Coming down to the last round of the AMA/ Rekluse National Enduro Series in Upland, Indiana, reigning champion Russell Bobbitt held a slim six point lead over Mike Lafferty. When the scores were tallied, Mike won the battle, but Russell won the war. A second place finish secured a one point advantage for Bobbitt, who claimed his third national championship. The Georgia native is one of many young riders that are setting the woods on fire in a series that has recently been resurrected under the direction of the National Enduro Promotions Group (NEPG). Using a restart format, the races no longer require the use of timekeeping equipment and scoring is fast and efficient. How popular have the changes been? Round 1 in South Carolina drew 569 riders. Woods riding is alive and well!
First off, congratulations on winning the 2009 National Enduro Championship.
How does it feel winning your third National Enduro Championship?
Awesome, you know it is my third but it’s the first one that was really heads up for the championship. We raced all the way to the end and I’m happy about that. And I’m excited because I have plenty of years to go and have a great team.
Coming into the final round were you worried or nervous knowing that Mike was only 6 points behind you?
No, not really, I felt confident about myself and my bike. There was no stress for me, I knew he would be pushing hard to come after me. But I knew I just had to put in a good ride and I was confident that I would do it. I never had much pressure on me.
Over the past couple of years, what do you feel has changed for you to become a consistently better rider?
Well, we are much more organized and prepared for races. We are taking time and doing our homework for each race in our setup. Also my training is spot on. I’ve come to realize that what you put in is what you get out. So I just stepped up my training and have been riding more moto. That has really helped with my speed.
I know that Cole Kirkpatrick, and Kurt Caselli stayed at your house earlier this year. Do you think that helped with your riding and training?
Oh definitely. It’s a huge benefit to have other great riders around you. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and their own training plans. So you take bits and pieces from each others’ programs and it helps strengthen you all around. It’s like a huge melting pot you come out of with the best setup. You know Kurt is just such an awesome rider. He has so much skill and knowledge it’s awesome to really learn from him. It is also nice to have Cole who shares the same goals. It really helps because we both push each other along and help each other. But you know it’s also so helpful to have great friends around you as a support system.
This year you finished every race on the podium, but there were a lot of other young faces around that seemed to make names for themselves. Nick Fahringer, Cole Kirkpatrick, Brad Bakken, and Cory Buttrick to name a few. What do you think of the competition, and how it will be next year?
Man it is real awesome. It makes you stay on your game and leaves no room for errors. With all the strong competition you have to push it the whole season you can’t back off. I think that the competition will be even harder next year. I’m really looking forward to it.
Now in the third year that the National Enduro Promoters Group has been over the series, how do you think they are doing?
Allen Randt and the NEPG are doing a terrific job. They have made the series so much more rider friendly and professional. The series is actually so much better it is unreal. They have everything so much more organized with the scoring that it makes the events enjoyable. And with the new format it’s real racing. We are actually racing head to head so we are seeing who is the fastest, not the one who gets lucky.
Growing up in Georgia and riding the SETRA series that for years used the timekeeping format, do you miss it in the Nationals?
No, not really. There are still timekeeping enduros around that you can go and ride if you want to. But I just like sprinting all out in a section without worrying about burning a check. I like to see who is the fastest. I hated going to a race and throwing a day away because of a secret check. It was always so frustrating. So no, I really don’t miss it.
With Mike Lafferty moving over to Husaberg, are you looking forward to next year?
Definitely. Husaberg has a really good bike. And I think he will be tough next year. I just think it’s really cool to have KTM and Husaberg who are both under the same company both going for the title. It makes for some good racing.
I know you are leaving tomorrow for the ISDE where you will represent the USA on the Junior Team. You haven’t been to the Six Days since Chile in 2007, are you excited?
Yeah, I’m really pumped we have such an awesome team this year. I think we can really put in some solid times and challenge for the top spots. I can’t wait to get over there. I know we’re going to have a great time and hope we can make the US proud.
Anyone you would like to thank?
Definitely. I would like to thank Shock Doctor KTM, Muscle Milk, my mechanic Tony Hall, my dad, KTM Powerwear, KTM Powerparts, Sidi, GPR, Scott, Troy Lee Designs, Skull Candy, Rockwell Time, and Hydropak.
Thanks for taking the time out to talk, and good luck in Portugal we will be rooting for you.
No, thank you, I really appreciate it.