Story And Photos By Shan Moore
Andrew DeLong held off a late-race charge by four-time national enduro champ Russell Bobbitt to claim his first-ever national enduro victory at round three of the Rekluse AMA National Enduro Series in Blackwater, Texas.
The FAR Husqvarna rider was smooth and steady on the fast and rocky trail, and managed to avoid the mistakes and crashes that plagued his competitors. In the end, DeLong edged out Bobbitt by just six seconds for the win.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said DeLong. “I think it just boiled down to attitude. The last time we came to Texas I didn’t really do that well, but I just tried to have a positive attitude all weekend and I started having fun. Once I started having fun I started to go really, really good.”
DeLong’s win made him the first rider to put a Husky on the top step of the podium at a national enduro since Fred Hoess did the deed in 2003.
“Hopefully, I can carry this momentum and attitude into the rest of the series and keep moving up,” said DeLong.
DeLong up to fourth in the series standings with the win, after starting off the year with a pair of sevenths at rounds one and two.
Despite winning the final test, Russell Bobbitt came up just short in his bid for the top spot. The factory Husaberg rider got off to a good start to the day, however, crashes in the third and fifth tests put him in a hole he couldn’t dig out of.
“I had a couple crashes in the third test section which cost me a lot of time,” said Bobbitt. “I was able to make up a few seconds in the final two sections but wasn’t able to get the win today.”
Nick Fahringer grabbed his second podium of the year, finishing 39 seconds behind Bobbitt for third. After getting off to a relatively poor start, including a nasty crash in the opening test, the Team AirGroup Racing rider came back to win test three and put himself in podium position.
“Right out of the gate, I was pinned through the prairie-type trail and I ended up over-braking into a corner and I did a big flip,” said Fahringer. “After that, I loosened up and really started warming up to the trail. I crushed the third test, which was A-only, and after that I was kind of in a groove.”
Fourth went to Colorado KTM rider Ian Blythe, who came on strong in the end, posting the second-fastest time in sections five and six. “I was kind of surprised to hear I was doing so well because I was kind of uncomfortable with the bike in the first two tests,” said Blythe. “We got it sorted out, but then I crashed and messed up my throttle for the third and fourth tests. We changed it out for the last two tests and I was able to pick it back up.”
Grant Baylor, the 15-year-old younger brother of 2012 National Enduro Champ Stu Baylor, grabbed his best-ever national enduro finish with a solid fifth. The Fly/Ride PG/WP Racing KTM rider turned some heads when he posted the third-fastest time in the difficult third test, and is, for sure, a rider to keep an eye on.
After turning the fastest time in the second test of the day, series points leader Charlie Mullins suffered mechanical problems on the transfer trail heading to the third test. Luckily, his team worked quickly to get him back in action, but not before he showed up at the third test 4 minutes late, meaning he would be docked the four minutes plus the time lost in his section to put him 34th overall after the end of the third test. The FMF/KTM rider was still able to salvage 10 points for finishing 11th overall.
“I was definitely bummed that we had the mechanical issue today,” said Mullins. “Once we had it worked out, I knew I needed to ride as hard as I could to gain each position within reach. I am happy I was able to get back into point earning positions to earn enough points to maintain my lead heading to the next round.”
With three rounds in the books, Mullins holds on to a six-point lead in the series standings over Bobbitt (70 points to 64), with Fahringer a close third with 62 points.
Shenandoah Honda/USWE-Sports.com-backed Thad DuVall got off to a great start by winning the opening test by two seconds over DeLong. However, the West Virginia rider suffered a problem with his fuel injection and had to ride back to the pits for a DNF.
1. Andrew DeLong (Hsq)
2. Russell Bobbitt (Hsb)
3. Nick Fahringer (Hsb)
4. Ian Blythe (KTM)
5. Grant Baylor (KTM)
6. Michael Lafferty (Hsb)
7. Jesse Groemm (Yam)
8. Josh Weisenfels (Yam)
9. Brad Bakken (Yam)
10. Kyle McDonal (Hsb)