Kailub Russell takes the Full Gas Sprint Enduro round five win in Harleywood as Stewawrd Baylor throws a potential overall in favour of ISDE preparation.
Kailub Russell took a fast and consistent route to victory at round five of the 2019 Full Gas Sprint Enduro. The series continues to attract the biggest names in US off road who enjoy the format which serves as preparation for the International Six Days Enduro later this year in Portugal – an event Team USA are pretty keen to win again this year.
The FMF/KTM Factory-backed Russell claimed four test wins over the course of the two-day event, including wins in the first three tests of the weekend. Russell never finished out of the top three in the remaining eight tests, and after two days of racing his speed and consistency earned him the overall win by nearly four seconds over Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Thad Duvall.
“Saturday was really good,” said Russell. “I was able to win the first three tests and was really close in the other ones. 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.”
Duvall parlayed three test wins into a runner-up finish, despite losing valuable time due to a crash in test four on Sunday. “I’ve been trying to work on being better on Saturdays, and this weekend I had a really good day on Saturday,” said Duvall. “I was able to win a couple tests and finish second for the day, really just a couple seconds behind Kailub.
“I was excited about that, because I knew I’m usually a little stronger on the second day and I came out and was riding really good day on Sunday. In the fourth test I was turning a good time and I just ended up crashing two turns from the finish and losing a lot of time. But 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 rounded out the podium again with third, beating out his Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki team-mate Jordan Ashburn by 11 seconds after two full days of racing. “It was a pretty good weekend,” said Strang. “I struggled in the first Enduro test on Saturday. I think it just caught me off-guard how slippery it was. So, I lost pretty much most of the time in that first test. I was a lot closer on Sunday and then just the last test I took it fairly easy because I wasn’t putting any time into those guys, so I just rode it in. Overall, it was a good weekend.”
Bike switch for Baylor costs the win
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, so he switched back to his 450.
On Sunday, Steward changed rear shocks and came away with four test wins to edge Duvall out for Sunday’s win by four seconds. “This was just sort of a practice race for me, since I am riding the 500 in Portugal,” said Baylor. “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.”
Meanwhile Jordan Ashburn focused on eliminating mistakes in his run to 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,” said Ashburn. “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.”
Craig Delong turned in a season-best fifth overall finish on his Coastal Racing Husqvarna. “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,” said Delong. “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.”
Pro2 class lock-out for Beta USA
Beta USA team-mates Mike Witkowski and Cody Barnes finished the two-day event separated by just four seconds, with Witkowski taking sixth and Barnes taking seventh. The two also finished first and second in the Pro2 class.
“I definitely felt the most comfortable on the cross test,” said Witkowski. “It was fast but it had a lot of turny spots. The woods test was almost like you had to either push it real hard or you just had to back down because it was sketchy.”
GasGas North America’s Thorn Devlin was eighth overall and third in the Pro2 division. “I kind of had some highs and lows over the two days,” said Devlin. “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. In the Enduro test, I just didn’t have enough confidence on the slick dirt to hang it out. But the bike worked great and I couldn’t have asked for any more.”
Jesse Ansley put his Trail Jesters KTM Racing KTM into ninth overall and fourth in the Pro2 class, while Billy Schlag was top-finishing Pro-Am rider in 10th overall. Fellow KTM riders Brewer Cawley and RJ Cook were second and third in the Pro-Am class.
10 Women’s Pro class wins for Jones
Husqvarna-backed Tayla Jones remained perfect in the Women’s Pro class, adding her ninth and tenth wins of the season in Virginia. Jones won four of the six tests on Saturday and five of the six tests on Sunday to beat MEP MX KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker by 41 seconds for the win. Maxxis/KTM’s Becca Sheets was third overall another 12 seconds back.
Full Gas Sprint Enduro 2019 round five overall results:
- Kailub Russell (KTM)
- Thad Duvall (Hsq)
- Josh Strang (Kaw)
- Jordan Ashburn (Kaw)
- Craig DeLong (Hsq)
- Mike Witkowski (Bet)
- Cody Barnes (Bet)
- Thorn Devlin (GG)
- Jesse Ansley (KTM)
- Billy Schlag (KTM)
The Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series returns to action on July 13-14 at LL Raceway in Fairmount, Pennsylvania for round six of the series.
More information: www.sprintenduro.com
Words and imagesShan Moore North America Correspondentshan@tandenews.com