2019 Virginia Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race Report

Kailub Russell claims his fourth win of the season at Harleywood.

Kailub Russell races at the Virginia Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race.
FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell claimed his fourth win of the series and extended his lead in the championship standings to 45 points.Shan Moore

FMF KTM Factory Racing's Kailub Russell claimed his fourth win in five rounds after edging out Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Thad Duvall for the overall win at the Harleywood Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro in Bristol, Virginia. With the win, Russell extended his lead in the championship standings to 45 points over Duvall with three rounds remaining in the series. Russell got the ball rolling by taking three-straight wins to start the weekend.

“I was able to win the first three tests and was really close in the other ones,” Russell said. “I rode really well and kept it on two wheels the whole weekend, but Sunday was a little bit tougher. The guys stepped it up in the Enduro test. I managed to win the first Cross test of the day, but not by much. We were all really close in the times on the Cross test, but Steward [Baylor] and Thad kind of picked it up in the Enduro test. I was just having trouble finding where they were going a little bit quicker.”

Thad Duvall races at the Virginia Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thad Duvall won three of the 12 tests and finished second overall for the weekend. He’s been working on getting off to a faster start. “I’ve been working on being better on Saturdays and this weekend I had a really good Saturday,” Duvall explained. “I knew I’m usually kind of a little bit stronger on the second day, so I kind of had high expectations for day 2.”Shan Moore

Russell never finished out of the top three in the remaining eight tests, and was less than four seconds quicker in the final overall tally than Duvall, who finished second. Duvall was in contention for the overall win throughout the weekend. However, a tip-over in Sunday’s test 4 cost him a real shot at the overall victory.

“In that test I was turning a good time and I just ended up crashing two turns from the finish and losing a lot of time,” Duvall said. “Other than that, it was a good weekend. I think I’ve lost the last two Full Gas rounds by less than four seconds, but I’m getting better at these. It was definitely a step in the right direction for sure.”

Josh Strang races at the Virginia Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race.
Like most of the riders, Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Josh Strang struggled on the Enduro test and felt fast on the Cross test. “The times were super close on the Cross test,” Strang said. “I’m not really sure why. I guess because there weren’t many options to change up lines or do anything different besides ride the main line. I think that’s why everyone was so close on the cross test this weekend. Then the enduro test, it seemed like it was going to be fast, but I think it kind of worked into being fairly technical.”Shan Moore

Consistent as ever, Babbitt’s/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Josh Strang put his KX450 into third overall, edging out teammate Jordan Ashburn by 11 seconds.

“I struggled in the first Enduro test on Saturday,” Strang said. “I think it just caught me off guard how slippery it was. Other than that, I had a pretty good weekend. Overall, it was a good weekend except for the first Enduro test on Saturday.”

Ashburn turned in one of his best performances of the season to finish fourth overall.

“I had really good times on the Cross test, but it was a bit of a struggle to find speed on the Enduro test,” Ashburn said. “The Enduro test was really slick and I would concentrate each time on improving on certain lines, but I would end up with the exact same times, so it was frustrating. But I’m pleased with my finish.”

Mike Witkowski races at the  Virginia Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race.
Mike Witkowski beat out his Beta USA teammate Cody Barnes for sixth overall.Shan Moore

Still feeling the effects of a shoulder injury he suffered last year, Craig DeLong’s fifth-place finish was his best of the season.

“I got off to a good start and I was fast in the first Cross test, but I struggled a bit in the woods test,” the Coastal Racing Husqvarna-backed rider said. “I was just off a couple of seconds and that adds up fast over the course of a weekend. Overall, it was a good weekend for me though. It was probably my best performance of the series so far.”

Beta USA teammates Mike Witkowski and Cody Barnes battled over the win in the Pro2 class, with Witkowski coming out on top and in sixth overall. Barnes was not far behind in seventh overall and second in the Pro2 class.

Thorn Devlin races at the Virginia Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race.
GasGas North America’s Thorn Devlin struggled with the Enduro test, but still managed a credible eighth overall finish and third in the Pro2 class. “I had some highs and lows,” Devlin offered. “I rode well in the Cross test, but I struggled in the Enduro test. The course was hard and slick, and I had problems finding traction. It was definitely interesting. The bike worked great and the suspension was spot-on. I couldn’t have asked for any more. I just felt a lot more comfortable in the Cross test running the speeds I was running. In the Enduro test, I just didn’t have enough confidence on the slick dirt to hang it out.”Shan Moore

GasGas North America’s Thorn Devlin was eighth overall and third in the Pro2 division, while Trail Jesters KTM Racing KTM’s Jesse Ansley was the fourth place Pro2 finisher and ninth overall. Billy Schlag was the top finishing Pro-Am rider in 10th overall.

Steward Baylor races at the Virginia Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race.
Using the race to get ready for the upcoming ISDE in Portugal, Steward Baylor rode a KTM 500 to Sunday’s win. “This was just sort of a practice race for me since I am riding the 500 in Portugal,” Baylor said. “I just didn’t feel comfortable on the bike Saturday, so I switched back to the 450, but we got it dialed in on Sunday and I felt pretty good.”Shan Moore

Tely Energy KTM’s Steward Baylor won Sunday’s round, after not getting scored on Saturday due to the fact that he changed bikes during the day. Steward started out on a KTM 500, which he is scheduled to ride at this year’s ISDE in Portugal. However, it was Steward’s first ride on the bike and he was not comfortable on it, so he switched back to his 450. On Sunday, Steward changed shocks and came away with four test wins to edge Duvall out for Sunday’s win by four seconds.

Tayla Jones races at the Virginia Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race.
Tayla Jones remained perfect in the Women’s Pro class with her fifth straight win.Shan Moore

Husqvarna-backed Tayla Jones added a fifth-straight win to her résumé in the Women’s Pro division after bearing out MEP MX KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker by 41 seconds. Maxxis KTM’s Becca Sheets was third overall, another 12 seconds back.

Billy Schlag races at the Virginia Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race.
Billy Schlag topped the Pro-Am class with a 10th overall finish.Shan Moore

2019 Virginia Sprint Enduro Overall Results

Position Rider Brand
1 Kailub Russell KTM
2 Thad Duvall Husqvarna
3 Josh Strang Kawasaki
4 Jordan Ashburn Kawasaki
5 Craig DeLong Husqvarna
6 Mike Witkowski Beta
7 Cody Barnes Beta
8 Thorn Devlin GasGas
9 Jesse Ansley KTM
10 Billy Schlag KTM

2019 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Championship Point Standings

Position Rider Brand Points
1 Kailub Russell KTM 221
2 Thad Duvall Husqvarna 176
3 Josh Toth KTM 168
4 Josh Strang KTM 167
5 Jordan Ashburn KTM 126
6 Craig DeLong Husqvarna 88
7 Ben Kelley KTM 63
8 Cory Buttrick Husqvarna 50
9 Layne Michael Husqvarna 36
10 Lyndon Snodgrass KTM 30