Story and photos by Mark Kariya
The 92nd International Six Days Enduro in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, is turning into something akin to a teeter-totter for the U.S. ISDE team.
First, U.S. World Trophy team rider Thad Duvall crashed and hurt his wrist on the first day, forcing him out of the race and effectively ending the team’s title defense right there. But the second day saw teammate Ryan Sipes top the overall individual standings to put him into contention for that award at the end of the week. Though, Taylor Robert still has the best chance at winning the overall as he remained second overall individual to Christophe Nambotin of France after both days’ times were added.
Don’t try this at home, kids! Justin Morgan gives the locals a quick show en route to his best day yet in his first ISDE. He and the other two on the Eric Cleveland Memorial Club team finished 15th for the day while Morgan improved to 23rd out of some 500 Club riders.
In addition, the U.S. Junior World Trophy team saw its name at the top of that class at the end of the day while the U.S. Women’s World Trophy team moved up a spot to second behind four-time and defending champion Australia.
However, that didn’t last long. The third day saw new trail, new tests and new hope for something to take the sting out of World Trophy disappointment on the first day. And while those trails and most tests were fresh, it didn’t take long for them to deteriorate quickly or for U.S. fortunes to shift for the worst.
Instead of carrying the momentum from day two, Sipes crashed hard in a test, losing significant time and dropping out of the overall picture.
Robert didn’t have the best of days either, finishing the day 14.82 seconds behind Loic Larrieu of France. The host nation continues to easily keep a strong hand on its lead in the FIM World Trophy division over Australia and Finland.
Though most of the tests and trail were new, it didn’t take long for them to become dusty and rough, though Brandy Richards powered through it all to earn third-fastest Woman, the U.S. trio remaining a strong third in Women’s World Trophy.
Sixth for the day, Robert nonetheless retained second overall individual and second in E3 behind Christophe Nambotin, but the gap to the French leader nearly doubled to 13.61 seconds. Sipes dropped to eighth after three days.
“He lost over 20 seconds [crashing in the third test],” U.S. Team Manager Antti Kallonen shared. “It’s really hard to make up that much time back, especially when there’s like 20 guys fighting for every tenth of a second. You lose seven seconds for the day and you could be 10th. But it’s Six Days and it’s racing so we have two full days and a cross test still to go.”
After its unexpected leap into the lead, the U.S. Junior World Trophy team’s fortunes crashed when Josh Toth made a mistake at a check and clocked in a few seconds early, picking up a one-minute penalty which allowed both France and Italy to slip by.
Grant Baylor gives a quick wave as he cruises through the village of Cornil. He and the rest of the U.S. Junior World Trophy team dropped to third.
“Even without that [penalty], we weren’t as fast as France or Italy,” Kallonen said. “So they got us today, but we’re trying to recover and go after it again tomorrow with new course and new special tests. We hope that kind of gives us a second wind and we can get the Juniors up there again. Realistically, we have chance for second.”
The U.S. Women’s World Trophy team presented one of the few bright spots for the Americans as Brandy Richards, Becca Sheets and Kacy Martinez-Coy rode together most of the day and finished third, fourth and sixth for the day.
In the Club team competition, SRT Off-road (Ben Kelley, Ty Tremaine and Cody Webb) held tightly to fourth place.