In 2010, Charlie Mullins was a newcomer to the national enduro series. When the 2011 Rekluse/AMA National Enduro Series kicks off tomorrow in Salley, South Carolina, the FMF/KTM factory rider will be the guy the rest of the field will be gunning for.
Last year, Mullins surprised the off-road community by beating out a solid field of heavy hitters, including two defending champs, to take the national title while still a rookie to the series. At the end of tomorrow's race he'll know what it's like to be on the other end of the food chain.
"It won't be much different from last year, except I have a little more experience," said Mullins. "I'm the guy everyone's after, but I'm looking at it like every other race. Of course, the goal is to win, but I also want to get through this first race healthy and try to accomplish what I have planned."
Trying to dethrone Mullins will be a host of talented riders including two of Mullins' KTM teammates, Cory Buttrick, Russell Bobbitt, a former three-time national champ himself. In addition to the trio of KTM riders will be eight-time national champ Michael Lafferty and his Husaberg teammate Nick Fahringer, Am Pro/Yamaha/FMF rider Thad DuVall and Gas Gas riders Jordan Brandt and Jeff Melik. Privateer KTM riders Nate Kanney , Brad Bakken, Steward Baylor Jr., Andrew Delong and Josh Gaitten will be waiting in the wings in case any of the favorites should falter.
Over 600 riders are slated to start tomorrow's six-section, 75-mile race, which will kick off the 10-round 2011 series. Be sure to check back tomorrow for results.