By Chris Denison
Photos by Adam Booth
After a long summer break, the GEICO AMA EnduroCross series, fueled by Monster Energy and presented by Lucas Oil, went back into action in Ontario, California. Although the track was fairly simple, the high-speed nature of the course allowed for some extremely close racing, with KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak returning to his winning ways. Of course, Taddy’s teammate Mike Brown finished a close second, and he wasn’t extremely happy about it.
Fans who weren’t able to make it to the Citizen’s Business Bank Arena had the opportunity to view the race live via the endurocross.com live webcast, which is still available for viewing. I had the pleasure of commentating the race alongside Jason Weigandt, and together we had an awesome view of the action. Starting from the beginning, one of the most interesting portions of the EnduroCross racetrack was never actually seen by the fans. A giant log was placed across the course just above handlebar height, creating an obstacle that the racers were jokingly referring to as the decapitator. This obstacle is something that occurs every now and then in a nature, but the high speeds of this course meant that the riders would be charging into this obstacle fairly quickly. After consulting with the top racers, the track builders wisely decided to scrap the log after the morning qualifiers and before the night show.
Practice and afternoon hot laps went off without a hitch, with several close lap times and a few near-ties revealing how close the racing would be later in the evening. Kicking things off was the Vet main event in which Nitro Circus’ Kurt Nicoll took the win over Colby Begin. With Ty Davis, Paul Krase, and Dirt Rider’s Adam Booth in the mix, the class was absolutely stacked. Boothy rode well but had some bad luck on the final lap and dropped from third back to fifth place.
Following the Vet main, the pros took to the track with Brown starting off the evening with a blistering win in the first Heat. Brownie was the victor at the first two EnduroCross races of the season (Vegas and Sacramento) and was clearly making a statement by heading out to an early lead. In the second Heat, JCR Honda’s Colton Haaker was feeling fast and loose, making it to the main with a convincing win of his own. And in the third Heat, Blazusiak answered Brown’s #1 with a win of his own, setting the stage for an exciting main event.
One thing that set three racers apart from the pack was a massive double jump over the water section. With a sketchy landing and little room for error, this double was only attempted by Brown, Taddy and Taylor Robert. Of the three, Taddy look slightly uncomfortable, casing the jump later in the night and eventually not attempting it. The jump was only completed a handful of times in the night show due to the high danger factor of coming up short on a log embedded in concrete.
Before the expert main event got underway, a handful of amateur classes still had to run. Tucker Larrieu won a great three way battle to take the Open Amateur win over Ian Young and Noah Kepple, all three of whom were riding well but fairly wild. Ty Cullins won the TrialsCross class over Stephen Morgan and Michael Salsman, while a clutch issues took Phil Smage out of contention. In the Women’s main, Canada’s Chantelle Bykerk took the win over Rachel Gutish and Morgan Tanke. It was one of the largest Women’s fields to date with nearly twenty riders competing for the 12 main event spots.
Finally, the main event got underway and Mike Brown jetting out to a strong start over Haaker and Gary Sutherlin, with Taddy trailing in fourth and quickly moving into second. Brown led for five laps and looked poised to take his third EnduroCross win in a row until a small mistake (and being hung up by a downed Geoff Aaron) allowed Blazusiak to take the lead. Beta’s Cody Webb, who is recovering from a foot injury and isn’t healing as quickly as he’d like, rode a steady race and kept the leaders in sight.
Monster Kawasaki’s Robert moved through the field to take fourth ahead of Haaker. Kyle Redmond finished sixth in his first ride on a KTM 250 two-stroke, which replaced his 350 XC-F from earlier in the season. Sutherlin finished seventh, Cory Graffunder was eighth, Justin Soule was ninth and Geoff Aaron rounded out the top ten. Also worth mentioning was a main event appearance by Wally Palmer, who took his Christini AWD 300 two-stroke to 13th but was more than happy to have qualified for the main.
On the podium, when asked how Brown felt about battling with his teammate, Taddy, Mike replied tersely, “We’re not teammates.” Without reading too far into that statement, it definitely seems that both racers are extremely focused on winning, and Brown was clearly not thrilled to have his streak broken. However, Brown still controls the points lead by seven points over Blazusiak heading into round four in Denver, Colorado on October 12th. Robert sits third ten points behind Taddy.
Stay tuned to www.dirtrider.com for more info on EnduroCross, and be sure to watch the recap of the live round for a firsthand look at the action.
Ontario, California GEICO AMA EnduroCross, Fueled by Monster Energy Expert Main Event results:
1. Taddy Blazusiak KTM
2. Mike Brown KTM
3. Cody Webb Beta
4. Taylor Robert Kawasaki
5. Colton Haaker Honda
6. Kyle Redmond KTM
7. Gary Sutherlin KTM
8. Cory Graffunder Husqvarna
9. Justin Soule Kawasaki
10. Geoff Aaron KTM
11. Bobby Prochnau KTM
12. Max Gerston Beta
13. Wallace Palmer Christini