2019 Cherokee National Enduro Race Report

Steward Baylor wins after his brother crashes in the final test.

Steward Baylor and Grant Baylor race at the 2019 Cherokee National Enduro Race.
Left: Steward Baylor claimed his second win of the 2019 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series when he took advantage of a mistake by his brother and early race leader, Grant Baylor, in the final test. Right: Grant took the early lead after taking a big win in test number 1. He crashed in the final test and lost 50 seconds returning to the course, ending the day in second overall.Shan Moore

Rain pummeled the area as round 4 of the 2019 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series got underway near Greensboro, Georgia, leaving local trails wet and slippery. Grant Baylor got off to a fast start by winning the first test of the day by 33 seconds over his brother and Tely Energy Racing KTM teammate Steward Baylor. The two front-runners swapped positions in test 2, with Steward Getting the win ahead of Grant.

Heading into the final test, Grant held a six-second lead over Steward. Midway into the test, however, Grant crashed off course, losing about 50 seconds and handing the lead and the win to Steward.

“I was just trying to push the limit a little too much,” Grant said. “I came into a corner a little too hot and lost it and went off into some really thick trees. I was underneath the bike and couldn’t get it off of me, so I lost the overall lead there. It was a pretty frustrating day, but at least I still ended up second to my brother.”

Cody Barnes races at the 2019 Cherokee National Enduro Race.
Beta USA’s Cody Barnes was fast and consistent on his Beta 250 RR and finished third overall, which was also good enough for the win in the Pro2 class.Shan Moore

Beta USA's Cody Barnes liked the mud and turned in his best performance of the series with a third overall and first in the Pro2 class, despite a slight bobble in test 3.

“In the third test I was pushing pretty hard [on] a downhill and [was] pushing a little too hard, jumped into a ditch, and ended up going down pretty good in one of the faster sections,” Barnes said. “I lost quite a bit of time there, but I think I made up for it in test 5. Then that last test, because so many riders didn’t ride it, it was super slippery. There weren’t a lot of berms developed. I just tried to ride smooth and ended up coming out with a great time.”

Liam Draper races at the 2019 Cherokee National Enduro Race.
Tely Energy Racing’s Liam Draper battled with Barnes all day for the final step of the podium. Draper sealed his fate (a fourth overall finish) when he started the final test a minute late.Shan Moore

Liam Draper actually held third going into the final test ahead of Barnes; however, a mental lapse cost the Tely Energy Racing KTM-backed rider almost a minute and dropped him to fourth overall and second in the Pro2 division.

“I just got sidetracked waiting on my start time before the final test,” Draper said. “Then [Steward] yelled [at me], ‘Dude, you’ve got to go.’ So I was late for my start. Cody [Barnes and I] were pretty tight going into the last test, then I went in a minute late and that cost me.”

Evan Smith races at the 2019 Cherokee National Enduro Race.
Max Motorsports/FXR Racing/Husqvarna’s Evan Smith was third in the Pro class and fifth overall. The Georgia rider caught a vine to the neck in the last test, which slowed his pace.Shan Moore

Max Motorsports/FXR Racing/Husqvarna's Evan Smith had a nasty run-in with a vine in the final test, but was still able to manage fifth overall.

“It started pouring in the first test,” Smith said. “I got wrapped up in some vines and probably spent a minute or so there, and that kind of put me in a hole for the day. Then I won test 3 and was feeling good and gaining a lot of time back. But then in the last test, I got some vines across the face.”

Sixth overall went to Cory Buttrick on his XC Gear/Enduro Engineering-back Husqvarna. Meanwhile, GasGas North America's Thorn Devlin overcame a tip-over in test 6 to finish seventh.

“After the second test, I came in and saw I was in third overall and I held that until test 5,” Devlin said. “But going into test 6, I came down over the hill right off the start and there was a bridge and I wiped out. I bent the shifter completely around the frame, so I couldn’t shift. I went to put my foot on the peg and when I hit a bump it would click it into false neutral. So I literally rode that whole section not being able to shift or with the left foot on the peg.”

Russell Bobbitt races at the 2019 Cherokee National Enduro Race.
Russell Bobbitt was nursing a torn ACL and struggled in the mud to a 10th overall finish.Shan Moore

Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski finished eighth overall, while GasGas North America’s Ron Commo III was ninth overall and third in the Pro2 division. Gnarly Routes KTM’s Russell Bobbitt rounded out the top 10.

In the Women’s Elite class, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones won only one test en route to the overall win, topping runner-up MEPMX/Fly/Grizzly Peak/Traveler’s Rest Speedway/KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker, who got stuck on a bridge in test 1 and lost a lot of time. Rachel Archer of New Zealand finished third on an AmPro Yamaha.

Mike Witkowski races at the 2019 Cherokee National Enduro Race.
Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski has been a consistent top 10 finisher. The Beta USA rider was eighth overall at the Cherokee and sits seventh overall in the series standings.Shan Moore

2019 Cherokee National Enduro Overall Results

Position Rider Brand
1 Steward Baylor KTM
2 Grant Baylor KTM
3 Cody Barnes Beta
4 Liam Draper KTM
5 Evan Smith Husqvarna
6 Cory Buttrick Husqvarna
7 Thorn Devlin GasGas
8 Mike Witkowski Beta
9 Ron Commo III GasGas
10 Russell Bobbitt KTM

2019 Kenda AMA National Enduro Point Standings

Position Rider Brand Points
1 Steward Baylor KTM 110
2 Russell Bobbitt KTM 87
3 Evan Smith Husqvarna 76
4 Grant Baylor KTM 69
5 Cody Barnes Beta 60
6 Liam Draper KTM 59
7 Mike Witkowski Beta 58
8 Thorn Devlin GasGas 46
9 Zach Hayes KTM 45
10 Cory Buttrick Husqvarna 41