Grant Baylor has been on a roll since injuring his hand three months ago. The South Carolina native hooked his middle finger on a vine while practicing, breaking a bone in his hand. Since that injury, however, the South Carolina rider has won two-straight national enduros, which includes a near-perfect performance at Cherokee National Enduro in Greensboro, Georgia, July 8, where the Tely Energy Racing KTM rider swept all seven tests.
Grant Baylor Wins 2018 Cherokee National Enduro
Grant topped FMF KTM Factory rider Josh Toth by 19 seconds in the opening test of the day and never let up, finishing the seven-test, 93-mile race with a one-minute and 23-second advantage over Toth for the win.
“I still had a few mistakes, but overall the performance was a good one and I’m pleased with it,” said Baylor. “I just seemed to click perfectly with the bike today. Wherever I pointed my tires the bike went, and everything just hooked up.”
Though sweeping an entire event is a rare feat, a few riders have done it, but no one can remember anyone doing it when there were as many as seven tests.
“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing, and it’s even sweeter to actually get it done,” added Baylor.
Toth also had a good day, his runner-up finish equaling his personal best in the series. Toth edged Grant’s brother Steward Baylor by 16 seconds to claim the bridesmaid slot.
“I didn’t win any tests today but I felt solid all day,” said Toth. “Grant was really riding strong, but it was close between the top three riders, which makes it enjoyable. I’m starting to read the trail a bit better and I’m more comfortable going fast on trail that I haven’t seen before. I think all of those factors led to my performance today.”
Steward Baylor, who is currently leading the series point standings, was not pleased with third, and gave up a few points to Toth in the overall standings. Like his brother, Grant, Steward is dealing with a few issues, including a sprained ACL in his knee.
“I haven’t been able to train over the last couple of weeks and I think that affected my timing,” said Steward.
Cory Buttrick turned some heads when he finished second to Grant Baylor in the fourth test. The KR4 Husqvarna rider parlayed the finish into fourth overall, his best of the year. Meanwhile, SRT Racing’s Evan Smith rounded out the top five with pretty solid performance.
“It was actually a pretty clean day; I didn’t fall or hit any trees,” said Smith. “I really don’t feel like fifth reflects how well I rode today. I don’t live too far from here, so I was right at home in this stuff.”
Solid Performance KTM’s Ryder Lafferty switched from a 250F to a 350F for this race and came away with sixth overall, a personal best. The finish was also good enough for the win in the NE Pro2 class.
Five-time National Enduro Champion Russell Bobbitt finished seventh on his Gnarly Routes KTM, while Trail Jesters KTM Racing’s Ben Kelley suffered through an off day in eighth.
Jake Froman was ninth overall and second in the NE Pro2 class in his debut ride with the AirGroup/Enduro Engineering Husqvarna team.
FAR Racing/Gas Gas North America’s Andrew DeLong rounded out the top 10.
KR4 Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones edged Trail Jesters KTM Racing/Bonanza Plumbing’s Mackenzie Tricker by five seconds to win the Women’s Elite class. Jones won four tests, with Tricker winning two.
“I started off a bit slow, but then it picked up,” said Jones. “Some of the places were a bit sketchy because of the stumps, but overall it was a good day.”
Tricker is relatively new to the national enduro format but she is catching on quickly.
“I won a couple of tests and I think I had a pretty solid day,” said Tricker. “I’m feeling more comfortable with each race and I really felt good today.”
Kendall Lafollette finished third on a KTM.
2018 Cherokee National Enduro
RESULTS: July 8, 2018
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Josh Toth (KTM)
- Steward Baylor (KTM)
- Cory Buttrick (Hus)
- Evan Smith (Hus)
- Ryder Lafferty (KTM)
- Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
- Ben Kelley (KTM)
- Jake Froman (Hus)
- Andrew DeLong (GG)