2019 Lead Belt National Enduro Race Report

Steward Baylor passes his brother in the final test to take the win.

Steward Baylor took advantage of a mistake by his brother in the final test to take the victory.
Steward Baylor took advantage of a mistake by his brother in the final test to take the victory.Shan Moore

Tely Energy Racing KTM's Steward Baylor took advantage of a crash by his brother Grant Baylor in the sixth and final test to win the Lead Belt National Enduro in Park Hills, Missouri, this past weekend.

At the time of the crash, Grant was leading the race by 23 seconds ahead of Steward, when he stalled his engine just as he was about to drop off of a 6-foot ledge in the waterfall portion of test 6. Grant was able to restart his engine and continue, but the damage was done and Steward claimed the win by 15.5 seconds. With the victory, Steward extended his lead in the championship chase to 36 points ahead of Grant, all but eliminating the younger of the two brothers from the championship equation with three rounds to go.

“I knew the last section always favored me here; it always has,” Steward said. “I don’t think I’ve ever led going into that last section, but I’ve won this race four times now, all in the last test. So I knew if I could get close, we could do it, but I knew it was going to be tough. Obviously, Grant had some difficulties in that last test, but everything came together and I was able to get the win.”

While leading the race, Grant Baylor stalled his engine just as he was about to drop off of a 6-foot ledge in the waterfall portion of test 6.
While leading the race, Grant Baylor stalled his engine just as he was about to drop off of a 6-foot ledge in the waterfall portion of test 6.Shan Moore

Having won the previous two rounds, Grant came into the Missouri event riding a wave of momentum and he appeared to be continuing his streak when he won the first two tests of the day. However, his mishap in test 6 was too big of a mistake to recover from.

“The racing was tight all day; we went back and forth a couple times throughout the day,” Grant explained. “Then in the last test, it got really rocky and gnarly. Right off the start we went down the river [and] through the waterfall section. As soon as I hit the biggest drop, my bike decided to just flame out and die right there on the face of it, so I dropped off about 6 feet straight down into the water. That was how I started my last test, and that’s about how it went for the rest of the last test there. I had about a 23-second lead going into it, and ended up throwing that away and losing the position to Steward. He rode really well in that last test and all day; he was just right there on my heels.”

After crashing in the first test, Evan Smith rode a conservative race to third overall.
After crashing in the first test, Evan Smith rode a conservative race to third overall.Shan Moore

Rounding out the podium was Evan Smith, which solidified the Max Motorsports/FXR Racing/Husqvarna rider’s third place status in the point standings. Smith crashed in the first test and was fourth fastest, but he posted the third-fastest time in the remaining five tests.

“I had a pretty good crash maybe half a mile in off the start; it kind of scraped me up,” Smith said. “That kind of reminded me how cautious I need to be at this place; it kind of set the tone for the rest of the day. The first four tests suited me pretty well. Every one of them I came within 10 seconds or so of the win, so I was able to keep it tight. Then the last two tests were pretty rocky and gnarly; the Baylor boys always ride that stuff really well. Going into the last one, I knew there wasn’t a chance that I was going to catch Stew, so I just played it safe and made sure I rode to the end and finished it out.”

Thorn Devlin rode one of the best races of the year to finish fourth.
Thorn Devlin rode one of the best races of the year to finish fourth.Shan Moore

Thorn Devlin got off to a quick start, finishing third in the first test. The GasGas North America rider stayed consistent the rest of the day en route to fourth overall.

“I was just consistent all day,” Devlin said. “I felt good and didn’t make any mistakes until just the end there. It gets real rocky at the end and it’s kind of hard to stay on two wheels. We’ll just build on another fourth and keep working. Hopefully we’ll get a podium soon.”

Mike Witkowski rode a consistent race and rounded out the top five.
Mike Witkowski rode a consistent race and rounded out the top five.Shan Moore

Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski kept it on two wheels and hung out in fifth all day.

“It started raining off the beginning, and that was hard with goggles but I kept them on most of the time,” Witkowski said. “The last test was pretty gnarly, but I think all in all I didn’t fall or anything and just had fun.”

Liam Draper won the NE Pro2 class in spite of damaging his rear brake line.
Liam Draper won the NE Pro2 class in spite of damaging his rear brake line.Shan Moore

Tely Energy Racing’s Liam Draper continued his run of wins in the NE Pro2 class with a sixth overall finish.

“I just put my head down all day,” Draper said. “I enjoy this place. It was fun. It was kind of sketchy in some places where you couldn’t see those little rocks, but other than that I had fun.”

Despite spending a lot of time on the ground, Ronnie Commo III finished seventh overall and second in the NE Pro2 class.
Despite spending a lot of time on the ground, Ronnie Commo III finished seventh overall and second in the NE Pro2 class.Shan Moore

Ronnie Commo III used his trials skills to finish seventh overall and second in the NE Pro2 division.

“I spent a lot of time on the ground until the final two tests,” Commo explained. “Then in the last two tests, I managed to get some good results in.”

Nate Ferderer was eighth overall and third in the NE Pro2 class.
Nate Ferderer was eighth overall and third in the NE Pro2 class.Shan Moore

Having sat out the series since February, Nate Ferderer made a solid return to the series with an eighth overall and third in the NE Pro2 class.

“I’m really happy it rained,” Ferderer said. “It was a nice, diverse conditions between slick and good traction, so all in all it was a good day. I’m happy to be on the podium with third and I plan to do the remaining National Enduros. More fun to come.”

Yamaha-mounted Dylan Yearbury claimed his best National Enduro finish with a ninth overall.
Yamaha-mounted Dylan Yearbury claimed his best National Enduro finish with a ninth overall.Shan Moore

Dylan Yearbury and Brandon Forrester rounded out the top 10, respectively, on Yamahas.

In the Women’s Elite class, MEPMX/Fly Racing/Grizzly Peak/Travelers Rest Speedway/KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker took the win ahead of AmPro Yamaha’s Rachel Archer, who finished in the runner-up spot, and rounding out the podium was Beta USA’s Rachel Gutish.

Mackenzie Tricker won three of five tests en route to the Women’s Elite class win.
Mackenzie Tricker won three of five tests en route to the Women’s Elite class win.Shan Moore

2019 Lead Belt National Enduro Overall Results

Position Rider Brand
1 Steward Baylor KTM
2 Grant Baylor KTM
3 Evan Smith Husqvarna
4 Thorn Devlin GasGas
5 Mike Witkowski Beta
6 Liam Draper KTM
7 Ron Commo III KTM
8 Nathan Ferderer Suzuki
9 Dylan Yearbury Yamaha
10 Brandon Forrester Yamaha

2019 Kenda AMA National Enduro Point Standings

Position Rider Brand Points
1 Steward Baylor KTM 190
2 Grant Baylor KTM 154
3 Evan Smith Husqvarna 134
4 Mike Witkowski Beta 105
5 Liam Draper KTM 103
6 Thorn Devlin GasGas 95
7 Russell Bobbitt KTM 87
8 Ron Commo III KTM 65
9 Cody Barnes Beta 60
10 Cory Buttrick Husqvarna 59