Story and photos by Mark Kariya
With the chance to defend its title as FIM World Trophy team winners gone after Thad Duvall pulled from the race due to injury, the rest of the U.S. ISDE team went to work with new focus that brought better results at the end of the second day of the 92nd International Six Days Enduro in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France.
The U.S. World Trophy team remained 16th of the 19 countries entered in that division, but the U.S. Junior World Trophy team vaulted from fourth to lead that class by a scant 2.62 seconds over France with Italy another 15.48 seconds behind for third.
After a relatively subpar day yesterday, things went much better for Ryan Sipes today. Though he didn’t win any tests, consistently good rides saw him finish on top of not only E1 but overall for the day. After two days of racing, he’s now fourth overall.
Defending champion Sweden lost a rider with a mechanical problem so its hopes of a repeat vanished, giving the American trio of under 24-year-olds—Grant Baylor, Layne Michael and Josh Toth—a new outlook, but with less than a three-second lead, they can make no mistakes. Toth had the best day, his total times putting him 17th overall.
France continued to hold a comfortable lead of over four minutes in World Trophy over Australia and Finland.
Ryan Sipes boosted American spirits when he finished the day as the fastest individual rider, which came as a pleasant surprise to the man who claimed that honor at the 2015 ISDE in Slovakia.
“I think for sure I hung it out a little bit more today,” Sipes said. “Yesterday, I was first [rider to start and, thus, first to hit each test, giving everyone else a line to follow), and so it was pretty dicey. I felt like if I pushed too hard and I blew it by going down, I’d be letting everybody down so I kind of just chilled to start the day. It’s also been an adjustment on [getting used to] the 250 [instead of my normal Husky FX 350]. I’ve been practicing on one, but practicing and racing are totally different. My brake points are different; the torque that you have to get up out of stuff and over stuff is a lot different so I’ve been getting better as we go.”
Josh Toth led the way for the U.S. Junior World Trophy team that took over the lead after Sweden lost one rider with a mechanical issue. He was 17th overall for the day.
Despite not winning any of the day’s five special tests, with a best result of second in test three, a cross test, consistency paid off for Sipes as his time for the day was 2.44 seconds faster than fellow E1 rider Josep Garcia from Spain. Interestingly, another E1 rider⏤Davide Guarneri of Italy⏤was the day’s third-fastest rider.
Cumulatively, Frenchman Christophe Nambotin remained at the top of the charts, his lead over fellow E3 rival Taylor Robert growing by almost a second to 7.13 seconds while Guarneri is third.
Spain forfeited its lead in Women’s World Trophy after losing two riders, moving Australia into first place as it seeks to make it a record-tying five in a row. The U.S. WWT team benefited from Spain’s misfortune by climbing one position to second, 5:12.81 behind the Aussies with France eight and a half minutes behind.
After getting used to this form of racing yesterday, Brandy Richards enjoyed a better day all around, though she admitted the more beat-up course and hot weather made for tough going.
“It made my wrists hurt a little bit more and I’m a little bit more tired," Richards said. "I did struggle through one of the transfers; it was pretty gnarly⏤it had some bad silt ruts that I got stuck in and I barely made my time [at the next check], but I made it so it was good.”
Though the trails were more chewed up and generally rougher, Brandy Richards took it in stride and improved to fourth woman overall, the U.S. Tteam moving to second behind Australia after Spain lost two of its three riders to injury.
Richards claimed fourth for the day in class behind Australia’s Tayla Jones, Spain’s Laia Sanz and Jessica Gardiner, also from Australia. Richards’ teammates Becca Sheets and Kacy Martinez-Coy filled the next spots.
SRT Off-road remained the top American trio of the 167 Club teams. After yesterday’s obligatory sorting out, all three of the SRT riders got early starting positions and it paid off as they didn’t have to pick their way past slower guys as often.
Ben Kelley ended up the fastest of the American Club riders, fifth out of nearly 500 original starters. Ty Tremaine was eighth-fastest Club rider for the day while Cody Webb had two bad tests hold him back to 24th for the day.
Steve Mason and Rick Emerson DNFed the day with some locals befriending Emerson after a broken tire bead left him stranded until they gave him a ride and a beer.