From KTM – Grant Baylor took his first-career AMA National Enduro win near his hometown at the ninth round of the series in the most notable race so far this season.
National Enduro fans were excited to see who would come out on top at this race as previously injured riders had returned to racing and an entire new team showed up to compete at this round to make it the most stacked field to date. One of the new additions to the competition was Baylor’s GNCC teammate Kailub Russell.
In fact, it was Russell who earned the first special test win. The GNCC rider seemed right at home in the tight woods and was a contender for the win throughout the majority of the race. Baylor also got off to a strong start turning the second fastest time in the first section.
The two FMF/KTM teammates remained in top position throughout the next few tests as the riders were challenged to move around lappers in the thick dust. At the end of the fourth section, Baylor had moved into the overall lead. Once in the lead position, he never lost it. Baylor took the test win in the fifth section and ended the sixth with a great time to earn his first overall victory in the series.
“It is an amazing feeling to get this win,” stated Baylor. “I have been close a few times this season and was really hoping to pull one off before the end of the series. I am very grateful to my team for helping me get to this point.”
Russell, who was in podium position heading into the final test, had a couple issues in the long and tight final section. He clipped a few trees which lost him some time, and unfortunately, dropped him to 4th for the day, just a step off the podium.
“We are very proud of Grant (Baylor) for earning his first win,” stated Factory FMF/KTM Team Manager Antti Kallonen. “We were also very excited to have Kailub (Russell) return to the series. This is his first time back to the series in two years and we are happy with his top five performance.”
Factory FMF/KTM rider and 8-time National Enduro Champion, Mike Lafferty finished the race inside the top ten with a 9th place result. His teammates, Charlie Mullins and Steward Baylor, were sidelined at this event still recovering from injury.
From Husqvarna – Factory Husqvarna’s Andrew DeLong came into the Little Brown Jug National Enduro feeling a bit under the weather, but didn’t let it stop him from doing what he needed to do – ride consistently and protect his lead in the championship. Andrew did that and more with a podium finish in South Carolina, and managed to put an even bigger buffer on his points lead with a 3rd place finish. Fellow Factory Husqvarna rider Russell Bobbitt enjoyed his return to action with a strong 6th place finish at the Little Brown Jug National Enduro.
The tough conditions in Union, South Carolina made the day even more challenging for racers. DeLong and Bobbitt had to fight extra hard through the heat and humidity, as well as through the tough and dusty terrain at round 9 of the 10-round championship.
The day started and ended well for Andrew, despite a lackluster test in the middle. DeLong slid back to 5th overall after test 4, but after cooling off and regrouping, he was able to perform much better on the last two tests. After the dust settled at the Little Brown Jug National Enduro, Andrew was credited with a 3rd place finish, and now controls the championship by 22 points.
Russell Bobbitt also enjoyed a commendable finish in South Carolina, which marked his return to racing after nearly 6 months on the sidelines. The former champion carded solid finishes throughout the day, and sat in 7th place after test 5. A strong performance in the final test of the day allowed him to take one more step up in the standings, overtaking Brad Bakken for 6th overall.
“I’m ecstatic with the way both the guys rode,” commented Husqvarna Off-Road Team Manager Andy Jefferson. “With Andrew feeling under the weather, we were just hoping he could minimize the damage, but he finished on the podium and actually got some points today. Russell had an awesome day, as well. It was great to see him make his comeback.
“We’re all really looking forward to the final round in Indiana,” Jefferson continued. “So far it’s been a breakthrough season for Andrew DeLong and the Husqvarna brand. We are optimistic heading into the season finale and hoping to make history.”