With the mechanical failure of Thad Duvall’s motorcycle early on Day 4, the U.S. team's quest for an International Six Days Enduro overall victory officially came to an end. Duvall was the second Trophy Team rider to exit the Slovakian Six Days.
Story and photos by Steve Berkner
With the mechanical failure of Thad Duvall’s motorcycle early on Day 4, the U.S. team's quest for an International Six Days Enduro overall victory officially came to an end. Duvall was the second Trophy Team rider to exit the Slovakian Six Days. As a result, the U.S. team fell to 22nd place.
What began as an exceptionally strong start just four days earlier, with the six-rider U.S. Team atop the Six Days leader board with riders in first and second overall, has become an individual effort. U.S. Trophy Team rider Ryan Sipes leads the overall individual category -- the third time he’s held that honor in four days.
U.S. club rider Reid Brown.
“It looks like I got four out of the six special test wins today," Sipes said at the end of Day 4. "I now have a good lead over (Australia’s Daniel) Milner, and that’s all we have to go on right now as the Trophy Team is out of it. Tomorrow I just need to stay focused and keep it on two wheels and I should be OK.
“With the rain (that fell at the end of Day 4) it should be just perfect everywhere, except for maybe the last test of the day," he added. "It will be the third day we’ve ridden it, two times each day, and it’s getting pretty nasty. Even though it’s not my strongest test, I only missed winning that test by 4 seconds.”
Sipes holds a 44-second lead over Milner for overall honors.
U.S. World Trophy Team rider Taylor Robert retrieves his motorcycle from the Parc Ferme.
“With Duvall out, I’ve now instructed the team to use the last two days to help Ryan win the overall," said U.S. Team Manager Antti Kallonen. "Taylor (Robert, who is still riding the event under appeal after being provisionally disqualified on Day 3) finished the day second to Ryan, so the two will be starting tomorrow on the front row.
“Our team goal now is for our three other remaining riders (Robert, Mike Brown and Gary Sutherlin) to help Ryan anyway they can within the rules," Kallonen added. "Because if Ryan can hold on to his overall lead, he’ll accomplish something no other American rider has ever done before.”
The other U.S. Trophy Team rider to retire was Kailub Russell, who injured his knee on Day 2.
“As far as Thad’s bike breaking down today, it’s disappointing that it happened, but Thad did everything possible within the time allowed to keep his bike running but sometime these things just happen,” Kallonen said.
The end-of-day work area on Day 4.
Duvall said his day started well.
“I had a really good day yesterday, and that moved my start time right up there with Ryan and Taylor, but before I even got to the first check the bike started not running right," Duvall said. "Eventually, it just quit. I got it into the check and swapped out the stator just within the maximum 30 minutes you’re allowed to be late.
“At that point it was pretty much over for the team," he added. "When things go bad like they did for me and the team, it’s out of our hands and I can deal with that. It stinks that I was the last thing in the chain that took us out of it as a team.”
U.S. club team rider Geoffrey Sanders.
The top three teams in the World Trophy division are Australia, Italy and Finland.
In the Junior Trophy Team division, the U.S. Team of brothers Grant and Steward Baylor and Nick Davis continued on, where they sit solidly in third place behind Australia and Sweden.
“I struggled a little today trying to hit my lines and it took a little while to hit my grove," Grant Baylor said. "Eventually, I got it to work and I finished second fastest junior rider for the day so I’m pretty good with that. Right now as long as we all finish the last two days, or unless something happens to either Australia or Sweden, we’re sitting good for third.”
U.S. Junior Team rider Grant Baylor during a special test.
The fourth U.S. Junior team rider is Layne Michael who retired on Day 1 with a broken wrist.
The U.S. Women’s World Trophy Team continues to sit in fifth place. Australia, France and Sweden hold the top three spots. Riding on the U.S. women’s squad are Mandi Mastin, Rachel Gutish and Jamie Wells.
GoFasters.com, the top-placing U.S. three-rider club team whose roster includes Brian Garrahan, Reid Brown and Nate Ferderer, moved its way up to fourth place in its division.
Except for Duvall, all 29 US riders who started Day-four made it to the final impound.
U.S. Women's Trophy Team rider Rachael Gutish rides through a Slovakian town toward a service check.