Steward Baylor claimed his second national win of the season taking a five-point chunk out of Russell Bobbitt’s point lead with an impressive performance at the Lead Belt National Enduro in Missouri – round eight of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series.
The SRT/KTM rider started strong and finished strong en route to four test wins (he was second in the remaining two), while accumulating a 37-second cushion over Bobbitt at the finish.
“This is the first time I’ve won the first test in a long time,” said Baylor. “I usually start kind of slow at these things but I was on my game today from the beginning. I felt really good all day, and I was consistent and that seems to be what it takes to win a national enduro. Bobbitt and Strang kept me on my toes but everything just fell into place.”
Baylor came into the race sitting 21 points behind Bobbitt in the series standings, and his victory at the Missouri Mudders-hosted event moved him to within 16 points of Bobbitt with just one race remaining.
“I’m just going into the final round looking for a win and let the chips fall where they may,” said Baylor.
Bobbitt and Josh Strang split the other two test wins, with Strang winning test three and Bobbitt taking test five. Strang went into test five with a four-second lead over Bobbitt in their battle for the runner-up slot, but the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider got struck in a mud hole and gave up 14 seconds to Bobbitt in that test.
Test six was no better for Strang, as he nearly wrapped his bike around a tree, losing two minutes to Bobbitt in the process. He also came away with a swollen ankle. The incident dashed any chance Strang had at second, dropping him to third behind Bobbitt.
“Other than that last test, I have to be happy with today because this makes three podiums in a row,” said Strang. “I started off with a soft tire for the first test because of the sand and it worked well, but then the dirt got harder and I struggled in the second test so we changed it for test three to a tire I’ve been running all year and I felt so much better. I won the third test by a good margin and things were good in the four test too, but then the wheels started to come off.”
Bobbitt’s decision to play it safe most likely kept him from a chance at the win.
“For this place, I’d say the day went pretty well,” said the FMF/KTM Factory rider. “I don’t know I’ve ever won here. It’s one of the faster events and you have to be on your tiptoes all day, and I just rode within my means. There were places I could have gone faster, but I elected to ride a safe, smooth race.”
Fourth overall was Am Pro Yamaha’s Grant Baylor, who was in the mix for the win after the first two tests, but dropped off the pace in tests three and four. Meanwhile, fifth was SRT/KTM’s Cory Buttrick, who was having a solid day until he got to the final two tests.
“I think the last two tests hurt me,” said Buttrick. “I had a pretty good get-off in the waterfall in test five and I ended up hitting my head pretty hard, it was the best slam I’ve had in a while. The sixth test was more of the same. My goggles got dirty and as I reached to pull them off I got in a nasty swap and went over the bars. I’ll take a top five, I’m just happy to get out of here healthy.”
Sixth and seventh went to AirGroup Racing teammates Nick Fahringer and Ryder Lafferty, while AA rider Dylan MacRitchie grabbed his best national finish with an eighth. MacRitchie also won the Rekluse Expert AA division over ninth-place finisher Nate Ferderer. Ferderer held a substantial lead over MacRitchie going into the final test, but MacRitchie was able to make up the difference and win the AA class by eight seconds over Ferderer.
“I felt like I was playing catch up all day,” said MacRitchie. “That last test was similar to what I ride in Vermont and I was able to make up the distance and catch Nate.”
RPM/Maxxis/KTM’s Drew Higgins rounded out the top 10.
FMF/KTM’s Kacy Martinez wrapped up the Women’s A/B class championship with a win in Missouri over Jamie Wells and Sarah Baldwin. Martinez won all six tests and took the win by 12 minutes and 37 seconds.
“I think this event was more like what I ride at home than the rest of the Enduros I’ve ridden this year,” said Martinez. “I felt really comfortable out there and I’m excited to wrap up the title here.”
The series resumes on October 23rd for the John Zink National Enduro, round nine of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series at John Zink Ranch in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For more information check out www.nationalenduro.com.
2016 AMA Enduro, Round 8 Results
1. Steward Baylor (KTM)
2. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
3. Josh Strang (Hsq)
4. Grant Baylor (Yam)
5. Cory Buttrick (KTM)
6. Nick Fahringer (Hsq)
7. Ryder Lafferty (Hsq)
8. Dylan MacRitchie (KTM)
9. Nathan Ferderer (Yam)
10. Drew Higgins (KTM)
Images: Shan Moore