Russell Bobbitt topped a strong field of contenders to take a solid victory at the opening round of the Rekluse/AMA National Enduro Series in Salley, South Carolina. In all, the FMF/KTM factory rider won four of the six tests, and finished the 75-mile race with a 48-second margin over runner-up finisher Brad Bakken. Eight-time national champ Michael Lafferty rounded out the podium in an event that saw over 600 riders take to the sandy, sweeping trails of the Columbia Enduro Riders-promoted event.
Both Bobbitt and Bakken spent much of the off-season training together in Florida, and it showed, as the two KTM riders looked fast and smooth all day. Bobbitt was quick off the start, winning the first three tests. Bakken topped the difficult and long fourth section, while Bobbitt closed the event with the fastest elapsed time in section six.
"I just felt good all day and I was having fun so I think that helped me flow a little better today," said Bobbitt, a three-time national enduro champion.
The only other rider to win a test was Lafferty, who was fastest in the fifth test on his factory Husaberg.
Cory Buttrick put his KTM 350 XCF into fourth, after dropping off the pace with flu-like symptoms midway into the race. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Steward Baylor Jr. turned in a stellar performance to nail down fifth in just his fourth national appearance.
Defending national champion Charlie Mullins was admittedly off the pace and lost valuable time when he suffered a punctured radiator on his factory KTM in the fifth section. He still managed to score sixth-place points and cannot be counted out of the hunt.
Husaberg's Nick Fahringer finished the day in seventh, ahead of Am Pro/Yamaha/FMF rider Thad DuVall, with KTM riders Shane Hufford Jr. and Zach Klamfoth rounding out the top 10.
1. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
2. Brad Bakken (KTM)
3. Michael Lafferty (Hsb)
4. Cory Buttrick (KTM)
5. Steward Baylor Jr. (KTM)
6. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
7. Nick Fahringer (Hsb)
8. Thad DuVall (Yam)
9. Shane Hufford Jr. (KTM)
10. Zach Klamfoth (KTM)