Josh Strang Tops Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Finale

The Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series wrapped up its 2015 schedule in front of its biggest audience (and entry) to date this weekend at the Big Buck Farm in Union, South Carolina, where Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Josh Strang came away with a big win, making for a fitting end to the Aussie off-road star’s season.

The event also marked the first race in over a year for Charlie Mullins, who has been recovering from multiple wrist surgeries. The FMF/KTM rider finished second overall behind Strang, while Farr Racing’s Thad DuVall spent the race breaking in a new bike and came away with the final step of the podium.

In case you’re not familiar, the Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series is similar to the Sprint Enduro series in Great Britain. The American version features two test sections (one woods test or “Enduro Test” and one grass track test or “Cross Test”), which the competitors run three times each day making for 12 total timed rides for the weekend. Riders take to the course one at a time at 20-second intervals and the results are based on total time to complete the course.

The South Carolina Full Gas Sprint Enduro was a fun race with beautiful weather and a great turnout and Dirt Rider’s Shan Moore was on hand to bring you the scoop.

Photo by Shan Moore
Josh Strang has been on a roll lately, having won the last two rounds of the GNCC series and finishing second in the final round of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series.

Josh Strang won eight of the 12 tests and topped Charlie Mullins in the overall results by just under 27 seconds. After losing Saturday’s opening test to Mullins, Strang came back with a vengeance and swept the remaining five tests to take a commanding lead heading into Sunday’s event. On Sunday, Strang claimed three test wins to wrap up the overall win.

“This was a nice way to end the year,” said Strang. “I think the last six or seven races I’ve won, except for a second at the last national enduro. This series is so much fun and I’m going to try to do as many as I can next year, although we’ve got a pretty busy schedule next year. It was really good to have Charlie back and it will be good to have another guy in the mix for next year.”

Strang added that he’ll head back home to Australia for a few weeks to visit family before returning early in 2016 to prepare for next year’s series.

Photo by Shan Moore
Charlie Mullins was excited to be racing again as spending over a year rehabbing both of his wrists.

The South Carolina Sprint Enduro marked Charlie Mullins’ first race since midway into the 2014 season and the FMF/KTM rider showed he still had the speed by winning the first test of the two-day event. Mullins has spent the last six weeks in Florida with legendary trainer Aldon Baker and says he’s lost nearly 20 pounds in the process.

“The race went well; it’s been over a year since I lined up on a starting line and I’ve had a lot of ups and downs along the way,” said Mullins. “I really didn’t get serious about riding until the beginning of October and I went to Baker’s and just rode on the moto track.

“On Saturday, I was a little hesitant in the woods; I haven’t tried to ride that hard in the woods and it was a little bit of an adjustment. I came in here with realistic goals and I got a little more comfortable as the day went on. I just wanted to be on pace and I’m pleased because I feel my speed was there. As a racer I wanted to win, but I know this is a step in the right direction and it’s a good start to the off-season. I have a good base to work with now and a good team so I’m looking forward to 2016.”

Photo by Shan Moore
Thad DuVall kicks up a roost in the Cross Test on Sunday.

Thad DuVall has had one of his best seasons to date in 2015, including his win at the Mountain Ridge GNCC in Pennsylvania. DuVall finished third in South Carolina and spent the weekend trading second and third place finishes with Strang and Mullins.

“I kinda got off to a slow start,” said DuVall. “We got a new 2016 Husqvarna this week and I had maybe 10 minutes on the bike before this race and that was on Saturday morning riding around the pits. I was third in the first test, which was good, but we were having a few problems with the bike, so we made some changes before the second test and wound up going in the wrong direction, so I lost a lot in that one. But we flipped the settings back and I was third for the rest of the day. We made a few changes Saturday night and then I spent all of Sunday mixing it up with Charlie and Josh. I didn’t win a test but I sure came close. One time Josh would win the test and I would get second and Charlie wound get third, and then the next test, Charlie would win and I would get second and Strang would get third. It was a really fun race and I enjoyed battling with those guys.”

Photo by Shan Moore
Up-and-comer Evan Smith blasts through the Enduro Test on Saturday.

Evan Smith had a big weekend, finishing fourth overall behind Thad DuVall. Smith is new to the pro division, and finished second in the Rekluse Expert-AA division this year in the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series, which means he’ll be moving up to the pro division in the series for 2016. His fourth at the Sprint Enduro race in South Carolina reinforces the notion that Smith’s stock is on the rise and many are predicting big things from the Jefferson, Georgia rider who regularly practices with Russell Bobbitt and Nick Fahringer.

Photo by Shan Moore

The South Carolina race was Cory Buttrick’s first since parting ways with Beta USA. The Ohio rider was sitting in fifth position after Saturday’s event, however, a run-in with a log on Sunday forced the Ohio rider to DNF the fifth test, putting him out of the running for a top 10 position.

“I felt like I was capable of a whole lot more,” said Buttrick. “I struggled on Saturday just from pushing too hard, and you really can’t over-ride this type of sections or you end up having problems. I was too amped up, I guess. But on Sunday I calmed down and rode a whole lot better. Unfortunately, in the fifth test – the Enduro Test – I hooked a log going up a hill and it bent the chain guide so bad that I derailed my chain and I lost a lot of time trying to put it back on. That pretty much shot the weekend right there. But I felt like I was riding well on Sunday and I made some progress heading into next year, although I know I was capable of a whole lot more this weekend.”

Buttrick was riding a shop-backed KTM from JDP MotorSports.

RESULTS

  1. Josh Strang (Hus) 1:08:17.237
  2. Charlie Mullins (KTM) 1: 08:44.450
  3. Thad DuVall (Hus) 1:09:11.260
  4. Evan Smith (KTM) 1:09:55.203
  5. Tegan Temple (Bet) 1:10:30.203