Lynnville, IN – Rockstar Energy/AirGroup Racing’s Ryan Sipes surprised even himself by winning the first national enduro of his career at this weekend’s LA Black Coal Enduro presented by E-Line Accessories—round nine of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series Presented by Moose Racing in Lynnville, Indiana. It was perhaps a bigger day for Kailub Russell, however, as the FMF/KTM rider wrapped up the series title a race early with a third-place finish, the first enduro title of Russell’s career. By doing so, Russell and his father, Jeff Russell, became the first father/son duo to each win a national enduro title. Jeff won his title in 1991.
Sipes and Russell came into the race under drastically different circumstances; Sipes was riding a wave of confidence having just won individual honors at the recent International Six Days Enduro in Slovakia, while Russell was nursing a torn ACL suffered at the same event, resulting in a DNF. However, Russell entered the Indiana race with a healthy points lead and needed only to finish ahead of title rivals Russell Bobbitt, Grant Baylor, and Steward Baylor to claim the championship, which he did.
Sipes kicked off the day by finishing second in the opening test behind Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Josh Strang. Strang dropped off the pace starting with test two, but Sipes got faster as the day wore on, winning tests two, five, and six for the overall win.
Meanwhile, Russell started off with a pair of fifth-place finishes in tests one and two before winning the third test. A second in the final test landed him in third overall, ahead of Bobbitt and the Baylor brothers, which was just enough to secure the title.
Second overall on the day went to Chris Bach, who was riding just his third enduro of the year. The JCR Honda rider topped the fourth test of the day, and consistent rides in the remaining five tests earned the Indiana rider the runner-up slot by fourteen seconds over Russell.
In all, Sipes won three of the six tests and finished forty seconds ahead of Bach.
"I felt like this event was too tight for my style, but for some reason I kept doing well and ended up with the win," said Sipes. "I didn’t really expect to win this thing, but I’ll take it, for sure. I just think I’m starting to get used to the tight trail, and I’m starting to like this format, where you have resets, so it doesn’t matter if you have a good or bad test; you have a chance to start over again going into the next test.”
Russell finished nearly a minute ahead of N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha’s Grant Baylor.
"It’s pretty cool to win the same title that my dad won a long time ago," said Russell. "I was pretty much against riding this series at the start of the year because I didn’t think I would enjoy it, but I’ve started enjoying it, and I think it has shown in my riding.
"Today was a tough day for me because I haven’t ridden in a week due to my knee, but once I figured out how to compensate for my knee, then I started to ride a lot better."
Grant Baylor got off to a slow start with a sixth and tenth in the first two tests, but then the South Carolina rider settled down and finished out the event with thirds and fourths for fourth overall.
Strang ended the day in fifth, stating that his 450 was not quite as suited to the tight terrain as the 350 he had ridden earlier in the year.
Sixth went to AirGroup Racing’s Nick Fahringer, who finished nineteen seconds ahead of FMF/KTM rider Russell Bobbitt, as both riders struggled with the terrain.
Cory Buttrick showed a flash of brilliance by finishing second in test three on his Beta USA-backed 430 RR, but the rest of his finishes were outside the top five, resulting in eighth place overall.
Ninth place went to Drew Higgins, who tied on time with defending series champ Andrew DeLong; however, Higgins got the nod over the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing-backed DeLong based on a better performance in the final test.
Higgins easily beat out fellow KTM rider Evan Smith by nearly two minutes for the top spot in the Rekluse AA-Expert division, while Jake Froman rounded out the podium another three minutes back.
The Kenda AMA National Enduro Series resumes action on October 11 for the final round of the series in Matthews, Indiana—the Muddober’s National Enduro. For more info, head on over to www.nationalenduro.com.
- Ryan Sipes (Hus)
- Chris Bach (Hon)
- Kailub Russell (KTM)
- Grant Baylor (Yam)
- Josh Strang (Hus)
- Nick Fahringer (Hus)