Full Gas Sprint Enduro, Mesquite Off-Road Weekend, Mexican SuperEnduro, National Enduro Preview, Kenda/SRT AMA National Hare & Hound and Much More! - The Weekly Dirt: February 25, 2015

Welcome to Weekly Dirt, your place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week, we have a lot to cover. The Full Gas Spring Enduro, the Mesquite Off-Road Weekend, and the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National all took place this weekend. There’s plenty to go over, so let’s get going.

Kailub Russell Takes Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series Opener

Kailub Russell won the opening round of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series in South Carolina. Photo Courtesy Ken Hill
Daniel Milner finished second, 14-seconds behind Russell. Photo Courtesy Ken Hill
Josh Strang was third overall. Photo Courtesy Ken Hill

The 2015 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series kicked off this past weekend in Gaston, South Carolina, where FMF/KTM’s Kailub Russell came from behind to claim the overall win after two days of special test racing.

The event featured a 3.5-mile enduro special test and a three-mile cross test laid out in a fashion similar to what would be seen at a World Enduro Championship or ISDE, with riders competing on each special test six times over the weekend for a total of twelve special tests.

FMF/N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha’s Daniel Milner jumped out to an early lead on day one, winning the first special test by eight seconds over Kailub Russell and continuing to win the next two tests to pull out to a 14-second lead over FMF/KTM’s Russell. The two-time GNCC Champ and third-place overall finisher at the 2014 ISDE would rally to take the win in test four but Milner responded with wins in the final two tests of the day and headed into the final day of racing with a 14-second lead.

Behind the duo of Milner and Russell, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Josh Strang and AirGroup/Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna’s Ryan Sipes had a heated battle for third and fourth-place with only five-seconds separating the two after six special tests on day one.

FMF/N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Andrew DeLong, MPS Honda’s Layne Michael, Tegan Temple, Grant Baylor and FMF/KTM’s Russell Bobbitt rounded out the top-10 after day one.

A light rain in the morning made for perfect conditions on day two and it was Russell who came out swinging taking the win in the first four tests of the day moving himself into first-place overall ahead of day one winner, Milner. The Australian rebounded in the fifth test of day two taking the win to close within three seconds of Russell with one final test remaining in the event.

Russell was the first rider to tackle the final test and put down a blistering 6:47 test time, his fastest time on that test of the day, and most importantly 3-seconds faster than Milner which gave him the overall win by just 6-seconds after two days of racing.

Josh Strang rode a consistent second day to secure the final podium position in only his second race on his new Rockstar Energy Husqvarna.

Jordan Ashburn who was fifth on day one moved up one spot on day two and ended up finishing 4th-overall for the weekend. Ryan Sipes, who was fourth on day one, was forced to leave the event early and head home to Kentucky where his wife and family were without electric or heat due to a bad ice storm.

Tegan Temple, the young privateer from West Chester, PA, was fifth-fastest on the day and ended up sixth overall behind MPS Honda’s Layne Michael. Grant Baylor, Russell Bobbitt, Andrew DeLong, and Ricky Russell would round out the top-10.

The next round of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series will take place July 18-19 in Nashville, IN.

Pos Name TOTAL
1 Kailub Russell 1:14:27.543
2 Daniel Milner 1:14:33.428
3 Josh Strang 1:16:02.738
4 Jordan Ashburn 1:17:13.532
5 Layne Michael 1:17:30.462
6 Tegan Temple 1:17:31.585
7 Grant Baylor 1:17:45.219
8 Russell Bobbitt 1:18:11.326
9 Andrew Delong 1:18:23.345
10 Ricky Russell 1:19:11.993

Bartram Tops Mesquite Off-Road Beyond Pro Race

Cowboy Kenny Bartram leads Aaron Murray in the Beyond Pro Race. Photo Courtesy iFilm, UT

For the third-straight year, Mesquite, Nevada and the Eureka Casino Resort was the home of Mesquite Off-Road Weekend, an off-road festival featuring world-class racers witnessed by thousands of fans of all ages. The main event of the Weekend was the Beyond Pro race, and once again, Freestyle MotoCross legend Cowboy Kenny Bartram won the event. The Beyond Pro race was created specifically for Mesquite Off-Road Weekend and is the only format in the world that brings together elements of both Freestyle Motocross and EnduroCross racing. EnduroCross superstar Mike Brown finished second while Brett Cue, who won the Biggest Whip contest on Friday night, was third.

Racers from Nevada, Utah, California, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Ohio were in the field. The pros battled for a purse of $20,000 while amateur classes battled for bragging rights and personal accomplishment.

All levels of racers participated during the weekend. Racing classes were available from youth to professional on the one-of-a-kind course located behind the award-winning Eureka Casino Resort. The Beyond Pro race once again culminated the racing on Saturday and featured elements of both FMX and EnduroCross racing.

Taddy Blazusiak Wins Mexican SuperEnduro

Taddy Blazusiak claimed his fourth win in as many races in the Maxxis FIM World SuperEnduro Series in Mexico. Photo Courtesy Futur7Media
Cody Webb won one race and finished second overall. Photo Courtesy Futur7Media

Taddy Blazusiak is looking down the barrel of a sixth SuperEnduro title, now that he has won all four of the rounds held as we went to print in the Maxxis FIM World SuperEnduro Series.

Blazusiak won two of the three finals on the night, losing the second race to KTM’s Cody Webb, who ended the night in second overall after going 3-1-2 in the three main events.

“It’s awesome to have made it four wins in a row,” Blazusiak said after the race. “After such a close battle last time out in Finland I knew it would be tough again here. But somehow things just rolled in my favor. I felt good on the track and my starts where great. I had some fun battles – especially in the final race with Cody Webb**** – so it’s been a great result to win here.”

Third went to factory KTM rider Jonny Walker, who was 2-2-4 on the night.

After four races, Blazusiak leads the standings with 227 points, followed byDavid Knight with 181, Jonny Walker with 178 and Webb with 174.

Steward Baylor Carries Points Lead Into This Weekend's Sandlapper Enduro

Steward Baylor will be looking to pad his points lead at this weekend’s Sandlapper Enduro in South Carolina. Photo Courtesy Futur7Media

The 2015 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series makes a stop this coming Sunday in Pelion, South Carolina for the Sandlapper National Enduro, round two of the 10-round off-road series where Steward Baylor will try to continue the momentum he generated by winning the series opener on February 1st in Sumter, South Carolina.

Baylor now holds a five-point lead in the series standings, and will once again have the benefit of competing in a hometown race in South Carolina. In addition, since he won the previous round in Sumter, the MotoTech KTM rider will be starting from row 21.

Kailub Russell will be looking to improve on the runner-up finish he claimed in Sumter, where the FMF/KTM rider barely missed out on the victory after topping two of the six tests. MotoSport.com Am Pro Yamaha’s Brad Bakken, who was third in Sumter, will also be looking to unseat Baylor on his Yamaha YZ250FX.

Defending series champ Andrew DeLong will be looking to make amends for his eight-place finish at the series opener. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing-backed Pennsylvania rider was running as high as second in Sumter, but struggled in the final two tests and dropped out of contention for the win. Meanwhile, FMF/KTM’s Russell Bobbitt was steady and consistent en route to fourth at the opener in his first national appearance back with KTM after stints with Husaberg and Husqvarna. The four-time champ is a previous winner at the Sandlapper Enduro and is certain to be in the hunt for a win next Sunday.

In the Beta USA camp, Jesse Groemm, last year’s number two rider, will be ready to go this weekend after dropping out of the Sumter race with a mild concussion. Meanwhile, Greomm’s teammate, Cory Buttrick, will be attempting to improve on his fifth-place finish at round one.

For more info on the series be sure to check out www.nationalendur.com. —Shan Moore

Double-header Winning Weekend For Brabec

A bad start didn’t keep Ricky Brabec from passing everyone he saw, and he ended up at the front of the pack before the end of the 80-mile Check Chase in Barstow, California, the day after teaming with Robby Bell to win round two of the BITD series in Laughlin, Nevada.
Ivan Ramirez straightens out the course while chasing Nick Burson about 15 miles into the race. Ramirez ended up second after crashing while Burson limped in for fifth after wadding hard twice. Photo By Mark Kariya
So far, Dalton Shirey has been the man to beat in the FMF 250cc Pro class, no matter if it’s in the hare & hounds or hare scrambles, and he chalked up another victory in Barstow. Photo By Mark Kariya
After his DNF at round one, Braydon Bland rode like he was fired up and ran away with the Super Mini win at round two. Photo By Mark Kariya

The Checkers Motorcycle Club is one of the oldest ones out there, having been around since the early 1950s or basically since the inception of desert motorcycle racing. It counts among its members many of the legends in desert racing—guys like the late Al Baker, Ty Davis, Whitey Martino, J.N. Roberts and many more.

So, naturally, any race the club puts on is going to be memorable and that’s an apt description for the Check Chase. Over the years, it’s earned a reputation for being one of the tough ones where simply finishing is the goal of most entrants.

Thus, it’s no surprise that when the National Hare & Hound Association selected the Checkers to host round two of the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series this year, the club would put on a memorable event, and the 65th Annual Check Chase World Championship National Hare & Hound proved to be just that for all competitors.

While the Stoddard Wells Off-Highway Vehicle Area outside of Barstow, California, is a popular spot for recreational riders and has been used quite a bit for local races, it hasn’t been part of the National circuit in, maybe, ever. If it has, it’s been a long, long time.

But it’s like a second home for THR Motorsports/Precision Concepts/Bonanza Plumbing’s Ricky Brabec, the reigning H&H champ. He lives about 20 minutes away and it showed when he sliced through the dusty pack after getting a horrible start. He finally passed leader Ivan Ramirez of the FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team with 10 or so miles to go and held it to the finish to claim his first win of the H&H season and his second of the weekend. (More on that later.)

Purvines Racing Beta’s Axel Pearson found his brand-new 480 RR quite a bit different off the start than last year’s 498 RR. It started so quickly that it surprised him and he actually looped out like a novice shortly after his first shift off the line, and he then lost more time looking for his bike in the thick dust. But his woes weren’t over as maybe a mile later he crashed again.

Nonetheless, he managed to blitz through the pack and finish third followed by TBT Racing KTM’s Brandon Prieto and fellow Purvines Racing Beta rider Nick Burson, an early leader who ended up bouncing his face off the rocky Barstow desert floor twice, ending up with a lacerated chin and broken tooth.

Afterwards, new points leader Brabec reflected, “We came out here to the hare & hound hoping to win. After the start I had—I think I was 40th to the bomb—that kind of set in my head and I was like, ‘I’ve got to do good, push!’

“I charged the entire race; I don’t think I took one break start to finish! I didn’t really get tired.”

Round-one winner Gary Sutherlin ended up with a DNF and possible broken wrist after slamming a ditch wrong yet not crashing.

The day before, in Laughlin, Nevada, Best in the Desert ran its new Polaris RZR UTV World Championship Desert Classic, which replaces the much-loved Laughlin U.S. Hare Scrambles Championship. Round two of BITD’s American Off-road Racing Series, it used some of the old SCORE Laughlin race course within sight of town and was definitely faster than the hare scrambles that used a much tighter, twistier layout in the hills some 20 minutes west of town.

Why the change?

Simple economics for BITD.

Last year, for example, the motorcycle-only hare scrambles drew 50 entries.

This year, the new race attracted 121—and that was just the number of UTVs! Add ATVs and bikes, and the total number of entries reached 180!

Any questions?

The race was eight times around a 17-mile loop, and BITD made it even more interesting by running the bikes at the same time as the ATVs, including the “land rush” start. (That’s basically like the start of a hare & hound, though in addition to dead engines, everyone had to straddle the front of their machine.)

This led to an interesting and rarely seen development. When the green flag waved, everyone hopped aboard their vehicle of choice and tried to start it as quickly as possible. Getting underway and into the first turn the fastest was—get this!—a guy on a utility quad! He beat all other ATVs and bikes (including the Pros) to the first turn, his machine complete with front and rear racks!

Robby Bell, who had the first stint aboard the N1 THR Motorsports/Precision Concepts KX450F he shared with Ricky Brabec, could only laugh.

“A utility quad pulled the hugest holeshot I’ve ever seen,” he exclaimed. “I was joking afterwards that his quad was just so quiet that it was running the whole time and nobody knew.

“I could hear over the radio, I could hear one of the officials count down, ‘Five, four, three, two, one,’ so I tried to jump around the side of my bike a little early, and Casey didn’t wave the flag right on zero. So I paused and then jumped, and then he waved the green flag.

“So I jumped on my bike, kicked it and I think karma was getting me back because it didn’t start right away; it took like three kicks. But I was still surprised because as long as it felt like it took, I looked up and all that was in front of me was Nick and the utility quad.

“So I still got into third real quick, and Nick tried to go around the outside of the quad and the quad put it up on three wheels trying to turn sharp enough not to take Nick out so it pushed him real wide so I got to sneak around the inside and just see a drag race into the next corner with Nick. I just had enough to edge past him and I knew once I got into the lead, the first few straightaways were watered and after that it got into the dust so I knew as soon as I got into the dust, I was going to be making the dust and everybody else was going to have to fade back.”

And that’s exactly how it played out. Burson and partner Axel Pearson waited just outside the dust envelope the entire race for a Bell or Brabec mistake that never came.

Colorado’s Ian Blythe got his season of racing the Brazil’s enduro series off to a good start in Sao Paulo, finishing runner-up to Romulo Bottrel. He edged third-place Adrien Metge by just 0.02 seconds!

The General Tire NORRA Mexican 1000 on April 25-29 will debut a new format aimed at increasing rider safety. While it will remain a rally format type of event, it will utilize three different routes and schedules for various vehicles.

Motorcycles start in Ensenada at noon on April 25, finishing in El Rosario, while the cars and trucks are going through tech. The four-wheel vehicles will start the next day and finish in Bahia de Los Angeles.

Day two (April 26) takes the bikes from El Rosario to San Ignacio; day three (April 27) goes from San Ignacio to Loreto; day four (April 28) from Loreto to La Paz; and day five (April 29) ends in San Jose del Cabo. (After their start on April 26, the cars and trucks travel from Bahia de Los Angeles to Loreto on April 27, from Loreto to La Paz on April 28, and from La Paz to San Jose del Cabo on April 29.) Staggered starts and different routes from the four-wheeled contingent on days four and five should greatly enhance safety and minimize dust for bike entrants. To stay abreast of developments for this race, visit www.norra.com. —Mark Kariya

That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.