2020 GTR Complex Full Gas Sprint Enduro Race Report

Kailub Russell takes Full Gas Sprint Enduro opener in South Carolina.

In addition to dominating the opening round of the 2020 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro series, Kailub Russell used the race to work on suspension settings. “We made a bunch of changes throughout the weekend with the bike, playing around with it,” Kailub remarked. “[We were] just trying to figure out which direction to go when the track gets a certain kind of condition. We went back and forth and made a bunch of changes, and everything seemed to work pretty well all around for the most part. It was a really solid weekend of tuning and testing, and having good results too.”
In addition to dominating the opening round of the 2020 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro series, Kailub Russell used the race to work on suspension settings. “We made a bunch of changes throughout the weekend with the bike, playing around with it,” Kailub remarked. “[We were] just trying to figure out which direction to go when the track gets a certain kind of condition. We went back and forth and made a bunch of changes, and everything seemed to work pretty well all around for the most part. It was a really solid weekend of tuning and testing, and having good results too.”Shan Moore

Kailub Russell kicked off the 2020 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Championship with an impressive win at the opening round at the GTR Complex in Gaston, South Carolina. The FMF KTM Factory Racing rider began his 2019 title defense by winning nine of the 11 tests and topping runner-up finisher Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Ricky Russell by a minute and a half.

Kailub got Saturday’s event underway with a strong performance in test 1, topping Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Craig DeLong by 10 seconds. He won three of the remaining four tests, finishing second in the third test when he dropped his front wheel in a hole and went down, which allowed AmPro Yamaha’s Layne Michael to get his first of two test wins on the weekend. In the end, Kailub won Saturday’s event by just under a minute over Ricky Russell, while Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Josh Strang finished third and Michael was fourth.

Despite struggling in the Cross test, Ricky Russell scored well enough in the Enduro test to finish second overall.
Despite struggling in the Cross test, Ricky Russell scored well enough in the Enduro test to finish second overall.Shan Moore

On Sunday, Kailub got off to an impressive start again, winning the opening test by seven seconds over Ricky Russell. Kailub would win the following four tests and then cruise to second in the sixth and final test. Kailub’s two-day performance gave him the overall victory for the weekend.

“I felt pretty decent and I was pretty happy with where I was on the track and physically,” Kailub said. “Everything was kind of flowing and I was not trying overly hard to put in the times that I was putting in, so that was a plus.”

Layne Michael made the switch to Randy Hawkins’ AmPro Yamaha team during the off-season. Had it not been for a broken rear brake pedal on Saturday, he might have finished second.
Layne Michael made the switch to Randy Hawkins’ AmPro Yamaha team during the off-season. Had it not been for a broken rear brake pedal on Saturday, he might have finished second.Shan Moore

Layne Michael won the sixth test on Sunday and was the only rider to beat Kailub all day.

“Saturday was going pretty good,” Michael explained. “I stayed pretty mistake-free all day [and] just kind of started off slow. I was picking up speed as the day went and I felt really good. Then in the last test, I didn’t know what happened. I just kind of went against the bank and then I was on the ground. I was pretty confused because I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong, but after looking at the track, I saw there was just a little hidden stump kind of in the track, or where we banked off and it just happened to grab my footpeg and broke the brake tip off. Then it actually bent the rest of the pedal that was left on top of my footpeg, so I couldn’t even have my foot hardly on the peg and it cost me a lot of time.”

Kawasaki-mounted Lyndon Snodgrass won the Pro2 class and finished sixth overall. The Aussie ISDE ace won every test on Saturday except for the final Enduro test, which was won by Trail Jesters KTM’s Johnny Girroir. On Sunday, he and Girroir went back and forth, with Snodgrass taking the overall thanks to his strong performance on Saturday.
Kawasaki-mounted Lyndon Snodgrass won the Pro2 class and finished sixth overall. The Aussie ISDE ace won every test on Saturday except for the final Enduro test, which was won by Trail Jesters KTM’s Johnny Girroir. On Sunday, he and Girroir went back and forth, with Snodgrass taking the overall thanks to his strong performance on Saturday.Shan Moore

Despite struggling in the Cross test, Ricky Russell claimed the runner-up finish in the overall results. The Washington rider was a last-minute entry and wasn’t even sure if he would compete the Friday before the race.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to ride because I don’t usually do these and I’m not really chasing the series, but I might now—we’ll see,” Ricky mentioned. “I usually struggle in the Cross tests; they’re just different. I think it’s a European-type thing, but I think going to Six Days last year helped me. I normally don’t do the sprint races and when I do, I tend to over-ride the tests and struggle a bit. I’m on a new bike and I’m gradually getting used to it, so I’m hoping for good things this year. I’m pretty stoked about today because I’ve never done well at these things.”

Josh Strang was in contention for second on Saturday. However, a test that was thrown out relegated the Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki rider to third for the day and fifth overall. “It was a bit disappointing,” Strang said. “I think I might have finished third if we had that test in. I struggled a little bit all weekend, but other than that, it’s good to be back racing. The track got really rough this weekend, so I think compared to last year it was maybe rougher. The sand was a little wetter than normal and it created some more bumps, but it was good. For the most part I felt decent, but not as good as I feel like I should have. But it’s all right.”
Josh Strang was in contention for second on Saturday. However, a test that was thrown out relegated the Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki rider to third for the day and fifth overall. “It was a bit disappointing,” Strang said. “I think I might have finished third if we had that test in. I struggled a little bit all weekend, but other than that, it’s good to be back racing. The track got really rough this weekend, so I think compared to last year it was maybe rougher. The sand was a little wetter than normal and it created some more bumps, but it was good. For the most part I felt decent, but not as good as I feel like I should have. But it’s all right.”Shan Moore

Aussie ISDE ace Lyndon Snodgrass, riding for Team Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki, turned some heads with a fourth place overall finish, edging out teammate Josh Strang by seven seconds.

Despite a valiant battle with Strang and Snodgrass, Johnny Girroir came up just short to finish sixth.
Despite a valiant battle with Strang and Snodgrass, Johnny Girroir came up just short to finish sixth.Shan Moore

Trail Jesters KTM’s Johnny Girroir battled back and forth with Snodgrass for the Pro2 win and a top-five finish. However, Snodgrass’ performance on Saturday was enough to block Girroir’s effort. Draper, last year’s Pro2 champion, was fifth in the Pro class.

“I’m up in the XC1 [class] now so it’s no joke, really,” Draper said. “You’ve got some fast boys out there. Hopefully round 2 goes better.”

Last year’s Pro2 champion, Liam Draper was fifth in the Pro class. “I started off rough,” the New Zealander explained. “Day 1, test 1, I crashed. It just put me back, but today I rode good. I was happy with that, mixing it up with the top boys.”
Last year’s Pro2 champion, Liam Draper was fifth in the Pro class. “I started off rough,” the New Zealander explained. “Day 1, test 1, I crashed. It just put me back, but today I rode good. I was happy with that, mixing it up with the top boys.”Shan Moore

Craig DeLong competed on a 350, though he normally rides a 250. The Coastal Racing Husqvarna rider had several good tests, including a second in the first test of the weekend, but a few rough ones to go along with it, putting him in eighth overall.

“Obviously Saturday was better,” DeLong noted. “I was kind of in the mix for a podium for most of the day until the end, and then I kind of fell apart. Today I was just struggling. I tried to make some adjustments to try to make it better as the track got rougher, but it didn’t seem to work out in the beginning of the day. I had a decent test halfway through, but then in the woods test, I struggled the most. I’m not sure if it was me or the bike or just a combination, but I just couldn’t seem to find the speed that everyone else was riding with.”

Craig DeLong had several good tests, but a few rough ones to go along with it had him finishing sixth.
Craig DeLong had several good tests, but a few rough ones to go along with it had him finishing sixth.Shan Moore

Ninth overall and third in Pro2 went to Ben Nelko, a former pro motocrosser from Pennsylvania racing for Seven Sixty Motorsports Husqvarna.

“I’m not really a sand rider, but I was able to make it work,” Nelko remarked. “I ended up third in Pro2 and ninth overall, so it was a good weekend.”

Pennsylvania motocrosser Ben Nelko traveled to South Carolina and came away with ninth overall and third in the Pro2 class.
Pennsylvania motocrosser Ben Nelko traveled to South Carolina and came away with ninth overall and third in the Pro2 class.Shan Moore

Moose Racing/Shaw Wines/Rockstar/Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones beat out BABS Racing Yamaha’s Becca Sheets by nearly 15 seconds for the win in the Women’s Pro class on Saturday, despite getting stuck in a mudhole and losing considerable time. On Sunday, Jones won every test.

“The tracks are super rough, but overall I had a lot of fun,” Jones said. “The first race of the season went really well, so I can’t really complain. Saturday, I ended up getting stuck in a mudhole and lost like a minute [and] 30 [seconds], so I had to come back from that. That kind of sucked and put me behind going into the last couple tests, but I ended up making up the time. I won yesterday and today, so I’m pretty stoked.”

Jordan Ashburn was a bit out of his element in the sand, finishing 10th, but should come back strong as the series moves north.
Jordan Ashburn was a bit out of his element in the sand, finishing 10th, but should come back strong as the series moves north.Shan Moore

New Zealand’s Rachel Archer was third on her AmPro Yamaha, while Beta USA’s Rachel

Gutish finished fourth and Canada’s Shelby Turner was fifth.

2020 GTR Complex Sprint Enduro Overall Results

Position Rider Brand
1 Kailub Russell KTM
2 Ricky Russell Husqvarna
3 Layne Michael Yamaha
4 Lyndon Snodgrass Kawasaki
5 Josh Strang Kawasaki
6 Johnny Girroir KTM
7 Liam Draper KTM
8 Craig DeLong Husqvarna
9 Ben Nelko Husqvarna
10 Jordan Ashburn Kawasaki