Story and photos by Mark Kariya
All three U.S. ISDE Trophy teams started and ended Day Five of the 93rd FIM International Six Days Enduro in Vina del Mar, Chile, in second place.
Brandy Richards put in the day's most impressive performance by an American rider. The second-year ISDE competitor became the first Women's World Trophy rider other than Australian rider Tayla Jones to lead a day of the 2018 event. Richards was the fastest Women's World Trophy rider in the first five special tests, and was within a half second of Jones's time in the day's last test.
With her strong performance Friday, Richards passed Livia Lancelot of France for second place in the Women's World Trophy individual standings. She is now 2:44.12 seconds behind Jones while the U.S. team (which includes Tarah Gieger and Becca Sheets) lost ground to Jones' Australian team. The gap between the two teams grew to 8:54.93.
Australia's Tayla Jones can be beaten and Brandy Richards proved it by winning five of the fifth day's tests and finishing second to Jones in the last test by less than half a second. Richards' total time for the day was 36.61 seconds faster than Jones. However, Jones remains the fastest for the week.
"It was hard to ride that stuff," Gieger said. "It was hard to find where to push and where not to push too much. It was a tough balance to find. Everything was really hard-packed with a layer of silt on it, but we didn't really ride on anything flat all week so that made it pretty tough.
"It wasn't so much the hills; it was the hills into massive off-cambers and trying to stop for them. It's nothing we usually ride because no one would really make anything like that because it's not that fun. Other people were just better at it."
In World Trophy team competition, U.S. rider Taylor Robert was the top E2 Class rider on Day Five. Australia's Daniel Milner the only rider in the World Trophy field to post a faster time than Roberts, which allowed him to remain the E3 leader.
Day Five turned out to be the best of the week so far for Zach Bell who was ninth in E3 for the day.
Robert's teammate Steward Baylor put in a strong performance on Day Five. He was the runner-up to Robert in E2, and posted the fourth best individual time of the day. U.S. World Trophy team rider Ryan Sipes ended the day fifth in E1. The U.S. team's World Trophy rookie Zach Bell revealed he'd broken his hand early in the week. He nevertheless finished Day Five with the ninth-best time in the E3 Class.
Overall, the U.S. World Trophy team is 7:29.09 behind Australia and more than four minutes ahead of third-place Italy with one day of competition remaining.
"Today was my best day of all five days," Bell said. "I felt the best energy-wise [and] felt good on the tracks. This is an experience I've wanted to learn and I can say I've finally completed five days; we've just got one more. It was good-a lot of struggles at the beginning of the week with falls and lappers and stuff like that."
Dante Oliveira gets down to business at the end of the day during the work period before his bike is impounded. Seventh among all Club riders at the end of Day Four, he was fifth in C2 both for the day and overall.
The U.S. Junior World Trophy team of Grant Baylor, Ben Kelley and Josh Toth, were the fastest team in their division for the day by nearly 50 seconds. The team clawed back some time on division-leading Italian team, shrinking the difference to 3:35.46. The U.S. team holds an about 13 minute lead over the third-place French team.
Still sore and with limited movement after his race-ending crash a couple days ago, Destry Abbott (right) continues to help those still racing, including his son, first-time ISDE rider Cooper who's on the RPM/Mt. Baker Club team that was fourth in the standings at the end of Day Four.
The U.S. Club team RPM/Mt. Baker with Cooper Abbott, Ryan Kudla and Dante Oliveira maintained its position as the top-performing American club team on Day Four. Oliveira was seventh-fastest Club rider overall on Day Four, and was fifth-fastest of all C2 Class riders on Thursday. U.S. Club team rider J.T. Baker put in another strong performance in the C3 Class on Thursday. He was the fastest rider in the class on Day Four and took over the overall lead in the class.
American rider J.T. Baker of the SRT Racing Club team was the fastest C3 rider on Day Four and leads that class overall after four days.
The sixth and final day of the event will feature a cruise up the coast to an ocean-side motocross track carved out near the beach.