The following is an industry press release...
Bristol, Virginia (April 1-2) – Ryan Sipes claimed his second victory of the season at round three of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series presented by PRI Powersports Insurance, putting his Coastal Racing Husqvarna on top of the box ahead of SRT KTM Racing’s Cory Buttrick and Beta USA’s Jordan Ashburn.
A slippery track greeted the riders on Saturday morning as heavy rains and strong winds the day before left the Bristol area drenched. However, the conditions quickly improved as the sun began to dry the track and the racing was fast and close all weekend on what some of the riders considered the best dirt the series has seen all year.
Unlike the previous two rounds, which were located at motocross facilities, the Virginia race was held at a more traditional venue, with a true “grass track” Cross test and an Enduro test complete with tight single-track, a few fire roads, a technical blast through a shallow creek and even a rocky section.
In all, Sipes claimed eight of the 12 test wins on the weekend – five on Saturday (three Cross tests and two Enduro tests) and all three Enduro tests on Sunday. SRT Racing’s Steward Baylor, Beta USA’s Jordan Ashburn and Am Pro Yamaha’s Josh Toth split the remaining four tests among themselves, which played right into Sipes’ hands, allowing the Kentucky rider to extend his lead in the final results.
“I was really on my game on Saturday,” said Sipes. “I was riding well in both the Cross test and in the Enduro test, so I was able to build a bit of a cushion. The Enduro test was getting pretty chewed up on Sunday and it was one of those tests that I felt like if I over-rode it I was taking a pretty good risk, so I just did what I needed to do to get the win. It wasn’t conscious, but I think subconsciously I held back a little in the Enduro test just to be sure I didn’t make a big mistake and lose a lot of time – I was thinking big picture.”
With the win, Sipes extended his lead in the series standings to 10 points over SRT Racing’s Steward Baylor, who finished fourth for the event after what he called an “off weekend.”
Buttrick turned in his best race of the season with a runner-up finish. The Ohio rider failed to win a test outright, but was consistent all weekend, logging four seconds and three thirds in the 12 tests. Buttrick won round six of last year’s series and was in position to capitalize in Virginia if Sipes faltered.
Ashburn is now three for three for third place finishes after grabbing the final step of the podium behind Sipes and Buttrick. The Tennessee rider won an Enduro test on Sunday and spent most of the weekend battling with Buttrick and Baylor.
“I think I’m starting to find my sprint speed, especially in the Enduro tests,” said Ashburn. “I won one of the Enduro tests on Sunday and I was in position to win one on Saturday but I ended up falling near the end of it and throwing it away.”
“I just couldn’t make up any time in the Cross test,” added Ashburn. “I was losing to Buttrick in the Cross test by about four seconds each time out, and I just couldn’t gain enough in the Enduro tests to beat him.”
Baylor’s weekend went from bad to worse when a crash in the first test on Saturday aggravated an old shoulder injury and left the South Carolina rider battling the pain as well as the competition.
“It was just a minor fall that I took in the first test but I just happened to land on the shoulder I separated at the ISDE a few years back and after that I just kind of struggled,” said Baylor. “Obviously, I gave it everything I had, but I was just not 100%. I ended up crashing five or six times over the weekend.”
In one crash, Baylor crushed his throttle tube leaving the throttle stuck wide open and he had to finish the test with the clutch to slow him down, which cost him about 20 seconds.
Despite the problems, Baylor still won two tests and maintains second in the series standings.
Josh Toth turned in an impressive weekend to finish fifth overall. The Am Pro Yamaha rider won the final Enduro test on Sunday and finished second in one of Saturday’s Enduro tests.
“I’m excited with how the weekend went for me,” said Toth. “I felt right at home in the Enduro test, and I even won one of them, but I just need to build my speed in the Cross tests.”
KR4 Arrive-n-Ride Husqvarna’s Jesper Borjesson found the grass track to his liking and turned in some fantastic times – especially on Saturday. The ISDE rider from Sweden is also starting to get the hang of the tighter Enduro tests and actually tied Ryan Sipes for the fastest time in the final Enduro test of the day on Saturday.
“I had two crashes in the second Enduro test on Saturday so I lost some time there, but the rest of the day was good and I was pleased with my performance,” said Borjesson. “For sure, the grass track is similar to what I race in Sweden so I felt more at home in those tests.”
Borjesson switched from a 250 to a 350 for the Virginia race and credited part of his success to the change in bikes.
“The 350 is what I’m used to riding in Europe, so I felt more at home on the bigger bike,” said Borjesson. “I had some really good times on Saturday, but I just didn’t have the good speed on Sunday.”
Jefferson, Georgia KTM rider Evan Smith turned in his best performance of the season with a seventh place finish. Smith consistently finish sixth and seventh in the tests all weekend with the exception of a third place finish in the first Enduro test on Saturday.
KTM riders Hunter Neuwirth and Clayton Gerstner rounded out the top nine in the Pro division.
After three rounds, Sipes leads the series standings with 115 points, followed by Baylor with 105 and Ashburn with 76.
KR4 Arrive-n-Ride Husqvarna Tayla Jones of Australia claimed her second win of the series in the Women’s Pro division, ahead of Bonanza Plumbing KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker and Maryland’s Brooke Cosner. Jones won all 12 of the tests and beat out Tricker by three-minutes-and-15-seconds. Jones even finished as high as ninth overall in one of the Cross tests.
“The weekend was awesome, I really loved both tracks – the cross track and the enduro track,” said Jones. “It was slippery on Saturday but on Sunday the dirt was perfect and it was like riding on chocolate cake, you could just exit a turn and hold it wide open.”
Billy Schlag took top Amateur honors and first in the Open A division with an 8th overall finish. Meanwhile Jacob Rowland was second Amateur and second in Open A class with a ninthth overall finish. Cody Pingley of West Virginia rounded out the top three Amateurs in 10th overall and finished third in the Open A division.
Cole Mattison of Inman, South Carolina topped the Lites A division with an 11th overall finish.
The Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series presented by PRI Powersports Insurance takes a 10-week break before resuming action on June 17 for round four of the series in Uhrichsville, Ohio. In the meantime, check out the three-day AMA ISDE Qualifier on May 12-14 in Greeneville, Tennessee. Registration for the Qualifier opens on April 3.
For more information on the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series presented by PRI Powersports Insurance or for the ISDE Qualifier go to http://www.sprintenduro.com.
1. Ryan Sipes (Hsq) 1:06:49.460
2. Cory Buttrick (KTM) 1:07:39.253
3. Jordan Ashburn (Bet) 1:07:50.667
4. Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM) 1:07:54.495
5. Josh Toth (Yam) 1:08:03.135
6. Jesper Borjesson (Hsq) 1:08:36.409
7. Evan Smith (Shr) 1:09:52:777
8. Hunter Neuwirth (KTM) 1:12:03.376
9. Clayton Gerstner (KTM) 1:14:39.085