France's racers pulled off a mild upset by unofficially taking the early lead in both the FIM World Trophy and Junior World Trophy competitions at the 81st Maxxis International Six Days Enduro in Taupo, New Zealand. In the Junior category, though, the French foursome of riders under 24 years old lead the U.S. quartet by just 16 seconds while Australia’s Juniors lie third, about 40 seconds behind the Americans. The six-man Trophy team from France leads the favored Finnish squad by about 34 seconds with Spain almost two minutes farther back in third; the American World Trophy team is 14th, unofficially, 11:21 behind the French.

Kurt Caselli (pictured) put in the best day of the Americans on his KTM 250 XC in the E2 class (250cc two-stroke/450cc four-stroke), his score after the five special tests just under 15 seconds behind class leader Stefan Merriman of Australia whose test times totaled 26 minutes, 44.8 seconds. That puts the American Junior in fourth, unofficially, in E2 behind Merriman, Finland's Samuli Aro and France's Johnny Aubert.

In E1 (125cc two-stroke/250cc four-stroke), France's Marc Germain leads with an unofficial score of 26:18.8, almost 26 seconds ahead of Finland’s Juha Salminen while David Fretigne of France is third. Rookie ISDE racer Ricky Dietrich of the American Junior World Trophy team put together five tests that landed him 16th, unofficially, 1:28 behind Germain.

France's Fabien Planet leads E3 (over 250cc two-stroke/over 500cc four-stroke) with his unofficial time of 27:26.9, five seconds ahead of Marko Tarkkala of Finland while Spain’s Cristobal Guerrero is third. David Pearson, a Junior, is the fastest of the Americans in E3, his 28:19.1 good enough for 12th in class, unofficially.

For most of Team USA, Day One unfolded without much drama, though World Trophy team veteran Fred Hoess feared his Six Days was over when he received straight gas at a pit”not the ideal fuel for his two-stroke Gas Gas 250 EC. But he was able to nurse it in and salvage a finish for the day.

Asked his impressions of his first day in his first Six Days, Dietrich replied, "I’m pretty stoked. It’s kind of everything I thought it would be”I’ve got a lot of advice and input from other people that have done it before so I kind of knew what to expect."

"The terrain and stuff was a lot like the Qualifier that we do in Idaho in the mountains," Dietrich continued. "The one thing was that it was, I'd say, a little bit easier than the Qualifier we do because we have so much road riding to do [here] because I was kind of intimidated by how many miles we do, but there's a lot of roads in there so it makes it a little easier, which is nice. There's quite a bit of single-track but a lot of logging roads and stuff too. It's a pretty chill ride."

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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.

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