Michael Lafferty served notice today that he has returned to championship form and that he has designs on a record ninth national title by taking a solid victory over Muscle Milk/Shock Doctor KTM teammate Russell Bobbitt at the Alligator Enduro, round three of the AMA/Rekluse National Enduro Series held during Speedweek in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Lafferty's "Alligator" win was his ninth at the legendary event - an event where his aggressive style serves him well. Riding on the minute behind Bobbitt, Lafferty started strong and kept the pressure on
Bobbitt all day, actually catching and passing the defending champ in the fourth of the six tests. At the end of the event, Lafferty finished with almost a two minute advantage over Bobbitt. While Bobbitt finished a full minute ahead of third-place finisher Wally Palmer, who was riding the same Kawasaki he rode to victory at this event last year.
"Missing the race last year made me hungry to ride this place this year," said Lafferty, who missed last year's event due to injury. "Obviously, we struggled at the first round. Then we got a little stronger in Georgia, and at this race we were in the hunt and up to speed and I was just happy to get a good finish."
About the fourth section, where Lafferty caught and passed Bobbitt, Lafferty said the trail was his cup of tea. "It was rough and cobbly and tight and to me it just seemed like it wasn't long enough. I just excelled in there and I felt like the bike worked so good and I was extremely happy with my set-up. But, also, Russ had trouble in the section, and he was actually on the ground when I passed him."
"This win was all about getting my bike set up the way I like it," said Lafferty. "I kind of got off base early in the year, and I'm my own worse enemy when it comes to screwing around with things, but once we got things set the way I like it, then my attitude changed and I started having fun, and if I'm having fun and have a good attitude, then I am going fast," added Lafferty.
Right at 500 entries started the FTR-hosted event, which at one point was threatened by a grass fire which forced the organizing club to throw out the fifth section of the race, since that portion of the trail was block by the flaming inferno. Palmer actually got caught in the fire and finished the race with scorch marks on his riding gear.
Fourth place went to KTM rider Brad Bakken, who took his first-ever podium a few weeks ago at round two in Georgia.Yamaha's Jason Raines finished fifth, ahead of KTM-mounted Carsten Cagle and Husaberg's Nick Fahringer.With the win, Lafferty moved to within 14 points of Bobbitt in the series standings with seven rounds to go on the schedule.
1. Michael Lafferty (KTM); 2. Russell Bobbitt (KTM); 3. Wally Palmer (Kaw); 4. Brad Bakken (KTM); 5. Jason Raines (Yam); 6. Carsten Cagle (KTM); 7. Nick Fahringer (Hsb); 8. Fred Hoess (Kaw); 9. Cole Kirkpatrick (KTM); 10. Ian Blythe (KTM); 11. Brooks Hamilton (KTM); 12. Andrew DeLong (); 13. Nicholas Hunter (); 14. Stewart Baylor (KTM); 15. Jeff Melik (Yam); 16. Rory Sullivan (Hsb); 17. Tommy Veator (KTM); 18. Ryan Rodgers (Yam); 19. John Bogard Jr. (Yam); 20. Michael Grizzle (Hsb).