The teams representing France took the early lead in both the FIM World Trophy and Junior World Trophy categories at the 81st Maxxis International Six Days Enduro in Taupo, New Zealand, after the first day. American interest, of course, centered on the vaunted quartet wearing the blue-and-white “skunk” helmets, which finished the first day a close second, less than 16 seconds behind their French counterparts.Run under nearly perfect conditions, Day One took competitors on a seven-and-a-half-hour tour of the countryside on what was basically a lollipop-shaped course. After starting at the Taupo Motor Racing Circuit’s parc ferme, riders hit the highway for a long transport section before arriving at the first check and their first special test–the motocross test at Maroa. From there, trail and two-track would comprise most of the day until coming back to Maroa, the transport section on the street back to parc ferme. Before checking in, though, the quarry motocross test awaited; then riders could do maintenance and impound their machines for the night.Despite the favorable conditions, various problems eliminated 11 competitors from the event, though none of them were Americans. However, American World Trophy team veteran Fred Hoess came close after receiving four-stroke fuel in his two-stroke Gas Gas 250. Nursing it in through the final couple sections didn’t do his test times any good, but he did manage to finish, though he didn’t know how badly the situation damaged his engine. That dropped him to 71st in the E2 (250cc two-stroke/450cc four-stroke) class.Teammate Jimmy Jarrett almost suspected the same thing as his RM250′s pinging and detonating all day prevented him from really going all-out in the tests; he finished the day 31st in E2.Team USA’s Junior World Trophy riders shined the brightest with Kurt Caselli leading the way on his KTM 250 XC, his score/time of 26:59.8 putting him fourth in E2, 15 seconds behind class leader Stefan Merriman of Australia and eighth in the overall standings, 41 seconds behind France’s Marc Germain, the E1 leader.Caselli’s teammate, ISDE rookie Ricky Dietrich, had an excellent day and despite stalling in one test, compiled the best E1 score by an American at 27:46.9, good for 16th place at 1:28.1 behind Germain. Dietrich described his first day of his first ISDE: “I’m pretty stoked. It’s kind of everything I thought it would be–I’ve got a lot of advice and input from other people that have done it before so I kind of knew what to expect.”David Pearson, another Junior, put in the best American E3 score, his 28:19.1 good for 12th in class, 52 seconds behind class leader Fabien Planet of France’s World Trophy team.Senior rider Mike Bronn of the JAFMAR Racing Club team said, “It was a lot of single-track, a lot of roots, but almost no rock. Fast–spent a lot of time in fifth gear–but really good technical stuff: long, steep downhills. It’s either logging road or single-track, not much in between.”He came upon one Canadian rider who’d launched his bike off a two-track and ended up with it stuck in a bog, with its rear wheel buried and the front pointing skyward, so Bronn and a few others stopped to help extract the Canadian’s machine. (The trail pace on the “B” schedule proved very easy to maintain and gave riders plenty of time to make the checks.) Bronn related, “He said, `You boys just saved my Six Days!’ “Official results are not yet In for the Club team category, but unofficially, the Trail Riders of Houston trio of David Kamo, Cole Kirkpatrick and Luck McNeil are in sixth place while Gofasters.com’s Patrick Garrahan, Daniel Janus and Brian Sperle are eighth. Jordan Brandt, Sam Buffa and Eric DuCray of the Merced Dirt Riders round out the top 10 in a category led by a team from the Czech Republic.