While most of off-road racing is in the midst of its summer break, the six-round 2018 AMA EnduroCross Series is preparing to kick off August 25, with extreme off-road riders ready to bring the thunder to Prescott, Arizona for the opening round at the Prescott Valley Event Center. Defending champion Cody Webb and former champion Colton Haaker are ready to reignite their longstanding rivalry, while seasoned veterans and young talent are looking to get in on the fight.
2018 AMA EnduroCross Series Preview
Red Bull KTM rider Cody Webb regained the AMA EnduroCross championship in 2017 and is ready to defend his number one plate aboard his KTM 350 XC-F. After capturing the title in November 2017, Webb quickly made his way overseas to compete in the FIM SuperEnduro World Championship where he successfully carried his momentum to another title. It marked the first World Championship for Webb, who succeeded in dethroning fellow American Colton Haaker in the attempt.
Webb’s off-season took a turn for the worse in May, however, when he injured his knee and his foot at the Erzberg Rodeo in Austria. A damaged MCL and a broken foot prevented him from taking on the rest of the newly formed World Enduro Super Series, and forced him to take some down time over the summer. Webb only recently got back on the bike, but is eager to get back to the starting line.
“I’ve been riding for a couple weeks; I’ve already done some testing,” said Webb. “I’m feeling pretty good. The first day was rough, the initial shock of the muscles going from zero to hero, but things came back quick. Just trying to get my fitness up to be as ready as I can for the season.”
As for his expectations this season, Webb said, “I won it last year so I’m expecting to win again. I feel like I missed out on a lot of things this summer so it’s going to be good to regroup and see everyone again at the races.”
2018 AMA EnduroCross Series Preview
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider Colton Haaker wore the number one plate last season, but saw his title defense hopes fade on account of a nagging elbow injury. What turned out to be an infection in the joint ultimately took Haaker out of the championship, marking a disappointing end to his season. Haaker made an attempt to recuperate in time to mount a title defense in the FIM SuperEnduro Championship, but was clearly not performing at his best.
The Southern California rider now has everything to gain in the upcoming season, one he is looking toward with peak fitness. Haaker started the season last year with a fiery performance, taking the win at the opening round in Las Vegas. Look for the 2016 champion to come out swinging again in 2018 AMA EnduroCross.
“I’m feeling really good coming into this season; I’m confident,” said Haaker. “Last season was difficult for me with the elbow injury, but that was a situation that was just out of my control. I’ve been training really hard and I feel 100%. I know what I’m capable of and I’m looking forward to showing it at the opening round.”
Now in its 16th year, the 2018 AMA EnduroCross Championship is cultivating young talent, and this is the season to keep your eye on a number of key players advancing through the ranks.
Team SRT Husqvarna rider Trystan Hart had a breakthrough year in 2017, finishing a remarkable second in the championship, well exceeding his expectations. “My goals coming into the year was to finish top five in the EnduroCross Series and contend for the Junior Championship,” said Hart. “I finished worse than fourth once [throughout the season], finished second overall and won the Junior Championship. I surprised myself, that’s for sure.”
The young Canadian rider has yet to claim his career-first main event win. A look back at the last two seasons reveal that Webb and Haaker are the only two riders with main event wins, but that could very well change this season.
Ty Tremaine is another rider to watch, not only for his remarkable ability and his podium potential, but because he will be breaking ground in the series aboard an electric-powered Alta RedShift motorcycle. As a factory rider for the e-bike firm, Tremaine will be the first pro-class (Super EnduroCross) racer to compete aboard an electric dirt bike.
“It’s completely new and completely different,” said Tremaine. “Obviously there is no clutch and no gears, so that’s the biggest difference. Once you learn to trust the power, you know it’s always going to be there.” Tremaine is particularly looking forward to one distinct advantage aboard the Alta RedShift: holeshots. “The starts are incredible on it. You’re essentially in first gear and fifth gear the whole time! It feels incredible because it’s just constant torque.”
More young riders coming up through the ranks include GasGas rider Noah Kepple, Beta USA’s Mason Ottersberg and RPM/KTM rider Cooper Abbott. Son of one of EnduroCross’ favorite veterans Destry Abbott, Cooper has been training alongside dear old dad on the EnduroCross track, and rapidly gaining speed. Kepple, who carded multiple top-five finishes last season, is also under the tutelage of an EnduroCross veteran—one who has been part of the championship from day one. Geoff Aaron, still a top competitor in the series, is now co-managing factory race efforts for GasGas, and training with Kepple. Both will be competing aboard GasGas XC300 two-strokes. As for Mason Ottersberg, the 23-year-old from Phoenix had a breakthrough ride at the final round in 2017, finishing sixth in the main event. The Beta rider is looking to continue his progress as he aims to be one of the rising stars of the series.
Familiar faces of the series such as Team SRT Husqvarna riders Kyle Redmond, Cory Graffunder and “Wild” Wally Palmer are also primed and ready for the new season. Team SRT in particular has been quite busy, traveling to extreme off-road races across the country, as has Beta USA’s Max Gerston. The Arizona cowboy will no doubt be a fan favorite at the opening round in Prescott.
2018 AMA EnduroCross Series Preview
As for the championship itself, some changes have been made to make the 2018 AMA EnduroCross format a little simpler and the track and little tougher.
The evening program is back to a two-heat format with an LCQ, then a head-to-head bracket race showdown for the top eight (top four from each heat). Extra championship points are up for grabs with a single point going to the heat race winners and the bracket race winner.
The “No Joke Lane” that was introduced last year is back for 2018, but will now be incorporated into all the Super EnduroCross (pro-class) races, meaning riders will have to face the added “extreme” element in the heats and LCQ as opposed to only in the main event.
“The No Joke Lane and bracket races added a lot of excitement to the 2018 AMA EnduroCross races last year, so we wanted to expand and improve on those for 2018,” said Lance Bryson, Director of Special Events for Bonnier Corp. “We got great feedback from fans about the EnduroCross shows and all of these changes will only make that better.”
Women’s Pro and support classes including Open Amateur, Vet 35+ and TrialsCross will also be featured in the evening program at each EnduroCross event. The series schedule and ticket info can be found at www.EnduroCross.com. CN