After a rocky start to the 2019 EnduroCross Championship, which at one point earlier this year looked as though it wasn’t going to happen at all, Colton Haaker came away with the overall win at the opening round of the short three-race series in Prescott, Valley, Arizona, August 24.
Haaker Wins 2019 EnduroCross Championshp Opener
A near-capacity crowd filled the Findlay Toyota Center and saw three exciting featured events that determined the overall winner. With the new season comes a new racing format, which now mirrors that of the FIM SuperEnduro Championship, which uses three motos and a reverse-starting format to sort out a winner. Haaker, on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, was the most consistent on the night, winning two races and placing second in another.
It was Canadian Cory Graffunder who got the championship rolling with a win on his SRT Yamaha YZ250F. Injuries have slowed Graffunder the past few years, but he looked as strong as ever at the EnduroCross season opener. He took full advantage of a couple of crashes by riders ahead of him to take the first-moto win, while Haaker worked up to second after starting in the second row, following a tough run–which included a losing battle with a log–in the earlier Hot Laps which is used to determine starting positions for the first moto of the evening’s racing program.
Ty Cullins (TM) was third in the first race.
Haaker bounced back and won the second moto, while Graffunder, who started in the second row this time (the top eight riders in race one are required to start on the second row in race two), took fifth.
Graffunder got as high as third in the second race before stumbling and dropping back.
Trystan Hart (KTM) took second in the second moto, followed by Noah Kepple (Husqvarna), and Max Gerston (Beta).
Haaker was looking good for the overall win going into the third and final race with 2-1 moto finishes under his belt. His closest rival at that point was Graffunder with his 1-5. With Haaker on the front row this time (starting positions for the third race are based on moto two results), things were looking good for the Husky rider.
Former EnduroCross Champion Taddy Blazusiak (Red Bull KTM) looked like his old self in the final race of the night, as he jumped into the lead off the start and led Haaker for much of the race.
Haaker kept the pressure on and eventually put a hard pass on the KTM rider to take the lead, eventual win and overall victory.
Blazusiak held on to take second ahead of Graffunder and Gerston.
Blazusiak finished out the night on the podium with a 4-6-2 scorecard, edging out Gerston’s 5-4-4 for third. Hart rounded out the top five overall with 7-2-5 moto finishes.
“After my mistake in the Hot-Lap, I thought it may be a difficult night, but I worked my way up to second in that race,” said Haaker of his night. “Then, the second race was amazing with a holeshot from row two. In the final moto, Taddy was taking my lines everywhere, and I felt like I would eventually get past him. I made a pretty aggressive pass near the end to take the win. This three moto format is familiar for me since I have been racing the world championship, and that helped me.” CN
2019 EnduroCross Championship
Findlay Toyota Center
Prescott Valley, Arizona
Results: August 24, 2019
- Colton Haaker (Hus) 2-1-1
- Cory Graffunder (Yam) 1-5-3
- Taddy Blazusiak (KTM) 4-6-2
- Max Gerston (Beta) 5-4-4
- Trystan Hart (KTM) 7-2-5
- Noah Kepple (Hus) 6-3-6
- Geoff Aaron (GG) 8-7-7
- Ty Cullins (TM) 3-12-11
- Tim Apolle (She) 9-11-8
- Nick Thompson (KTM) 11-8-10