By Steve Berkner
NAVARRA, Spain – Led by the Day Two efforts of Taylor Robert, the U.S. World Trophy Team added 6.36 seconds to its lead over second place Italy, giving the U.S. team a 32.38-second lead in the International Six Days Enduro.
U.S. Trophy Team rider Layne Michaels pushes out of the Day Two morning work area. Photo by Steve Berkner
The United Kingdom is in third place, 56.46 seconds back, while Spain sits in fourth place, 1 minute, 36.37 seconds behind the Americans.
Robert’s second-place overall finish for the day was enough to move him into the overall, where he holds a slim 0.41-second lead over Spain’s Josep Garcia. Garcia started the day in fourth place and was the day’s fastest overall rider.
Robert said, “It’s quite an accomplishment for me (leading the ISDE overall), but it’s only Day Two. My day started pretty good when I won the first test and finished third in the second test. Then I wrecked hard in the third test (where Taylor finished 20th). But I was able to recover and finished out the day strong.”
In those last three tests, Robert finished third, second and fourth. Robert started the day in third overall.
“Taylor’s effort made the day for us, but it was our consistency from our other three Trophy Team riders that also made the difference, especially from Layne Michaels who moved up from 41st overall (on Day One) to 25th overall,” said U.S. National Enduro Team manager Antti Kallonen. “That was quite an accomplishment.”
Kallonen said Michaels was under pressure from the start.
“To Layne’s credit I think he was a little nervous yesterday as he was a last minute substitution for Ryan Sipes who was hurt (back in the US at a GNCC race a little over a week ago),” Kallonen said. “As a substitute rider (for Sipes), Layne just assumed Ryan’s starting position. Because Ryan was last year’s overall ISDE champion, he was scheduled to start near the front. And that put a lot of pressure on Layne, especially since he is not that experienced as a Six Days rider.”
Michaels finished Day Two in 18th overall. Trophy Team members Kailub Russell finished the day in seventh. Thad Duvall finished 25th.
The U.S. Junior Team of Steward Baylor, Grant Baylor and Trevor Bollinger moved up from the first day’s fourth place finish to third place, overcoming Italy, which dropped one place to fourth. Sweden leads that division, followed by second-place Spain. Less than 40 seconds separates the top three teams.
Baylor, who finished Day Two 14th overall, said, “Things went good today. It started out a little slow, but eventually things started to go my way. I was just trying to hard, so I went to work on being smooth in my corners and look for better lines. I was probably a little too aggressive this morning and just made to many mistakes. It’s all about being smooth.
“The last two days were the longest days I’ve ever rode at a Six Days,” he continued. “It’s so dusty here that some of the dry stream beds are just solid silt, and it’s tough to see. At times, you enter a section, and you’re not sure if you are going to make it out the other side.”
The U.S. Women’s Trophy team–Rachel Gutish, Nicole Bradford and Tarah Gieger–dropped from fourth place to fifth. Australia, Spain and Germany hold the top three positions.
In the three-rider club team division, the U.S. Trail Jesters team of Josh Toth, Ben Kelley and Jason Klammer, moved up two places from Day One. They currently sit in second place, 2 minutes, 46.46 seconds behind an Italian team. The Eric Cleveland Memorial team–U.S. riders Broc Hepler, Jimmy Jarrett and Alex Dorsey–is in fourth place overall.
Notably, Toth, Kelley and Hepler lead their respective classes–C1, C2 and C3–in the club team division, a first for any U.S. team.
“I think the U.S. club team results speak for themselves, as all of our club teams (six total) are near the top of their category,” Kallonen said. “This year, we changed up the way we qualify riders for Six Days. We put more emphasis on speed, and not so much on what class they are trying to qualify to ride Six Days on.”
Of 123 club teams entered in this year’s ISDE, the six individual U.S. club teams all sit in the top 25 after Day Two.