The racing aspect of the 82nd Maxxis FIM International Six Days Enduro finally got underway this morning, with the 498 starters embarking on what promises to be six days of riding in sand, rocks and dust.
Those conditions apparently suited Team USA's Kurt Caselli to a T as he sped through the day's six tests on his KTM 300 XC-E to post the fastest accumulated time overall, besting French rider Johnny Aubert and Finland's Juha Salminen, both of them also World Trophy team riders for their respective countries, by just over five seconds.
Asked if he felt comfortable in terrain that most competitors seemed to almost loath, Caselli replied facetiously, "Yeah, it was kind of crazy. I came over a hill and went across Lucerne Valley then I ended up in Barstow," referencing spots in the Southern California desert where he grew up racing and still frequents.
"I made a few mistakes like always,” he said. “Tomorrow's going to be pretty rough. I'm going to go walk all [tomorrow's] tests right now - just try to find some smooth lines; I think that's going to be the biggest thing. It's going to get so rough that just finding smooth stuff is going to be, I think, more important than just hammering the big stuff."
However, things did not go so well for others on Team USA. Jordan Brandt's Beta 525 RR expired without warning near the end of the day. Efforts to repair it proved futile, so the U.S. World Trophy team is now down to five riders and can no longer afford a bad day by the ones remaining.
"The pickup on the stator was cooked and we replaced that but still couldn't get any spark and just couldn't figure it out," he said. "It locked up pretty hard [when it quit], and I went over the bars - bent the pipe, bent the subframe. It's done."
In addition, Fred Hoess discovered early in the day that his front wheel bearings of his new Gas Gas 300 were failing - possibly due to not being greased beforehand - and he was unable to get a replacement set during the day. He limped in to finish without both front and rear brakes (the front from the wobbly wheel and the rear from being overworked) but lost time trying to remove the bearing carrier.
In the team competition, unofficially, the U.S. team is in ninth in World Trophy (six riders), even after Caselli's standout day. France leads the category with Finland 11.08 seconds behind and Italy one minute, 23.80 seconds back in third.
In the Junior World Trophy team standings (four riders under 24 years old), Spain leads by 1:29.28 over France with Italy third, 2:14.52 behind. The U.S. quartet is eighth. First-year member David Kamo showed his desert-racing experience by being the best of the Americans with Russell Bobbitt, the only returning member from last year's winning team, second best for the day.