Steward Baylor wins the golf course battle at the Kenda Hidden Valley Sprint Enduro but Josh Strang wins the war and takes the 2018 title.
The Hidden Valley Golf Course in Glen Daniel, West Virginia (a real golf course) hosted the eighth and final round of the Kenda Sprint Enduro series.
After a lackluster performance on Saturday, Steward Baylor got his ducks in order on Sunday, claiming six test wins. The Tely Energy Racing KTM rider topped Sunday’s event by a whopping 53 seconds over runner-up, Josh Strang.
In the championship battle, however, Strang came into the weekend sitting just two points behind Steward, and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider’s stellar performance on Saturday, consisting of four test wins, set him up so that all he needed was a third place finish on Sunday to claim the series title.
At the end of the weekend, the Aussie off-road star finished second on Sunday, which was more than enough to give him the 2018 title.
“Saturday was good,” said Strang. “I was able to use my “Euro” lines since the golf course sections were slippery and I think that worked in my favor. I knew I was sitting good going into Sunday’s race, but I didn’t do the math because I didn’t want to have anything more to think about.”
Strang was second in every test on Sunday except for one and it was the consistency he needed to take the title.
“It feels great to win the title, especially as good as Stew was riding on Sunday,” added Strang. “I did what I had to do on Saturday and the rest took care of itself.”
And to win the title while riding on a golf course has to be every dirt biker’s dream. “That’s an unbelievable situation,” Strang said about the chance to race on a golf course. That’s exactly what the series has provided its riders the last two years.
New bike for Baylor costs him on day one
Steward Baylor ended up second in the series standings, finishing an up and down season with a statement at the Hidden Valley event with a dominating win on Sunday.
“We weren’t prepared for Saturday,” admitted Steward. “I was riding the 2019 450 and all I had as far as suspension was the stock shock. I got a new shock at the last minute but I was afraid to run it this weekend without any testing, and I paid the price. My rear end was all over the place with the stock shock.”
Things took a drastic turn for the better when Steward decided to run the new shock on Sunday.
“After the way things went on Saturday, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose on Sunday so we threw on the new shock,” said Steward. “I won the first Cross test and I did it pretty dominatingly. I ended up winning Sunday by almost a minute so I wish I had of ran the shock on Saturday.”
Steward came up five points short in his bid for a second Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro title.
“It would have been nice to have won the title, and I’m bummed I didn’t get it, but I’m happy to come away with some wins and I think I turned in a performance today that is up there with the very best,” added Steward.
Third on the weekend went to KR4/Husqvarna’s Layne Michael. “I had some good rides and I was able to turn it into a podium finish for the weekend, so I’m happy with how I rode,” said Michael. “I was battling with Grant for most of the weekend, but he ended up having an issue so I had a pretty good buffer over him near the end of the day.”
Michael finished off the season strong with three-straight podium finishes and was fourth overall in the final standings.
“The season started off kind of slow, I just wasn’t riding good, but I adjusted a few things for the second half of the series and things started to work for me,” said Michael.
Jordan Ashburn missed the podium with a fourth overall finish. The Beta USA-backed Tennessee rider started the event with a strong second in the opening test of the weekend and then settled into fourth for the remainder of the event.
Draper takes Pro 2 class
Fifth overall and first in the Pro2 division went to KR4 Husqvarna’s Liam Draper. Amazingly, the New Zealander dominated the Pro2 class by winning all 12 tests over the course of the two-day event.
SRT Husqvarna’s Evan Smith finished in sixth, 29-seconds ahead of Billy Schlag. Schlag also took second in the Pro2 division on his TrailPros/Ride on Moto KTM.
The remainder of the overall top 10 was occupied by Pro2 riders, with Braxton McGee (Hsq), Jesse Ansley (KTM) and JR Cook (KTM), claiming eighth through 10th.
In the final series standings, Strang finished the season with 363 points, compared to 358 for Steward Baylor. Grant Baylor was third overall with 317, while Layne Michael (304) and Ryan Sipes (290) rounded out the top five. Sipes missed the Hidden Valley event to compete in the Red Bull Straight Rhythm in California, while Grant Baylor finished 24th overall when he trashed a rear hub.
Women’s Pro class for Jones
In the Women’s Pro division, KR4 Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones claimed her seventh win of the season, beating out Bonanza Plumbing/Trail Jesters KTM rider Mackenzie Tricker and FLY/Maxxis/Seat Concepts KTM Becca Sheets in the process.
In all, Jones won 11 of the 12 tests, with the other test win going to Tricker.
Jones finished off the season with 360 points for first in the Women’s Pro Championship, while Tricker was second overall with 315. Third went to Brooke Cosner with 237 points, with Becca Sheets (211) and Shelby Rolen (68) rounding out the top five.
Yamaha rider Tristian Stumbo looked strong en route to the win the Open A class. Meanwhile, KTM riders Cody Pingley and Luke Ross were second and third.
Devan Byer was first in the Lites A division, followed by fellow Husqvarna rider Michael Pillar in second. Yamaha-mounted Harry Symanski was third.
More information on the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series: sprintenduro.com
Hidden Valley Sprint Enduro results:
- Steward Baylor (KTM)
- Josh Strang (Hsq)
- Layne Michael (Hsq)
- Jordan Ashburn
- Liam Draper (Hsq)
- Evan Smith (Hsq)
- Billy Schlag (KTM)
- Braxton McGee (Hsq)
- Jesse Ansley (KTM)
- JR Cook (KTM)
Photo Credit: Darrin Chapman
Shan MooreNorth America Correspondentshan@tandenews.com