Mid-August usually brings some good race action, but this weekend was an exceptionally huge one for off-road racing. Round #3 of the GEICO/ AMA EnduroCross took place in Indianapolis, Indiana on Friday, and then on Saturday and Sunday the inaugural Kenda Tennessee Knockout hard enduro went down in nearby Sequatchie, Tennessee. Both evens were impressive, unpredictable and full of excitement, as well as a few twists.
To begin with, Taddy Blazusiak continued his reign and extended his EnduroCross winning streak by bagging another victory at the Indy round. Although challenged by KTM teammate Mike Brown early on in the race, Taddy stayed consistent and finished first ahead of Brown and fellow X Games EnduroCross medalist Justin Soule’. EnduroCross powerhouse Geoff Aaron had a bit of an off night but still carded a respectable 6th place.
With Zip-Ty Racing/ Husqvarna’s Cory Graffunder out with a wrist injury, one of the team’s TE310 race bikes was available and begging to be ridden. Dirt Rider jumped at the chance and raced this machine at Indy for an upcoming test, and although the results weren’t as good as Graffunder’s would have been the performance of the Italian four-stroke was definitely impressive. Keep an eye on a future issue of Dirt Rider and for more on this bike.
Following the Indy EnduroCross, the racers loaded up and headed a few hours south to the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie for the first-ever Kenda Tennessee Knockout hard enduro, which pitted EX regulars Blazusiak, Brown, Cody Webb, Bobby Prochnau and others against off-road speedsters Paul Whibley, Jordan Ashburn and many more quick challengers. The weather was expectedly hot and sticky, and the brutally rocky terrain and dust made for a tricky course in and around the surrounding canyons and hills of the TTC. The format for the race was creative, with both a long loop and a shorter course being utilized to pre-select a field of amateur racers and narrow down the stacked field to 25, and then finally ten, top racers.
Unfortunately, Taddy ran into bad luck in the second qualifying round when he went down on the long loop and knocked the injector out of this bike. He attempted to fix it on his own with no tools, but after another big crash the Polish star called it a day. Blazusiak’s DNF was a shock to all, but in a classy move Taddy stuck around all day to sign autographs, watch the race and cheer on his KTM teammate Mike Brown.
After multiple rounds of qualifiers, the TKO main event took place on the unbelievably difficult short course, which was approximately five minutes in length. Trials hotshot Cody Webb went down at the start giving Brown a comfortable lead, and the Tennessee local took advantage by putting the hammer down on the rest of the field. With ten laps of racing for the victory, the final was extremely hot, brutal and according to Brown “way tougher than an outdoor motocross national.” Riders struggled to maintain their pace and beat the heat, but Brown used his outstanding fitness to his advantage and stayed out front for the overall win ahead of Webb and Canadian Bobby Prochnau. Over-heated and exhausted, Brown commented after the race that at lap five he didn’t think he’d be able to finish, but he pushed hard and brought home the win in front of the enthusiastic crowd.
Overall, the first-ever TKO was a huge success, and the buzz has already started about next year’s event. But first, the hard enduro community gets to witness the remainder of the EnduroCross series, which is certain to be incredible.Keep an eye out for more on these events in the pages of Dirt Rider magazine. To learn more about EnduroCross and TKO, visit www.endurocross.com