Sumter, SC (February 4, 2018) – Steward Baylor picked up where he left off last year by winning the opening round of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series this weekend near Sumter, South Carolina. The Tely Racing KTM rider took care of business on the rough and sandy 60-mile course, winning three of six tests en route to an 18-second margin of victory over Josh Toth.
Baylor came into the race fit and ready, and anticipating an epic battle with last year’s series runner-up, Thad DuVall. DuVall came up just short of winning his first enduro title last year after leading the point standings midway through the year. However, a wrist injury at last year’s ISDE took some of the momentum out of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider’s season and he came up just short.
DuVall challenged Baylor early on at Sumter, finishing second in the first test, just seven seconds off of Baylor’s pace. However, an electrical problem in test three forced the West Virginia rider out of the race.
Toth’s runner-up finish by marked the FMF KTM Factory Off-road rider’s first-ever national enduro podium. Toth matched Baylor’s three test wins, but had two third-place test times to Baylor’s one, which made the difference in the final outcome. KTM got a sweep of the podium when Trail Jester KTM Off-road Racing’s Ben Kelley landed on the final step. It was Kelley’s first podium as well. Both Toth and Kelley came into the event shooting for top-five finishes and both riders exceeded their expectations and turned a lot of heads in the process.
Trevor Bollinger came away with a well-deserved fourth place finish. The JCR Honda rider was second fastest in the fifth test and added two other top-five test times to finish 20 seconds behind Kelley.
KR4 Husqvarna’s Cory Buttrick and SRT Off-road Racing-backed Evan Smith occupied fifth and sixth, while AirGroup/Enduro Engineering Husqvarna’s Drew Higgins turned in a ride he was happy with for seventh.
Grant Baylor, who is coming off of a recent shoulder surgery and who had been on the bike for about a week grabbed eighth, and didn’t even make up his mind to race until two days before.
Ninth went to N-Fab/Am Pro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell finished ninth, while 2014 National Enduro champ Andrew DeLong, who signed with GasGas during the off-season, rounded out the top-10.
Five-time National Enduro Champ Russell Bobbitt started the race in fifth, but a limb ripped the electrical wiring from his fuel system in the second test and by the time the Gnarly Roots Racing KTM rider got it fixed he had lost seven minutes. Bobbitt still scored points with a 20th place finish.
Over 850 riders entered the Sumter event, which is a series record. Riders from as far away as Quebec, Canada and both coasts of the United States came to get out of the frigid temperatures up north and get in some great trail time.
Solid Performance KTM’s Ryder Lafferty claimed the win in the new NE Pro2 class, edging KTM-mounted Nathan Ferderer by 13 seconds. Third place finisher Zach Hayes was another minute back.
Meanwhile, in the Women’s Elite division, Bonanza KTM’s MacKenzie Tricker got off to a great start to the season by taking a solid win, topping last year’s champ Tayla Jones (KR4 Husqvarna) by about a minute-and-a-half. Eden Netelkos was third ahead of Jennifer Sheppard and Jocelyn Barnes.
The Kenda AMA National Enduro Series returns to action with the Cajun Classic, round two of the series on March 4th in Forest Hill, Louisiana. For more information, check out www.nationalenduro.com.
1. Steward Baylor (KTM)
2. Josh Toth (KTM)
3. Ben Kelley (KTM)
4. Trevor Bollinger (Hon)
5. Cory Buttrick (KTM)
6. Evan Smith (KTM)
7. Drew Higgins (Hsq)
8. Grant Baylor (KTM)
9. Ricky Russell (Yam)
10. Andrew Delong (GG)