On February 17th, the top off-road racers in the country will flock to Greensboro, Georgia for the opening round of the 2013 AMA/Rekluse National Enduro Series Presented By Moose Racing.
In recent years, the National Enduro Series has returned to prominence as the top off-road series in the country, thanks to a few major rules changes, and the 2013 edition is expected to be one of the most competitive yet. This year a solid field of top factory riders will be returning to compete for the honor of AMA National Enduro Champion, while a couple of new faces are rumored to be crashing the party from competing off-road series, hoping to cash in on Enduro gold.
Topping the list of those returning for 2013 is defending champ Stu Baylor, who amazingly won last year’s title in his rookie year. Unfortunately, Baylor will still be sporting a cast on his wrist for a few more weeks and won’t be in action until at least round two of the series in South Carolina. After riding last year’s championship as a privateer with the help of FLY Racing, WP and Ride PG, Baylor signed on for 2013 with KTM and should be a major force again in this year’s series with the help of factory backing.
Joining Baylor under the mighty KTM tent will be 2010 Enduro champ Charlie Mullins, who suffered a laundry list of injuries during the 2012 season but is once again 100% and ready to challenge for another title.
KTM Team Manager Antti Kallonen is confident that his team can bring home another enduro title for the Austrian firm. “We have a great group of riders and mechanics as well as the best off-road race bikes available and together we hope we have a recipe for success. We are looking forward to the 2013 season and a chance to win championships,” says Kallonen.
Noticeably missing from the KTM team is four-time enduro champ Russell Bobbitt, who will be joining eight-time champ Michael Lafferty on the factory Husaberg effort, riding the marquee’s new offering of two-stroke machines. Bobbitt is coming into the series with some momentum having won the Sumter Enduro this past weekend, which this year is seen as a warmup for the national series.
“I’m really excited to race for the Factory Husaberg Team,” says Bobbitt, who is an avid two-stroke fan. “I know that Husaberg is looking to gain ground in the enduro segment and I’m excited to help them pursue that goal alongside Mike [Lafferty].”
Lafferty, who finished runner-up to Baylor last year, will be going for an unprecedented ninth national enduro title this year. Lafferty was second to Bobbitt this week in Sumter.
Missing from the KTM/Husaberg lineup are former event winners Nick Fahringer and Cory Buttrick. Fahringer has signed with Air Group Racing, a satellite team from Nebraska, and will be riding a Husaberg. Meanwhile, Buttrick recently re-injured the knee that he just had surgery on and explains on his blog that he’s looking at a return to racing this summer, although it is not clear on what bike, or with what team.
Fahringer’s teammate on the AirGroup Racing team will be Paddy Holloway, a Virginia rider with youth and plenty of potential on his side.
Flying Yamaha colors in 2013 will be last year’s Top Pro Rookie honoree Jesse Groemm, who will be riding a 2013 YZ250 two-stroke for Randy Hawkin’s AmPro Yamaha team. Groemm just missed the podium on two different occasions during last year’s series and is a sure bet to challenge for a top-three spot this year. The New Jersey rider had a strong performance at the Sumter Enduro on February third, winning the first two tests.
“This is truly an opportunity of a life time for me,” says Groemm. “I can’t thank AmPro enough for giving me a shot at my dream. I love racing the National Enduro Series and look forward to a year of learning and mentoring from one of the best enduro racers in history.”
Husqvarna will once again be represented by Fred Andrew’s FAR Husqvarna Racing team and will feature Andrew DeLong and Nick Davis. DeLong is a scrappy competitor from Pennsylvania who finished seventh in last year’s series despite missing two rounds due to injury. He will be a solid podium threat in the coming series.
Another podium threat for 2013, and a solid top-five performer is Brad Bakken, who will once again ride a 250F for the Obermeyer Yamaha/Raines Riding University/OffRoadviking.com Team.
Coming in for his first full year of Enduro racing will be Australian off-road star Rory Mead, who has backing from Florida-based WMR Off-road Racing for the coming season. Mead is a former trials competitor and excels at the really tough events, so the Enduro series should suit him well.
Attending select rounds will be Thad DuVall, who has backing from Honda and Shenandoah Honda/USWE. DuVall, who led the US Junior Trophy Team to a podium finish at the ISDE in Germany last year, will ride a 250F in the Enduro series.
Something new to this year’s series is the amended start procedure, which will see the pros line up according to their finish at the previous round. This will even out the advantage a rider might get by starting on a later or earlier row depending on the weather or conditions.
Another noteworthy topic is the sizable pro purse that will payout in 2013. This year’s KENDA/NEPG Pro Purse will amount to a 25% increase of last year and will pay the top eight spots overall. Here’s a breakdown: $900, $500, $300, $250, $225, $175, $150 and $125.
In additon, AirGroup is posting the $5000 AirGroup Bounty at each of the five new 2013 venues in Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Oklahoma, which will pay $1000 per race to any rider that can win all six test. If no rider wins, then the money rolls over to the next race amounting to a $2000 bonus, similar to the skins game.
CycleNano is also having a free demo Husaberg giveaway to the Women’s class champion at the end of the year.
For more information on this year’s series check out www.nationalenduro.com.