After Russell Bobbitt pulled a surprise win last month at the opening round of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series in South Carolina, all eyes were focused on round two, the Alligator National Enduro, in Ormond Beach, Florida, March 24, to see if lightning could strike twice. However, six tests and nearly 60 miles of racing in the unforgiving Florida sand set the record straight, as defending champ Steward Baylor claimed a familiar spot at the center of the podium.
Steward Baylor Wins Alligator Enduro 2019
Bobbitt, though, proved his round-one win was not as surprising as it seemed at the time by taking a solid second ahead of one of this year’s breakout performers, Evan Smith.
Muscles cramped and backs ached as anyone who had not been lucky enough to spend the last few weeks at Speed Week acclimating to the weather felt the wrath of Florida’s relatively high temperatures and deceiving humidity. Over 500 riders took to the sandy trails for this year’s event.
Baylor dominated from the get-go, as the Tely Energy Racing-backed KTM rider won the opening test by 15 seconds over Smith. At the end of the day, Baylor had won all six tests on his way to a 1:23-second margin of victory over Bobbitt on his Gnarly Routes-backed KTM.
“I only made a couple mistakes all day,” said Baylor. “I felt like I got better as the day went on. We made some changes there going into the last few tests. I knew the last section would have a lot of palmettos, so I softened everything up. The first time through the palmettos I felt like I was struggling. The second time, I never made a mistake. It was really good. It was just one of those perfect days.”
Baylor’s consistency was impressive, as the rest of the field was all other the place when it came to test scores. Bobbitt, who has not had the greatest luck at the Alligator throughout his long racing career, was the most consistent of the rest, finishing 6-3-2-3-2-5 in the six tests to claim the runner-up spot.
“I always seem to struggle at this race,” said Bobbitt. “I’ve never won it, so that was one of the reasons I wanted to come down here. I didn’t crash any all day. Didn’t stall it. Just kind of rode real smooth and was able to read the trail.”
Smith finished 10 seconds behind Bobbitt for third. The Husqvarna/Max Motorsports/FXR rider started strong by finishing second in the first two tests, but ninth-fastest in test three put the Georgia rider in a deep hole. Smith tried to mount a comeback in the final two tests, but he was a bit too late.
“I was five or six seconds down on Russ going into the last test, but I ended up burying my bike in a mud hole,” said Smith. “There’s no telling how long it took, but it took me a while to get it out. Then I still only lost to him by ten seconds for the day.”
A trio of NE Pro2 riders occupied fourth through sixth overall in the final standings, led by JDP Suspension/RideOnMoto KTM’s Tegan Temple, who was fourth overall and first in the NE Pro2 class. Fifth overall and second in NE Pro2 was Tely Energy KTM’s Liam Draper, while Beta USA’s Cody Barnes was sixth overall and third NE Pro2.
“I thought I could win the class, but I didn’t expect to get fourth overall,” said Temple. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Grant Baylor, Steward’s younger brother and Tely Energy Racing teammate, was seventh overall, in his return from a shoulder injury. Grant had spent only one hour on the bike before starting the race, and he admitted afterward that he didn’t have the upper body strength to compete properly.
Beta USA’s Mike Witkowski finished up in eight overall, a little over a minute off of Grant’s time.
“It started off the first test was rough, just all day it was fighting blowing corners and going the wrong way type of deal,” said Witkowski. “But towards the end, I started getting better times, just too late in the day.”
Brothers Chase and Zack Hayes were ninth and tenth overall (fourth and fifth NE Pro2), respectively on a pair of KTMs.
Mackenzie Tricker showed her sand-riding prowess with a big win in the Women’s Elite division, putting her Mepmx/Fly/Grizzly Peak/Traveler’s Rest Speedway/KTM on top of the box ahead of Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna/Moose Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones by 19 seconds.
“It was a pretty good day,” said Tricker. “I started slowly in test one, then I kind of started chipping off a little bit of time. I lost 19 seconds in that first test, so I had to just kind of make up some time. Tayla and I went into the last test with two seconds separating us, so it was just like I knew it was going to be the both of us just either sending it or crashing and I was able to get the win.”
2019 AMA Kenda National Enduro Series
Ormond Beach, Florida
RESULTS: March 24, 2019
- Steward Baylor (KTM)
- Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
- Evan Smith (Hus)
- Tegan Temple (KTM)
- Liam Draper (Hus)
- Cody Barnes (Bet)
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Mike Witkowski (Bet)
- Chase Hayes (KTM)
- Zach Hayes (KTM)
Click here for complete results.