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Kawasaki/Racer X Race Report

The first Maxxis AMA EnduroCross Series is in the books, and Red Bull KTM’s David Knight is the champion. Knighter’s run to the AMA #1 isn’t a surprise considering how he already notched the ’07 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country title and has been dominant everywhere for the last few years. What was surprising was how the night turned out for him. After dominating the first two EnduroCross rounds, Knight stood to make $50,000 from the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute if he could win the Vegas race and sweep the series. But his bid for the big bucks was denied by KTM’s young Polish talent Taddy Blazusiak, who passed Knighter as the white flag was coming out for a shocking win. And no one was shocked more than Knight himself, who apparently was expecting things to be a little easier considering he was racing a fellow KTM rider. Knight was so upset with his teammate and his team after the race that he even ghost rode his bike over a 10-foot high wall of Maxxis tractor tires, a display even crazier than any of the nutty stuff that happened during the always-crazy EnduroCross races.

Taddy Blazusiak’s win puts him a notch higher on the world off-road stage, amazing since no one had even heard of the kid six months ago. Blazusiak was raised on trials bikes and had never ridden an enduro-style bike until recently. He showed up on a beater at this Summer’s Erzberg Rodeo in Austria and looked very fast in qualifying, so fast that KTM offered him a factory bike for the day. Then he went out and won the race in what was basically his first day with the company!

Las Vegas became his next conquest, as he and a group of riders on trials bikes tried to spoil Knight’s party. The EnduroCross—an indoor off-road race with a course made of logs, rocks and water holes—favors riders with technical skills, strength and flat-out aggression. Knight has all of those talents, but Blasuziak and the trials riders matched them. Trials kid Colton Haaker won Friday’s qualifying races to make it into Saturday’s show, and then turned in the fastest lap in qualifying on Saturday. Knight and Blazusiak turned in nearly identical times for second and third.

This set them up as top contenders in the main, as the traditional EX favorites struggled. Last year’s EnduroCross Champion John Dowd didn’t even make the main. Damon Huffman, who switched from Suzukis to Kawasakis right before the race, came into the event second in points to Knight, but he struggled all day and only made it to the main via the Last Chance Qualifier. Without Huffman and Dowd looking like threats, it seemed like Knight would have an easy go of it on way to winning the main, the title and $50,000.

Knight shoved his way into the lead off the start in the main, and the carnage began, with riders getting stuck everywhere and the crowd going wild. The EnduroCross always provides great action, and the show offered up both highlight reel incidents from most of the pack, and an amazing battle between Knight and Blazusiak out front. Finally, Blazusiak got inside of Knight in a rock garden and grabbed the lead. The sold-out Orleans went nuts, and then Knight rode past the KTM mechanics shaking his hand. Apparently, Knighter figured the rest of the KTM riders would let him have the $50,000 bounty.

“I’m not very happy,” said Knight. “I though we maybe had a team thing. As it was I couldn’t really battle him because I was worried about the championship. I didn’t want to fall and crash and not finish and lose the championship.”

As great as the action was on the track, it was just as crazy when the race ended. Blazusiak sailed across the finish with a win, which netted him $10,000. He parked his bike on top of the massive Maxxis Tire Wall, a 10-foot high pile of tractor tires, and started celebrating. Then an angry Knighter crossed the finish and ghost rode his bike over the Maxxis Tires, nearly hitting Blazusiak in the process!

Knight had to be calmed down, and the fans didn’t quite give him the cheers you would expect of the guy who had just won the series championship. Knighter wasn’t happy either, although he had done what he needed to do to win the championship.

Meanwhile, the fans had fallen in love with the personable young Polish kid, who is as exciting to talk to off of the track as he is exciting to watch on it. Whether Knight had to race for the championship or not, there’s no doubt that the young Polish rider was able to match or even exceed Knight’s pace on the gnarly track, and he seemed plenty excited to be racing in Vegas. On the night when upstart EnduroCross established itself as an exciting new championship race series, it had also found an exciting new star.

 

 

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