Story and photos by Mark Kariya
The U.S. World Trophy team put in solid test times on the second day of competition at the 93rd FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), but lost their lead to the Australian team. After leading the Australians by more than four seconds Monday, the U.S. team dropped to 1:31.31 behind them when Tuesday's on-track action had wrapped up in Vina del Mar, Chile.
Two crashes hurt Ryan Sipes' time for the day and he dropped to second in the E1 Class. Likewise, the U.S. World Trophy team slipped to second place behind Australia, a minute and a half in arrears.
The U.S. Junior World Trophy team moved up a spot to second place behind Italy while the U.S. Women's World Trophy team held onto second place behind the Australia's women's team.
"Honestly, I felt like I was riding good today, but the Australians were riding better," U.S. ISDE Trophy team rider Taylor Robert said. "I pulled out a little bit of a gap yesterday and they sucked it right back up today. Unfortunately for the team, it was a little bit of a rough day. Ryan [Sipes] lost a minute and 20 seconds on the last two tests [after crashing in both]."
Robert remains the E2 Class and overall fastest rider of the event so far.
U.S. Trophy team riders Sipes and Zach Bell struggled Tuesday, and Bell will spend part of his work period Wednesday morning replacing the exhaust pipe on his Husqvarna. U.S. Trophy team rider Steward Baylor put in a strong performance Tuesday and finished eighth overall on the day and fourth in the E2 Class.
The Australians Trophy team lost a rider to bike trouble, leaving them with no margin for error. When the standings for the World Trophy teams are calculated, each day's worst score is dropped. The U.S. team may be able to afford having one of its riders put in a subpar performance each day, but not two.
Though he started the day strong, Ben Kelley crashed in the fourth test of the day and felt a bit off the pace. The U.S. Junior World Trophy team did well enough to pass France for second in the standings.
While the U.S. Junior World Trophy team finished about 20 seconds behind second-place France on Monday, all three U.S. Junior Trophy team riders (Grant Baylor, Ben Kelley and Josh Toth) put in strong performances Tuesday to move up to second place in the standings. Baylor was again the leading rider among the three, finishing third in E2 and seventh overall after two days of competition. For the day, he was 0.35 seconds ahead of older brother Steward.
The U.S. Junior Trophy team rider have experienced numerous crashes during the first two days of the event.
"I think it's mainly the terrain," Kelly said. "It's super hard-packed and the little bit of dust on top makes it super slippery. So, it's hard to keep the bike straight. The tests got super rough [today] so your bike is all over the place. It's really challenging so I'm sure everybody's crashing out there!"
Brandy Richards finished Day Two third among all of the Women's World Trophy riders, but is just over two minutes behind class leader (and two-time GNCC champion) Tayla Jones of Australia.
Australian Women's World Trophy team rider and reigning AMA Grand National Cross Country Series WXC Class Champion Tayla Jones continued to pace the Women's World Trophy field. She is leading the Australian team that has pulled away from the second-place American squad. The American team of Tarah Gieger, Brandy Richards and Becca Sheets has a gap of more than nine minutes on third-place Spain.
J.T. Baker turned in one of the best times among the Club riders, but SRT Racing teammate Ty Tremaine's crash dropped the team from second to 77th.
After two days, the best of the U.S. teams in the Club team division is the RPM/Mt. Baker trio of Cooper Abbott, Ryan Kudla and Dante Oliveira. They ended Tuesday in fifth place in the Club team standings. Monday's best-performing U.S. Club team was the SRT Racing team of J.T. Baker, Kendall Norman and Ty Tremaine who ended the day in second place. Unfortunately, Tremaine crashed out on Tuesday.
Not all of the trail is dusty, and when it's not, the scenery can be splendid.
On Wednesday, riders are to tackle two laps of a different, shorter loop totaling 250 kilometers.
Watch video highlights from Day Two of the 2018 FIM ISDE: https://youtu.be/u3lz2dsDZFM