Josh Strang third at Hidden Valley Sprint Enduro, Jones claims fourth victory | News
Josh Strang’s cross test speed and consistency in the enduro test kept him in podium contention all weekend to place third at round four of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series.
Kailub Russell relied on consistency and determination to win round four of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series at the Hidden Valley Golf Course in Glen Daniel, West Virginia. Despite winning just two of the 12 tests, the FMF/KTM Factory rider claimed the overall victory by 3.115 seconds over Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Thad Duvall after spending most of the two-day event in the top three.
Over 400 riders took advantage of the opportunity to ride on the beautiful fairways of the Hidden Valley Golf Course over a gorgeous Memorial Day Weekend and Russell was one of the event’s biggest fans.
“The cross test was really fun,” said Russell. “It was super hilly around the golf course and weaving in and out of the valleys. It was pretty cool.”
The race also served as an AMA qualifier for the 2019 ISDE which will be held in Portugal on November 11-16.
Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn got off to a fast start on Saturday, winning the opening test of the day (a Cross test) ahead of Russell, Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Josh Strang, FMF/KTM’s Josh Toth and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Thad Duvall.
Strang apparently took a liking to the Cross test as he won the remaining two, putting him in the mix for the overall. Meanwhile, Toth dominated the Enduro test. The FMF/KTM Factory rider won the first two Enduro tests of the day and was leading the final one when he tangled with a root and went down, dropping the Massachusetts rider back to fourth for that test. At the time, Toth held a four-second lead in Saturday’s overall standings, but his mishap in the final test moved Russell ahead of him for Saturday’s win by .200 second.
“I guess I threw away the win on the last test,” said Toth. “I went down when I had a little cushion, but that’s racing. I had about four seconds over those guys, and I was consistently winning that test. I rode really well the whole test, then right in the end a tree root took me down and mangled my bike up, but I got up quick and was able to finish. I don’t know how much time I actually lost, but I ended up losing the day by two tenths of a second.”
Thanks to Toth’s mishap, Russell won Saturday’s event despite not winning a test all day.
“I was just struggling trying to figure out how to ride my bike efficiently and smooth and go fast in the woods,” said Russell. “I’ve been just always in the wrong gear and just over-revving my bike. I screwed that up the last test, and it really showed.”
Behind Toth came Strang, who rounded out Saturday’s podium by virtue of his Cross-test finishes.
“I crashed in the first Enduro test and lost a bunch of time, but other than that it was good,” said Strang. “Except for that crash, I think I was in the top three maybe in every test, so I was pretty happy with that.”
Ashburn was having one of his best races of the season and finished Saturday’s round in fourth. Duvall, on the other hand, was struggling and ended the day in fifth.
On Sunday, Russell found the pace he was looking for and took the opening test (Cross Test) by a full second over Strang, with Duvall in third. Duvall won the second test by four seconds over Russell, with Strang another three seconds back in third. The disparity in Enduro test times was due to the technical nature of the test.
Duvall continued the pace and, despite struggling on Saturday, won the remaining two Enduro tests on Sunday, giving him a clean sweep of the test for the day and moving him into first in Sunday’s results ahead of Russell by 14 seconds.
Sunday was not a good day for Toth, who dropped to fourth for the day behind Duvall, Russell and Strang.
In the overall results, Russell gained enough time on Duvall during Saturday’s event to take the overall win by 3.115 seconds ahead of Duvall.
“I’m still not happy with how I rode but it was good enough to win,” said Russell. “There were a lot of guys going fast this weekend.”
Third went to Strang, while Toth was fourth with Ashburn rounding out the top five.
Visiting from Australia, and member of last year’s ISDE overall winning team, Lyndon Snodgrass turned in an impressive ride to put his KTM into sixth, while Husqvarna/Max Motorsports’ Evan Smith added another win in the Pro2 division with a seventh-place finish.
Husqvarna-backed Tayla Jones remained undefeated in the highly competitive Women’s Pro division by taking a two-and-a-half-minute win over MEP MX KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker, with Maxxis/KTM’s Becca Sheets in third. During two days of racing, Jones won every test except for one of the Cross tests en route to the win. Tricker won the one test that Jones failed to win. Factory GasGas’ Kori Steede finished 4th for the weekend with Leanne Bange rounding out the top-five.