Story and photos by Mark Kariya
Four days into the 92nd International Six Days Enduro in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, the event saw its fourth different individual overall winner.
On a decidedly cool day after scattered rain during the night, Spanish World Trophy team rider Josep Garcia fulfilled the hopes of many fans in his country by climbing to the top of the leaderboard for both the day, and the week so far. Former leader Christophe Nambotin of France had a subpar 13th overall for the day.
Americans Ryan Sipes and Taylor Robert slipped a bit down the standings for the day, while Kailub Russell found a bit of the speed he’s been missing so far this week.
Sipes ended up earning ninth for the day and is now seventh after four days of racing, finishing just in front of Roberts, but Robert remained second overall individually. His deficit to new leader Garcia is 8.40 seconds.
Though he’s Australian, Geoff Ballard lived in the U.S. for several years, winning the AMA Hare Scrambles National Championship and even being on the U.S. World Trophy team twice. This year he’s riding a 1983 Maico 490 in the Vintage Trophy’s C82 class, finishing second in class as well as overall. The vintage race started today, the old bikes riding 138 of the 223 kilometer loop the modern bikes did and two of the five special tests.
As for Russell, though his times didn’t really reflect it, he had a better understanding of what’s been going on with his setup. He expressed a more positive outlook for the second half of the week and should improve on his 19th individual overall place after four days.
France continued to lead in World Trophy followed by Australia, just over seven minutes behind, with Finland in third, another minute and a half back.
Following yesterday’s mental lapse that saw him enter a check a few seconds early and receive a one-minute penalty that dropped the U.S. Junior World Trophy team from first to third, Josh Toth was able to charge to 29th overall individual for the day after putting the mistake behind him.
Layne Michael was the fastest of the American juniors in 20th, while Grant Baylor struggled a bit, ending up 36th for the day.
Ben Kelley once again proved to be the fastest of the American Club team riders, finishing the day eighth overall Club rider and leading the SRT Off-road team that held onto fourth place.
France maintained its hold on first place, almost 45 seconds ahead of Italy, while the American trio is another minute and 15 seconds behind in third.
The three young women comprising the U.S. Women’s World Trophy team continued to shine, retaining a firm grip on second place behind Australia, whose Tayla Jones outpaced Spain’s Laia Sanz for the day’s best score.
American Brandy Richards is proving adept at endures and set the third-fastest time today ahead of some solid veterans. Her teammates Becca Sheets and Kacy Martinez-Coy were fifth and sixth overall for the day.
The battle for best American in the Club team standings got more intense, and it’s not just between SRT Off-road teammates Ben Kelley, Ty Tremaine and Cody Webb either.
Better known as a desert/Baja racer, Justin Morgan is another Six Days newbie who’s adapting well and improving daily. He finished 44th overall Club rider for the day and is 41st so far this week, his Eric Cleveland Memorial team sitting in 17th place.
Eric Cleveland Memorial’s Justin Morgan put in the 44th-best Club time and continuing to improve and adaot to his new favorite form of racing. Brendan Riordan and Devan Bolin of the 18th–place Missouri Mudders made strong statements with their rides to 49th and 56th.
The Vintage Trophy class started today, on day four of modern bike racing. American veteran Fred Hoess, winner of last year’s inaugural competition, was unable to attend leaving the U.S. with no representation in the class.
Simon Romieu of France won both tests on his Evolution 86-class SWM ahead of former AMA Hare Scrambles National Champion Geoff Ballard who competed in the same class aboard his 1983 Maico 490.
Day five will see the modern field tackle the same 223-kilometer loop as well as five tests.