With nearly a week’s worth of storms pounding California, the biggest question leading up to the start of the AMA/FMF Racing National Enduro Series was if round one the Quicksilver National near Coalinga, California would take place as scheduled or if the Salinas Ramblers Motorcycle Club would be forced to call it off. But at 5 p.m. on February 19, club officials announced that the BLM had given them permission to run the race, though they cancelled the third loop and moved the starting time back an hour. Still, it promised to be a very muddy and challenging event.
At the end of the day on Sunday, local fast guy Billy Russell proved that spending last year following the series had indeed made him a faster rider: He took the overall win on his Maxima/Maxxis/Fox-sponsored KTM 250, dropping 20 points for a clear-cut margin over the field. It was his first National victory.
“For as much as it rained, it was actually good conditions; it’s not super-bad,” Russell said, a sentiment echoed by other top racers though not shared by the many B and C riders who DNFed, victims of the mud holes, tricky ascents or simple fatigue.
Tim Taber rode his KTM 250 to the early lead, zeroing the first two checks and dropping three at the third check, with CRF250X-mounted Matt Stavis and Russell right behind with a 0-1-4 and 0-1-5, respectively. He also fought his way out of a mud hole that claimed many if not all, losing 12 minutes in that section while 15s were the norm.
But it went out the window for Taber at the start of the second loop as a cunningly placed check right after leaving the gas stop caught him and many others early. Russell, Stavish and Mike Lafferty all zeroed it, and Russell’s clean second loop gave him the win. Stavish dropped four points and ended up second overall with 24 points, his best overall finish at the Quicksilver. KTM’s David Lykke successfully protested a mileage error near the end, thus boosting him to third overall with 25.
Throttlehead.com Kawasaki’s Steve Hatch bested KTM’s Lafferty on tie-breakers to earn fourth place with 26 points.