Maxxis Endurocross - Feature Review - Dirt Rider Magazine

KTM's David Knight on top of the world right now... or the off-road world anyway. He cleaned house in Europe taking number one titles in the World Enduro Championship Series, the International Six Days and the Enduro at Erzberg before coming to the states to win a few more events. For the second weekend in a row, Knight came out on top at an American event, walking away with $10K. First it was the Red Bull Last Man Standing, and the following weekend, the Maxxis Endurocross.The good natured Isle of Man resident comes from a trials background, so it's no surprise to see how well he does in the more technical events. After the amazing year he's already had (and a dramatic introduction), Endurocross host Jerry Bernardo asked Knight, "What can we expect to see from you tonight?""Probably a crash," Knight replied matter-of-factly.But Knight's jest turned out to be quite prophetic, as he crashed hard with Geoff Aaron in the first turn of his heat race. The two went down together in a heap, their bikes tangling in the process. Knight lost valuable time trying to free his bike from the mess, and entered the race half a lap down. He worked his way back up to fouth place despite an injury to his left arm, but would ultimately have to qualify in the Semi, which he easily won.While Knight was playing catch up, young Kawasaki rider Ricky Dietrich was leading the second heat, followed by Ty Davis who had top qualifier Ryan Dudek keeping him honest. Dietrich and Davis advanced to the main while the next riders went on to the semi.The first heat race victory went to Ryan Hughes, but not before dicing it out with fellow Suzuki-mounted motocrosser John Dowd. The two put on quite a show racing side by side, fighting for the lead. But it was the former Endurocross Champion who was ultimately able to pull away, while Dowd took second. Both advanced to the main.Another one of the night's great battles was witnessed in the third heat between Mike Lafferty and Kurt Caselli. Ivan Cervantes led the race followed by the two KTM riders. They handed off the lead to one another throughout the race and wound up side by side into the final turns. In a final attempt to gain ground on Lafferty, Caselli went big over the final tall log crossing (read: X-Games–style step-up), and doubled into the final turn. He knew Lafferty wouldn't do it after taking a digger off that very jump in practice earlier that day. Sure enough, Lafferty rolled it while Caselli took flight, sending the crowd wild. But the low road turned out to be the better choice; Lafferty was back on the gas while Caselli was still in the air. Lafferty whipped around the final turn inches in front of Caselli to take the second place qualifying position. Caselli went on to qualify for the main in the semi.There was one last qualifying spot availible in the LCQ, which turned out to be the most brutal race of the night. Josh McLevy, starting from an inside gate, swept wide on the start—as he had been doing all day—and this time punted two riders over the logs lining the start. Mexican Enduro Champion Homero Diaz and GNCC racer Nathan Kanney went tumbling into the neighboring straightaway (which was littered with rocks and logs) only seconds before the pack came charging toward them. The race was red flagged and medics rushed out to collect Homero Diaz. Nathan Kanney went on to restart the LCQ, but Diaz was down for the count. He eventually walked away on his own, to a chorus of cheers from the crowd, but the crash ended his night.The LCQ restarted and Nathan Kanney held the lead. It looked as though he had it in the bag, but Cycle World's Ryan Dudek stole it from him in the last lap of the race. Dudek—the top qualifier from Friday's races—would take the last spot on the starting gate of Saturday night's main.The MainAll eyes were on David Knight and Ryan Hughes in the main event, as fans anticipated a replay of last year's battle for first. John Dowd was also one to watch as well as Team Green's Ricky Dietrich. Ryan Hughes got out to an early lead followed by Dietrich while Knight got a mid-pack start. Hughes' lead was short lived, however, as a fumble in the logs let Dietrich by. Hughes' race mysteriously went downhill from there; he continued to slip back until he finally ended the race dead last.Dietrich's lead was also short-lived as a crash let David Knight by for first. Knight rode smart and held the lead to the finish, leaving Dietrich and Dowd to battle for second place. Dowd ultimately earned the runner-up position by tripling through a log section, dazzling the sell-out crowd. Dietrich finished a close third followed by Ty Davis and Ivan Cervantes.Main Event Overall Results

1. David Knight
2. John Dowd
3. Ricky Dietrich
4. Ty Davis
5. Ivan Cervantes
6. Ryan Dudek
7. Kurt Caselli
8. Mike Lafferty
9. Ryan Hughes
10. Xavier Galindo (DNS)
The CourseAsk any of the riders what the hardest part of the last year's course was, and they'll tell you: "The rocks!" This year, the rocks were a bit more mellow, broken up by a few logs, and the rest of the course got a little trickier. It made for less chaos concentrated in one spot, and better racing throughout the entire course.Friday's track was slightly less technical than Saturday's. After Friday's open qualifying rounds, they added a few more huge logs, steepened a few lips, and took away some dirt from the rock pile for the pro race. The result was an even more difficult course, which challenged the pros on Saturday as much as it did the amateurs on Friday.Open QualifyingFriday was another full day of racing, as over 100 people threw their hats in the ring for a chance to be one of ten riders to qualify for Saturday's program. There were plenty of privateers, locals, magazine guys (including a few of ours) and a handful of pros: Ricky Dietrich, Josh McLevy, Wally Palmer, Matt Karlsen, Cole Calkins, Nate Pearson, and even women's champions Heather Wilson (GNCC) and Maria Forsberg (WORCS).Dirt Rider sponsored a purse prize for the top qualifier, which made for a good main event on Friday afternoon. After all ten qualifying positions were decided, a final race would award $1,000 to the winner, courtesy of DR. As luck would have it, the top qualifying position - and a grand of our money - went to Cycle World Editor Ryan Dudek. (Even more ironic—Dudek is the one who took over Jimmy's old position at Cycle World.) But Dudek's a good guy and an amazing rider, so we were happy to see him take the top prize... even if it was from our pocket.Associate Editor Jesse Ziegler, Mini Rider Editor Chris Denison and "Big Air" Tod Sciaqua entered Friday's qualifying races aboard Dirt Rider's 250 Enduro test bikes: the Yamaha WR250, Honda CRF250X and Husqvarna 250 Enduro. The bikes were all fitted with trials tires - which turned out to be a popular choice among many riders this year. Ryan Hughes, Mike Lafferty, and Geoff Aaron, just to name a few, all ran trials tires this year.The BikesLast year, the event was all-new to American riders. No one really knew what to expect, which type of bike would be the best choice, or which type of rider would have the greatest advantage - a trials rider? Motocrosser? Off-road guy? A lot of those questions were answered last year and many riders put in a lot of training and preparation specifically for this year's Endurocross.A 250 two-stroke was a popular choice of bike. Former Endurocross Champion Ryan Hughes raced a Suzuki RM250 which was nearly box-stock with motocross suspension, FMF pipe, trials tires, guards and skid plates, and a Steahly flywheel weight.We also got a look at Hughes' WORCS RM-Z450 which he'll be racing in the 2006 World Off Road Championship Series. It's very similar to what he was racing in the last rounds of the Nationals - also with motocross suspension, and perhaps most noteably, with dual exhaust pipes. FMF makes a custom full exhaust system for Ryan Hughes (and only Ryan Hughes... sorry!) with twin silencers. Like the '06 CRF250R, Hughes sites the mass centralization as the best improvement over the stock single can."FMF makes solely for me," Hughes proudly told us, "I tried it and raced with it and I really like it. It changes the power characteristic—the torque comes on sooner, but it's real controllable. The power is much smoother; there's not a hole anywhere. But the biggest thing I see is the stability and handling is a lot better."A Sell Out!It's safe to say that this year's turn out couldn't be much less than last year's (where only a handful of people showed up). But this year's event was sandwiched between AMA Award banquets, and was the weekend before, rather than the weekend of, Thanksgiving.Perhaps it was the non-holiday weekend, perhaps it was word of mouth, or perhaps it was our incessant rambling about how Endurocross is the best racing we've ever seen, but this year's event was a sell out. The crowd on hand at Friday's open qualifiers was nearly as big as last year's during the main, and Saturday, the Orleans Arena was filled with crazed fans.And the race didn't disappoint, either. This year's show was even better than last year's. If you didn't make it out, don't worry. Look for an event DVD in the coming months. Some interesting camera angles will make for great race footage. And there will be more chances for you to see a live Endurocross, as it will be back next year. There are even whispered rumors about a series. Don't doubt it... EX event promoters Tim Clark and Eric Peronnard are the same guys who brought us a little race called the "U.S. Open of Supercross" all those years ago.Watch for upcoming video from Endurocross including a helmet cam view of the track and a highlights reel.

Factory support was in full swing at this year's Endurocross.
Pros like Matt Karlsen (shown), Ricky Dietrich and Josh McLevy had to qualify on Friday.
John Dowd squeezes out Xavier Galindo for the holeshot in Heat 2 ahead of Ryan Hughes (#1).
2005 Endurocross Champion, his fifth number one this year, David Knight.
Ryan Hughes got to run his first AMA pro number one.
Entering through Friday's open qualifiers, Team Green's Ricky Dietrich landed third overall.