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We decided to make the quick trip over to Las Vegas to see the EnduroCross opener last night. While the 2013 series came down to a battle between Taddy and Brownie, anyone who really followed along knew that it was Cody Webb who really dominated the racing. An early season injury kept him from demonstrating the promise he has shown for a couple of seasons now.
2014 will be different. Cody Webb put on a display that seemed to leave everyone else behind. He quickly and smoothly found his way to the front and just seemed to cruise around without being headed. Taddy was close, but had no challenge for Webb. Mike Brown called it a night early. Colton Haaker was fast and finally found some consistency. It was he and Taddy that battled throughout the main event.
Kyle Redmond got a great 3rd place start, but quickly found his rear tire coming off the rim. He did not even finish a lap.
Colton Haaker and Mike Brown slammed together in a corner on the first lap. Mike went hard into the wall of the steel shipping container, I suspect he was injured in the clash and retired after a couple of laps.
Taylor Robert, still recovering from surgery, toughed out the night and salvaged some points, but he is nowhere near 100% yet.
With the exception of a couple of the top riders, the women’s class was once again painful to watch. Half the field could not complete a lap without major issues. Geiger and Gutish hit the ground multiple times and just kept getting back up. Full credit for their grit, but the track and girls just didn’t match up well.
The organizers look to have seen the light in track design. The Vegas layout lacked any of the crazy jump combinations from last year. Overall it kept the racing closer, but one rock garden was a bit over the top and stopped the entire field in multiple heats.
Bobby Procnau was noticeably more competitive without the big jumps. Gary Sutherlin also showed renewed speed all evening.
Jamie Lanza made the move to a 300 two stroke and seemed happy with the change.
From EnduroCross – Round one of the 2014 GEICO AMA EnduroCross series, fueled by Monster Energy and presented by Lucas Oil kicked off on Friday night inside the Orleans Arena and Beta USA/GEICO/Stillwell Performance’s Cody Webb took the win.
Bel-Ray/FMF/Moose/Husqvarna’s Mike Brown took the $500 NEXEN Tire Holeshot award with a clean jump off a unique elevated starting line, beating the rest of the Pro Main Event competitors out of the tight first turn. It didn’t take long for Cody Webb to move into the lead as the tight pack of front-runners moved around the first lap. Lucas Oil/Rockstar/JCR Honda’s Colton Haaker, Factory KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak and CYCLENANO/Everrev/FMF/Kenda’s Kyle Redmond and Gary Sutherlin all were in the mix right away as well—making for an exciting battle for the top spots in the initial laps. By the end of the first lap it was Webb, five-time Champion Taddy Blazusiak and Kyle Redmond across the line for the top three. Right after the line, Redmond’s machine suffered a mechanical issue stopping him in his tracks. Husqvarna’s Mike Brown eventually pulled off the track due to a finger laceration and possible hand injury suffered earlier in the evening, ending his race evening as well.
It quickly looked to be an exciting showdown between the evening’s three heat-race winners (Webb, Blazusiak and Haaker) and the opening round of AMA EnduroCross didn’t disappoint. Webb quickly focused on a mission to pull ahead and put down flawless laps to stay out front. Behind him, carnage ensued, with Haaker passing Blazusiak on lap two after a rare mistake by the Factory KTM racer. By the end of the lap, Blazusiak had moved back into third after Haaker made a similar bobble in a tricky rock turn. Gary Sutherlin moved into fourth place in striking distance of a podium spot. By halfway through the 12-lap main event, Blazusiak had found trouble in the rock corner, already coming into lapped riders, allowing the hard-charging Haaker to get back into second. That standing didn’t last long as Blazusiak moved back into second and looked to stay there. Meanwhile, Webb moved steadily forward, lapping up to fourth place by lap nine.
In the final laps, Haaker remained in-the-hunt, gaining on Blazusiak when the defending champ stalled in a challenging rock corner after trying to get around lapped-traffic, and going down. Webb stayed the course, pushing forward and riding a nearly flawless race without a challenge for the lead from the second lap on. Geoff Aaron, Sutherlin, Taylor Robert and Bobby Prochnau battled for the top five positions. Haaker made a last-lap pass on Blazusiak for second as he was stuck in the final rock turn. Webb took the convincing win with Haaker in second and Blazusiak in third.
“I only made a few mistakes the whole main event” Webb said. “I have been practicing just racing the track at home and when I passed Taddy on the first lap, I just focused on the track for six laps and did not even know how much of a lead I had”.
“I won in Las Vegas a few years ago and I did not even know how I won so this second feels better because I have been working really hard to get everything dialed in on that big 450” Haaker said.
“The start was amazing….I went into the tunnel way back and somehow came out in first. I think Brownie went down” Blazusiak said. “Third was an OK way to start the season because I think we are going to have to be consistent to win the championship”.
Main Event results:
1. Cody Webb Beta
2. Colton Haaker Honda
3. Taddy Blazusiak KTM
4. Bobby Prochnau KTM
5. Taylor Robert KTM
6. Geoff Aaron KTM
7. Gary Sutherlin KTM
8. Cory Graffunder KTM
9. Bryan Roper KTM
10. Jamie Lanza Husqvarna
Also headlining the night’s event was the action-packed Women’s class with defending champion Chantelle Bykerk looked to continue her championship ways with a first-round win. She would have plenty of competition with X Games medalist Tarah Geiger grabbing the holeshot. Factory FMF/KTM’s Kacy Martinez moved into the top spot on the first lap with Shelby Turner moving into first on the same lap as well. Also pushing the pace was Morgan Tanke. Bykerk had a tough start and spent the main event trying to work through the pack. Geiger fell out of the top three on lap two. The rest of the race had the top three battle back and forth with Kacy Martinez making a last-lap pass in the tricky rocks before the finish line. Second went to Turner and third when to Tanke.
“This is my first EnduroCross main event win after trying for so many years” Martinez said. “I have been racing the GNCC’s and the first two were mud races so that really helped me in the slick track”.
Rounding out the first race’s night show was a host of support classes for amateur, veteran and trials competitors. The Vet Class win went to defending champion Kurt Nicoll, second was Josh Adams and third was Colby Begin. The Trialscross win went to Australian Jack Field (2013’s champion) who pulled another finish-line backflip after his win. Second place went to Michael Salsman and third went to Teren Gerber. The Open Amateur winner for round one was Ty Cullins with Noah Kepple moving into second overall and Austin Schiermeister rounding out the top three