2019 South Carolina Sprint Enduro Race Report

Kailub Russell draws first blood in the Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series

Kailub Russell
FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell was making his first sprint enduro appearance in three years. “It’s been a while since I raced this series, but I’ve still got sprint speed,” Russell said. “I had a good start to the weekend on Saturday and finished the first day with a good cushion. I had a good start to day two as well, but I had a couple of little tip-overs in the third test and then everyone else stepped it up. I gave away a little time in that test, so I was playing catch-up for the rest of the day and I fell a little short in getting a clean sweep of the two days.”Shan Moore

Having last raced the Sprint Enduro series in 2015, when he won the title, Kailub Russell returned to action by claiming the overall victory at the opening round of the 2019 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series in Gaston, South Carolina.

The FMF KTM Factory Racing rider won eight of the 12 tests held over the course of the two-day event and claimed the outright win during Saturday’s round. Meanwhile, defending series champ Josh Strang, who was making his debut ride with the new Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/Kawasaki team, took Sunday’s win.

Strang won three tests, but it was not enough to beat out Russell for the overall, and Russell took the overall win by 35 seconds ahead of Strang.

Josh Strang
Josh Strang was pleased with the runner-up finish in his debut with the new team. “I think I had a case of nerves on Saturday, but I was still pretty steady,” Strang said. “I think I maybe put a bit of pressure on myself because of the new team. I was more relaxed and I rode like I know how to ride on Sunday. It was a stacked class with everyone that was here, and the track got super rough, so it was a tough race. I’m happy with second and I’m looking forward to the season. It’s going to be a really competitive year.”Shan Moore

The South Carolina venue enjoyed a record turnout with more than 400 riders gracing the entry lists for the race. An impressive number of top pro riders and teams showed as well, with factory participation from KTM, Beta, GasGas, Husqvarna, and Kawasaki.

By winning five of six of Saturday’s tests, Russell built up a healthy cushion from day one. However, he suffered two tip-overs in Sunday’s third test and spent the remainder of the day playing catch-up to Strang.

Thad Duvall
Thad Duvall had the overall speed to win but not the sprint speed. “It definitely wasn’t without a struggle,” Duvall said. “I just had one bad test on each day, and that cost me. I just need to brush up on my sprint speed and I’ll be all right. I turned in some good times and I won the last test on each day, but I just had a bad moment on each day.”Shan Moore

Thad Duvall rounded out the overall podium in third. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider was making his first ride since early November due to an injury and reported after the race that he was riding well, but needed to work on his sprint speed. He also said that one test each day cost him a lot of time. On Saturday, Duvall lost his brakes in the Enduro test and on Sunday he crashed.

Josh Toth
Josh Toth was second behind Russell on Saturday, but a crash on Sunday slowed the FMF KTM Factory Racing rider. “I was a little nervous going into the first test, so I think I was a little tight but everything still went pretty well,” Toth said. “I crashed pretty hard in the first Enduro test on Sunday and landed on my arm, so it was pretty sore after that. I was a little beat up and sore at the end of the day, and I think the arms could use a little more time to recover.”Shan Moore

Josh Toth, who underwent arm-pump surgery on each arm just 15 days before the South Carolina race, put himself in a good spot for a podium finish by finishing second behind Russell on Saturday. However, a nasty crash on Sunday in the second test of the day left the FMF KTM Factory Racing rider a little tentative, and he ultimately finished fifth for the day and fourth overall.

Evan Smith
Evan Smith rode his 250F to first in the Pro2 class and fifth overall. “I tried not to put any pressure on myself and I just tried to have a good time and I think I rode loose, which translated into fast times,” Smith said. “It was a good weekend. No crashes, just a couple of bobbles.”Shan Moore

Evan Smith rode a 250F to fifth overall, which was impressive considering the sandy conditions. The Max Motorsports/FXR Racing/Husqvarna-backed rider, who was particularly fast in the Enduro test, easily won the Pro2 class with the finish.

Ben Kelley
Trail Jesters Racing/KTM’s Ben Kelley came close to winning the final Enduro test of the weekend, but he stalled his engine near the end, and had to settle for second in the test and sixth overall for the weekend. “Saturday didn’t go too well,” Kelley said. “I just struggled and wasn’t smooth. I was coming into the corners too fast and I just trying too hard. On Sunday I just tried to smooth out a little and pick up the pace, and I ended up having a pretty good day.”Shan Moore
Liam Draper
New Zealand’s Liam Draper rode his Tely Energy Racing KTM to seventh overall, 19 seconds ahead of Jordan Ashburn.Shan Moore
Jordan Ashburn
Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn spent the weekend working on setup on his bike. The South Carolina race was his first with the new team.Shan Moore
Tayla Jones
Tayla Jones won the Women’s Pro class by more than two minutes. “It was a pretty good weekend and the track was pretty fun, though it got pretty rough,” Jones said. “I had one or two crashes, but other than that I had a good weekend and it was a good start to my 2019 season.”Shan Moore
Mike Witkowski
Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski was 12th overall and third in the Pro2 class.Shan Moore