All content © Bob MuIIins
2021 Round 2 of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series
Presented By Moose Racing
AmPro Yamaha’s Steward Baylor took advantage of his brother’s misfortunes to steal the victory at this weekend’s Cajun National Enduro in Forest Hills, Louisiana.
Heading into the fifth and final test of the day, Steward trailed Grant (KLM Motorsports/Milwaukee/GasGas) by 17 seconds. However, an ultra-fast test run by Steward, combined with a couple of tip-overs by Grant was enough to give Steward the win by less than three seconds.
Heavy rains on Friday night nearly forced the cancelation of the race after leaving deep water standing in critical places around the course. However, the Acadiana Dirt Riders along with the NEPG crew did a great job of salvaging the course.
Despite getting stuck in one of the many mud holes littered around the course, Steward took the win in the opening test of the day to set the tone of the race. However, Grant took a commanding lead at the halfway point of the race after turning in particularly strong rides in tests two and three.
With two tests remaining, Grant held a 30-second advantage over Steward, however, that’s when the fortunes changed. Steward started chipping away at Grant’s lead as Grant fell victim to a string of mishaps.
“In the fourth test I just hit a root in a really fast straightaway and it sent me cartwheeling,” said Grant. “I bent the front end of my bike up really bad. I rode over half of that test with the front end of the bike just all mangled up. Then I ended up wrecking again because the front end was so twisted that I couldn’t go straight. I tried to bounce back in the fifth test, but just got edged out by Steward. I went down two times in that last test again and it cost me a win, about two seconds short.”
The Baylor brothers accounted for all five test wins, with Steward winning three tests, while Grant won the other two.
Josh Toth turned in a spectacular ride with a third. The FMF/KTM rider finished outside of the top-10 at the series opener in South Carolina while riding with an injured hand, so third in Louisiana was a big step in the right direction. Toth was fifth-fastest in the first test after taking a small crash, but came back with the second-fastest time in test three followed by the third-fastest time in the remaining three tests.
“I just had a tip-over trying to get around a lapper in that first test,” said Toth. “I couldn’t really read the trail ahead of him and just hit a root and went down. I had another mishap where a vine grabbed me by the neck and that cost me a bit of time. So, I lost a little bit early in the day to the Baylors, but I tried to keep them honest all day. Those two are both national enduro champs for a reason, so I can’t complain, although as we go north, I’m hoping to put a hurting on them.”
FMF/KTM’s Ben Kelley finished 50 seconds behind Toth for fourth overall.
“It was a pretty good day overall, but the course was crazy,” said Kelley. “It was definitely mayhem out there. So many deep ruts, guys buried everywhere. The dirt was slick. Some sandy stuff with some big roots in it, and then some hard-pack, super slick stuff there at the end of the day. Overall, it was an okay day and I ended up fourth.”
Jesse Ansley was fifth overall, with was good enough to give him first place in the NE Pro2 class. The Trail Jesters Racing KTM rider had not planned on riding the national enduro series this year, but he rode the first round in South Carolina round as a warmup for the year and ended up winning the Pro2 class, so he made the trip to Louisiana to try his luck again and came away with another win.
Ansley is coming off of a hand injury that kept him sidelined for a few weeks.
“The hand is still a little sore, with the scare tissue and stuff,” said Ansley. “At the national enduros I have to be cautious with it because I can’t really take a hit to it. I really had no clue how I was doing all day until the last test I heard I was winning by over two minutes so I was like, oh my gosh. So it was good. I'm just happy to get another Pro2 win.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Craig Delong was fifth in the NE Pro1 class and sixth overall.
“I started good, but I started to slow down a little bit and kind of dropped farther down the ranks,” said DeLong. “It was a good day; I can’t complain about a top five. Definitely keeps me in the hunt.”
Will Sievenpiper (KTM) buried his bike in the first test, but managed to rebound to claim a solid seventh overall and second in the NE Pro2 division.
“I made up for the slow start with good times in tests three and four,” said Sievenpiper. “I went down a few more times in the last test, but all in all, we kept it on two wheels for the most part and just tried to stay upright, basically.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Trevor Bollinger finished the day in eighth, just over four seconds behind Sievenpiper, while Husqvarna/Max Motorsports/FXR and Racing’s Evan Smith and Magna1 Motorsports/Husqvarna’s Jonathan Johnson rounded out the top 10. Johnson also finished third in the NE Pro2 division.
In the Women’s Elite division, Beta USA’s Rachel Gutish won three of the four tests, but finished second to four-time AMA EnduroCross Champion Shelby Turner (KTM) due to getting stuck in the second test.
“In test two I got caught up in one of the mudholes,” said Gutish. “Just an unfortunate line choice, with some assistance from a slower rider as well. I ended up stuck for a little over four minutes, which at the time I thought pretty well sunk my day. But as it turns out conditions had deteriorated so badly in that test that every Women’s Elite rider besides Shelby also got stuck, which gave me a fighting chance. I didn’t realize this during the race, but I wanted to at least fight for some test wins to redeem myself a little bit. As it turns out, I ended up in the very odd position of winning almost all of the tests but not the race. Still, I’m happy to have managed a podium, and I think I’m still in a good place as far as the championship hunt is concerned.”
GasGas rider Brooke Cosner was third behind Turner and Gutish.
Cole Forbes was tops in the new Enduro Futures class, which is for riders 12-15 years old riding 98-200cc bikes.
James Jenkins was second on a Kawasaki, with Ryder Sigety finishing third on a Yamaha.
The Kenda AMA National Enduro Series resumes on May 16th for the Dragon’s Back National Enduro, round three of the series, in Arrington, Virginia. For more information on the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series go to www.nationalenduro.com .