Steward Baylor broke the ice on the 2012 AMA Rekluse National Enduro Series by taking a surprise win at round one of the series in Sumter, South Carolina. In the same manner that Charlie Mullins did two years ago, Baylor came into the race as a privateer and flying well under the radar, however the 17-year-old rode a spectacular race despite a hard crash in the fourth test and claimed the upset win over a stacked field of factory-backed Pros. Baylor won three tests in all and finished the race with a 40-second advantage over second place.
The runner-up spot went to eight-time National Enduro Champ Michael Lafferty, who raised a few eyebrows, as well, with his strong ride in the treacherous Sumter sand. At 36, the factory Husaberg rider still has what it takes to win at this level, and he put himself in position to take the win should Baylor fail by winning two tests.
Rounding out the podium was Mullins, who finished 60 seconds behind Lafferty on his FMF/KTM 450 “Dungey Replica”. The 2009 series champ and reigning GNCC title-holder was fastest in the fourth test, after suffering a setback in the third test when he burned up his clutch after he accidentally unscrewed his oil filler cap with his boot.
FMF/KTM’s Cory Buttrick finished fourth after running near the front in the early tests, the Ohio rider competing on a 300cc two-stroke after riding most of last year on a four-stroke. Meanwhile, Obermeyer Yamaha/Raines Riding University/Offroadviking.com’s Brad Bakken rounded out the top five on a YZ250.
Russell Bobbitt finished sixth, the defending series champ making his return to national competition after breaking his wrist and collarbone last fall. Am Pro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn finished seventh, while FAR Husqvarna’s Andrew DeLong rounded out the top eight.
In all, 579 riders competed in the six-test, 75-mile race, which consisted of the standard Sumter fare: tight, sandy single-track. Round two of the series takes place on February 19th, at Greensboro, Georgia, for the Cherokee National.