A second here, two seconds there and five seconds in the final section added up to another triumph for Red Bull KTM’s Mike Lafferty at round seven of the AMA/FMF Racing National Enduro Series in West Point, Tennessee, on September 23. He and teammate Russell Bobbitt both finished the North Alabama Trail Riders Association’s National (unofficially designated the inaugural Ed Larosche Memorial Enduro) with 33 points, with Lafferty edging the defending series champion by eight seconds at the three tie-breaker checks, 1895-1903.
Stephen Edmondson made his first trip to the podium this year with 39 points, with fellow KTM privateers Dustin Gibson and Cole Kirkpatrick rounding out the top five and making for an orange sweep of the top five.
Temperatures in the low to mid 90s coupled with fairly high humidity made the five test sections spread out over 71 ground miles feel twice as far for many. A computer problem caused the third and longest test (at just over 20 miles) to be thrown out, though the end result likely would have been the same. “I didn’t light the world on fire; I just kind of stayed conservative,” Lafferty insisted. “I didn’t crash or anything; I just kind of rode around. I felt decent; I felt pretty good, but I didn’t push the envelope very much. I just kind of rode smoother than I normally do.”
Observers would argue otherwise as Lafferty and his Michelin/Motorex/Arai-sponsored 450 XC-W appeared to attack the course with speed and consistency that only Bobbitt seemed to match on his FMF/VP Fuels/Troy Lee Designs 250 XC. However, Bobbitt was just a step behind most of the day despite riding well. “Man, I tried as hard as I could,” he lamented. “We were close all day long.”
Unofficially, Bobbitt went through the fourth section six seconds quicker than Lafferty, but in the final 17-mile-long section, the torrid heat and pace finally caught up to him and took his edge, handing Lafferty more time and the win.
Seven-time series champ Lafferty collected another 30 points and now has 196 while Bobbitt’s sixth consecutive runner-up finish gives him 180 points, unofficially. That 16-point spread means that Lafferty needs to finish fifth or better at the final round in Alabama to earn a record-tying eighth National enduro crown. For Bobbitt to successfully defend his title now at the finale, he would have to win and Lafferty would need to suffer a near-catastrophic meltdown of sixth or worse”something that he knows is certainly possible so he’s not celebrating yet.
“All it could take is one mistake”one mistake and it’d be over,” Lafferty points out. “I’m a little more comfortable knowing that we’ve just got to get a fifth or something at the end, [but] I’m still going to go for the win and ride as good as I can.”