DeLong managed to avoid any major problems and turned in a steady ride on the fast and rocky West Texas terrain, fending off a late charge by four-time national enduro champ Russell Bobbitt to take the win by just six seconds at the finish.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said DeLong. “I think it just boiled down to attitude. The last time we came to Texas I didn’t really do that well, but I just tried to have a positive attitude all weekend and I started having fun. Once I started having fun I started to go really, really good.”
DeLong’s win made history of sorts, in that the FAR Husqvarna rider put a Husky on the top step of the podium at a national enduro for the first since Fred Hoess did so in 2003. It also bumped DeLong up to fourth in the series standings after starting off the year with a pair of sevenths at rounds one and two.
“Hopefully, I can carry this momentum and attitude into the rest of the series and keep moving up,” said DeLong.
Bobbitt won the final test of the day, but it was not enough to make up for time he lost in the third and fifth tests, forcing the factory Husaberg rider to settle for the runner-up slot.
“I had a couple crashes in the third test section which cost me a lot of time,” said Bobbitt. “I was able to make up a few seconds in the final two sections but wasn’t able to get the win today.”
After getting off to a bad start, including a nasty crash in the opening test, Airgroup Husaberg rider Nick Fahringer came back to win test three, which put the Ohio rider in third place at the end of the day. This is the second podium of the year for Fahringer and solidifies his third place status in the series standings.
Fourth went to Colorado KTM rider Ian Blythe, who picked up the pace in the final two tests to pass 15-year-old Grant Baylor for the position. Baylor is the younger brother of 2012 Rekluse AMA National Enduro Champion Stu Baylor, and the Fly/Ride PG/WP Racing KTM rider is moving up the order in quick fashion.
Husaberg rider Michael Lafferty had an off day and finished sixth. Although he was second fastest in the A-only third test, the eight-time champ was suffered a few crashes in some of the other tests and was not able to make up ground on the front-runners.
Yamaha riders filled the next three positions, with AM Pro Yamaha’s Jesse Groemm taking seventh ahead of Arkansas rider Josh Weisenfels and Obermeyer Yamaha/Raines Riding Academy/ Offroadviking.com’s Brad Bakken.
In the meantime, New Jersey Husaberg rider Kyle McDonal was 10th.
After turning the fastest time in the second test of the day, series points leader Charlie Mullins suffered mechanical problems on the transfer trail heading to the third test. Luckily, his team worked quickly to get him back in action, but not before he showed up at the third test 4 minutes late, meaning he would be docked the four minutes plus the time lost in his section to put him 34th overall after the end of the third test. The FMF/KTM rider was still able to salvage 10 points for finishing 11th overall.
“I was definitely bummed that we had the mechanical issue today,” said Mullins. “Once we had it worked out, I knew I needed to ride as hard as I could to gain each position within reach. I am happy I was able to get back into point earning positions to earn enough points to maintain my lead heading to the next round.”
With three rounds in the books, Mullins holds on to a six-point lead in the series standings over Bobbitt (70 points to 64), with Fahringer a close third with 62 points.
The Rekluse AMA National Enduro Series resumes action with the Cajun Enduro, round four of the series in Forest Hill, Louisiana on April 14th. For more information on the series, check out www.nationalenduro.com.
1. Andrew DeLong (Hsq)
2. Russell Bobbitt (Hsb)
3. Nick Fahringer (Hsb)
4. Ian Blythe (KTM)
5. Grant Baylor (KTM)
6. Michael Lafferty (Hsb)
7. Jesse Groemm (Yam)
8. Josh Weisenfels (Yam)
9. Brad Bakken (Yam)
10. Kyle McDonal (Hsb)