Ryan Sipes edged Grant Baylor by just 1.5 seconds for the victory at the Harleywood Sprint Enduro – round two of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series in Bristol, Virginia.
At the Full Gas Sprint series opener in Georgia, back in February, Sipes carried out a clear win but that almost didn’t work in Virginia. Despite winning 12 Cross tests over two days racing, former Supercross rider Ryan Sipes didn’t carry his speed across every test.
Grant Baylor on the other hand managed to win just enough of the Enduro tests (3) and stay consistent enough in the Cross tests to give Sipes a run for his money. By contrast Sipes only managed a pair of sixths in the Enduro test and that almost cost him the overall.
Despite Sipes’ speed in the Cross test, Grant Baylor managed to beat Sipes to win Saturday’s event by less than a second. On Sunday, Sipes went into the final test of the weekend with a 14-second advantage over Grant. However, a couple of mistakes wiped all but 1.5 seconds off that lead away, and Sipes escaped by the skin of his teeth to claim his second win in a row in 2018.
“I made way too many mistakes in that last test,” said Sipes. “It was an emotional rollercoaster for me this weekend. I would kill ‘em in the Cross test, and then they would get me back in the Enduro test.
“I was a little upset about Sunday’s race, losing eight seconds in the last test. But overall, it was a good weekend. I’ve got two overall wins in two races and I think I’m getting better in the Enduro tests with every race.”
Photo Credit: Darrin Chapman
Baylor runs close second
Grant Baylor claimed his best finish in the series with the win on Saturday and second overall for the weekend. The South Carolina rider was strongest in the Enduro test, but just fast enough in the Cross test to compete for the overall.
After braking a bone in his hand just over two weeks ago, Baylor said after the race that it wasn’t a factor: “I got off to a slow start, but I picked up the pace starting with the second Cross test.”
“I won the Enduro test twice on Saturday and I was second in the Cross test, and that was enough to take the win for the day. I started off struggling on Sunday, and I was making mental mistakes, but I managed to get it together for the final few tests and I think Ryan had a problem in that last one, which made it close. He had a good lead on me in that last test, but I knew I could beat him. I figured he would back it off a little since he had a big lead, but I came up just short, but I’m happy with second overall.”Photo Credit: Darrin Chapman
Josh Strang made the podium for the second race in a row with a third overall. Strang started strong with a second in the opening Cross test, followed by a win in the Enduro test. However, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider crashed in the final Enduro test on Saturday, which cost him valuable time, and perhaps a chance at the win.
On Sunday, Strang struggled with the drier conditions, but still managed a consistent third overall.
“It really dried up a ton from Saturday, so the track ended up being slick,” said Strang. “We were all pretty close in the Enduro test, but it was just a bit unsettling in places. Sipes just destroyed us in the Cross test. I felt like I was riding well, but I was getting seconds and thirds. Overall, it was a good weekend, but I need to work on a few things before the next round.”
Layne Michael made a great showing in Virginia, winning one of the Enduro tests and grabbing four seconds and a third for fourth overall.
Rounding out the top five was Steward Baylor who struggled on Saturday, never finishing higher than fourth in any of the tests. On Sunday, Steward was sixth fastest in the first test, but then seemed to catch fire with a pair of seconds, followed by a win in the Enduro test.
The Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series resumes on May 19-20 with round three of the series at Lake Suger Tree Raceway in Axton, Virginia.
More information on the series at sprintenduro.com
- Ryan Sipes (Hsq) 01:19:50.151
- Grant Baylor (Hsq) 01:19:51.698
- Josh Strang (Hsq) 01:20:11.487
- Layne Michael (Hsq) 01:20:14.062
- Steward Baylor (KTM) 01:20:29.051
- Jordan Ashburn (Bet) 01:20:42.620
- Evan Smith (Hsq) 01:21:47.653
- Liam Draper (Hsq) 01:23:23.951
- Mike Witkowski (Bet) 01:24:09.384
- JoJo Bowden (KTM) 01:24:15.403
Shan MooreNorth America Contributor