Although temperatures dropped below freezing in Denver, Colo., the racing was heated at the National Western Complex for Round 5 of the AMA Endurocross Championship. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert battled through an exciting 10-lap main event to finish in second place. Robert has yet to finish outside the top-five and now sits second in the points standings. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Justin Soulé climbed back from a crash in the second corner to finish an impressive fifth place, passing many riders in the closing laps.
Fresh from a gold medal performance and finishing as top American at the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), Robert was excited to get back on his KX™250F and back on the endurocross track. He qualified by putting in a near flawless hot lap that landed him third overall going into the night show. In his heat race Robert grabbed the holeshot and smoothly pulled away from the field, cruising to the win and first gate pick for the main. When the gate dropped for the main event, Robert tucked to the inside and came around the first turn in third. A few early mistakes dropped him back from the leaders, but by the half-way mark, he was able to capitalize on the mistakes of those in front of him and secured second place. Robert’s second podium and consistency throughout the season have allowed him to jump into second place in championship standings and is now on the verge of getting his first endurocross win.
“You have to keep it real consistent in order to win championships,” said Robert. “I qualified well and had a pretty eventless heat race win. In the main I was playing cat and mouse with the leaders, but had a little mishap in the log matrix. Once I got going I worked my way into second and just played it smart. I kept an eye on the gaps in front and behind me.”
Soulé is known for his technique and skill at endurocross and he expects to be in the hunt for the win at each round. In his heat he had to push through a few riders to get to the front. He made his way into second and started closing on the leader, but ran out of laps. Soulé knew he had the speed for the win, but the start is crucial on the small, tight endurocross courses. He blasted out of the gate on his KX250F and railed the outside to come out in second. The outside led to the inside line on the leader, but another rider forced him into a rock boulder marking the corner and he rounded the next corner close to last. Soulé put his skills to work and began his charge for the front. He sat in the seventh position for most of the 10 laps, but in the closing laps was able to make some passes and crossed the finish line in fifth. After missing two rounds, Soulé sits eighth in the championship standings.
“It’s a fine line between pushing and making mistakes,” said Soulé. “When I was coming from behind I would make up time one lap, then the next lap push a bit too hard, make a mistake and loose time. I feel great physically and know my speed is there, so I’m happy with where I’m at and will come out next round with the same mindset.”
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Destry Abbott had no sooner returned from ISDE Germany, where he helped Team USA to fourth overall, and he was back on the road on his way to Denver for Round 5. Abbott was not slated to compete an entire endurocross season, but enjoys it so much that he couldn’t resist. He’s not the only one who enjoys endurocross, as the field is stacked with fast riders. Every heat race, semi, and LCQ looks like it could be a main event. Unfortunately for Abbott, he was out qualified in the heat races and in the LCQ was taken out by a large first turn pile up, ending his night. Abbott stuck around to cheer on his fellow Monster Energy Kawasaki teammates and will be competing in the remaining endurocross rounds.
“It’s a bummer to watch from the sidelines,” said Abbott. “Endurocross is super tough and the completion is so stiff, that’s why I love it. It’s a challenge for me and I love riding the KX250F. I’m going to be doing the last few rounds and hope to put my Kawasaki up on the box.”
With only three rounds remaining in the AMA Endurocross Championship series, Robert looks to continue his consistency and close the gap on the points leader, while Soulé is hungry to make up ground on those just ahead of him. Round 6 brings Monster Energy Kawasaki to the Comcast Arena in Everette, Wash., on October 20, 2012.