Last test crash for Grant Baylor hands brother Steward the win at Lead Belt National Enduro, round seven of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series in Park Hills, Missouri.
After battling back and forth during off and on rain showers all day, Grant Baylor entered the rocky sixth and final test with a 23-second lead over Steward. However, just 200 feet into the test Grant made a mistake that cost him the lead and allowed Steward to jump ahead and win by 15.517-seconds.
Steward’s win put a stop to the momentum Grant had been building since winning the previous two rounds and cemented his overall championship lead to 36 points – squashing any hopes Grant had of catching his brother in the championship chase with three rounds remaining.
“I knew the last section always favored me here; it always has,” said Steward. “I don't think I’ve ever led going into that last section, but I’ve won this race four times now, all in the last test. So, I knew if I could get close we could do it, but I knew it was going to be tough. Obviously, Grant had some difficulties in that last test, but everything came together and I was able to get the win.”
Grant came into the Missouri round having won the previous 14 tests in a row, dating back to the final two tests of the Cherokee Enduro. After winning the first two tests of the Lead Belt Enduro, Grant looked poised to continue his domination.
“The racing was tight all day; we went back and forth a couple times throughout the day,” said Grant. “Then in the last test it got really rocky and gnarly. Right off the start we went down the river, through the waterfall section. As soon as I hit the biggest drop, my bike decided to just flame out and die right there on the face of it. So I dropped off about six foot straight down into the water.
“That was how I started my last test, and that’s about how it went for the rest of the last test there. I had about a 23-second lead going into that test, and ended up throwing that away and losing the position to Steward. He rode really well in that last test and rode really well all day. He was just right there on my heels all day.”
Evan Smith finished almost two minutes behind Grant for third and continues to be the “next best” performer after the Baylor brothers as he has all 2019 season. Smith rounded out the podium despite starting off the event with a big crash.
“I had a pretty good crash maybe half a mile in off the start. Kind of scraped me up,” said Smith. “That reminded me how cautious I need to be at this place; it kind of set the tone for the rest of the day. The first four tests suited me pretty well. Every one of them I came in within ten seconds or so of the win. So, I was able to keep it tight. Then the last two tests were pretty rocky and gnarly. The Baylor boys always ride that stuff really well. Going into the last one, I knew there wasn’t a chance that I was going to catch Stew so I just played it safe and made sure I rode to the end and finished it out.”
Thorn Devlin matched his best performance of the season with a fourth overall finish. The GasGas North America rider got off to a fast start, finishing third in test one, just seven seconds off the winning time.
Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski rounded out the top five with a consistent performance that saw him finish no lower than fifth in any of the six tests.
Pro 2 win for Draper
Finishing sixth overall and first in the NE Pro2 class was Tely Energy Racing’s Liam Draper, who won the first test (in his class) in spite of breaking his rear brake line.
“I just put my head down all day,” said Draper. “I enjoy this place. It was fun. It was kind of sketchy in some places where you couldn’t see those little rocks, but other than that I had fun.”
Former Pro Trials rider Ronnie Commo was seventh overall and second in the NE Pro2 division. The KTM rider from Florida had just returned to action after taking two weeks off due to a back injury.
Nate Ferderer made his first appearance in the series since February and came away with eighth overall and third in the NE Pro2 class in his first race on a Suzuki.
Yamaha riders Dylan Yearbury and Brandon Forrester rounded out the top 10. Yearbury was also fourth in the NE Pro2 class, while Forrester won the AA division.
Mackenzie Tricker won three of five tests on route to the win in the Women’s Elite class, finishing the event 14.423-seconds ahead of Rachel Archer, who won the fifth test. Rachel Gutish won test three on her way to third overall.
2019 Lead Belt National Enduro overall results:
- Steward Baylor (KTM)
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Evan Smith (Hsq)
- Thorn Devlin (GG)
- Mike Witkowski (Bet)
- Liam Draper (KTM)
- Ron Commo III (KTM)
- Nate Federer (Suz)
- Dylan Yearbury (Yam)
- Brandon Forrester (Yam)
Top three championship points (after round seven of 10):
- Steward Baylor Jr., 190 points
- Grant Baylor, 154
- Evan Smith, 134
The Kenda AMA National Enduro Series returns to action on October 6 at round 8, Muddobbers Enduro in Matthews, Indiana.
More information: NationalEnduro.com
Words and photo credit: Shan Mooreshan@tandenews.com