Park Hills, Missouri (May 18, 2014) – Charlie Mullins continues to rack up wins in the 2014 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series, the FMF/KTM rider adding victory number four at this weekend’s Lead Belt National Enduro in Park Hills, Missouri, as an overflow entry of more than 500 riders enjoyed amazing weather and perfect trail during the 65-mile Missouri Mudders-hosted event.
Mullins got the jump on the competition by getting off to a quick start, finishing the opening test one minute and three seconds quicker than Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Andrew DeLong. Mullins was fastest in test two, as well, adding another 18 seconds to his advantage over DeLong. Meanwhile, N-Fab/Am Pro Yamaha’s Brad Bakken, FMF/KTM’s Mike Lafferty and Maxxis/Klim/DirtWise KTM’s Jesse Groemm were not far behind.
Mullins lost a bit of his momentum in test three when he missed a turn and followed a rider down the wrong trail, costing both riders valuable time. In the meantime, AirGroup Racing’s Nick Fahringer finally got untracked after making a few adjustments and posted the fastest time for the third test ahead of DeLong, Bakken and Groemm. Mullins was way down in fifth thanks to his navigation error.
Test four was no better for Mullins as he saw his lead start to slip away due to a rear brake issue. The defending series champ was forced to ride the entire nine-mile test with only his front brake and was once again fifth fastest, with Fahringer getting his second test win of the day ahead of Groemm, Bakken and DeLong.
With DeLong and Fahringer breathing down his neck, Mullins got his house in order in the final two tests, posting his third and fourth test wins of the day. When all was said and done, Mullins took the win by a minute and 33 seconds over Fahringer; with DeLong rounding out the podium another 29 seconds back.
“This was a hard day, but all in all it was a good one,” said Mullins. “This was the toughest enduro I’ve done in a long time. There was a lot of single-track and it was tight and rocky and it’s good to win one like this.”
Remarkably, Bakken finished third in all six tests but still ended the day in fourth overall. Meanwhile, Groemm rounded out the top five despite struggling in the final test.
American Beta rider Cory Buttrick had his best finish of the year with a sixth, 39 seconds better than KTM support rider Grant Baylor.
Eight-time national enduro champ Mike Lafferty finished eighth overall, beating out his nephew Ryder Lafferty by over a minute. Before the race, the Missouri Mudders awarded Mike Lafferty with the “King of the Lead Belt” award, for winning five of his previous eight starts in the event.
Finishing 10th was Husqvarna-backed Craig DeLong, who is the younger brother of Andrew DeLong.
With four rounds in the books and six remaining on the schedule, Mullins sits 40 points ahead of Fahringer in the series standings, with Groemm in third another seven points back.
In addition to 10th overall, Craig DeLong also ran away with the win in the Rekluse AA-Expert class, winning all six tests and finishing six minutes and two seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Drew Higgins.
“The first tests were fast and really suited my style so I was able to build up a pretty good lead in the beginning,” said DeLong. “Once I had the lead, I was able to just ride a steady pace and make sure I stayed on two wheels.”
After four rounds, Higgins leads the Rekluse AA-Expert class standings with 71 points, followed by Tyler Trammel with 78 and DeLong with 76.