Charlie Mullins took a Texas-sized win in the windy high-desert plains of West Texas, at round four of the Rekluse/AMA National Enduro Series near Lubbock. The Obermeyer/Am Pro Yamaha-backed rider won three of the six timed sections and beat out FMF KTM's Cory Buttrick by a total of 23 seconds at the end of the 74-mile event to claim his second win of the series. The win was a small bit of restitution after the bad luck Mullins suffered at the second round of the series where he won five of the six tests, but lost the race because of a damaged brake pedal.
"I've had some not-so-good finishes the past month, and it feels good that I kind of turned it around here in Texas," said Mullins. "This is really different terrain from what I'm used to and it was a challenging race, but I'm really happy to get a win and get the monkey off my back."
The Texas race was one of two trips the series makes westward this year, and it offered terrain not normally seen by the series-regulars. In spite of the change of scenery, Mullins showed good speed all day, however it was local pro Cole Kirkpatrick who took the early lead in the race, even though he suffered rear brake problems during the first 10-mile section. Kirkpatrick stayed in contention for the win until the fifth section where he was held up by a rider in a mud bog, costing him nearly 45 seconds.
After a slow start, Buttrick came on strong at the midway point of the race, but it was his consistency that put him in the runner-up position, having posted the second-fastest time on three different occasions.
"I knew everyone was going to be close today, and I knew it was going take a mistake-free ride, but it took me a while to get going," said Buttrick. "It took a lot of getting used to in this terrain, but I'm glad to come away with a second. I had a few little crashes in the last section that kept me from gaining any on Mullins, but he was really riding well."
Also getting a slow start was factory Husaberg rider Michael Lafferty, who was as far down as sixth during the early going. The eight-time national champ turned it on at the finish, however, winning the last test, which put him on the final step of the podium.
"I was slow off the start - I don't know why. I thought my times were okay but it turned out they were not up to par with everyone else. Charlie's definitely got a lot more speed going on than the rest of us right now," said Lafferty. "I just kept plugging along and I think it was a matter of me still getting used to the 'Berg. It just took me a little while to get moving and once the sections got a little longer in the last part of the race, then I really felt a lot better and I came around. This place out here is tough and you just have to salvage all you can get and keep digging."
Lafferty's tenacity paid off in the championship title chase, since defending champ Russell Bobbitt, who came into the Texas race with the series points lead, finished the day in fifth, relinquishing the lead to Lafferty. It also helped that fellow Husaberg rider Nick Fahringer finished in fourth, putting himself between Lafferty and Bobbitt. With four of the ten rounds complete, Lafferty holds a three-point lead over Bobbitt (90 to 87), with Buttrick in third at 80 points. Mullins (78) and Fahringer (70) round out the top five.
O/A: 1. Charlie Mullins (Yam); 2. Cory Buttrick (KTM); 3. Michael Lafferty (Hsb); 4. Nick Fahringer (Hsb); 5. Russell Bobbitt (KTM); 6. Glenn Kearmey (Hus); 7. Cole Kirkpatrick (KTM); 8. Andrew DeLong (KTM); 9. Josh Gaitten (KTM); 10. Cameron Kirkpatrick (KTM).
Standings after 4 rounds: 1. Michael Lafferty (90/1 win); 2. Russell Bobbitt (87); 3. Cory Buttrick (80/1 win); 4. Charlie Mullins (78/2 wins); 5. Nick Fahringer (70).