded the podium in third, despite not being completely recovered from his foot injury.
The ninth annual TKO at the Trial Training Center attracted almost 400 riders to take on Friday’s prologue. Amateurs completed two races on Saturday with the top 30 racing on Sunday, alongside 27 pre-qualified pros.
17-year-old Ryder LeBlond took the amateur win to earn the AMA Amateur Extreme Enduro Grand National Championship and move forward to Sunday’s race.
Sunday included four races and kicked off with the Hot Lap on a mile-long course where Lettenbichler set the fastest time with 4:26. Roman was second with 4:32 and Colton Haaker finished third with 4:43.
The first Knockout round featured a 19-mile loop where the riders took off in 30-second intervals with the top 25 moving through to the next round. As in the hot lap race, Mani posted the fastest time once more with 1:01:28. Behind the KTM rider, Haaker finished second with 1:03:49 and Roman rounded the podium with 1:04:55.
The second Knockout round switched to a head-to-head format with four groups of five riders and one of six after a 26th rider was added to group six as the LCQ winner. All the top three finishers of each group moved on to the main event. Lettenbichler, Haaker, Roman and Young all won their respective group races and earned front row starting positions.
The main event moved back to the short course for a 30-minute plus one-lap race, which ended up taking Mani 37:10 to complete. The German rider took the early lead and managed to maintain it for the entire race, which ended up totalling eight laps.
Roman, Young and Haaker where engaged in a close battle for second in the opening laps. Roman went past Haaker and then it was between him and his teammate Young who battled for a couple of laps before Roman was able to work his way into second.
Despite trying his hardest, Roman was unable to make any impact on Letti’s lead and finished nearly two minutes behind. Young finished third, nearly four minutes behind Mani, and Haaker took fourth but a lap down on the podium finishers. Trystan Hart recovered from a big crash and rounded the top five.
“It is a completely different kind of format than I normally race, told Lettenbichler. “You race four times during the day with high intensity. And the main event is so difficult because the pace is so high.”
“I liked the loops but it is much hotter and more humid than I am used to from home so it makes it very challenging. I was happy to have a comfy lead at the end of the final race so I could back off a little.”
Roman, who has finished third twice at the TKO went a gear up this year. “I think I am getting more experience year by year in this race,” said Roman. “Letti made no mistakes and he was gone after I battled with Colton and Wade in the beginning but I am happy to improve and have a good result with the help of Sherco USA.”
Young came to the TKO just after suffering a foot injury in Romaniacs. “I didn’t feel so well on the bike this morning since I just got back on the bike when I arrived in the USA,” admitted Young. “I was not able to battle for the win but overall, I am happy, I would have liked to battle for first but this was the best I could do with the time off.”
Kelley finished in sixth position on his KTM. Russell finished seventh on a Yamaha YZ250X. Gerston was eighth on a Beta. Baylor finished ninth on a KTM and Ronnie rounded out the top ten on a KTM.
14 riders showed up to try to earn a spot in the main event by completing the morning race within the two-and-a-half-hour limit. Beta’s Rachel Gutish took her third TKO win with Shelby Turner and Nicole Bradford completing the podium.
2019 Kenda Tennessee, Knockout Main Event Results
- Manuel Lettenbichler, KTM
- Mario Roman, Sherco
- Wade Young, Sherco
- Colton Haaker, Husqvarna
- Trystan Hart, KTM
- Ben Kelley, KTM
- Ricky Russell, Yamaha
- Max Gerston, Beta
- Grant Baylor, KTM
- Ronnie Commo, KTM
- Quinn Wentzel, Husqvarna
- Nick Fahringer, Sherco
- Mitch Carvolth, Sherco
- Liam Draper, KTM
- Nate Smith, Husqvarna
Photo credit: Mjsmotophotos
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