KTM's Russell Bobbitt officially earned a position on this year's U.S. Junior Trophy Team by winning the rain-soaked Lead Belt Two-Day ISDE Qualifier in Park Hills, Missouri, April 17-18. Bobbitt, the 23-year-old rider from Fayetteville, Georgia, overcame a slow, day-one start, where he trailed fellow KTM rider Cole Kirkpatrick and Husaberg-mounted Nick Fahringer by 29 and 24 seconds, respectively.
A hard-charging effort on day two, however, lofted Bobbitt, the current AMA National Enduro Champion and four-time ISDE participant, to a 57-second advantage over second place Kirkpatrick. Bobbitt had a combined two-day score of 6427 seconds. Fahringer finished in third place just one second behind Kirkpatrick. All three riders where competing in the E2 class and earned spots on this year's U.S. ISDE team that will compete in Portugal in October.
Rounding out the top five overall were E1-class participants Fred Hoess, on a Kawasaki and Toby Atkins, on a Yamaha.
"I was just off my game all day on day one and found myself back in third place," Bobbitt said. "It was a bunch of things during the first couple of tests that cost me. I crashed a lot, I got lost, I smashed my pipe, and my throttle was sticking. By mid-day, when it started to rain, I was probably just trying too hard. It just wasn't my day. But I refocused on day teo and got back to basics. I called my dad Saturday night and we talked about not charging too hard. Day two went a whole lot better."
Bobbitt's overall finish, as the top-finishing eligible Junior Team rider (for riders 23 and under) guaranteed him a spot on this year's U.S. Junior World Trophy Team four-rider roster. Bobbitt said, "I'm real excited to have a chance to ride on another U.S. Junior team. I was on the 2006 ISDE Junior Trophy Championship-winning team in New Zealand, and I think we have another strong group of riders to have another chance at finishing on the podium again."
Both Kirkpatrick and Fahringer are eligible for the U.S. Trophy Team, as well.
The Missouri Mudders hosted the ISDE qualifier that awarded 12 of the 28 remaining spots on this year's eventual team USA roster of 34 riders. The U.S. Trophy Team was already announced earlier this year. The final ISDE qualifier will be held May 30-31 in Idaho City, Idaho, where the next 12 riders will be named.
Those riders also earning spots on this year's U.S. ISDE team via their finish in the Leadbelt Two-Day ISDE Qualifier, along with Bobbitt, Kirkpatrick and Fahringer are the top three finishers from the E1 class: Hoess, Atkins and Troy Swettenam. From the E3 class, Rory Sullivan, Lars Valin and Shawn O_Leary all made it, from the E4 class (Women's World Cup), Lacy Jones is in, and in the E5 class (U.S. Senior Club team) Chile White made the cut. Riders earning spots on this year's U.S. ISDE Team roster may decline to participate, where the next finishing rider in class then becomes eligible.