French Teams Dominate – Americans End Fifth

Mark Kariya | October 18, 2009

Proving that it’s not over ’til it’s over, Team USA finished the 84th Maxxis FIM International Six Days Enduro in Portugal on a relatively high note after surviving some last-minute bike and body problems.

The U.S. World Trophy team took advantage of a DNF by a Swedish rider to move from seventh to fifth despite two Americans on the damaged-but-still-riding list. The Junior World Trophy team started the day with three riders intact and finished with one banged up, one who dropped a minute and one who nearly stole the show in his moto en route to earning third place for the week. And the Women’s World Cup team, with only one member still near 100 percent, earned fourth for the week.

Kurt CaselliDamon Huffman and Timmy Weigand pushed beyond their previous pain tolerance barriers and gutted out stirring E1 final moto finishes despite their physical issues from previous days. Huffman was fifth for the day while Weigand managed to pull off the fourth-fastest time.

Not wanting to be left out of the pain brigade, Destry Abbott proceeded to drop his bike while going for the leaders in the E2 moto—which was televised live—and tore up a couple of his fingers, probably losing a fingernail as a result. Still, he rallied back to post the seventh-best time for the class and end up 25th overall individual for the week.

In E3, Kurt Caselli romped to fourth, matching his overall individual standing for the week while Nathan Kanney finished up eighth for the day. As Caselli put it the day before, though, “It’s been a pretty eventful Six Days for the Trophy team. Obviously our results aren’t what we really wanted, but at the same time, considering everything that’s happened that hasn’t gone our way, I think we’re doing just fine.”

Russell BobbittAmong the U.S. Junior World Trophy riders, Russell Bobbitt, Cory Buttrick and Jamie Lanza started the day well, but only Lanza finished intact. Buttrick dropped a minute after losing his oil plug (as well as its scrounged replacement that ended up falling out). That minute dropped him to 30th for the day; without the penalty he would’ve been 15th.

Team leader Bobbitt hit a tree stump that he didn’t see in a dusty transfer section and crashed heavily in fifth gear, sustaining a suspected broken bone in his shoulder. But he did make it to the motocross track, had the doctor do a patch job and rode the E2 moto in order to preserve that cherished last spot on the podium.

But it was Jamie Lanza who really helped offset those problems when he sped to second in the E1 race behind Finland’s Eero Remes (the eventual class winner, as well), notching the fifth-best time of the day for the entire field of 377 finishers (out of 428 starters on Day One). That gave him the fastest time by an American, a laudable accomplishment for the Six Days first-timer.

In the Women’s World Cup race, Maria Forsberg once again finished behind perennial front-runner Ludivine Puy of the winning French team, but both of them had to bow to Sweden’s Sandra Adriansson, the first time all week she’d been a factor. Lacy Jones and Amanda Mastin got their bikes to the finish in good order, but the team finished off the podium for the first time in three events.

No American Club teams cracked the top five; Team Carter Engineering (Zach Lipana, Rory Sullivan and Troy Swettenam) was the top-placing American trio at 10th place.

Now, competitors have 13 months to prepare for Mexico in 2011.

Mark Kariya | Contributor

Kariya spends way too much time in the desert, but we’re glad he does as he’s the man who gets us our coverage of all things sandy.